New Project: Sibilant Snakelikes

Today I finally started writing some actual code for the new project I’ve been quietly thinking about on and off for the last several months: Sibilant Snakelikes. It’s another iteration in my interest in how we can remediate one kind of game into another kind of game’s framework. So in this case Sibilant Snakelikes will be a series of remediations of existing games into the form of Snake. As per usual I’m choosing a kind of “low resolution” game as the target platform because I think that it’s more controllable that way, the design decisions can achieve more clarity, the code itself is going to be less nightmarish, and also because it’s quite funny to work on this kind of thing.

I’ve already done a bunch of designing of the subgames of the project to a point where I feel like I understand them about as well as I can in order to begin implementation (and thus begin to understand them from an implementation perspective which will naturally change elements of their design). The rule for picking games to remediate is premised on the title of the game: they have to have an ‘S’ in the title, which the remediated version with triple to make it more snake-y. Thus we have: Ssshadow of the Colossssssusss (pictured above), The Witnessssss, Sssuper Mario Brosss., and ssso forth. It’s nice to have simple rules to make those sorts of decisions - closes down the potential design space so you don’t freeze up. In a way reminds me of the kinds of constraints used by Oulipo.

Each game will thus be an attempt to represent the gameplay and experience of the source game in the target system of Snake. Naturally this leads to plenty of absurdity and bizarre compromises. One thing I’m interested in is the tension between the source and target systems in terms of which has ‘primacy’ when deciding how to make a specific design decision. This project should be a chance to meditate on those kinds of questions as I go.

Since I started working with git to manage my production of games, and in particular since I started writing public-facing (post-release) design documentation, I’ve noticed I write a lot less about what I’m working on here on the website. With this project I’d quite like to remedy that. So I’ll probably try to write posts here on the website, and then also just paste them into my documentation in the repository as I go - seems a reasonable compromise, and I miss attempting to communicate about this work more directly with the outside world. And, at least until I go fully open source and just develop these games in the open in a public repository (which I may well do), it’d be nice to have a ‘live’ portrayal of the work for anyone who’s interested.

Finally, I just wanted to note here what a big deal it felt like today to finally just sit down and implement the very beginnings of Ssshadow of the Colossssssusss. In some ways it seems a bit lame to me, but I have felt kind of emotional about it. I haven’t managed to work on a game since It is as if you were doing work, which is now about four months back. There have been perfectly good reasons (traveling to Hawaii to help run a workshop, home-life stuff that needed attention, preparation for teaching a new course, writing grant applications, writing essays for publication, going to a lot of meetings because I’m faculty at a university, etc.), but I discovering (or, really, rediscovering) just how fundamental to my sense of self working on games is. I was getting into some pretty bad emotional states because of it, to be honest with you. So there was a real sense of elation today when I actually did something toward getting a game made. Naturally now it seems like I could have just jumped in earlier and been happier, but who knows whether that’s really true. Good things take time etc.

11 October 2017
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