Turning up the heat

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Following up on my earlier thesis wherein I argued for a distinction of narrative-driven gaming and mechanics- and competition-driven gaming inspired by Marshall McLuhan’s hot vs. cool dichotomy, I am now about to delve deeper, to make clear how this relates to Total Rendition’s current stage of development.

Cool media requires audience participation. Multiplayer games cannot be played alone. Narrative-Driven Single-Player games can. And offer more sensory output to players.

Of course, that you, as a member of the audience, can control a video game, makes video games slightly cooler than movies or books. Moreover, since the publishing landscape is not helping us, we are forced to resort to early access, which increases the required audience participation, cooling off Total Rendition further.

Early Access is a bad idea we have to resort to anyway.

A narrative-driven game, is supposed to be hot, and not just in the sense of being widely in demand. It is supposed to be, in its core essence, a hot medium, giving loads of sensory data and requiring little audience participation apart from playing the game. Early Access invites audience participation and inevitably cools down the medium.

If the end-result is supposed to be hot, the purpose of Early Access is to make itself unnecessary. Of course, one could argue Early Access is separate from the end-result, and this is not necessarily untrue. Indeed, one could argue Early Access is merely part of the development process. A game failing to leave Early Access can thus be said to be cancelled.

Nevertheless, since Early Access draws from the participation of the audience, it is fairly hard to reconcile it with the intended end-result, if the end-result is a narrative-driven single player game. It is not unfair to say Early Access works better with multiplayer titles, and that it took off simultaneously with the increasing popularity of multiplayer titles such as Squad, Fortnite and PUBG.

From the ground up

In SchiZotypy’s case, leapfrogging to the hard release of Total Rendition is not feasible. Having established little connections within the games industry, investors demand “social proof” (i.e. spreadsheets showing X number of people are playing Total Rendition). Indeed, it is unlikely aspiring developers of narrative driven titles will be able to build up the requisite network from within the games industry itself, in turn having been “corrupted” by large publishers who have written off narrative-driven games as being obsolete on one hand, and on the other hand the tall poppy culture amongst indie studios. It is up to us to build a dedicated industry for creating narrative-driven gaming experiences, from the ground up.

See also

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