That half-minute of WTF has a name - POP: Methodology Experiment 1, created by Rob Lach for IGF 2012. His blog says that POP is built to explore a different approach to game development pipelines. POP's music is created first, and Lach runs with the first game concept that happens to emerge during his creative process (no matter how awful).

POP is built on top of the Monocle Engine and is currently working on PC, Mac, Linux, and iOS devices. Lach is planning for an early 2012 initial release, while which platforms make the final cut is still up in the air. He is hoping to have the interactive elements integrated within the year, but bringing the experience to where he wants it (technically and design-wise) might take a bit of time, he says.

For those curious about his psychedelic work in progress, how it plays, and what other experiments Lach has planned, read on.

I'm curious what's going on when I watch the trailer. What will I be playing?

What you're playing is a series of game vignettes tied to music. How they're tied isn't necessarily rhythmically; it has more to do with the pacing and the emotion the music evokes.

What inspired you to do this music-first experiment and how has the music inspired what I see in the video?

I think my creative process in general is very musically driven. I've realized this recently (which prompted my sudden shelving of other projects and working on POP) and have been thinking of ways to use this connection in interesting ways.

Even when editing the teaser, I looked for a piece of music that evoked what I wanted the trailer to show and edited the game footage to that.

I'm just attempting to not use music as a filter, but as a sort of emotional leaky bucket. I'm hoping to capture a few drops and bring out those feelings within the game.


If you are playing to the pacing of the music, are you forced between vignettes? What keeps the pace?

Each vignette stands alone in theme, music, and pace.

At first I had the player just progressing through each scene but the sudden changes were quite jarring. I experimented with introductory screens and thought about creating some sort of logical transition between each vignette. I ended up inserting short video clips that are entirely unrelated. It sets a tone of total discontinuity which works to the game's favor.

Does each vignette have its own gameplay mechanics? Could you explore some of these mechanics?

The mechanics are totally different from one vignette to another. Even the primary input device changes. The mechanics aren't very complex by design, so there isn't that much opportunity for exploring them other than trying to reach a favorable end state.

I'm still experimenting with different ways I'll introduce the mechanics to the player, balancing the amount of trial and error based learning against mastery.


What does POP stand for, if anything?

POP stands for the word "pop," but in all capital letters (to give it some pop).

POP is experiment #1? Does that mean #2 is coming?

I have at least 2 more methodology experiments I'd like to do.

One is more concerned with the relationship an art style has with your game and how that decision, as well as when that decision is made, affects everything.

The other is about team organization. There are enormous logistical issues with going forward with this idea though.

There is also another experimental project that isn't necessarily concerned with development methodologies but with shared experiences among players. I'll be modifying an existing game to accomplish that one though as familiarity is a prerequisite.

In any case, my next couple of projects are less experiment and more game, so I wouldn't expect Methodology Experiment 2 and 3 soon.