Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I don't hardly know what to say. Passage is in a whole different league of art game. It's 8 bit with a very narrow screen, and it's left me wondering if its going to leave me bummed out for the rest of the day.

Passage is essentially a depiction of life and the design has some very interesting implications. Early on you can meet the love of your life, but if you go exploring you can miss her and go through life without her. More amazingly you can go straight from beginning to end in a straight line if you never move down on the screen, just running through life as fast as you can. About halfway through the fact that you, and you lover if you found her, is obvious enough that you can't miss it anymore. It also becomes clear is that the characters position on the screen is moving steadily to the right, which gives a sense for the approaching end of life, even though you didn't notice it in the earlier part of the game. There's some very deep depictions of life in these design decisions.

The most shocking part of the game was when my lover died. It happens sudden and unexpectedly, and moving backwards won't bring her back, just as once you move to the right and age you stay that age even if you try to return to younger years. Furthermore, I had noticed that my lover had actually impeded my progress through the game because she increases the amount of space between the walls of the game that is required for both of you to slip through as you travel through life. Her presence also makes certain chests (which either sprout black dots that don't do anything for you or stars that add to your meaningless "score") unreachable. At first I was upset that the designer would depict love as such a hinderance, but a second thought made me consider if it was actually worse to have a lover to keep you from racing through life? Is a success that means nothing in the context of death worth more than love?

After my lover died I was more than a little bummed out by it, and I will admit I raced to the right as fast as I could to meet my own end, which wasn't as fast as previously because I could no longer walk as fast as I used to. Then I died, and it was over.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Camps

This week I both finished working at the MSU game design summer camps and hit level 80 in World of Warcraft. I think I'll talk about the camps and save WoW for another day. So the camps were pretty awesome and pretty exhausting at the same time. I worked as an instructor during the day and as a camp councilor in the evening. I have to say that the 2nd week went over a lot better than the first, mostly because those meddling music production campers couldn't keep themselves out of trouble during the first week.

As far as the games students are concerned, I was usually more impressed with their efforts in paper prototyping and brainstorming than their attempt at a digital game. Every group had at least 1 person that reverted back to youtube videos and playing flash games instead of working on the project. We also had one kid try to set up networking for his game, although he didn't head my warnings that we would limit the amount of help we'd give to him (we didn't want to get sucked in) and he also didn't actually want to look up what code does. He was more in the category of dragging scripts onto objects based off of their name as opposed to what the contents of the script actually were. That habit gets a developer no cookies. However, I believe a few of the builds featured the other player flickering, which means he got half-way to a working state (which is farther than I originally thought he'd make it). I think he managed to get it so that RPC calls were recognized, but state based calls weren't, so the game would only receive information if a player was performing an action such as jumping. Then again, I don't know that much about networking...