“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The world of Closure, an upcoming PSN exclusive, pushes this philosophical question to the limit. If you don’t see that tree, not only doesn’t it make a sound – it doesn’t even exist.
As Austin’s Fantastic Fest kicked off last night, PlayStation hosted an indie arcade filled with games coming exclusively to PSN. You might be familiar with most of the titles on display, as we’ve talked quite a bit on the Blog about Journey, Retro/Grade, and Okabu. As the developers were setting up their stations, I was immediately drawn to a title that we only just introduced you to: Closure.
Closure is being developed by just two full-timers: Lead Designer and Programmer Tyler Glaiel and Artist John Schubbe. Glaiel guided me through the early parts of the game, and answered a few questions for PlayStation.Blog readers.
PlayStation.Blog: After announcing the game here on the PlayStation Blog, you demoed the game at PAX. How was it received?
Tyler Glaiel: A lot of people played the game. A lot of people enjoyed the game, and some of them didn’t do too well on the harder levels of the game! It’s fun to see all of the interesting ways people think when they’re playing through levels.
PSB: Closure started out as a Flash game. What does the PS3 allow you to do that you couldn’t do in a web browser?
Tyler: Judging by a screenshot, Closure looks like a simple black-and-white 2D game, but there are a lot of fancy visual effects that tax the PS3’s graphics card. I spent about two weeks just making the shaders work fast for the PS3. It’s nice to be able to focus on one system configuration.
PSB: We saw a number of characters in the trailer. What can you tell us about them?
Tyler: There are four characters in the game – there’s the demon spider-guy that you start out with who ties everything together. Then there’s a guy who works in a factory [the hard hat-wearing character from the trailer] – that’s pretty much all I should tell you about him. There’s a female character, a redo from the Flash game story. It’s the same as that, story wise, but with completely new levels and mechanics. The fourth character is a secret. You can see that when the game comes out.
PSB: So there’s a story here? It’s not just a puzzler like Tetris.
Tyler: There is a fairly fleshed-out story which is going to be kind of vague in the game, but if you explore the levels, you can find clues as to what it is. Part of the game is figuring that out as you play. But it’s easy enough to just play through the game if you don’t care too much about the story.
The challenge of the game that Tyler alluded to at PAX was became immediately apparent to me. The first few tutorial levels get you adjusted to the idea that once a part of the level falls into darkness, it ceases to exist. While that led to quite a few deaths, it also revealed that there was plenty of opportunity for hidden rewards for the intrepid explorer. While solving what seemed to be a rather straightforward level, I spied a hidden switch that was very difficult to get to. After attempted to reach the switch 20-something times, I finally figured out the puzzle, and collected a fluttering prize. Glaiel told me there’s 30 of these hidden “Silver Moths” in the game; if you find them all, you’ll unlock something good. “It’s worth it, yeah,” Glaiel hinted.
Bonuses aside, just making it through the games’ 100 levels should prove to be a stiff challenge. That’s by design. “It’s going to be difficult,” Glaiel explained. “I have a design philosophy about puzzle games. You can’t really replay them. Once you’ve solved a puzzle, you can never solve it again; you can replay it, but you can’t think through it and solve it again. So there’s a lot of content in the game and a lot of challenging puzzles later on. I just want people to enjoy the game for as long as possible before finishing it.”
Glaiel actually increased the difficulty for the PS3 version from his initial version of the game: “I want the PS3 version to be tougher than the Flash game, but for more people to finish it. Only 0.6% of players completed the Flash game. I’ll be happy with 10% on PS3.”
You’ll get a chance to take on that challenge when Closure opens up on PSN in early 2012.