In its current state, Tell Me If It's Fun consists of a single space - the player is presented with the architecture that influences the systems at work, the systems themselves, and everything else (basically, everything that the systems affect).
Players can adjust a copy of the bounding walls, which in turn, influences the way the people in the space behave. That being said, the correlation between the walls and the behavior of the people isn't immediately obvious. Additionally, players can rotate the space itself, indicated by the way the shadows move. And that's all the player can do - they can engage in fleeting moments of peripheral influence and watch the people move. In short, this game is an act of faith in a person's ability to define their own experience.
The title suggests an endowment of agency and control to the player, as well as a determination of the quality of the experience placed solely on their shoulders. Contrary to the current standard of game development cycles and game releases, Tell Me If It's Fun was designed and will be released with zero expectation on my part with regards to how players should engage with the game.
Thematically, Tell Me If It's Fun represents (most notably in the visuals) a head space - I was interested in this idea of the inherent bias and malleability of memory. People shuffle the memories, add and subtract details, form links between disparate and isolated events, build a narrative. I'm convinced that a person is both at their most creative as well as their most dishonest when they're thinking. A great amount of attention was paid to the way players would perceive the space - everything possesses an alterable quality, which contrasts nicely with the intangible effect the player has on the systems.
I'd be remissed if I didn't mention that nothing in this game stands on its own as 'fun.' Rather, the game relies entirely on the player's ability to make the game fun for themselves.
In a recent video on 'The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild' by Joseph Anderson, a video game critic and essayist on YouTube, Anderson talks about combat:
"The two words I would use to describe combat in 'Breath of the Wild' are fragile and inconsistent... Combat is fragile because 'Breath of the Wild' is a game that is too easily broken. So fighting enemies is something that you have to go out of your way to make enjoyable for yourself."
This is the exact space I'm interested in - normally it's a pitfall in games, a feature that hasn't been fully fleshed out, in other words, where the experience hasn't been carefully designed for the player. With Tell Me If It's Fun, I'm interested in creating a space where players are given the opportunity to be creative and create their own experience.
In the past I've compared this game to that moment on the subway, or on the bus, or wherever else, where you see two people talking just out of earshot and you come up with the conversation in your head. People have an extraordinary ability to form their own experience of a situation -- this project is my attempt to carve out a space where people can do exactly that.
In the short film, "You Who Look," contemporary artist James Turrell says:
"We think the sky is blue. We forget to realize, that actually, we awarded its color."
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