I feel haunted by this esoteric game I want to make.
I feel like when people describe the game they want to make, they can always describe it relative to other games, or list a bunch of games that make sense as clear inspiration. And yet I don't really feel like I can do that with this game that I want to make. What comes to mind are more moments, moods, impressions. The sort of things that are uncomfortable to use as the first points of reference when talking about making a game.
The visual aspects are easier to tease out and describe:
- moody, limited color pallets
- cramped interiors vs the empty void of outer space
- a bunch of sailboats moored in a cold, foggy harbor
- A folding bicycle on cylindrical space stations
- strong colored lights
- temporally-stable blue-noise dithering
- simple 3D graphics
- isometric camera
- The menus from NeiR
- this song
It's also easy to break down into themes, and to think about the story.
The game is about actually living on a space ship
It breaks down, it requires attention, maintenance, repair, with quiet moments in-between to pass the time.
The game is about migration and belonging
What does it mean to travel? what happens when there is no future in your own home? what happens when you don't belong anywhere? Why are some people cosmopolitans and some people refugees?
The game is about the limits and tensions of self-reliance
Having good, simple tools. Knowing how things work. Valuing the materials, processes, and labor that go into things, so they become more than disposable objects: so they can be repaired, loved, and cared for.
But I have no obvious reference in terms of other games. I can't tell you
Overcooked, in space, but instead making food you fix things, with the interior
customization of the sims.
I know there will be simple character movement on small isometric and side-scrolling maps, simple floating button prompts to interact with the world, fixed first person views to get closer views on things.
Press a button and pop-open a panel and get a first person view of the plumbing, wiring, water tanks, fuel lines, you name it. Cut and splice wires, patch tubes, install electronics. Rewire the whole ship if you feel like it.
Get struck by a micro-meteorite and fix everything while you've got red flashing alarms going off. Pull a floor panel off to improvise a hull patch kit. Get fucked by DRM trying to replace a broken computer.
Get stopped by immigration when you arrive at a station trying to find the next place to refuel and ponder the quiet violence of having to fill out a form while you are just trying to survive.
Navigate space, riding gravity like currents. Go outside the airlock, sit on top of your ship and watch a nebula pass while that song plays.
But it falls apart on the details, and that kinda haunts me. I guess she needs to be discovered and explored, I know the first steps, but from there I have no idea where things will take me.