As the year continues, many of these posts will be philosophical in nature. Some will be in contradiction to previous postings. These are not intended as truths or assertions, they’re merely thoughts…ideas. Think of this as stream of consciousness over a wide span…
I was watching Indie Game: The Movie on Thursday for the first time (yeah, I’m a little late on seeing it), and something Edmund McMillen, developer of Super Meat Boy, said caught my attention. He was talking about designing levels to train the player in the game’s mechanics. In particular, he was expressing the importance of giving the player the opportunity to discover the mechanics for themselves. He argued that throwing text up on a screen to explain it would be less effective, because most people would probably ignore or skip it. If they were forced to figure it out for themselves though, it would ensure they remember the mechanic while also giving them a sense of accomplishment.
This got me wondering. A few years ago, I wrote a two part article about semiotics and language as they relate to sound design. McMillen’s comments made me wonder…
Can we train our audience to understand the language we build in each project, so that we can affect them at levels above the sub-conscious? Can we do it in a way so that they are actively engaged in the discovery of meanings? How would that have to be structured, and how much buy in would we need from the film director or game designer to pull that off?
Esteban Ruiz-Velasco says
A core part of my masters thesis in music composition was related to this question. How can we use audio as a game mechanic without verbally or visually explain it?
No definitive answer arose, but some partial ones did, and the process of compiling and designing a game with this in mind was really fulfilling. Looking forward to reading what people comment on your post.