October 31, 2013 2:30 AM | John Polson
Windows freeware game and IGF 2014 entry Day Trap was inspired by Sega CD interactive movie game Night Trap in a very "backwards way," shares Rochester Institute of Technology student Nathan Danziger. "I believe that Night Trap is a terrible game, because the core gameplay required players to memorize information." He says Day Trap, on the other hand, asks for learning and understanding from the player.
In my quick playthrough of Day Trap (it's very short), I felt like I had to memorize the moment when the actor's animation was ending, but Nathan says it is much different than Night Trap's gameplay.
"The only way to beat Night Trap is to play it repeatedly and memorize which rooms need a trap at which time. There is no logic to these decisions, only memorization. And failures in that game were brutal: they caused you to start over from the very beginning every time."
He says Day Trap has internal gameplay logic. "The gameplay logic revolves around the logic of cinemagraphs. Also, Day Trap tests to make sure that the player understands the logic of cinemagraphs without invoking a failure state. I usually hate failure in single player games.
"The difference between 'learning' and 'memorizing' is subtle yet present in various games. I believe that players of Day Trap learn how to see the patterns of cinemagraphs without even hearing the word 'cinemagraph' uttered once."
Nathan explains that the player is supposed to learn and understand the dynamics of how "palindromic cinemagraphs" work, to the extent that players would be trained to press a button when a given cinemagraph ends. He says he created this term to describe cinemagraphs that are created by playing a normal video forwards then backwards. "This is different than what I call a 'perfect loop cinemagraph,' which requires the first and last frame of the source clip to be the same image."
The possibilities for gameplay variation using these techniques are endless, Nathan believes. "I can use as many buttons as I want. I can get mouse info if I want to do a point-and-click game for some reason. After making Day Trap, I realized that I have the capacity to make any film game that pops into my head, or re-make any film-game that came before me.
"The concept of my next game (which I call Gay Passover) is that it is a dialogue game that is built unlike any other dialogue game. There is no reading. I believe that reading ruins dialogue games. Instead, there is only one button, and that button controls whether the main character is in the 'normal' world or the 'evil' world. In each sequence, the player must use this power in a dialogue context to solve a series of dialougue puzzles."
Nathan says he is obsessed with single-button games and strongly believes in accessibility for non-gamers, which is why he simplifies control schemes down to one button. While Day Trap is very short and requires just the space bar, Nathan says Gay Passover is going to be longer, with more varied gameplay, detailing his experience growing up in an orthodox Jewish family with lesbian parents.
[Download Day Trap, which requires Quick Time to run]