172/365 – Meditation Games #172 – Explorative Reaction

Developer: Devin Horsman

Launcher Quote: “long time you didn’t register it was there

buzzsing inside down there tryna get up in the throat

now its grip grabbin every inch

like a harness tied round the chest

binding you to your worrywork

scatterthoughts ramblin all over

shaking down sharp things from ur skull

wait

breathe slow

you are ok

this is the turning point

slow cloud burst of light

the apex of the sun

wherever it is you are right now

things are going to be fine

the gears of the world wind in unfathomable complexity

and isn’t it wonderful that they wound up winding up you?”

While it’s nice to have a little bit of context through the launcher quotes in this project for what is going on with the games in this series, sometimes it’s a good thing that things are a bit vague, or that they aren’t quite as clear until you begin playing the game. Some of that is purposeful intention on the part of the developers – they want you to be able to come to your own conclusions, or try to figure out what they might have wanted to do when they were creating the game. Others have an intention but are vague enough that you have to work out what might be going on, and even then, perhaps come to a conclusion the developer may not have intended.

This entry in the series appears to be the latter. Now don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with a game that has vagueness in it. This is, after all, a project that restricts a lot of what is normally meant to help the player (help text, explanations, guiding mechanics) in the interest of creating something to work the mind. But it does lend itself to some interesting conclusions based on what you do with it. The game seemed to have simple controls – you runt he mouse over and try to increase the velocity of what’s in the center, potentially creating more of what’s there, and do so in different ways to get different reactions. It’s very much like something you’d idly pick up and mess around with and then put down again after trying a few things. It’s also intriguing and interesting, with just enough variety to engage you for the 5 minutes that is required for the games to be played.

This kind of exploratory reaction to how players mess around with games or work with them is at the core of many player experiences, and perhaps one of the most basic things that developers consider when they start making their games. Putting yourself in the player’s shoes, and working out the exploration they perform when trying to figure out how something works is one of the most important things that developers have to take into account, and that turning point from when the player doesn’t understand something to when they begin to get the hang of it is, appropriately enough, parallel to the launcher quote, whether or not that it was intended. It’s a nice crystallization of the mental experiment that’s required to make good games.

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