Old year’s resolution

I kinda fell out with my four letter word game. Very shortly after I posted about it. I think we’re reconciled now, though.

I actually stopped working on this game very shortly after that blog post. It started out as a cool concept I wanted to make playable – challenging design wise, but something that I thought had the potential to be really special. I was so, so into the idea, but then I made the stupid mistake of entering it in the IGF.

The pressure distorted the game for me. Trying to get something coherent in time for the deadline meant I started making bad decisions, and ended up with – well, something pretty traditional. A linear adventure game, with a progression of puzzles and a world that gradually opens up. Another fucking videogame. Basically exactly what I was trying to avoid. I hated it, and didn’t touch the game again until yesterday.

A couple of things happened to rekindle my interest in the project this week. The main one is that I was working on a throwaway side game, and suddenly realised that it basically was Four Letter Word. Kinda like I’d been subconsciously thinking about it all along.

Tomorrow I’m gonna start working on At a Distance again, polishing up some minor details for Wednesday’s launch. After that, I think I’ll focus on this for a while. Next year I’m planning to make a dramatic change to the way I work, so it’s good for me to get this sorta thing out of my system while I can.

(yes, that’s an actual screenshot from the game)

* 11 Comments

11 Comments so far

  1. Wiley on December 4th, 2011

    I love the Moire patterns you were able to produce. Definitely adds to the feeling of some sort of alien transmission. Looking forward to seeing where this project goes.

  2. Ace on December 5th, 2011

    “A linear adventure game, with a progression of puzzles and a world that gradually opens up. Another fucking videogame.”

    Great. Another indie game developer who wants to focus on his own “creative” ideas rather than making a game that people actually want to play. What happened to the guy who made VVVVVV?

    Seriously, who the hell is supposed to be excited where this four letter game is going? I don’t know about you, but I like my games to be FUN. This game goes against the direction gaming should be moving in.

  3. Terry on December 5th, 2011

    I think you’ll want to play this, but not for the reasons you wanted to play VVVVVV.

  4. Ace on December 5th, 2011

    I don’t think so. I bought VVVVVV because I love great platformer games (I grew up with them), and this one had a simple, clever mechanic that was a lot of fun to play around with. And the music was just awesome!

    This 4 letter game, on the other hand, just looks confusing, ugly, and not fun. Of course, it’s hard to judge just from screenshots, but they certainly aren’t exciting me like VVVVVV did.

  5. Terry on December 6th, 2011

    Fair enough!

  6. Luis Melo on December 6th, 2011

    Well I, for one, feel much more interested in you going for a challenge and somehing diferent, and I’m always much more excited by your least traditional exercises, Terry. You’e one of the very few people who can pull off that kind of thing completely devoid of any pretentiousness, although I also loved VVVVVV. I say, follow your instincts! 🙂
    I’m alo quite curious about the future changes in the way you work.
    Anyway just anted to say that the latest news are keepimng me pumped.

  7. Thomas Keene on December 6th, 2011

    Looks neat, do you have a release date yet?

  8. James Patton on December 6th, 2011

    There are so many fun games. There aren’t many games which push boundaries like Terry seems to want to with this game. I’m looking forward to it.

    And, “the direction games should be moving in”? That’s a deeply problematic statement.

  9. StephenM3 on December 7th, 2011

    Games should be going in EVERY direction, if possible.

    There are already a lot of games going in the directions it sounds like Ace is interested in. I’m always in favor of interesting ideas from less-trodden paths!

  10. James Patton on December 7th, 2011

    @StephenM3: Exactly! I have nothing against games designed purely for fun, and I’d be devastated if suddenly nobody was making purely fun games. But most people at the moment are doing just that – so surely there’s room for experimentation in other areas.

  11. StephenM3 on December 8th, 2011

    Well, “fun” is such a slippery word, anyway.

    It seems like much of the time, people use it just referring to a visceral thrill, which is the kind of definition that limits games. But there are so many other ways that games can be enjoyable or worthwhile. Is the sense of accomplishment you get from building something in Minecraft “fun”? What about reading a well-written sad story? I absolutely love the fascinating twists my mind goes through while delving into the latest world Increpare built, but that’s often not something one would call “fun.”

    For me, I love games as I discover and understand new systems and ideas (games are MADE from systems like sentences are made from phrases). I might casually describe any such experience as fun, because I walk away feeling like it was rewarding in some way. That ends up being a hugely broad use of the word that probably doesn’t match most personal definitions.

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