This was the first major project I attempted after releasing icefishing v.
In 2013 there weren't quite so many crafting/survival games, and I wanted to explore some ideas that combined survival, with my fascination with small, contained scenes and foregrounding the mundane.
'Foregrounding the mundane' is an area of particular interest to me, and something I've returned to a number of times. To me, it means drawing focus to and building mechanics around actions and ideas that we take for granted in real life, and which rarely end up represented meaningfully in games. Most games favour a lower fidelity of interaction with the world, at the expense of the sort of detailed interaction we are more familiar with in our own lives. For instance, in Skyrim, the most detailed interactions are found in combat, but all other interaction with the world is on a very simple level, rarely more complex than a single click on an object to toggle its state.
I'm interested in concentrating on smaller scale worlds so that I can devote resources to examining smaller scale interactions, such as being able to slide windows and open and close doors in a more analogue sense. Rather than toggle a fire on and off, I simulated the amount of combustible material in paper balls, books and logs.
The interaction component I invested the most time in is an object placement system. In most games, items can only be dropped or thrown carelessly. In Gone Home, deservedly praised for it's 'put-back' mechanic, you can only put an object back in the exact hot-spot from which it was taken. Even in the more recent Prey, a game explicitly about objects, when you return to your apartment at a key point in the narrative, you can only drop or fling items around like a maniac. Suddenly, the beautifully rendered environment becomes a cartoon fun-house, and the sense of immersion is immediately swept away.
In my system, every flat plane is detected as a surface. Looking at such a surface while holding an object displays a ghost version of the object at the place you're looking, and you can then carefully place the object there. The goal was to create a system where this is a process that requires no thought, but supports a far more expressive interface with the world.
For me, drawing focus to mundane actions as these increases the sense of immersion on a space by lending it a sense of verisimilitude often missing from game worlds. In this way I hope to facilitate a more meaningful relationship between the player and the virtual world around them, increasing the importance of the the immediate by reducing scope and increasing the fidelity of their interactions.
Ultimately, the arrival on the scene of The Long Dark dissuaded me from investing more time in this game, but I did go on to iterate on this placement system in Trawl, and fed elements of it into The Bradwell Conspiracy too.