Part 2: Theory Into Practice
How do Video Games Speak?
Video games are an amalgamation of different types of creative media under a banner of interaction. This can lead to new clashes between our notions of how traditional media express themselves. Most people are aware of how a film expresses itself: more or less a sequence of moving pictures often accompanied by an audio track, statically defined in a specific amount of time. But how does a video game express itself? One way is in its dynamic, almost quantic nature of change based on interaction from the audience - or rather, the player. The game is ‘on’ for as long as the player keeps the game running. It is actively waiting for the player to participate, demanding that they ‘do something about their situation’. The underlying, programmed system of a game is “awaiting orders” as it listens to player input, processes the input and compares it to its programmed laws of behavior, yielding a response back to the player.
Given the traditional static and linear nature of cinematic storytelling, what can we expect of its meeting with the chaotic, dynamic nature of a system awaiting orders?
The answer depends on the given project, on dedicated and conscious efforts to prevent potential conflicts, as well as on anticipating situations in which the strengths of either can be applied.
A Marriage of Story, Art and Gameplay
The first thing to do is to observe the foundational aspects of a project. What is it about a given project that should stand out the most when experiencing it?
Some games are founded on a gameplay idea coupled with a story - the foundation of which the choices of art should adhere to. It could also be a distinct art style lending itself easily to a type of gameplay, upon the foundation of which a story gets created.
In actuality, it can be any variation of this distribution: In this example we see an overarching gameplay idea that both art and narrative will be built on top of. There are, of course, even games completely without a story, like Tetris or Super Hexagon.
For Forgotton Anne, the most important aspects of the experience were:
a) Feeling like you are playing inside an animated film.
b) Experiencing a more serious story with the narrative craft of a movie.
c) 2D Platform gameplay.