November 13, 2012

Project Temporality in a Nutshell

by Niklas Hansson

So far we have mostly talked about technical issues and what we are doing on the visual side here but we are starting to get to a point where we are feeling confident enough about the direction the game is going into to share more in depth details of it’s development and the basic ideas and mechanisms that drives it. So here comes an post we made at IndieDB during this weekend that covers those subjects-

So far we at Defrost Games have been working on Project Temporality in various incarnations for around 1.5 years trying out different visual styles, mixing up game play and we finally are feeling ready to really share our Vision.

The basics of Project Temporality has many inspirations it started as a small project to feel our production pipelines and get a small game out in the market but it grew on us quickly. It started I guess along tome ago when I played  Cursor 10 a fascinating but in my view slightly flawed flash game where you had a certain amount of characters and every character lived for a certain time and they had to work together to solve puzzles. The flaw for me was that all characters start from the same beginning so it had a lot of repetitive work and no margin of error. For a flash game this wasn’t much of an issue however.

The other big part obviously comes from portal that in my mind created a new genre of games, finally moving puzzle games out of a flat 2d world and into a huge 3d world. Don’t get me wrong the use of portals was a good idea however to me the other parts of the production like the puzzles,the pacing etc shines even brighter.

Born out of this Project Temporality is a third person puzzle game developed around single player cooperation You used versions (called Time clones) of yourself working together to solve various puzzles. The basic setup is that time travel was discovered and subsequently forbidden because mankind as always fucked up. Earth is hold inside a Temporality field and field that cancels all time manipulations and all research on it is forbidden. You are a “volunteer” on a secret research ship beyond  Jupiter where they experiment with and test cybernetic time warping implants.

I will not try to cover the back story here more than that. But this makes a setup where you have to perform various activities to test and diagnose your implant to make certain it is working properly. Normally there would be doctors and scientists looking after you after each test but somethings have gone wrong.

You progress through the game learning more about your back story and your abilities along the way. But most of all you learn to think about time in a different way which is necessary to solve the later puzzles.

Project Temporality is really all about trying to change the ways the player thinks about time. Instead of considering it as a single arrow going forward as in physics we are treating it more like a branching tree that can double back on itself and sprout new branches whenever it feels like.

That does sound a bit quasi-philosophical. But the gist of it is that we want the player to experience this mental shift where they really have to change the way they think to solve the puzzles.

The player  is granted a couple of powers to facilitate this. He can of course rewind time backwards to undo prior mistakes or try different paths but this is not the game play it’s a mere side effect that also makes the game a lot more forgiving for casual players. The Core concept is the time clone which happens when you rewind time and then makes a new branch  from that time line, meaning that you take control of  a new Time Clone while the old you will continue performing any actions you did before rewinding time. This is the core mechanic for allowing you to cooperate with yourself however there is a key difference between our Time Clones and the canned recordings you have seen in other games. These are true clones and they will continue to perform the actions you recorded however they are still a part of the game world and if you change the game world they will not walk on air or anything like that, For example if you jumped on a platform and for some reason that platform has been moved in another time line your character will jump and fall not stand on an invisible platform


This ability is combined with a multitude of game play elements including Lasers,Platforms,Doors,Buttons and Temporality fielded objects amongst others. We will soon release some examples of puzzles to allow you all to better wrap your head around what Project Temporality is about, but in the end you can’t be told you really have to experience it to feel how different it is.

But I hope we have at least shed some light on the core of the game today.

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