The Code Comes Shining Though?


I’m still working on this game I’m calling Let’s Play: The Shining. I’ve already written the two little things I had on my mind initially, but I also have other half-baked nonsense to put down, and since I have no real sense of an audience to this blog, I think I shall just feel completely free to write it on out. So the other thing I was thinking about something like this…

I was making the scene in which Danny rides his tricycle around the halls of the Overlook Hotel, for which you can see the spritesheet in the header of this post. I’ve generally been searching for “endings” to the scenes in the game, because they don’t always have natural game-based endings. In this particular scene it ends when Danny encounters the twins, as per the movie. So you ride the tricycle into a section of hallway, hit an invisible trigger, the twins appear, and the scene is over.

In my initial writing of the underlying code, when you stop I play the standard “idle” frame of the animation (the first one in the strip above) because that’s the standard behaviour of the sprite – if it stops it is “idle” and so it plays its “idle frame”. That’s obviously fine and dandy. But then at some point I was thinking about the movie and how it feels when Danny stops his tricycle on seeing the twins and the way he stops is that he… well, he just stops. There’s not some resetting to a rest position. Importantly, part of the emotional “point” or “impact” of the scene resides in that immediate stopping, all activity instantly suspended. Which meant that in the game you shouldn’t play a separate idle frame, rather you should stop the animation at the precise frame when the twins appear and Danny stops – whatever position his peddle is in. That is more “true” to the film.

Now this is, I think we can all agree, a very, very specific and atomic detail – which frame of an animation to display at a particular moment in time – but I think it’s really clear, too, that it’s an important detail and that it’s important in relation to the film and to the “emotional truth” of that moment in the film. And I think there’s something quite interesting there. It makes me wonder about all the other very specific lines of code or frames of animation that exist in this game and to what extent they do or do not serve such purposes. Most importantly, I think it’s great that this is even possible, and I think it’s interesting in the context of the idea of “adaptation” and games – particularly because we’re adapting not just visuals or sounds but actions themselves. It’s not just how game-Danny looks or sounds but how he reacts in the moment, and how that reaction is tied to the interactivity, the actions, of the game.



13 April 2015
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