December 14, 2015
In a fictional airport of the internet. A new internet transportation security officer is checking the bags of people traveling on the web. Rules come in everyday and you have to make sure the passengers follows them. This art game is really about the language we use in subcultures on the internet.
Project took 14 days to develop.
I made GGX Airport for the Winter Wizard Game Jam while I was doing my finals project for my school. I really wanted to make the game ever since I heard an episode of Idletumbs where they talked about a nightmarish experience in an airport. I had also been traveling a lot, and thinking about airport security, so the idea came from all angles. The game is about identifying the source of packages of words. I was curious about how subcultures on the internet talked with each other (internally). It was especially interesting to see when subcultures clash, i.e. when people from one subculture talks about people of another subculture.
I created a program that saves whatever 4 letters or more word there is in the clipboard and stores it to a file. Then I created a second program that counted up all the words and sorted them by frequency. Unsurprisingly what I found what that the most common words on the sites I gathered from was words like: That, this, have, with, they etc. I did not want to touch the data, as it would be dishonest to the experiment. However, due to time constraints I opted to do that. But from reading the data I discovered that the most identifiable words were around the middle, when the words were sorted by frequency. The words in the lower end was also mostly identifiable, but required prior knowledge of what precisely was discussed, and also included a lot of names (which I tried to avoid).
note: x-axis goes from high to low and identifiability is subjective.
I made another mistake when it came to integrating the data. I used Scriptable Objects to contain the word info, because it worked well in Space Caravan. But instead of writing a script that converted a text file into a scriptable object, I entered each word by hand, which was another mistake. It was way more time consuming than writing a script and I had to touch the raw data.
When people were playing Are We There Yet? many asked for various features and other stuff, that would make the game more accessible. I have declined doing so, as it confuses the games message. However with this GGX-Airport, I tried to make it more accessible by adding a story so that the player had something to follow. The story was about censorship because it was easy thematically to implement (it contained words from dialogue and airport security). The story confused people when it came to what it was about, so I added an ending screen telling people “THIS GAME IS NOT ABOUT CENSORSHIP” but it seemed like the wrong way to go about it. The android version has revised the story to be less censorship and rebalanced.
From the reception at the game jam it seemed people liked the idea but was confused about the puzzle, saying: “I sort of feel that the selection of [data] you use might reflect more on you the author than it does the subject matter you’re tackling.”, Which was exactly why I wanted the data to be collected automatic. I don’t think my data is skewed by the little handling I did, I tried to be impartial with it. Still, I would like to have said that it is 100% gathered automatically and thereby untouched by me.
I really like the game even if other people didn’t seem like it. I think it is interesting and it mildly confirms my theory and it is fun to play. I was also glad to get to work with Nick again.
Tags: Artsy, Browser, Experimental, Game Jam, Mobile, Procedural generation, Puzzle, Text