Walks have stopped feeling solitary the more I read on its origins and practice. Strolls over the course of this month have been haunted by the ghosts of Benjamin and Poe, Breton and Garrett. Even during recreational time Lefebvre and de Certeau invade my "City: Skylines" and "Her Story". Side effects of writing a masters dissertation.
Most of what I was aiming on exploring for this paper has been read and gathered in a structure of quotes, post-its and notes. That means the most time intensive section of the paper is drawing to a close. Rather later than I was hoping but it is super satisfying nonetheless. I will be doing a final printing and restructuring this week before sitting down to typing it all out into a coherent draft.
In terms of the game, I spent two weeks in Spain, Valencia and Barcelona. While I was hoping to set the game in Valencia, the more I read, the more I realised how unrealistic it would be to make it all the way from London. It was in one of UCA's guest lectures where CJ Lim called London a victorian sponge cake: layered with stories and dreams. When you've got JG Ballard across the road and Thomas de Quincey in your foundations, it makes little sense not to draw inspiration from the London around you. Valencia will have to wait.
A few basics have started to form from chats on Barcelonan balconies and walks around Uxbridge. While the exact story is a mystery still, I have outlined four requirements:
1. The game must provide a constant urge to explore. The player must feel curious about their environment. This can be done through hidden objects that relate to the story or the environment found through exploration.
2. The story must be told through the environment. The game, what you do and what its messages must be communicated entirely through the design of the environment. Ideally this would be a small, urban and abandoned location.
3. Walking must translate mechanically. It needs to feel rhythmic and fit tightly into the exploration of environmental stories. A fair bit of experimenting might need to be done to get this right.
4. Played in the first person and in 2D. The screen must feel like a window to the world. Without a character to draw your attention to, the eyes fall solely on the landscape. The 2D is mainly due to limitations of the software.
Everything around the game might change. These four pillars are solid. Meanwhile the loop of the game will probably follow a structure of walk>discover objects>piece together story>unlock new space>walk. But things might shift once I'm done writing the essay and start contemplating the game more. The longer I spend writing the essay, the smaller the scale of the game becomes. Time is running out.