Saturday, 25 October 2014

Talos Principle Coming Soon (+ Games You Can Play Now)

Okay, congratulations me for failing to write anything here for ages. The reason I will give for this is that I am somewhat Autistic-spectrum inclined and I only have enough room in my brain for one obsession at a time.

Nevertheless I shall endeavour to formulate some form of update. 

The Talos Principle is almost done. The guys in Zagreb are applying final polish, and next week we complete the voice work. Sigils of Elohim, the Tetris-like minigame we're dishing out free, is out now. In case you're not familiar with the game, it's a first-person philosophical puzzler, set in a synthetic world. Or, as I've been selling it to my non-gamer mates, a game where you get to argue with the devil.

This is usually the part where I put my money where my mouth is and try to predict how the game will be received. I'm happy to say that, like The Swapper, Talos is at the very least a sound puzzle game. I'm not worried about scoring sub-70s. Beyond that, well, I'd say this is a looser game than The Swapper - it's a much bigger world, so that's only natural - but it also does something that none of my previous games have: it lets me write an involved interactive dialogue. It is my great hope that that dialogue will excite people. It is, I think, fairly unique.

A 2014 release date should be confirmed very shortly, and it'll release on Win, Mac, Linux, PS4 and Shield Tablets.

In other news, my brain has mostly been consumed with political philosophical research.

I have gone through a bit of a journey over the past ten years: from not really thinking about anything very much, to realising that and embracing philosophy. I searched frantically during my BA for solid ground on which to base my moral assumptions, and found none. Perversely this left me right back where I started: an individualist, who recognises that the system we live in is broken and resolves to do everything in their power to get the better of it.

Now I'm not ready to say yet that my ethical outlook has changed. I am still dubious of absolute moral systems, dubious of anyone who claims there is some authority outside of ourselves. What's changed is that I'm now better aware of the broader picture, politically and (most importantly) historically. I never understood the value of history in school; now I understand perfectly that history provides us an irreplaceable point of reference for how human existence can be - it enables us to identify the assumptions, the invisible shackles, that underpin our way of life today.

Supposing there is no absolute morality, the need for a sound political framework becomes even more pronounced. We are all, more or less, rational animals. It may only be our own sense of reason that provides authority to claims about how we should behave, but that needn't mean the output is any less authoritative.

So my next project is going to be aimed at replicating this journey on a massive scale. I want to pull our perspective out from the subjective, close-up one we take in every day life, and show how our political society is shaped by usually invisible forces on this grand scale. I want to explore what happens when we are all individualists and consumers who give in to these forces. And I want to construct a framework for how individualists might nonetheless find value in working towards a fairer society. And that is what I have mostly been thinking about.

Now, to lighten the mood, some excellent games I played recently.

The Escapists - Excellent isometric prison-break sim in Early Access. Plays like a minimalist, freeform Prisoner of War. Keep up appearances by attending exercise, rolecall and jobs; while simultaneously preparing for your escape by gathering weapons, digging tunnels, forging alliances, stealing uniforms etc.

Invisible Inc. - I was always going to love this one. The new isometric, turn-based stealth game from Klei, it boasts their usual high level of support, and I think is now my favourite of their releases.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter - A lot of positive things already said about this one, but they're worth re-enforcing. It's a uniquely beautiful world, not only for the fidelity of the graphics, but the architectural design itself. The plot is shamelessly pulp fiction, and somewhat predictable for it; but the real narrative punch is delivered by the mechanics themselves and the inventive ends to which they're put. This game takes you on a journey like no other.