Friday, July 15, 2011

Galaxy Map, Tea and Agent Cooper

Just a quick teaser of info for anyone out there who might be interested.
Here's a screenshot of the game as it currently stands:

In the shot you can see Inco (little guy in helmet) and Helios off exploring a planet featuring Helions (stars) encased in quartz, swingable Grapple-points (huge fun to use), PowerPod generators, Microportal units, and a computer screen with a message from The Corporation apologising for the genocide of all other life in the universe. Fun stuff.

Here's the overall Galaxy Map for Incoboto:

I always find it a huge amount of fun creating maps like this. For me, it's a sort of statement of intent, and a mark of confidence: one of the first things that must be done to make a world 'real'.

Creativity is all arbitrary. Meaningless. If Agent Cooper had preferred tea, he'd have been a different, but equally good Agent Cooper. There would have been 'Damn Fine Cup of Tea' mugs, bumper stickers and similar merchandise. People would have said: "Bet he's going to have a cup of tea! That's soooo Cooper."

If this seems wrong to you, it is only because you have - as Lynch would put it - eaten the Donut and not the Hole. As an end-user, you don't get to see what was thrown away. You don't get to experience the alternative universes of potentialities that might have been. Lucky you.

For us inside the creative process of a project, creative decisions are only made convincing and 'real' by acting as if each decision is correct, and maintaining this for a prolonged period of time. This can be difficult due to the many forces that buffet creativity around and attempt to alter or influence the constructs you have in your head.

This map may change due to the realities of development, but I'll be sitting here for much of the time looking at this map and by sheer force of magical will, making it as real to my own mind as I possibly can.


  1. Love the art, and appreciate your musings on creating a world and characters...but I'd like to ask, will you make this for iPhone as well as iPad? And also, just in general, is that a big deal? Do you have to reverse-engineer a lot of your work to do so (or, alternatively, do you have to start with two foundations and develop parallel projects)? Or is iOS just that smart, that it's NOT too big a deal?

  2. Okay - there are 3 parts to this.

    1) Code: code-wise, it's pretty simple to convert. The game was originally created on an iPhone 2G! However, it started to chug and the sense of scale just wasn't *quite* where I wanted it to be. This is going to pose a few problems when I convert it.

    2) GUI: The UI *should* pretty much convert seamlessly... but it won't. I'll have to re-author a lot of the interface, add drag-scrolling to the screens that currently only close when you touch them, and things like that.

    3) Size: Incoboto is BIG and getting bigger every day. I've kept the music files as small as I can without destroying them. Likewise the art files, etc. At this present time I have no idea if they'll all fit on a 2G iPhone/iPod!

    So, if Incoboto sells at all, I'll probably spend a month flapping around trying to make Incoboto: Pocket. With luck it'll be identical. With no luck, it'll be cut down somewhat.

    That said, Incoboto feels right for the iPad. If I think I'll have to kill the game's mood to get it onto an iPod again, I may have to reconsider.

  3. I presume there is a missing triangle that needs 'arrow', or can you play the whole game without 'arrow'?

    Also, love your bit on creativity (as usual) and find it particularly applicable to life at LH right now (as usual). What I want to know is when is it important to let go of the 'is', and when can you be more lenient with the creation of 'is'es by creating 'or'ses instead?

  4. Arrow probably isn't what you think it is. It's the equivalent of Fable 2's breadcrumb trail. Since it's so easy to forget where Stars are, it points out the nearest one each time you bring up the Lens. So, yes, you can finish the game without it. Well spotted, though.

    Regarding the 'is' versus 'or', I think it depends on *why* you're choosing to go with the more flexible one.

    It's fine if you're just starting. All 'is'es starts off as 'might be's.

    It's fine if the decision is contingent on some other factor yet to be proven (say, a piece of tech, or experimental gameplay): prudence is rarely stupid.

    It's fine if you fear incompatibility with some other 'is', though if this happens too much, you probably don't fully grok the priorities of each decision. Some are core to the experience. Some are less so. Knowing *why* you've made a decision will help here.

    Agent Cooper's coffee was probably arrived at because Lynch is a massive coffee fan, and - for him - it has a totemic meaning. It's still random, but it's HIS random. There is nothing inherently perfect about the coffee, but Lynch knew how he felt about coffee and thought it more natural: "After all," he says. "Coffee is awesome!"

    To use a weird metaphor; I think the whole process is like playing with alphabet soup. Letters float around, you prod them with a spoon, and eventually you find yourself forming swear-words. However, you can't start off with the 'F', then look for a 'U' etc. as you'll find the 'F' will drift off and perhaps a 'C' will make itself known. At this point, it's sensible to pursue a different vulgarity. The point was to make a swear-word. Getting hung up on the 'F' is getting in the way.

    Part of creativity is also insanity/magic/instinct, and the use of this to know when it's the right time to make that map. I think you have to have a bit of one of these in order to have the confidence to say: "This *is*"

    Oh, yeah, deadlines and running out of money can help, too. :-)