Game a Week Four: Boxes

Game a Week Four: Boxes

You shut the door behind you so that the assistant won’t poke her head back in. You’re not afraid of crying in front of her–you’re not afraid of crying at all anymore, you’ve spent the last month numb, drowning memories with summer light and constant action.

But this room is just another project.

The sooner you sort through it, the sooner you can shut this door again for good.


(play it online)

Idea: Last week, I worked on an academic metagame, Balance, exploring the idea of a work/ life balance. This week, I was working on academia’s equivalent of taxes: my annual review and progress-towards-tenure materials. As I sorted through the papers in my office, trying to summarize the last few years of activity into folders and appropriately-named files, I found my thoughts tending towards the morbid: what would I be leaving behind, in this office? What does an academic life amount to when summed in papers and the accumulations of an office? I decided to create a game to explore that train of thought through a fictional lens.

What went right: I sketched the overview of a game heavily driven by reflecting on ordinary objects scattered around a room. Originally, I thought about building the game graphically in Adventure Game Studio, but ultimately the constraints of the week made it easier to “build” the room in Inform 7. The spatial metaphor of Inform 7 worked really well for the one-room game I had in mind, and I was able to craft a complete short experience told through fractured memories.

What went wrong: The text adventure game I created is ultimately not complicated. I wanted to put simple interaction at the forefront, but I would have liked to go back and add more complexity and puzzle-driven mechanics. I also ended up communicating all of the atmosphere and mood through text, and I missed having some  visual element to that to build the layers of the experience–I’m not sure text alone did justice to what I had in mind.

What I learned: It’s time for me to do something with graphics for a change of pace! Also, I can craft academic metagames endlessly.

Other Games from Week Four

Mark Danger Chen is  continuing his Space Co-Op game, now with awesome cards based on his screenshot.

Melissa Peterson’s game Sagan is a throwback RPG. She’s crafted a map-based exploration interface for a sci-fi maze with a retro interface. I’m impressed with how much game she built so quickly here: I keep getting killed by the bigger monster, no matter how much space energy I throw at him.

Dennis Ramirez’s game for this week is definitely in academic metagame territory with The IRB Revision Game. I’ll definitely be forwarding this to frustrated graduate students in the future, there’s something very compelling about the [lack of?] gameplay.

Joining us this week, Greg Koeser offers a ruleset for a card game Bid War based on deck trimming mechanics. Unlike the other card games we’ve seen, Greg’s game can actually be played with a normal deck of cards, so I look forward to trying it out.

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