May 14, 2013 2:45 AM | jeriaska
Labyrinthine point-and-click adventure game Hiversaires debuted last week for iOS and Android mobile devices. French Canadian designer Devine Lu Linvega, who performs electronic music in the Tokyo area as Aliceffekt, documented its creation in a series of devlogs posted to his website XXIIVV.
What is it about point-and-click adventure games as a genre that made you feel it would offer you new opportunities as a designer?
Devine Lu Linvega: I picked point-and-click for its limitations. While I could have gone much further with the genre, I think that for someone who makes his first game it's a pretty safe bet. I've been doing web development, and this feels like almost the exact same thing. It's a genre that is not too wild.
Because gameplay programming for me is still foreign, I wanted something that had minimal interactions so I could have much better control over what's happening. The game itself was an experiment, as this would be the first game I planned on selling. I was curious if I could push the project to where it would be marketable, while giving myself a short timeframe.
One thing that point-and-click was giving me as an opportunity was to make a game kind of like Portal, a non-Euclidean space. I played with that so people would draw maps of these strange, impossible spaces. Space does not really have to make sense because you're only looking at one thing at a time.
How does your game Hiversaires relate to your music projects as Aliceffekt?
The game works a bit like an interactive album. It's divided into five sections that each have their own unique tracks created by my music alias. For me, making games is a mixture of programming, drawing and making music, which I like to combine.
I've been working on music album releases for the past six years. It's industrial music mixed with chiptune, glitch and IDM, a lot of classical strings and sometimes even vocals. I've been doing this for awhile, trying to push it in different directions, in games and in live shows, while using the same alias.
For live shows I make visuals as if it were for a game, with a narrative message intertwined in all of this. I create all of the images in a very disorderly fashion, and when it comes to writing the music it's a matter of putting those images together to create a narrative story.
Processing has been used for visual performances in the live environment by musician like Shaw-Han Liem, the co-creator of Sound Shapes. How would you describe the use of the programming language to people who are not familiar with it?
Processing is a language that was designed for live shows and performance art. There's really nothing too complicated about it. It worked well for me because it had a low-fi, glitchy aesthetic. Unity might be a good option as well, because it's really fast and the rendering is much better than processing. The visual artist XY01 creates VJ software using Unity, but beside him I have not seen it used too much.
What are your thoughts on living in Japan, as far as the effects it's had on the development of your first mobile game?
This is my third time in here. I came back because I felt it was an inspiring place, and I've been here for six months. My work has taught me how to make iPhone apps. I've also had the chance to talk with local developers like m7kenji and Joseph White.
The story of Hiversaires operates entirely without words. How did you foresee this impacting the gameplay experience?
I wrote a story for Hiversaires, but about halfway through development I decided not to show it. In my early testing I realized that people were trying to figure it out and making up their own stories. For me that was much more enticing and interesting than just spelling everything out. When I realized that there would not be an explicit story, that aspect turned out to work really well.
Looking at the forums it was interesting that people were saying things that were not what I meant at all but writing their own stories. I think I will keep this style of making games without words because it also helps with accessibility. There are people playing the game in Spain, Russia, Sweden, China, Korea. I like languages a lot, and I think the story is still being told, even though there is not a single word in the game.
There are a few languages that are present in the game, so if people are curious to know about the cryptic story of the game's world they can visit the translator and grammar notes on my website. It's there, but otherwise anyone can play the game without having to know English.
Were there times during the Beta testing where people were describing the world in a way that was surprising to you?
The development was very interactive, but I think it's more common nowadays to see people make devlogs. Everyday I would write about what I was working on. People would comment saying, "Hey I really like that floppy disc thing." They began seeing fuses and keys.
After awhile I started playing with that. I could have a dialog with other game designers, and that made it all the more fun to develop. It wasn't just a matter of making the game in a studio and putting it out. People were suggesting things and I had a lot of support.
How were you planning on distributing the soundtrack?
It's kind of a tricky topic. Without playing Hiversaires, listening to the music tells the wrong kind of story. When people finish the game, at the end of the credits they can download the soundtrack. But I don't think I'll make it available as an album for now. I would not have released this music alone as Aliceffekt without the game.
What do you find is adding most to your creative process on a game like Hiversaires? Is there an important interplay at work between your engaging in specific activities and finding creative inspiration?
There's a small island on Odaiba where I live where I can go to with my notebook. I don't want to bring my computer because of the glare. I lie down on the grass and listen to music.
A lot of times people ask me, "What are your inspirations?" Ultimately they're looking for images that inspire me. It's hard to explain that most of the time it's music that drives the visuals. There's something that happens when I hear music, some chords or some progression, that will make me see images. I draw a lot of these images.
Photo and video by Jeriaska. Learn more about the game at XXIIVV.