To a large extent the game HH was an obligation to twelve years spent talking about it and to the festival that provided a cathartic deadline. Not badly done, but a realisation of designs that came out of the mid 1990s – having said I would do this, I did this. Specifications met.
Was it a success? No, probably not. It’s disappointing that I spent more man hours in making this thing than seemed to come out of it. I’ve heard no report that anyone has understood the more subtle parts of it; no one has ever wondered what became of Sunday March or why she had that name, why there were coffins laid out near an underground replica of Denver airport and so on. I did write a few pages of explanation but eventually decided against it. Doesn’t matter.
Maybe it takes another 12 years before anyone wonders. After spending most of 2013 in a flurry of new work the only request I’ve had recently is to re-issue music from 30 years ago. Again. On vinyl. Still, creativity goes on because the birds demand it, and I’ve come to trust them far more than the indifference of people.
So having met the promise to people, now to meet the promise to birds.
I have two directions in mind. One is a prequel, H. It’s entirely words, based on a MUSH engine. Young people might wonder how that works – there are rooms described in words, they are formed into a map. I am the principal author of the rooms but eventually other players start to write their own rooms, and the map grows as multiple narratives start to develop like cancers. I ran a test MUSH back in 2007 for a literature class I was taking at UTS and it worked but I’m not ready to define the politics of how it would work in a wider audience. If done badly it becomes a series of GO NORTH and DRINK INK, done well and you would wonder if another player was writing you.
The other end is the sequel H3H, which addresses my problem that you can’t build dreams from straight lines, and that’s all I can do in 3D.
It became obvious a while back that photo manipulation is the royal road to the gaming uncanny. But photos are flat, sound is round. How do you spatialise sound on a flat photo? This leads to panoramic photography, which bends the image to suit the audible. I’ve been trying out different game engines that produce Myst style panoramic tours. Most venerable is Adventure Maker but it’s still a solo effort locked to PCs, no web support and with bugs that no one had time to solve with me. Paid the fee, moved on. Ended up with Kolor’s AutoTour which in itself isn’t interesting but that it writes XML that can be interpreted by krpano. That in turn is a complex, nuggety little player than can execute code in the XML to do things like hide and reveal hot spots, play sounds and so on – enough for what I’m planning: an online experience.
Instead of moving through a 3D space you’ll jump from vantage point to vantage point which is a step back in freedom but means I can make the game out of still photographs and complex non-real time 3D renders. Where HH was made out of straight lines and grids, H3H will be fuzzy and messy and more like being inside a painting. The way that the rabbits were painted – that kind of organic look is possible.
That’s appropriate for a story line where a ‘golem’ is harvested that can create contained realities – the ‘castles’ in HH. In that game the ‘princess’ had just started her rampage. What I want now is to show the scenery much later – with Sunday March’s ultimate fate made explicit. I can imagine what hundreds of years of omnipotent insanity could wreak – but I don’t think I can model it as 3d objects.
Problems right now are mostly that the sound is not actually spatial but panned. To make a mix means setting up arrays of speakers to form stereo pairs. In Flash you get a decent sound space, in HTML 5 you get nothing, because HTML 5 is
a bad joke promoted by that idiot Steve Jobs a work in progress.
You start in the same control bunker as HH. But a considerable time has passed, in which the mayhem has had a long time to fester. The bunker is torn up and the only door that was previously locked is now open.
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
If you have played HH you probably guessed that’s the food locker and where they put the bodies before evacuating. Well, this level is going to be called Walking In A Winter Wonderland or Once Company, Freezer Crowd.
If you’ve followed the meandering history of this project you may have noticed that this mix of great antiquity and an intrusion into confined madness is coming back to the plot of Aerodrom. I am slow, but by god I am very tenacious.