My perspective on Perspective

Posted: October 31, 2012

Perspective is a 30-ish level puzzle platform game I made a few years ago. (Not to be confused with the much cooler looking portal-styled Digipen game of the same title that was announced recently.) A lot of good came of the love and time I put into this game. Even though it only went on to sell about five copies the polish and overall strength of the mechanics and level design more or less single-handedly earned me my current job as a designer.

Perspective

Swapping characters, making towers, getting keys.

But with the main positives aside there’s a lot of things wrong with the game. The kind of things about a project that at first make you a little sad that your masterpiece wasn’t as perfect as you hoped it would be, but then later make you fairly excited to work on new projects with lessons learned, problems understood and plans for improvement.

Major problems with Perspective:

The way the story was presented. 

The story was shown through interim black screens with text on them that appeared between levels that the player would have to hit buttons to get through. Given the story was fairly ambiguous, ‘interpretive’ and difficult to understand from the beginning this made the story a bit of a nuisance to a lot of players who would be mashing the spacebar just to get through the text. There was no need for these scenes. I could have easily presented the same kind of information in the background of the level, allowing the players to read what they wanted and ignore what they wanted.

The story itself.

It was fairly ambiguous, ‘interpretive’ and difficult to understand from the beginning. I think for a lot of people this probably gave it an air of pretentiousness that was never really intended. The main ideas of the story are mostly simple reflections on life and long term goals. I don’t think I ended up getting the ideas I wanted to across that well. Some people liked it though, which makes me feel a bit better about it. But lessons were definitely learned.

The gameplay conflicted with the presentation. 

The game presents itself as a slow paced, thinky-smarty puzzle game for the most part but a number of levels have fairly obvious solutions with high execution barriers based around precise jumping and switching. This wasn’t really the point of the game but I let my natural twitchy-game designer get the best of me on more than one occasion. But again, I come out the other side with a better understanding of difficulty ‘types’ and parameters, and how to produce challenges that are themed and correct for the audience and presentation of the game.

There’s a couple of other things I’d also want to do differently with this game, like giving players other routes to take if they got stuck with a level instead of a linear puzzle progression which can often create brick walls. Of course there’s a number of polishing touches like level select, better save game system, menus and so on but I feel the three things above were the main learning outcomes of Perspective.

I’m still very proud and happy with the game despite laughably low sales and love to hear people tell me what they thought of it. You can get it for $3 from Indievania if you want to play it. If you do (thanks!) or have played it in the past leave a comment letting me know what you thought!

-S