New New Project: Mystic Western?

El Topo Legs

Okay, so I know I said yesterday I was embarking on this thing called It is as if you were playing a videogame, but something came up so now I’m putting that on hold and embarking on something else. Turns out there’s a two-week-long game jam called The Mystic Western Game Jam being run by JUEGOS RANCHEROS and I find myself wanting to try my hand at it (despite being rather busy at the moment). In particular, there’s some chance that if I were to make something actually good it could plausibly be shown at the Marfa Film Fest, and I love me some Marfa, so that’s about as much motivation as I need right there.

So I’m thinking of…

…WAIT! What if you steal my probably-quite-mediocre idea and make a fortune?! Or worse still you submit a better version of it to the game jam and edge me out?!

…NO WAIT! You have your own potentially-mediocre idea to get on with? You don’t really care about stealing my ideas? Sure? Sometimes they’re okay… no? Okay. Crisis averted.

Anyway I’m quite interested in dioramas at the moment so I want to do my own approach to that, having working on a diorama-ish game with Jonathan Lessard called Game Studies (forthcoming), and having played and enjoyed Adam Wells‘s Grimsfield just the other day. Westerns (perhaps especially Mystic ones?) are very much centred on landscapes and their traversal and kind of looking at them and being impressed, and I feel like dioramas are an interesting way to approach that.

The other thing I’m interested in is working on something that includes “diegetic user interface elements” that are in the form of traditionally non-diegetic interfaces from computers. Confusing? Yes, that was to me too. In essence I’m interested in having things like dialog boxes (with “OK” and “Cancel” etc.) or settings panels with sliders etc. be objects in a 3D world, and in this particular case I want them to be a bit like artifacts from some forgotten past.

Bringing me to the final piece of the puzzle I’m trying to cram together, which is the sonnet Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley – its focus being on the idea of coming across the vestiges of a great (and rather arrogant) previous civilisation. I think that’s where I’ll try to get my “mysticism” from somehow, anyway.

All of this involves me miraculously conquering Unity, an engine I am not especially comfortable with, and Blender, a 3D modelling program I am not especially comfortable with, enough to put together what feels, right now, like an aesthetic effect that may very well just not work anyway. It’s very unlike my usual process which is to have a complete idea more or less immediately and roughly know what I’m going to do, just working out the details. That’s the one good thing about game jams from my perspective – not so much the working with other people (though I admit to occasionally enjoying that), but being pushed into a quite radically different mode of thinking about game design and creation.

So off we go then? I’ll tell you how I do. Probably poorly. Sorry in advance.

17 June 2016
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