Tuesday, September 30

Fate Illuminate

I wrote a villanelle about Mirror's Edge. I eschewed some of the form's rules, for example, rhyming, but I think it's worked out for the best so far. I would explain what the poem is trying to exude, but hopefully the poem can take care of that itself. Hope you like it.

Fate Illuminate

supplant that twinge of hesitation
momentum steeled in exhalation
that bound beyond horizon's edge

to the dogs throw any scraps of fear
check all pity for your bruising lungs
supplant that twinge of hesitation

saliva bitter, spit out the tar
grit concrete into bleeding pores
for that bound beyond horizon's edge

sinews snap and callous bursts
pontify your leap to fate
supplant that twinge of hesitation

overt exertion, ecstatic motion
a secretion of endorphins blind
that bound beyond horizon's edge

of reason shatter any bastion
reflecting faith in mirror's frame
supplant that twinge of hesitation
that bound beyond horizon's edge

Saturday, September 20

Designing With Goosebumps and Without Censors

In my non-fiction class, we're learning about the process of writing. Writing is a a process of creativity, of the imagination, and of the spirit. Writing is this junction point of creativity and imagination, it is an expression, convalescence of emotions and thoughts as words. Our best writing comes naturally and fluidly, but only if we allow it. We have been discussing how a careful first draft is a failed first draft, courtesy of Patricia Hampl. As humans, we have this thing in our mind called a censor. This censor filters our thoughts before they emerge into the open world. The censor is a fact-checker, a security gate checking to see that our thoughts are somehow legitimate before we let them leave our mind. In writing, the censor is more of a hindrance than a benefit. Because our censor questions the validity of our intuition and our imaginative subconscious. Anything our censor finds false, lacking, or incomplete, it throws into the trash for immediate incineration. But this censor halts our imaginative flow and stops our real genius from ever getting on the page. So right now we're practicing over-coming our censor, not letting it block our flow and just writing whatever comes out. There is always room for revision later.

I've come upon the same conclusion for game design. I think the present process of game design is moreso a science than an art. We have a heavy, thick-walled censor for designing games. Or at least I do, and am practicing to overcome it as well. Our game design censor has a face, many actually: reviews, gamers, publishers, friends, design theory, mechanical knowledge, and the gamer we know ourselves to be. So when we design games, every idea we come up with has to pass through this series of security gates, diminishing its chances of ever seeing the light of day. But these ideas our coming from a place of art, a place of genius and creativity and where pigs can fly. This place inside of us is our passion. It can feel the truth of interactivity and joy and learning. But when we allow our censors to fact-check each fairy or brilliant gem that flows by, we lose the imagination and creativity and passion, the essence, of our artistic genius.

Cliff Bleszinski ignores his censor. He designs with goosebumps on his arms. You know what its like. When an epiphany strikes and you know you can feel it, you can feel so strongly that twinge of genius, that spark of awesomeness from within. And the next moments are amazing. As you explore at light speed this universe of ideas. Your smiling and your heart's beating fast because this idea has so much gravity. But almost immediately your censor stops the imagination and asks, "will that actually be fun," and, "how do you control it," and, "will anyone actually want to play this." These questions can be asked later, once you've allowed the ideas to flow and the mystery has been explored. Otherwise the censor will stop you in your tracks and discourage you from exploring what could be something truly great.

CliffyB, I think, designs without his censor. He feels game design. Just watch this Developer Diary about Sound in Gears of War 2:

You see what I mean. He feels. And I think this is what so many games are lacking these days. Feeling. Its so important that games have passion, that they breathe, that they have spirit. And I think this comes from the fact that Cliffy has a connection with his game. Gears 2 is uniquely his own and is infused with his passion and energy.

Next time you get that twinge of enlightenment, ignore your censor for awhile and see where your genius takes you. Don't worry about gamers' expectations, or the AAA benchmark, or what everybody else is doing. Just listen to your spirit talk and let it show you what your passion can achieve when set free.

Thursday, September 11

Your Point of View I

This fall, I'm studying in Perugia, Italy, which is right in between Florence and Rome. I've been here two weeks, hence the lack of posts. Before I came to Italy, I was in New York City for a few days visiting my brother. As you likely know, the subway trains in NYC are plastered with posters. Where better to advertise than in high traffic places, right? Most of the posters are fairly boring, but, thanks to my brother, one type caught my eye. They're called "Your Point of View," an ad campaign by the HSBC bank. The posters display two images juxtaposed with two different labels. They're fairly though provoking. Here is an example. Be sure to check out all of them in full size at the official site.To me, of course, the images rang true of game design. Game design is about choices. From initial concept to completion, we are constantly making decisions. Is this right for the game? Or is this better? How does this feature support the game? Do I want this control mapped to the right trigger or the left? and on and on. Ultimately, we need to critically analyze each decision we make to ascertain its true value. Why not put this though process into practice. This juxtaposition of images can be a really cool game design exercise. Starting today, I will periodically upload my own "your point of view" images, photographs courtesy of your truly. I would make a nice photoshop poster, but I don't exactly have access to the software right now. So without further ado, the first "your point of view" thought prompt.


Please feel free to leave any comments.

hsbc ad image link
all other images by Finn Haverkamp.