2 August 2015

Dissertation: Month of July

Brunel students, there is a wonderful patch of tall grass between Isambard and Cowley Road in which to get lost. If you keep exploring you might find perfect picnic alcoves and secret gathering spots. Keep walking and you might come across a 20-something talking animatedly into her phone, except no one is on the other line. That would be me, and just this month I was wondering why a town, street or house would lay completely abandoned and what the core message of my game would be.

The story and the mechanics of the game are there, both birthed out of each other and capture the requirements I outlined the month before. Even some of the ideas that arose from that one afternoon on a Barcelona balcony made it's way into the game. I spent some time placing the story in various settings and observing how it changed however I ended up going with what made the most thematic connections, with a setting that represented from all perspectives what I will be trying to say.

I'm thinking these two images, by the same Caspar David Friedrich, when placed next to each other. And Sylvia Plath's "Yes, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can, I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night." I'm thinking Anna Karenina, her mind consuming itself indoors. Le Corbusier calling homes "machines for living" and Will Self's spiritual exultations in the classroom and on walks. Yes, I am being vague on purpose because nothing will show it better than the game (if all goes well).

After the walk, I set off to test the core mechanics. Nine lines of code later and I had a rhythmic walk that made use of parallax and the technicalities of a tablet. Some digital brushstrokes later I had a sky (shown below) and some mountains which move to the rhythm of the tablet. Watching it come together in one satisfying afternoon is getting me all excited to get this game done and out there.

But there is still a lot to plan until then. Like for example the placement of the story in the environment. Something I have been working on through the help of post it notes and markers, and of course by making friends play it through like a text-based adventure game. The shape of the house has changed so much while placing the story in it. Everything from the objects to the style of the architecture is becoming a metaphor for the characters and the mechanics.

Over the course of the next week I will be working on re-drafting the first version of the essay. Maybe it's because I've been in the same room for so long while writing, it's been a really slow process. I'll be printing out the essay and writing by hand this week in hopes it might help loosen up that creativity. Onwards!