An Iterative Approach to AGS

Ben304 (author of Annie Android and Shifter’s Box) is currently doing something on his blog that warrants a mention, even if I’m not yet quite sure as to what is going on. This may turn out to be the very point of this exercise: Alienation, uncertainty, disconnection… on the outset, though, it seems as though he’s developing an adventure game thru iteration.

So far, Ben’s released six versions of the “game”, each of which have come with a new background screen to play. From the third Interactive on, you can choose which scene to play; in many ways, his approach comes close to the episodic model, but releasing the game iterated like this, erasing the previous version as he goes, does make the overall procedure a lot more eerie than it normally would. The game’s unorthodox hues and uniform palette do further contribute to this feeling, as do the barren, mountainous locations.

The game seems to be about a person trying to uncover deeper meaning – a raison d’être – in the form of “the essence” or “the source”. At the beginning of the first Interactive, the main character comes close to this source, close enough to begin a quest, a hunt for the truth.

There are temporal layers and distortions in the storyline, and while Ben304 does promise more storytelling and gameplay in subsequent versions, another tangible aspect of the project is the exhibition of meaningful feedback and responses from events and actions: There is a definite emphasis on positioning, movement and object states, as there is no inventory or control switches, just one-button point and click.

All things said, what I especially enjoy about the project is its lack of continuity: The scenes are both self-contained and related in narrative and geography, but what is normally sandwiched in-between screens seems non-existent. Interesting concept, check it out!