Week 1 Topic: “You Are the Environment”

To play: mash arrow keys

I mentioned in an earlier post– one of the classes I’m teaching at UT this semester is AET-333 Prototyping, where students attempt to make a game prototype from a different prompt each week. I decided it would be a good exercise to do the assignments along with the students.

Here’s week 1- The basic idea was that you have a character or population of characters that you do not control directly, but instead the controls are some sort of axis of wind and weather. I probably worked too hard on this, since I thought that what would be valuable in it would be emergent behaviors from temperature and wind. I’m not sure if it’s a keeper but I learned a lot, such as how to apply forces to a particle system. If I were to spend more time with this I might redo it in 3d rather than 2d. It also might be interesting with narrative content and a single character that you try to guide along to safety. It’s hard to not think of God games like Populous when playing this. Ultimately the tally of saved vs lost characters doesn’t really compel me to play this and I think narratively finding reasons to care about the little guys would be better.

‘Herding’ games like Lemmings pose interesting questions about the game-self being constructed and its relationship to the subjects being herded. What is changed by characterizing the game-self in this prototype as being “the environment”? There’s nothing particularly natural about a sun that careens madly around in the sky and random hurricane winds, fire and snow. This is a capricious nature and the landscape we see here is barren and manmade, not just because I didn’t have time to make trees, but because I somehow assumed a blocky terrain as implicit. The perspective here too is detached, looking down from a high vantage point. Is there a version of this that could be visually parsed that offers a different perspective?