Choose your own vignette

Game designer Daniel Benmergui of Ludomancy has been experimenting with some very interesting stuff. In some brief posts on the subjects of Experimental Gameplay and Defying Genres, he sounds the call for a radical departure from run of the mill games and tried and true mechanics, and his growing collection of innovative, unclassifiable game prototypes in no way belies these intentions.

I wish I were the moon looks to be the inauguration of a new genre. (Perhaps an inevitable side effect of successfully defying genres is creating them.) The game consists of a small scene of movable characters and objects, and how you manipulate them determines the outcome of the story. This is done with a camera which can take snapshots of the elements in the scene and place them in a new position, a kind of copy-paste mechanic. If there is a goal at all, it is to replay the game different ways in order to discover all of the possible endings — but Daniel freely admits that even this is a "gimmick", and the real point is simply to explore the emotional experience of the game.

While the underlying mechanic is unusual, the style is equally singular, with its simple pixellated graphics, dreamy, poetic atmosphere, and quiet, understated storyline, which is inspired by Italo Calvino's story The Distance of the Moon.

Storyteller is the next game to build on this mechanic. The gamespace is a triptych of three moments in time that tell a miniature fairy tale, and the characters can be moved around in any of the three timeframes to instantly change the outcome of events.

Third is The Trials, which allows for the elements to be duplicated instead of simply moved. This game, like its predecessors, explores themes of conflict, longing, and contentment.

Finally, there is Night Raveler and the Heartbroken Uruguayans, which also showcases similar themes (love, loneliness, loss), but with a new mechanic: you play an alien (?), floating around the city strategically cutting the lines that join people and letting new ones form. Some may find true love, and some may be left in the cold. As with the other games, this one is about exploring the consequences of your choices.

And this is why I suggest that Daniel has created a new genre: Gregory Weir of Ludus Novus has created (I Fell in Love With) The Majesty of Colors, an intriguing game modeled on the style of I wish I were the moon, with a storyline inspired by Lovecraft. You play a tentacled sea creature who is revealed for the first time to the humans of the world above, its attention attracted by the enchanting colors of balloons, and the choices you make determine the outcome of this tricky first contact scenario.

Gregory has been kind enough to share an illuminating postmortem of the game in place of his usual column on GameSetWatch.

Last night I dreamed I was an immense beast, floating in darkness. I knew nothing of the surface world until I fell in love with the majesty of colors.

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Anonymous J.Martin:

Looks like a cool game...


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