The stuff nobody notices
But that is still totally worth it! …maybe?
[spoilers about Another Perspective to follow]
When I made Another Perspective I tried really hard to theme it in a particular way. A lot of the game’s story is about identity. What it means to be a video game character or a ‘fictional’ character in general. That ‘story’ and idea is ofcourse wrapped underneath the mental challenges of a puzzle game, which is the first thing most people playing the game are interested in. I could go into depth about how I came up with the story and what it means to me but that’s a whole article in itself. What I want to talk about here is some of the things I did to try and convey specific ideas and how a lot of them ended up not so much being “mis-interpreted” but simply not interpreted at all.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t see this as some sort of huge failing on my part. Every game and piece of art in general is coated with details that nobody notices or seems to care about. Things that often took a ton of work too.
It’s interesting to me to think about though, because even though it seems from an objective view that some of these things were a waste of time; I still don’t see myself doing the game differently if I went back and made it again*. Because there’s something about adding in dumb stuff that nobody will notice that’s insanely exciting to me. Because every now and again, one person notices and it resonates with them in a powerful way and makes everything completely worth it.
Even if it doesn’t exactly equate to more sales.
That said I want to share some of these things with the people that didn’t notice them. So if you’ve already played the game to it’s completion, here are some fun details you might not have noticed. If you haven’t, don’t spoil yourself! Or do. Up to you really.
[SPOILERS START HERE]
- When you pass through a door in the game, the screen fades to black and the next level fades in. The player character however, never actually fades out. He’s always visible no matter what and never actually leaves the screen**. He enters each new level exactly where he left the last level. This was important to me to create this sense of an unbroken stream of consciousness. No distracting ‘blink’ of him leaving the screen while the level changes only to catch up with him in the next level. You’re always with him. The only breaks being when you “shift” characters. Making this mechanic the only focus of the questions surrounding the character’s identity. I like to think this one works on a sub-concious level even though conciously most players say they never noticed it at all when it’s pointed out to them. Or at least I hope so. Because it had a monstrous effect on level design***.
- Whenever you shift character, the moving fog in the background changes direction. Actually, quite a few players notice this one and tend to feel quite smart/satisfied when they do so and are eager to point it out. Which is really cool and feels awesome to me when they do. This one is quite a simple reflection of the idea that you’re seeing the world from a new perspective and that things are different/opposite now. Working in tandem with the text/personality shifts/opposites that often occur when you shift.
- There are two, separate trailers for the game. They’re very similarly named and are very similar in content. This was supposed to reflect a lot of what the game is about, in that with a seemingly minor change, everything can come across differently while appearing mostly the same. The first trailer was titled “Official Trailer: Another Perspective” and the second was titled “Another Perspective: Official Trailer“. The trailers involve two “voices” describing the game and what it’s about in a slightly different manner. The voices instantly swap whenever the gameplay shows a character shift. One of the voices is me, the developer, talking very strictly and excitedly about the game and the other is represents an unknown person described only as “Shaun’s friend” talking about the game, seeming more confused and uncertain about what it actually is. Each voice has a complete script that is cut into chunks and matched with chunks of the other voice to form two scripts. One for each trailer. If you really wanted to you could put the parts back together from both trailers to get the complete dialogue for each voice. If you want to see what that looks like, here’s the complete original script. Most people don’t even notice there are two trailers let alone all this extra nonsense. I think a lot of that comes down to how I named them, trying to be to clever for my own good and not being clear enough about what I was trying to do. But I still like how it exists today all the same.
- In the ending for the game[seriously, spoilers.], you end up walking on the outside of old levels. With the walls existing where there was space and space existing where there was wall. This is hinted to by the sillhouettes of characters and keys and doors in specific places that they were in before. This was done to reflect the idea there was a completely opposite conclusion to draw about the character’s identity and meaning. It also neatly conveys the idea of now existing “outside of the box”, as most levels had kept him inside walls. This is also the only part of the game where text is drawn on to the wall surfaces as opposed to floating in the air around the player. The ending was all about creating a sense of oneness. A lot of players though, spend a lot of time trying to reach the ‘key’ sillhouettes on the wall thinking they’re an item or secret. Understandable given they look similar to ‘phased out’ keys earlier in the game.
- Half way through the game there is a second music track that plays. This track is actually just the first track played backwards. Literally. No other editing was done I just reversed the main theme of the game. It actually had a totally perfect effect as while the start of the game conveys a lot of mystery, but in a curious kind of way. Later in the game the mood gets kind of unsettling, confused and distressed. Backwards piano notes add to this mood quite well because of how unnatural and odd they sound.
Theres a few other things too, but you get the idea. A lot of the stuff I’m actually most proud of in this game is the stuff nobody ever particularly notices. Which is a very strange way of thinking and I’m not sure is one that is conducive to me ever making a profit. Haha.
OH WELL. VIDEO GAMES.
*Actually there’s a lot I’d do differently, but not in the sense of “not doing stuff like this” rather than making it more visible and drawing more attention to it.
**Except when you fall out of the screen or restart the level.
***Every level had to have the player start where he left the last level. This made it really hard to move the order of levels around whenever I wanted which was a big pain. It also made it hard to create certain styles or themes of level wherever I wanted. I had to get creative a lot of the time. Levels often end with big pits/falls before the door, or big climbs/stairways. This is often done just to set up the next level.