Arthouse Games
by Shawn McGrathWednesday, November 28, 2007 [4:50 am]

There's no sour/bitterness or whatever. I still consider Fish my friend and I hope Fez does very well! I'm looking forward to hanging out with him in SF this year, (assuming he goes to gdc... and assuming I go).

I've decided to write out some of my thoughts on the whole rotation idea:

The 2D/3D rotation is a trainwreck idea. The whole thing =)

I spent 3 months after Fish left to work on his own thing playing with it, and it's unworkable.

It's *FAR* too difficult to visualize the result of anything more than a very very simple rotation. The idea was to require movement in xy to affect objects in zy so you'd have to work in both perspectives to solve problems. It's far too difficult to visualize this. Actually, it's not *too* difficult, it's just requires too much conditioning - It takes a very long time for a player to understand the dimensional relationships.

My idea had a central pivot point, rather than pivoting on the player to allow things to move independently from the player, and add repercussions to rotation. Also various surfaces to alter the mechanics of rotation. ie: push a block, or stand on something blue and that object won't be affected by the rotation, or stand on something red and the object becomes stuck to the tile and will move in 2 dimensions, rather than the one projected dimension.

Without the ability for a dimension shift in xy to affect (negatively) zy you get an indirect problem: the world becomes you reaching a point you can't pass, and you just try rotating until a new path opens up - this isn't very interesting.

The concept could possibly be developed with the addition of more platforming elements, possibly enemies, or bullets or something else to let the ideas sink into the players' minds for longer, but that'd be a totally different game with a tacked on gimmicky rotation.

There might very well be a reason why all the games with altering spacial perception have a 'tacked on' feel; it's too complex to visualize to be the centre-piece of a game. Braid works so fantastically because the puzzles are interesting, unique *AND* solvable by human beings. You can't have all three with the rotation unless you repeat a lot - which subtracts from point 1: being interesting. One reason Braid is successful might be because the player can view both dimensions at once: position and time, whereas with the rotation/projection it's possible only to view the position in a single projection. It's quite possible that a split-screen view of the world would solve this, but that's very uninteresting visually.

Fez looks amazing, but it's suffers from all the problems I mentioned above. It's not the fault of Fish or anyone else, but possibly myself for coming up with a bad idea. I don't think awesome visuals and great sound are enough to carry a bad idea. It might be enough though, what do I know?, it does look and sound awesome, it's just too bad the visuals and sound are wasted on unworkable gameplay mechanic =(


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