Sunday, February 24, 2008

My experience with Passage

My feedreader this morning leads me via Terra Nova to Passage, an arty indie game whose (warning: spoilers) creator's statement shows a thoughtfulness and purpose that's rare in game design.

So, I downloaded the Linux tarball, unpacked and built it (and its shared library dependencies; some sudo apt-get install required), and started it up. Whereupon I was greeted by, er, something other than the life I was promised:

In short, there was no maze to the south, and there was no path by which I could avoid acquiring a wife. Instead of a tradeoff between exploration and treasure, or between a life of lonely freedom versus married bliss/grief, I was given a single, unbroken line of treasure. Evidently Passage's message for me was that I would inevitably live a long, repetitive life where female companionship and riches would be lavished upon me without my ever having to make hard choices or challenge myself. In short, I would be an investment banker.

Epic fail, as the kids say. Some trivial bug — maybe the random number generator, maybe the maze generation algorithm — squashed this game's designs on greatness (ADDENDUM 2008-02-24 10:45 p.m.: ...on my platform, of course).

I suppose, however, that even the buggy game has a message, and one that could even be appropriate depending on the audience. Truthfully, all things considered, my life has been pretty easy. It seems all too plausible that I could just continue muddling through as I have been and end up in the silent water.

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