It's easy to assume that brand of games, singular-mechanic-puzzles, has its heyday now as alternative to the mechanically overloaded Assassin's Creed 2 stuff. There is only one way to solve the problem in Stephen's Sausage roll, just about (not actually true -ed), it's a puzzle box everytime, and so you get a very clear, focused message portaled into your brain.
I dunno, what was Portal compared to Infernium? That stock asset vibe, where everything is a self-conscious arrangement of assets, although Portal had surprising departures (as was the point maybe) and Infernium does not. I've talked about that "vision of hell" thing before, what with devil daggers, or really the critical work of Winter K. and Stephen Thecatamites, specifically Winter K:
“I wanted the player to feel the absolute despair of brick labyrinth, the deep cavern with no rope for climbing out. I envisioned a place of infinite width and depth—dark, yet illuminated. The softly glowing walls cast no guiding light into absolute void. They leer, useless. It is life, eternal, on the precipice of a pit, falling into the pit, scaling the pit’s rough wall, becoming irretrievably lodged in the canyon crack, in nowhere. This was my sketch of what I thought might be a 21st Century psychology: a mental world reduced to a skeletal arrangement of a maze-maker’s traps, and the obsessive drive to feed them both body and brain in hopes of purchasing escape. It is indescribably erotic.” - Shigeru Miyamoto (a fake quote by Winter)Infernium specifically sets out to be prisonworld, as the designers and foddy said it's based on pac-man, "a maze with no exits" and although there is a consistent, jerking jump-scare every time you lose a life and a very real and very difficult "perma-death" system, I find the hellishness of the game to be centered in the sheer volume of work here, accomplished by a thin spread of creative effort, an absolute abandonment of video-game AAA density. If you can imagine Metal Gear Solid 2's reckless application of detail on one end, Infernium is much more on the single-developer unitygame just five assets end. But it's as large and as complex and *more* difficult than MGS2.
There's something obscene in a sheer volume of deathmazes, like one of those puzzlegames where every puzzle is four different colors and there's 299 levels. Moreover Infernium actually asks you to continuously harvest a fresh supply of lives or start all over again. I'll add that all this is mitigated by the unlock system, so there's uhh progression.
I guess the end point of Stephen's Sausage roll's depth came when I was able to visualize and complete the puzzles in my literal sleep. Not because they were easy, but because the sheer regard to mechanical action was enough to solve them, rather than a continuous & difficult visualization (like sweeping all the pieces off a chess board would require). The whole game is the exploration of about five moving parts; they interact in ways that are upsetting and confusing in their deepest as my brain churns and revolts at the ideas; you got to let the stupid shit go heh heh
two games by a solo developer: stephen's sausage roll by stephen lavelle and inferniuim by carlos coronado
* * * * instadeath: nights presents: was Portal (2007) all about stock assets? * * * *
this an essay which would be better done with pictures alone, but, if you can consider an essential stock-assetyness which happens every time you are gripping and pulling and grinding a metal folding chair and it makes the clankityclankityclank source engine sound as it tries to not clip, can you consider how much of that game was carefully re-arranging giant balls of energy disguised as hollow sheetmetal objects?
I think about "challenge" in video games as the reward when you get the thing in the thing. There's a clunk as it slots in. If you had to think it out before hand that's all well and good but there's still the careful, tedious process of slotting it in (especially with 3d controls). The thing so often resists being pulled in.
|thunk thunk thunk bezowoop thunk|
Then there's that careful, often magnetic attempt by the developers to help you out when you're close . Magnets, tractor beams always the easiest way to handle 3d-space objects . In Sausage Roll you have instead a precise and precisely non-abstract method of handling, non-abstract because the basic methodology of piercing, pushing, and sliding the sausages is so completely and depravedly explored.
You may begin to view 3D games as an arrangement of assets which all share these assety qualities, like, provisional friction. Speedrunning techniques common among several engines expose this. And how much of our imagination of these spaces gets quietly informed by the assetishness of assets. so many times where you're hoplessly sliding around a room full of superlight objects, uhh see lilly zone's geometry falls