Thursday, May 3, 2012

Space In Fall Up

Since having finished my last project Fall Up To The Sky, I have had time to think about some of the implications that my own work may have in regards to the construction of interactive spaces. The first thing which came to mind is the mapping of affective triggers. The space of Fall Up  is undoubtedly thick, yet at the same time possesses a simple, two dimensional aesthetic which makes analysis of the work both approachable as well as concise. 

The first significant affective trigger is when the cage falls onto the player leaving them trapped. Up until this point there have been no dangers or even any other moving objects to interact with so this event comes as a shock - its effects intensified by the player's current expectations of the game space. Like the cage falling, there is a later part where hands extend from the walls and reach for the player - its affectivness born again from shock through the deconstruction of expectation. Remembering that affect is a constant, cyclic process, it is important to note that the agency of the games elements are operating throughout it is just that these elements are particularly notable for their reaction. Perhaps it is just that emotions such as shock are just more outwardly apparent?

Most of the games challenges are to do with precision and mastering the mechanics of the space so it is interesting to consider a particular level where the exit lies right in front of the player but as they approach, walls materialise and block the way. The experience of game play thus far suggests that there must be a way to slip through before they close, perhaps you need to approach from a certain angle? The solution is considerably simpler and involves merely walking to the side where a new passage is revealed. There is a definite sense of frustration garnered from this obstacle and a certain sense of disappointment when the correct path is discovered, as if a cruel trick has just been unleashed on the player. In the same way, harder sections of the game were also notable in the frustration that they produced, an affect which like, shock, is outwardly obvious.

In a sense, Fall Up is quite generic in that it closely follows video game conventions (stages, enemies etc), the greatest innovation would be that the player has the power to control gravity. It is this ability to manipulate a force that would normally be impossible to effect that gives an illusionary sense of control to the player. It is this wider expectation set out by similar game spaces which is reterritorialised. Most of the elements in the game are in fact uncontrollable, you cannot shift walls, move many of the dangers or disrupt any other prewritten mechanics but it is through the ability to effect a few small components such as some of the games creatures or dust particles on the floor which satisfies the player with a sense of power. Like my thoughts on the construction of space in Portal, the space of Fall Up is still very much restrained, there is only one path to follow and although you can move freely through this space, it is a space still defined by the boundaries of a single screen. The sense of freedom and wonder allowed is based entirely on the players understanding that gravity is not a force that they are normally able to control and the subversion of this commandment. 

In other news, I'm working on a new project which is about half done, more details on that later!

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