Game For Each Other 1: Papers, Please
Game For Each Other Episode One
Watch HFP: Game for Each Other Episode One…………………………..here
Steam Green Light is a wondrous thing. Letting the Steam community (Steam being Valves digital operating platform for those not in the twenty first century who don’t pc game) vote on what indie titles are released into the store is, in my glorious opinion, an exciting concept that just works. There’s something empowering about watching a game trailer, reading the description, looking at concept art and then holding the fate of the games makers in your hand as you declare whether or not you’d pay for their hard work. In a 100% historically accurate sentence, I imagine it’s probably similar to how Caesar felt when deciding via thumb up or down if the dude who just slaughtered a tiger got to live or die as horribly as a Shia LaBeouf twitter account. It’s given Green Light an organic feel and more and more the store has resembles one of those systems for the people, by the people. Once again being 100% historically accurate with my sentences, Steam feels sort of like what the United States of America claims to be, just without as much racism or obsession with homosexuality………………. probably just as many gun nuts though.
The downside to holding the fate of indie developers in your hand is it requires wading through the rough to get to the smooth. Some of the games submitted to Green Light make me scream, literally, scream. True story, I once screamed so loudly after seeing three Minecraft clones in a row, one of my housemates checked to make sure I hadn’t caught my penis in my fly. Now that I think about it, I have no idea why that’s the first scenario he’d think of upon hearing me scream…………..anyway, here on a blog no one will read, written by a wannabe indie filmmaker who will never have the skills to make a game, (a blog that’s supposed to be about a new series of HFP videos) is a tangent listing six pit falls I implore game developers to avoid if they care about my Steam community vote………………… no I didn’t think they did.
Pit Fall The First: Don’t assume the phrase ‘top down RPG in the style of Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger’ earns my vote. How about instead taking the time to show me just what your top down RPG adds to a bloated genre that already has those two fantastic titles at its pinnacle.
Second: Don’t make Slender Man, Slender Man has already been made.
Third: First Person Shooters have been around a long time, the concept isn’t ‘new’, please stop using the word ‘new’ when really what you mean is ‘like Half Life 2’. While I’m at it, First Person Shooter probably isn’t the market for your game if your budge wont allow you to make a game that graphically is only just above the standard System Shock 2 during its first release.
Fourth: Just because a game is twenty years old doesn’t mean I won’t remember it or recognise when you rip it off.
Fifth: No matter how much work you’ve put into your game, please resist the urge to put ‘craft’ in the title.
Sixth and Final Pit Fall: Enough with the fucking zombies!
…………………… and now back on topic.
For how it should be done (translate to ‘how I think it should be done’) one need look no further than Lucas Pope’s submission for Papers Please; it begins with a plodding, Eastern European influenced melody. A procession of stylised characters pass the screen, each person is dressed tattily in worn down clothing. The characters, despite their shabby, stylised appearance, look normal enough, but something isn’t right………… after a moment you realise it’s their expressions. None of these people look happy. The phrase ‘Glory to Arstotzka’ flashes on screen followed by a myriad of passports getting stamped either red or green. An explosion later and everything becomes faster. The procession of people builds and strange pictures of naked people flash up, some of these pictures reveal concealed weapons, others what appeared to be drugs. Then it’s gone.
If Steam Green Light is one of the most exciting things to happen to PC gaming, then Papers Please is one of the most exciting things to happen to Steam Green Light. It’s submission was one of the most intriguing and unexpected things I’d seen, I couldn’t press the ‘YES’ button quick enough, two weeks later the game was accepted into the Steam Store. A day after that I ponied up the princely sum of 7 pounds and took a punt on the grounds that any game with that good a submission must be worth 7 pounds.
I wasn’t disappointed. Papers Please is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in years. What starts as a deceptively simple observation game quickly develops into an intense multi-layered story where you shape the destiny of an entire nation…………all from the vantage point of a desk. The simplicity of the concept: money is tight and hard to come by so every decision requires careful deliberation but isn’t helped by that fucking clock ticking away, is beautifully executed. What’s more, it’s a fantastic exploration of just how easily morality falls. Sure you can try to play as a moral, sympathetic character caring for the needs of others, but you’ll suffer a price. Likewise you can be as studious an office worker as there ever was, but you’ll lose your decency along the way.
With a fair bit of editing left to do on our debut feature Toss, Tom suggested we do ‘game play’ videos so I had something film related to keep me entertained and focused during the long shifts at a crappy supermarket. We eventually realised there were far too many good let’s play videos already, so we may as well just challenge each other to games and do highlight videos. We figured if the chances of success are small (and what actually counts as success in the cut throat world of youtube still puzzles me) then at least we could enjoy the experience of fucking each other over while not getting views. Once that was established it took three seconds to decide what game I’d be challenging Tom to first, Papers Please.
One major reason was that explaining just how remarkable a game requiring you to check passport documentation within a set time limit can be, is a task well beyond me. I figured that if we record a video then I can just point people in its direction whenever I harp on about Papers Please and say there, watch that then buy the game…………………..also maybe hit the subscribe button. The fact Lucas Pope is an angel who allows the monetization of youtube videos of his game being played, even when the people playing it are wannabe indie filmmakers like me and Tom, probably helped as well!
Guess what? It was successful, well not in the youtube sense……………..whatever that is, but I sent sometimes HFP contributor James Fox the video to watch and he ended up buying the game (which you should all do) so that’s money right there in Lucas Popes pocket.
If our Game For Each Other videos achieve nothing else, then forever more I’ll get to say I helped the developer of a game I adore get a sale, and all I had to do was amateurishly edit a video of me enjoying the spectacle of Tom failing miserably.
Truly these are Halcyon days.
Written By Sam ‘GeSTADT!’ McKinstrie
Unnecessarily on twitter as McKinstHFP
See HFP’s videos at www.youtube.com/MrHFProductions
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