Since the very beginning, we’ve been struggling with the same problem. We had decent skills for art and programming, amazing music and a story to tell. However, we didn’t have gameplay. How would we make our game a game?
“Let’s add puzzles”, we said. That’s not easy to do. That’s actually really hard. In fact, every person who ever designed a puzzle should have their name written on the Moon’s surface or their image immortalized on a statue, or both.
“Let’s add platforming,” we said. Yes, there aren’t enough platformer games out there.
Last Thursday we finally decided what to do.
We talked about To The Moon and their mini-games. To the Moon is one of my favorite games ever, but I think the developer faced the same problem we are facing right now and solved it by adding the “memento” puzzles. I find those puzzles ridiculously unnecessary. You solve them in 10 seconds or so, they don’t make sense in the story, they stop you from continuing, they break immersion by not fitting into the world and — in the end — they’re not fun. They’re obstacles. The dev felt that it was necessary to turn their masterpiece into a game and came up with this abomination that makes their wonderful game a tiny bit less awesome.
Then we talked about Far from Noise. Far from Noise is a small yet amazing game. You play as a character stuck in a car that wavers on the edge of a cliff, facing death and talking to yourself. It has a story that’s incredible in how it unfolds. Some people loved it. It got outstanding reviews. And yet, there’s no “gameplay.” It’s you, your car and death. It’s deep, it’s great, it tells a story. It works.
I know this, I know these games worked really well. But then, I get scared. I love The Worst Grim Reaper, it’s the greatest game I’ve ever worked on. The art, the music, the mood, the characters and the story come together in a way I could have never expected. I deeply admire the Marks and I love their work. I’m emotionally connected to it and want everyone to enjoy what we’re doing here, but what if it’s boring? What if people like everything about the game, but never finish it because the lack of “gameplay” makes it feel like a tedious task? I’ve been working on this since last year, and I’m pretty sure I’ll still be working here next year. And probably even the next one. I’ll be destroyed if people end up not enjoying our work.
But then, I remember the advice many great developers in the industry give: make a game you’d play. Would I play The Worst Grim Reaper? Yes. And I even got to know two other people who would, so there are probably many more. Yes, our game won’t be for everyone, but no game is.
The concept of a game has evolved. And I think that’s important. It’s not just about fun anymore. It’s about experiencing, telling stories, sharing feelings and points of view. Games are one of the most complex art forms you’ll find. The interactivity between the player and a controlled environment allows developers to create art that can be understood more deeply.
We’re committed to giving you an experience that you won’t easily forget. That’s our goal, and if it’s not a commercial success, that’s fine. I want to wake up some day to a fan email saying they liked our game for what it is. That’s all I need: I got to make a game I love and someone else liked it too. That’s enough of a reward.
For the first time since we started development, we know exactly what we want to make. And if turning The Worst Grim Reaper into a game means we’d have to add unnecessary, experience-ruining gameplay, we’re not making a game anymore. We’re making something better. And hopefully you’ll love it as much as we do.