promesst 2.pngYou CAN be inspired by a game that you don't complete. That's how I felt about Michael Brough's Corrypt, and developer Sean Barrett (Lost in the Static, Succor) agrees.

Sean was actually inspired enough by the likes of Corrypt and Game Title to lead him to create a freeware puzzler for Windows called Promesst. It certainly looks Brough-like (a new genre, perhaps?), but I was able use powers beyond pushing much more quickly than in Corrypt.

With these powers revealed so early, one can only speculate what happens in Promesst's turning point. While I won't spoil that, I did want to share Sean's thoughts on creating a game that is, oddly enough, not something he'd personally want to play.

promesst game.pngSean says that all of his games tend to be his spin on an existing idea, rather than being largely original. "In this case, what I noticed was that Michael Brough had multiple games that used the same general structure -- a small set of rooms on a small world map, multiple levels, tile-based, a few mechanics, Metroid-like change in abilities to get through the level.

"If he'd just had one game like that I would've felt weird ripping off the structure, but since he has more than one, I felt like I could add another game to that 'mini-genre' without seeming too clone-y; the stuff I'm copying isn't particularly unique to one game, and the mechanics are totally different from all those games."

Sean says the twist in Promesst is a lot like the twist in Corrypt, but it's also "radically different mechanically." He found that part of Corrypt amazingly clever but essentially not something he could enjoy.

He adds, "But instead of reacting to that by making a game that *was* for me, I went ahead and embraced that idea, and designed Promesst to *also* not be for me. Since I don't have to solve it, just design it, that's not a problem. Some of my friends are big Corrypt fans, so I suspected they would like Promesst even if I wouldn't have liked it myself as much as they do (much like Corrypt)."

Sean elaborates a bit on what makes Promesst different, but he prefaced it as a semi-spoiler. "In Corrypt and Promesst[...], the later stage of the game introduces some chaos--you're simultaneously solving puzzles and creating new ones for yourself due to the non-local consequences of your actions.

"In the case of Promesst, though, I simply designed in some planned solutions for all of the final gems. They aren't the ones I expect people to discover for themselves, nor are they necessarily optimal. They serve two purposes: they guarantee the game is winnable, and they gave me a solution I could use while testing. So again, I didn't really have to deal with the chaos that confronts a normal player; I could just test it without that."

So, what's a person to learn when forced to create something he doesn't want to play? The premise wasn't like Fuck This Jam; Sean didn't take something he hated to make something he would like in the end. However, he says that creating Promesst wasn't all that different from his experience of creating games he has enjoyed.

He analogizes, "If you're going to write a book, you better love reading, you better love your use of language, you better love the way your characters talk. But you probably don't have to love plot twists to be willing to and to enjoy *writing* plot twists."

[Thanks to Promesst play tester Jonathan Blow for tweeting about it!]