Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Art of Gaming: The Bridge

During my searches of indie games, I had been trying to avoid looking at the 'soon to be released' sections of various websites. It's not that I don't believe that the older games should be checked out more then the new comers. Quite the contrary actually. I usually never know if well respected commentators would be announcing the upcoming releases. A bit silly, in retrospect, but since I'm far from being some journalist I never really know about if there's some unspoken code that I need to abide by. Even with this, I recently found myself looking at a game that I hadn't seen before only to discover that it's on the 'Coming Releases' list. So what exactly is The Bridge? 

Created by Ty Taylor and Mario CastaƱeda, The Bridge was originally started by the pair in college as part of a school project but continued well after their graduation. This is a 2D logic puzzle game where the player has to manipulate gravity, traveling through strange architecture, and explore increasingly difficult worlds. The page itself states:The Bridge exemplifies games as an art form, with beautifully hand-drawn art in the style of a black-and-white lithograph”. When looking at the trailer, I was drawn in by the style which reminded me of etchings from the 1600-1800s by such artists as Francesco Stelluti (1577-1652) and G.B. Piranesi (1720-1778) but there was something else about the game that made me think that there was someone else that could be included. Looking through my collection of books and reference material, I found my answer. I realized that there was a lot of references of M.C. Escher (1898-1972) mixed in for good measure. What could have been the inspiration for such a unique style? I wasn't too sure if I would even get a response with the game set to release soon but I sent out my email and within a couple of days I received a response:

"House of Stairs" by M.C. Escher
Hi Dawn,

Thanks for taking an interest in The Bridge.

It's no secret the game is heavily inspired by the works of M.C. Escher. Actually, when Ty, the lead designer and programmer, contacted me in the Fall of 2010, he had set out to effectively make "M.C. Escher: The game" with mechanics revolving around exploring impossible architecture. Naturally, I found myself studying a lot of Escher's art in order to properly emulate his iconic style, but in a game appropriate manner. The challenge for me was not only maintaining a sense of Escher's work, but also providing something visually striking without impeding the general feel of the game - a process that proved to be very iterative as we collected pages and pages of playtester feedback.

Escher's work is famous for misleading and deceiving the eye, and it was a challenge in developing what is mysterious and on the surface impossible, but in truth, very possible. There's great empowerment, both Ty and I feel, that comes from allowing players to explore worlds that could only previously be represented in still lithography.

I could read the enthusiasm that Ty and Mario had for this game and the fact that I had contacted them about it. Looking through the information, I was so happy that when I read the email and discovered that I was correct about the influence of M.C. Escher. For those who may not know him by name, perhaps know him better through his works such as Relativity (1953) and Drawing Hands (1948). 

If you're interested in checking the game out, it's due to release February 22nd, 2013 but you can find it on pre-order here: 
store.steampowered.com - The Bridge $14.99  (20% off) $11.99 
Note: Sale promotion offer ends Feb. 22

Feb. 24, 2013 - John "TotalBiscuit" Bain posted up his first impressions video of The Bridge up so go ahead and check it out. Please keep in mind that what he does is speak about the mechanics of the game where as I just look at the art style. 
YouTube.com WTF Is... The Bridge? (WTF Am I Doing Edition)  

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