Giant Sparrow Interview Inbound
Santa Monica-based developer Giant Sparrow’s début title, Unfinished Swan, received universal acclaim upon its release on PSN last October. Enchanting, beautiful, esoteric, spiritual, haunting and charming in equal measure, Unfinished Swan managed to capture an essence of simplicity and purity that somehow managed to drown-out the noise of everything else around.
As they settle-in to work on an as-yet unannounced second title, Director Ian Dallas takes some time-out so sit down with VoxelArcade for an exclusive interview to reflect upon the process of making a tranquil game in a crazy world.
What was the creative start-point with Unfinished Swan and how did it evolve and adapt through development?
The game began as a graduate student project. I was in the USC game design program and every week I was supposed to come up with a new interactive prototype. At the time I was really interested in how people move through space and one week I made this white room where you had to throw paint to see what was around you. What I liked most about the prototype was the sense of curiosity it gave you as a player, looking out into a blank landscape where anything was possible. So I set out to try and make an entire game around that feeling of awe and wonder that was there in the original prototype.
One of the things we learned from the original white room prototype was that without having explicit goals most players would have fun throwing paint-balls for between three to five minutes. After that they got bored. So what we tried to do was strike a balance of giving players a clear long-term goal (“find the swan”) and a pretty clear mid-term goal (eg. “maybe I should checkout those swan footprints in the middle of the pond”) but a very undefined shot-term goal (eg “how do I get to the middle of the pond?”).
I think players want to know if they’re headed in the right direction. It’s like a compass, it’s a way of orienting themselves. The surprising part is that once they know which way is the “correct” path then they’re more inclined to wander off it and feel free to explore the world, which is what we wanted them to do in the first place. It’s counter-intuitive but I think you have to give players a certain amount of structure in order for them to appreciate and enjoy the openness.
Watch this space for the full interview, which will be published at 4pm this Tuesday!
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