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Indie Platformer "SIP" Quenches Game Developemt Thirsts At GDC
Let us tell you about the indie platformer the industry isn't talking about.
By Polly S Hate | March 10, 2012
All things considered, this year's Game Developers Conference came and went like a thief in the night to most gamers. Other than a few juicy tabloid-esque outbursts, most gamers likely didn't get much out of coverage of the event.
In the past, larger developers had slyly (and irresponsibly) used the opportunity when attending GDC to champion their newest games. Just another stop along the marketing tour, it seemed. This year's tighter focus on actual game development presentations and sincere, though sometimes heated, dialogue between developers themselves meant there was very little to actually report on that gamers would be interested in.
We'd already packed up our gear and were just on our way out of the event on the final day when a fellow introducing himself as Hudson Ferdinand called for our attention and asked if we were interested in checking out his game. Since new game announcements are about the only thing people want to know about these days, we begrudgingly unpacked some gear and followed him into a dimly lit room where a lone PC was demo'ing his creation, "SIP," which we were quickly told stands for "Stylized Indie Platformer."
As can be deduced from the screenshot above, Stylized Indie Platformer is...well.... a stylized indie platformer. As Hudson demoed his creation for us, which seemed to play a whole lot like a stylized indie platformer, he went over the various intricacies of his design philosophy.
"I don't really want to think of my game as fitting into any specific genre," Hudson told us, pushing up his thick-framed glasses. "The name is ironic, and the game defies typical gameplay convention. When you play my game, I want you to smell the colors and taste the sounds. It's a deep and emotional experience that a lot of normal people probably won't understand. You shouldn't be focusing on mundane issues like whether the game handles well or what genre it fits into. There's a much bigger picture that you're not getting if you don't see this game as the art it truly is. It's subversive."
Our conversation then moved to the topic of other high-profile indie developers and the success they've found in recent years with highly stylized offerings sometimes lauded as "meaningful", of which Mr. Ferdinand seemed highly critical.
"Jonathan Blow and the Limbo guys don't get it either. The plebian gaming press loves throwing that 'indie' label around, but all those guys really made was Mario in a business suit and Mario without any color. I'm sure they'll be designing next year's Call of Duty if they sell out any more."
We dug deeper into the more "abstract" elements of SIP, which feature the "hero character" running, jumping over bottomless pits, and hopping on top of enemy sprites to kill them. He had some very interesting thoughts on the use of traditional gameplay mechanics.
"I see it not only as ironic, but as a deep two-sided metaphor for how gaming is always running away from and trying to dodge change and innovation, and how people such as myself are running forward to push the medium in a new direction. The right direction, which is why all the stages in my game scroll left to right. Because it's the right direction. Do you get what I mean?"
We then asked about how the world he's creating fits together, and if characterization or narrative play any role in SIP's ambitious design.
"When people look at my game and ask about characters and story, I kinda wanna smack them in the face, ya know? You're thinking in concrete terms, you need to be more abstract. Think about what I just said there. 'Concrete.' I'm saying your brain is a big lump of rock."
As our demonstration of SIP drew to a close, he told us that the game's development was just getting underway, but it's something that everyone should pay attention to. He plans to have the game finished sometime in the next 4-6 years, and in the meantime plans to continue "telling it like it is" when it comes to game design, even though he hasn't released a game yet.
Filed under: SIP, indie games, hipster douchebags