Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Legacy of Wisdom

For those who might be interested, I've just finished my latest game prototype, Legacy of Wisdom, and entered it into the Experimental Gameplay Project, with the theme for this month being a "Zero-Button" game.

The link of the game can be found here: http://dark-manifesto.blogspot.com/2010/08/legacy-of-wisdom.html

Game Synopsis

“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” - Abraham Lincoln -

Designed based on the Experimental Gameplay Project theme of a "Zero Button Game" (August 2010) , Legacy of Wisdom's main gameplay uses nothing but mouse movement.

Centering around the metaphorical themes of "Legacy" and "Man's journey in attaining Wisdom", Legacy of Wisdom adopts an oriental aesthetic style based on Oriental Calligraphy / Paintings to help create a "Zen" aesthetic to complement the game's metaphorical themes.

Legacy of Wisdom also features an additional gameplay twist - an experimental take on the concept of "Player Death" in games, toying with the idea that death in games can be a reward as much as a penalty; where each time a player dies, the player is given a reward for his / her next playthrough.


More importantly though, on a personal note, this is the first month that I've managed to squeeze out a little bit more time to actual get involved in small, indie project like this; something that I had set out to do the moment I decided to stop pursuing a commercial path in Game Design, and went into Academia, where I was hoping to be able to do a bit more experimental stuff without having to worry about the commercial sensabilities, and just design for the concept; not the commerce.

Of course, things never turn out like they should, and it was one crazily hectic semester in school, and I'm just glad that with the end of the semester, a bit more normalcy has returned to life, and I am able to have one foot back in the waters of my First Love; or at least find enough pockets of time in the after-hours to commit to a week-long project for the Experimental Gameplay Project, something that I've been keeping a close eye on for a few months now.

With crossed fingers and a silent prayer, I can only hope and pray that I can sustain this in the upcoming months as well, as if there is one thing I have discovered after not doing Game Design for a while, even if it is small indie projects like this; I am reminded of the invigorating feeling of going from concept to completion of an idea, seeing the pieces fall into place slowly and watching the gradual realisation of the idea into something a lot more material and tangible; almost like watching the slow but sure metamorphosis of a sluggish caterpillar into a fluttering butterfly.

For sure, this is one cookie jar I would gladly keep at least one hand in...

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Pieces of Japan: Day 7 - White Christmas

25th December 2009
Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan

Muscles flexed at the thighs in an attempt to curb the wobbling of everything below the knees. Looking down, I saw the skis underfoot gyrating according to the little bumps along the somewhat steep slope.

"V, V, V," my mind shouted to my body, attempting to instil the advice the coach had just given me minutes ago. "Pressure on the knees, pressure on the knees," rang through my head, with a distinctively English accent.

An awkward contortion had me bringing my knees into the desired position, but wonder still ran through my head as I felt the pressure on my toes more than anywhere else.

Looking at my tremendous effort in forcing a V-shaped snow-plough with my legs, I smiled to myself, believing that I had finally gotten it right.

Wind rushing across my cheeks, as flakes of snow fiercely rose from the ground up till my lips, giving me a little taste of the powdery texture of the snow that lay underfoot.

I looked up, and there before me, in all her glorious beauty was Mt. Yotei - Ezo-Fuji, as the locals call it, due to some similarities to Japan's most famous peak. The golden sunlight shining off her snow-capped slopes, in turn dispersing and reflecting the rays of sunlight, giving the mountain an almost otherworldly glow.

She was beautiful.

As I stood with my mouth open; amazed at the visual splendour that laid before me and fuelled by the adrenaline of the pure velocity that my body was subjected to going downhill. An exhilarating orgy for the senses.

A splendour short-lived though, as the magic of the moment was almost too quickly disrupted by the familiar wobbling in the knees all over again.

"V, V, V!" I told myself again, as I willed my muscles into position, trying to draw in my now-parallel skis back into the supposed posture. 

Thuds and bumps and thuds again, made it extraordinarily difficult to restore my position. Panic rose and anxiety raced through my mind as I started to feel myself going faster and faster down the slope, as my skis refused to un-parallel themselves.

A sudden high from the spike in adrenaline, as my mind tried to get a grasp over the body that I was losing control of by the second. A desperate attempt had my bending and swinging my knees inward, throwing my body into a side-ward position momentarily as I managed to put the brakes on my ever-increasing momentum mid-slope.

But before I could actually let out an actual sigh of relief, Gravity was already beckoning me once again with her inevitable pull; but this time, continuing my clockwise torque along with a general downward force, and below I knew it, I was in the V-shaped posture alright, except that I was facing backwards and saw the worrying sight of a mountain full of little skiers and snowboarders slaloming down the slopes from a distance above.

A sway left, and a swing right, as I attempted to keep my balance AND reverse my orientation. A sudden jerk at the heel, as I felt the ski dig into the snow for a split-second.

Breaking point.

That was the last thing I processed in my conscious memory, and I suspect for the next few seconds, I was a flailing mess spinning through the air in reckless abandon, bouncing and rolling down the slope. Severe bumps on my shoulder, a loud thud from my butt - the world spun much faster than it ought to.

When it all stopped and I opened my eyes, nothing lay before me but a face-full of white, powdery snow, as I emerged from the pile spitting and swiping my face. I was mere inches away from a steel pole for the ski-lifts, as the passengers looked down at me, legs swinging freely in mockery.

I looked at my feet, and realised that I had one ski lying a few centimetres away from my feet, and another halfway up the slope, allowing me to get a semblance of my trajectory taken down into despair, shame and ruin.

A helpful skier picked my long-lost ski up and brought it down-slope to me, asking: "Are you alright?"

At that very moment, I was dumbfounded and caught in the void between the "yes" and the "no"; but more certainly, I found an answer to something else, I found out what it tastes like to really suck, and the answer is that it tastes a little bit salty and a whole lot of powdery.

Looking the Part, That's all


The Red Ski House: White Christmas

The irony of hardly a Silent Night on Christmas Night, as 3 different languages flew across the table at any one time - in fact, it was hardly a moment of silence at all. 

The Meaning of Christmas was hardly lost between the space of race and language, as people originally from France, Australia, UK, Native Japanese, and of course, us island-dwellers sat around the same table, just sharing idle conversation wherever language permitted, or glorious food wherever it didn't. It didn't really seem to matter if we all had different meanings to Christmas, more importantly, we all spoke the universal languages of joy, laughter and merry-making of the celebrations.

More impressive though, was the Spirit of Christmas reflected through our hosts, Andrew and Kaori, for not only opening their home to us - to provide a more than ideal place to just relax the muscles and joints after a long day in the cold and bitter snow; but also extending their heart to us, all of us present, by hosting a generous Christmas Dinner that fittingly-symbolised the occassion.

One of the few Christmases away from the traditional familial celebrations, but hardly any of the Spirit was lost over all those miles of ocean from home.

A White Christmas may be magical in it's own right, but it sure helps having a (red) roof over your head be fully enjoy the warmth of the festival.  

Room with a Mountain of a View
The Hosts