Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tetris Dreams part II

This is an old post I started a few months back when I was playing the first Final Fantasy.  I decided to return to the post, and I think I found something worth fleshing out.  I often use this phrase:  'as I'm riding the American River Bike Trail', which is where I often come up with video game ideas.  I like to imagine dynamic systems of life in terms of video games, and riding that bike trail tends to bring them to mind.  I enjoy doing this.  It's sort of like Tetris Dreams.  

The Iconic Fighter Guy

"Tetris Dreams" is a phrase I have heard a bunch.  Lately I've noticed that I get daydreams about different games.  Especially those with a simple interface.  For example:  I'm playing FF1 right now, and I'm sort of dreaming about it.  Stray thoughts at work, zoning out doing data entry, and I see the battle screen.  And the iconic fighter guy.  The others are there too, but he's the easiest to pick out.  It's sort of floating in the distance.   

Bagging groceries is like Tetris, kind of.  More complex, actually.  Because there is shape, weight and surface tension.  In Tetris, it's just shape.  I mention this because I've been bagging groceries at the local food co-op as means to keep me occupied and earn a discount on groceries. 

I think that some video game day dreams come from staring at the same screen for long enough.  Thats' why Tetris lends itself so easily, because of the simple patterns and repetition.  However, it may be more than that.  The images from Tetris or Final Fantasy may come easily because of their simplicity, but there are other video game daydreams that I have, which are based on mechanics instead of graphics.

Tony Hawk is the prime example.  After dumping countless hours Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, I couldn't ride in a car without imagining myself grinding on every available edge, doing kickflips as I hop from edge to edge.  It's tons of fun, and oftentimes I imagined the car itself doing these tricks.  Come to think of it, when really bored riding in a car, I used to imagine Mario (from the first game) running alongside the car, jumping over the fences, buildings and other obstacles along the side of the road.  It seems that there is something triggering about moving along the road at an even pace, watching the scenery go by.  

In further support of the connection between motion and video game dreams, a lot of my little video game ideas come when I am riding my bicycle, or riding the train.  In fact, when I used to commute by train, I would stare out the window at the Yolo causeway and imagine wandering around exploring.  Watching the seasons change and the effect it had on the plant life made me want to develop a game that had this sort of dynamic scenery.  It was very peaceful.  Around that time I discovered Proteus, which did a very similar thing to what I was imagining. Of course, I wanted to stick the environment into an RPG, because that is probably my favorite video game genre.

When it comes to RPGs, I often day dream about player statistics.  Levels, experience, strength, durability, attack damage and so on and so forth.  I imagine my experiences playing RPGs in my youth have become such a part of me, that the process of balancing equations in order to achieve in-game actions is just a part of me.  I enjoy pondering human systems in terms of RPG status sheets, hunger, thirst, tiredness, allergies, illness.  In the end, it's just tossing dice and applying meaning to the results.  Which is a great deal of fun.



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