A Week of Kindness

July 24, 2009

Another week, pleasant dreamers, another game: Questions and Answers, another conversation-platformer that attempts to teach my QAYN gameplay in as natural a flow of tutorialisms as possible. This time I followed the advice of friend and consultant Kunal Gupta, who liked the one-button-at-a-time approach of Tutorial, but thought I ought to empower the player a bit more from the start. If my games are all about seeing conversations as battles, he pointed out, and Questions are the player’s means of attack, why was I starting them off with the purely-defensive Answers, instead?

Part of my motivation for this was because of how fond I am for games that start the player off at an extreme disadvantage. In Prince of Persia, the player begins without a sword, and must explore the trap-laden dungeon to find one before confronting the close-by guard. Traditionally, Metal Gear games begin by surrounding Snake with enemies, and only non-lethal weapons at his disposal, or none at all. Even the Super Mario games start the player off small and vulnerable. But what I missed from all those examples was the aspect of choice– none of those games force you to confront an enemy before you’re ready. And in the case of Kojima and Miyamoto’s games, the player may start out unarmed, but they aren’t entirely defenseless– Snake starts out with punches and kicks, while Mario always has his classic jump.

Therefore, Kunal was right– if I’m going to teach players how to use my conversation-controls, I have to arm them with the most powerful option first: Questions. That’s how this new game came about, and I’m pretty happy with the logical flow it carries. I believe the current build might even be 100 percent bug free, but I’m not crossing my fingers yet. Until next time, pleasant dreamers, never question the power of questions…

24 Madness

July 13, 2009

I spent this last weekend alongside my friend Kunal Gupta, who along with Jennifer Walshe and others engaged in a truly singular piece of performance art at Sculpture Center in Queens that gives new meaning to the term “avant-garde”. At the same time, I busied myself on a personal project of my own– my newest game, Tutorial. The first results of my latest skills in animating with my Flash games, I quickly wrote, coded and built this game in an off-and-on 24 hour stretch of ActionScript programming and dialogue-driven game design. It’s still got some bugs here and there, but they’re all minor aesthetic ones, as far as I know. And now, since I’ve had little sleep in the time I cooked this up, I believe I’ll leave any other thoughts of mine for another post. Until next time, pleasant dreamers, never underestimate a starving artist…