Electron Dance
3Dec/13Off

Counterweight 9: Suzy and freedom

Suzy and freedom screenshot
In this episode of Counterweight, Eric Brasure and Joel "HM" Goodwin tackle the disturbing Suzy and freedom (Nicolau Chaud, 2013). Companion notes are available in a separate post.

Story spoilers start 23 minutes in.

Contents

05:20 "Then you get the first platform puzzle and I wanted to throw my computer out the window."

15:50 "But there's also other parts [where] the mechanic is closely tied to the meaning of the game and those are the bits that work."

20:30 "It relies on information and ... intuition in a way that I find very interesting."

22:40 "It grinds the game to a halt not because it's a challenging part of the game but because it's not done well."

27:00 "...because it is such a strange story and it is such a strange out of left field experience for the player to be having..."

32:10 "But also she is playing a game with him. She doesn't care about him, she doesn't care about her parents."

36:40 "I love how stupid they are, though. I love the fact that they are all so stupid."

40:30 "...there's that great line where Suzy says, 'Oh, when I can sell the house?'"

45:00 "This very stark moment and the art he's choosing to use in that moment is pretty terrifying."

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References

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Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Oh boy… I’ll think a little before posting a proper reply. But thanks for this podcast! It’s making me think of some things. Things about how I design games, I guess.

  2. I’m sure Nicolau! Including how to pronounce your name correctly…

    I’ve got some more explicit notes out on Thursday. For me, all your games are worth a spin. Except for that VX experiment, the dancing game:-)

  3. There’s something important I meant to say that I’ve just remembered. Something clever here I forgot to comment on.

  4. Looking back, I can tell that the minigames/puzzles were a bit of hit-and-miss. To a degree, I blame time. It was made for an RPGMaker.net’s event, so I had about a month to make the game, and it was a pretty busy work month as well. As soon as I came up with the climbing puzzle idea, I knew it was not the PERFECT way to accomplish what I was trying to. My idea was having mechanics that could substitute the building up of their relationship, since just stuffing a bunch of couple dialogs and cutscenes would be bad for pacing. I had to go with the first reasonable idea that I came up with. And even then, the original idea was dumbed down to a degree. It was supposed to be a collaborative climbing puzzle. Dan and Suzy would need each other to reach the top. It ended up being so difficult that no one could finish it (beside myself). So I modified it, it got A LOT easier, but I understand it’s still hard. I should have just replaced it with something entirely different, since it’s such a key moment in the game. But that would have happened if I had enough time to test it thoroughly, and enough time to make something to replace it.

    I’m actually a terrible gamer, I suck at most games. I know the minigames are easy to me because, well… I made them. But considering the comments I’ve been hearing, some people find one or the other puzzle either very hard or very easy. Like Eric said, his friend beat the last puzzle in 30 seconds. I guess the only way I could have obtained a more objective measure of difficulty would be by having a bunch of testers. I came to the conclusion that I suck at balancing mechanics. Suzy and freedom was supposed to be an easy game in the first place, since there’s no gameover. If you fail at a certain point, you can do it again, and you can even skip scenes. I thought the game, in gameplay terms, would be a breeze. I didn’t expect players to get SO frustrated with the puzzles. It’s not just that they’re harder than I thought, but I expected the players to engage with the challenges in a very different manner. I have to think about that before making my next games.

    I’m mildly surprised that the game didn’t get you (both) curious about the original story, because I was actually aiming for that, and I got that reaction from other players. I added the “this game is not faithful to the original story” disclaimer mostly because I’m worried about possible legal problems, but I did try to make the game very faithful to what actually happened. Of course I had to make adjustments to fit it into a game, but there are lots of details, including dialog pieces, that are directly taken from real events, like the “When can I sell the house?”, “I watch CSI” and “I’m a horrible person” lines, and tons of other things.

    All and all, by my part, I’m satisfied with the final result. The original story is very interesting, and my challenge was to make something that translated well what’s interesting in that story in gaming terms. That means I wouldn’t like the game as much (and I wouldn’t expect the players to do so) if it was a completely original story, not tied to actual events. For instance, the fact that you thought all the characters were pretty stupid is part of what’s cool about the story. That’s what the police said: “What surprised us is that they thought they would never get caught; they thought they had commited a flawless crimes, and it was so obvious in many ways”. I know some of the gameplay ended up interfering in a bad, rather than a good way with the final product. I’m still getting my experience points.

    Sorry if I overexplained things. But I do like discussing backstage of making games!
    (You got my first name right. And Chaud is pronounced like Sha-ood)

  5. Nicolau, I didn’t go chasing up the original story because I didn’t want to get confused between judging the game on its own merits and patching in “external understanding” of the story prior to this podcast. Also, time!

    However, don’t take our comments the wrong way here. I think both Eric and I felt the characters’ stupidity was believable and human. (In Suzy’s case, a little inhuman, probably.) I knew the dialogue choices were very deliberate, particularly as I’ve seen your work before. Even when we consider the “troubling” dialogue with the Princess in Polymorphous Perversity, I knew that was deliberate even though it didn’t work.

    I forgot you told me you were a terrible gamer. Which makes your crimes of difficulty even worse! I revoke your license to implement game mechanics! =)

    I’ve found that the trouble I had with Suzy and freedom is not what I remember when I think about the game. It’s left a positive impression, despite its problems.


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