Games of 2010: REDDER

This blog post contains spoilers. REDDER is a short game, and I strongly recommend just playing it if you haven’t already.

I love REDDER because it makes explicit a difficult to articulate feeling I often have when I finish exploring well designed videogame worlds. It’s actually the same feeling I had when I got to the end of Final Fantasy VII, my favourite game, and found myself trapped in a huge world of NPCs that would forever repeat the same lines. Staring in the sky at that meteor.

This happens eventually with any kind of non linear, open game – at some point, you will have seen everything there is to see, done everything you can do, and there is nothing left except to trigger that final mission. Or wander a broken world like a ghost.

It’s uncomfortable. It exposes the strings holding the world together, it completely breaks your immersion with the world and it’s all the more powerful if that world is worth caring about in the first place, like it is in REDDER.

REDDER is free, and can be played online at Newgrounds here.

* 12 Comments

12 Comments so far

  1. Lemming on January 2nd, 2011

    Glad you brought it up!

    I stumbled upon it randomly and happened to play through it from start to finish, picking everything. Gets really rad when you pick the last crystal things. 🙂

  2. Mortar on January 2nd, 2011

    I never really thought about that, but now that you mention it, I totally understand what you mean. I never finished Redder, it didn’t really hit right with me, but I can see its merit.

  3. Mortar on January 2nd, 2011

    Bah, I’m tired, that comment was completely illegible. Let’s try that again.

    I never really gave much thought to that feeling, but now that you mention it, I totally understand what you mean and can totally relate. That moment when you realize the story has come to its end and the moment you walk through that door you’ll never see your beloved world ever again, resulting in leaving and running around for a few hours, desperate for more quests.

    As for the game, I never finished it. I’m not sure why, but it didn’t really hit right with me, but I can see its merit and why you’d talk about it here.

  4. Jonas on January 2nd, 2011

    REDDER was great.

  5. PsySal on January 2nd, 2011

    Ah Terry I also never really thought of it like that, but it is true. When you reach the end of a game and it’s suddenly emptied of it’s potential, yet you can still play.

    *** SPOILER FOR DQ1 ***

    DQ1 dealt with this very nicely. After you beat the final boss, you must return to the castle to “finish” the game.

    But… now, every NPC in the world has something new to say. It’s unlikely that you would revisit the entire world after beating the last boss (you can’t save) so even after the game is won you do feel like the world is carrying on. Very nice.

    Having optional quests towards the end of the game may help with this, too, or the “New Game ” option. But either way, it’s really sad.

    I remember as a kid going to see TMNT: The Movie. And early on I remember thinking, “Wow, you are so lucky that you haven’t seen this movie yet. Later on, it’s going to be almost over, and you’ll never recapture this moment.” Weird but… hey, that’s what goes on inside a 12 year old brain.

    I’m really looking forward to more of these!

  6. SoulEye on January 3rd, 2011

    Resonation. We want something new. That’s the beauty of life – it’s never done until it’s done – there’s always something or someone to explore, to infinity. Imagine if everybody lived forever and remembered everything and had interacted with everybody and everything… What would be left? What would drive us? I for one celebrate the way life is, with all it’s ins and outs, even if I too can sometimes be envious of places where others have curious inexperience and I do not, for there is a distance to go.

  7. StephenM3 on January 3rd, 2011

    That’s a great thought, Terry, and well-articulated. I didn’t make that connection when I played Redder, but you’re totally right. What makes an open game world interesting is the vastness of opportunity and choices it holds. But there is only a finite number of objectives and avenues you can place in such a world. The closer you get to accomplishing and exploring them all, the more the world loses its magic.

    I’m noticing this in VVVVVV now, in fact: now that I’ve been familiar with Dimension V for over a year, it feels small, familiar, and thus fake and empty. When you first explore it, it feels vast, worthy of exploration, and because it’s unfamiliar you can imagine it to be more complex and full. This isn’t a fault of VVVVVV’s, it’s simply the result of a player exhausting the content of any game.

    Some games avoid this by penning you into a smaller and smaller environment the further you progress: making it impossible to reach everything in a single playthrough, thus maintaining the illusion of a full, infinite world. But these then aren’t “open world” games, and ruin the illusion in another way: there may be a full world, but you have limited agency to experience it.

    What I would like to see, one day, is a game that solves this the other way: fill the game with a world so vast, so full of little stories and ‘side quests’ and diversions, that the idea of being a completionist seems absurd. Then place a semi-linear main quest in this world. The player will explore the world, be led to the main quest, and can finally choose to do it, not because of a lack of other options but because of the merits of the quest itself within this world.
    Hell, I’d love to make this game some day. Hopefully I will.

    This is what makes games like Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress, procedurally generated games, so magical. There really is an infinite world out there, and the lack of clearly defined objectives gives the player nothing to exhaust, no finite list of planted experiences to use up. The world isn’t deliberate, which has its upsides and its downsides, but it is the opposite of this Redder feeling where the game can be emptied of its magic.

  8. SoulEye on January 3rd, 2011

    Makes me think of a… Well… A story, maybe a movie, with a version of WOW. Imagine if you will, Blizzard being a big evil company, selecting/training a few people to a mission to destroy a clan in hardcore mode, and build it up with propaganda, brainwashing etc. Training people in leadership, persuasion and battle… then set them loose in the world, from scratch. They build themselves up, join guilds, and ascend to leadership, and take them into an epic battle vs the other “evil” clans…

    (For the record, I don’t play WOW)

  9. StephenM3 on January 3rd, 2011

    Yeah, that’s the strength of games as an art form: The ability to tell a story, like a book or movie, but still leave some things unconstrained and uncontrolled, giving that agency to the player, randomness, and player experience. The ability to create a self-sustaining not-entirely-predetermined story world, but to control the important parts and to create it to match restrictions.

    Things like MMOs have a great opportunity to recreate, with a little nudging from the developers and behind-the-scenes planning, human wars and politics and civilization, all on a smaller scale in an enclosed environment.

  10. Jockolantern on January 3rd, 2011

    I absolutely loved Redder. Without a doubt my favorite game from Auntie Pixelante thus far and one of the best indie games of the year, no question.

  11. vruz on January 5th, 2011

    I really loved Redder.

    I love Anna’s game design and how she manages to create a complex experience from basic game mechanics, and interesting level design.

    I don’t know why her games aren’t more popular, it may be something about execution and the graphic style? I don’t know.

    I really hope she starts to get the recognition she deserves. Of course indie devs already recognise her as one of the most distinctive voices in the ‘movement’, but I think she deserves Jonathan-Blow-kind-of-recognition by now.

    She may just be missing one big title, or maybe she’s just not interested at all.
    She could easily do it if she wanted.

  12. […] — Games of 2010 – REDDER — Minecraft — Super Crate Box — Fractal — Sleep Is Death — Fish Fish […]

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