[Easy/Environmental] splitMind

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Offline Jigganis

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[Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« on: August 22, 2010, 05:30:26 »
http://knyttlevels.com/levels/Jigganis%20-%20splitMindv1.1.knytt.bin

A short level; anyone will probably explore everything there is to explore in under half an hour. I give your average player 15 minutes. No significant challenges of any sort, just environment that I believe is very easy and intuitive to traverse, and a bit of philosophy here and there. I'll let the screenshots speak for themselves, now:
« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 20:10:44 by Jigganis »

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Offline Headgrinder

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2010, 14:48:44 »
yahoo, play time.

EDIT:  Ok, only played this for a while, but i gotta say, this is gorgeous.  I'm jealous and profoundly elated you've done this.

EDIT 2:  Correction, this is profoundly gorgeous.  You've accomplished something here that I've been trying to: using knytt stories to make a game that is about exploration of the psyche, a delving into philosophy and reality.  The way you handled the landscape says it, and your "thought boxes" or whatever you would like to call them are perfect for it; the discovering of truth within the maze of darkness and light.

I agree totally with the implications of your thoughts at the beginning: knytt stories has the potential to be a mode of artistic expression having nothing to do with knytts.  I keep wishing there was a version of knytt stories either called Open Stories, or simply Stories, that has no prior commitments to any other stories.  We can use knytt stories to do that, but it could be so much more if there was not that commitment.  Anyway, I ramble too much.

I did find some kind of warp error I think around screen x1009y996.  After exiting the cut scene, I warped backwards into the wall, then could exit normally.  

EDIT 3:  Ok, since I'm still the only poster, Ill keep the edits coming.

There is a lot of great potential symbolism in here... hmmm... perhaps I need to do...

Spoiler: (click to show/hide)

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Offline yohji

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2010, 20:01:58 »
Incredible stuff, as expected from the preview. The level is as stunning as it was, and even more so. The area featured on the third screenshot (the dark area with specks of light) has some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen anywhere. Also, terrific use of sound. Also, what Headgrinder said about exploration of the psyche - I tried doing something like that in one of my levels, but it wasn't very successful, and I'm not even satisfied with it anymore... eh, and now your level makes me want to make more KS levels of that sort.


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Offline Jigganis

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2010, 20:14:05 »
@Headgrinder: Gave you a bit of a response by PM, for one, in the form of this: http://catandgirl.com/?p=2035. I think I fixed that glitch in the very next version. The link should be to that one, now.

@Yohji: Did my psyche thing seem to work well for you in play? Also wondering if the confusion issue was cleared up.

« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 20:29:18 by Jigganis »

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Offline yohji

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2010, 20:42:47 »
@Yohji: Did my psyche thing seem to work well for you in play? Also wondering if the confusion issue was cleared up.

Yes and yes. (Although I'm not sure why the confusion issue no longer existed - it could be that the structure of the world works better now in the finished state, or it could be that I simply got used to the world while playing the preview version. I guess when more people respond we'll know how typical my initial reaction is.)

Do you have more KS levels planned? Because I'm kind of hooked now  :oops:

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Offline Jigganis

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2010, 21:00:04 »
Yes and yes. (Although I'm not sure why the confusion issue no longer existed - it could be that the structure of the world works better now in the finished state, or it could be that I simply got used to the world while playing the preview version. I guess when more people respond we'll know how typical my initial reaction is.)

Do you have more KS levels planned? Because I'm kind of hooked now  :oops:

I admit that as far as the question "did the psyche thing work well for you in play" I was hoping for an expanded answer detailing whether or not you felt the game design choices (level design specifically, here, layout and variety, etc) explained and narrated a non-redundant theme of sorts.

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Offline yohji

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2010, 21:20:29 »
I admit that as far as the question "did the psyche thing work well for you in play" I was hoping for an expanded answer detailing whether or not you felt the game design choices (level design specifically, here, layout and variety, etc) explained and narrated a non-redundant theme of sorts.

I'm not very good at explaining my reactions to pieces of art that impress me, unless technical criticism is required and specifically asked for; so I usually post small replies to people whose levels I like. But since you asked...

Spoiler: (click to show/hide)
« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 21:26:39 by yohji »

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Offline Headgrinder

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2010, 22:18:57 »
I guess I'm an optimist and must reject the cat and girl response to creativity.  I feel we are on the edge of truly understanding who we are, or at least the next big layer.  Postmodernism had a few things to teach us, but ultimately it failed us.  But that is good.  Now we've got the next big challenge and I for one am excited and trying to express that next level in any way I can. 

@yohji - Pestilence eh?  Have to give that a whirl. 

Oh, and as for the text, I guess I can actually partly agree with yohji... in that the text felt outside the game, not a part of it.  It feels like their is no bridge from game to text.  The movement into the character helped it to some degree, but it still doesn't tell us where the text is coming from, where it is going, and why.  It just feels like the game designer is telling us random thoughts in his or her head.  It might help to have a 2nd character who asks the questions, or a mirror, or something, some image which tells us where the text is coming from.  But over all, I do actually like the text, because it is a searching text, a questioning of ourselves, which feels like what the level is.

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Offline yohji

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2010, 22:25:35 »
Oh, and as for the text, I guess I can actually partly agree with yohji... in that the text felt outside the game, not a part of it.  It feels like their is no bridge from game to text.  The movement into the character helped it to some degree, but it still doesn't tell us where the text is coming from, where it is going, and why.  It just feels like the game designer is telling us random thoughts in his or her head.  It might help to have a 2nd character who asks the questions, or a mirror, or something, some image which tells us where the text is coming from.  But over all, I do actually like the text, because it is a searching text, a questioning of ourselves, which feels like what the level is.

Actually, I perceived the texts inside the boxes as an integral part of the level, i.e. not random thoughts of the designer but thoughts of the, er, whoever's psyche we're exploring. My problem was that the thoughts were not, well, satisfactory? Interesting? Engaging? Not sure I can find a proper adjective. I guess what I mean is that very high standards exist for inner monologue/stream of consciousness in literature, ever since Joyce and Eliot and other modernists, and since I like their work immensely, I expect something at least half as impressive from any piece of text that tries to articulate a character's thought processes... Which isn't fair, I know, because Joyce is Joyce. But eh, I can't help it. I realize how pretentious that may sound and I'm sorry  :moody:

upd: Also, this is partially what I meant in those last sentences of my previous post: it may be unfair to expect high prose in a little video game level, but it may also be silly to have high prose in there, because of the nature of the medium.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 22:29:20 by yohji »

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Offline bulbapuck

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2010, 23:17:36 »
This level is amazing :)

Everything worked so well together, and created an incredible atmosphere.

Thank you for this C)p
Emma fell down a well - Enviromental KS level inspired by Salmoneous/Elder
Check out My "Let's Play" channel, I upload fairly regularly and am trying to improve.

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Offline Jigganis

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2010, 02:48:10 »
Hey you two! Yohji and Headgrinder! I love the fact that you guys are willing to get into this pretentious literary stuff. I say that in all seriousness. I recognize the possibility that we could get into some stupid egoistic "my literature you-know-what is bigger than yours!" and so on... Yes, I get that could happen. If we try to communicate about this sort of thing, it's not liable to be wholly pure and useful discussion. However, I think some really interesting conversation about art and about how to convey meaning is possible here--where good and useful things could happen--and I'm game for returning to this topic again and again to talk about that if you guys are. I have quite a few things I think would be interesting to throw out there about how I reacted to your individual commentaries. Later, I'll try to find the time to type them out, as I want to see your further comments. And yes, for Christ's sake! Let's bring Leopold Bloom in here!



One quick further idea along that vein, then: what if the level is not supposedto be a fully immersive story-like experience (say, a Great Expectations or a Catcher in the Rye? What if it's not one of those experiences where you suspend disbelief and actively believe it's a real world? But more like an interactive art piece in a museum where the viewer is largely aware of their own participation and the author's presence in the work? Could that change how you see what I did? (Though, to claim that was always my intent would be to lie and say I wasn't at one point intending for this to resemble one of those classical works that're all immersive. If I said I didn't want the world I created in there to feel like a world, that would be a further lie.)

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Offline Headgrinder

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2010, 13:13:45 »
This is a very personal response.

To me, a piece of art, especially a video game, has the job of taking me somewhere I'm unable to go at the moment.  That could be a simple mental vacation, or a deep investigation into all things mind.  Speaking as someone with a degree in art, I know that this is something that can be very tricky, and I've had so many personal let downs when I discover how little all my efforts were able to move a single person anywhere.  My hope, now that I have the ability to make video games via knytt stories, is that this is a medium that lends itself to psychic travel more than the mediums of painting and sculpture.

So, to directly answer your question, your suggestion to me is at odds with what art is, and thus I would be fighting the experience the whole time.  :)

And on an aside, the knowledge you two have of the classics makes me think you can't possibly be in the states which has forgotten the benefits of forcing historically great fiction down the throats of students long ago.  I've been working on some classics via librivox.org, but I've not read most of what you've mentioned yet.

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Offline yohji

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2010, 14:23:55 »
One quick further idea along that vein, then: what if the level is not supposedto be a fully immersive story-like experience (say, a Great Expectations or a Catcher in the Rye? What if it's not one of those experiences where you suspend disbelief and actively believe it's a real world? But more like an interactive art piece in a museum where the viewer is largely aware of their own participation and the author's presence in the work? Could that change how you see what I did? (Though, to claim that was always my intent would be to lie and say I wasn't at one point intending for this to resemble one of those classical works that're all immersive. If I said I didn't want the world I created in there to feel like a world, that would be a further lie.)

I think this is a matter of context. In an interactive art piece in a museum - and by that I presume we mean installations, performance art involving the audiece, etc.; late 20th century stuff - you're obviously aware of the author and your own participation; this awareness and this participation are partly the point. However, with obvious exceptions (Nouvelle vague cinema, some Dadaist and Surrealist paintings and art objects, and so on), this doesn't really apply to traditional arts. At least for me. When I look at an oil painting, be it the decaying, dying, corrupt world of the Christian situation in a Bosch work, or a mysteriously serene single figure portrait by Velazquez, I become completely immersed in the world of that painting. Not that I don't think at all about Bosch or Velazquez' personalities, goals, influences, places in art history, and so on, but those thoughts are somewhat separate from actually perceiving the paintings.

Video games by their very nature are an interactive art form, and so they can lend themselves perfectly to "hey, this is just a game!" and "hello, I created this" reminders. In earlier games this was very commonplace, sometimes the charm of a particular game could depend on such immersion-breaking things (Space Quest II, anyone?). However, and here I come to my main point, the effectiveness of such approach depends on the context. In a game such as Headgrinder's "Badly Built Level" it's very obviously essential. In a game like Quake it would ruin the game, unless the immersion is broken in just one or two very cleverly hidden secrets (*cough*dopefish*cough). La Mulana, which I would unhesitantly place among some of the greatest pieces of art in history, has its share of inside references and talking to the player, all hidden as secrets and not ruining anything, because the game never tries to be something more than a platformer - a majestic, beautifully designed, immersive platformer with stunning gameplay flow, but still just a platformer, no exploration of the human mind, no deeper issues troubling humanity, etc. So when you find a secret where the creators of the game talk to your character, it's really just another speck of paint on the canvas; you never for a second forgot you're playing a game. Whereas in splitMind you are aware that the level is trying to communicate something more than "just another platformer world", and so anything and everything that reminds you of the author is perceived as being out of context.

Of course, you can treat a Bosch painting the same way you treat 21st century art installations (particularly the triptych with the self-portrait, I guess); you can also treat splitMind as part-platformer/part-exploration of the psyche/part-interactive installation-type piece. This could lead to interesting results, but I believe that it wouldn't be the best way to perceive these works.

Eh, there I go again, I've written too much to illustrate a simple point. I'm sorry for excessive rambling!

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Offline Headgrinder

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2010, 14:00:05 »
I like that you brought up the importance of awareness of the author, and that you brought up my Badly Built Level! X-P  It is an interesting problem because sometimes becoming aware of the author deepens the immersion experience, of course, depending on what your immersing into.  I love how Stephen King makes us both extremely aware of the author by including himself in his Dark Tower series and thus causes us for a moment to question how deep into reality the story actually goes. 

But I don't know if I still agree with my concluding thoughts.  Yohji has reminded me of a lot of my college stuff.  I suppose splitMind does make one aware of the game and the artist very strongly at the beginning and again at the "ending."  If these where different the immersion would be more complete.  If there was more to make one aware of the author, well, it could ruin any experience of beauty in the stage (something that itself could be a tool in your arsenal), or it could be along the lines of the Dark Tower where we start asking how much of the game is deeply personal experience, and thus why the artist is telling us these things.

I guess I now feel that splitMind is trying to straddle the gulf between these two points.  The text throughout the game, as I've said, didn't quite feel immersive to me, though I didn't have a problem with the writing style other than that writing it differently, less conversational or less at the player, might have led to more immersion. 

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Offline Hmpf

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Re: [Easy/Environmental] splitMind
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2011, 01:31:12 »
Wow, why did I never comment on the finished version of this? Must have come out during a stressful time in my life or something.

Well, I loved the unfinished version, and I love the finished version just as much. Great, minimalist landscapes and superb atmosphere - I return to this level at intervals for a sense of dreamlike solitude.

The writing, IMO, doesn't work as well as the visuals, though. Still, that's a minor problem when the visuals are so good...