The Real Texas - Game Dev Code of Honour, Mathilda and Carrie's Motivation (no spoilers)


A player (name withheld as I didn't ask if I could use it) recently asked me about Mathilda and Carrie's motivations. I think this is an excellent question and after answering it at length in email I thought I would put it into my dev blog here in case anybody else was interested.

NOTE: This blog post is spoiler-free. There is a spoilery section at the bottom, but it is linked into a separate page. So never fear!

Game Dev Code of Honour

More or less, I hold to a code of honour that means (among other things) that I can't give away any of the game's secrets, or give out hints when players are stuck.

This is because it reduces the value for you, the player, in figuring them out. And it breaks down the key relationship between the player and game author:

Making a single player game is an exercise in trust. You the player have to trust me that I haven't put situations in that you won't be able to overcome.

I in turn need to take that trust and live up to it. Above all else, the game must be fair. Or as fair as I can manage within my abilities. But as long as it lives up to this, then I am free to torment you put you in, er, interesting... situations.

In fact this is my whole job, because without challenges you won't experience the pleasure of overcoming them. Was there ever a greater paradox than the single player game?

The trick of course is that what's fair or even easy for one player may not be for another, and also with a nonlinear game it's possible for some players to have a harder time than others depending on what they choose to do or in what order. But as I see people play, I can (and will) make small modifications to it to ameliorate this. As long as I'm "speaking through the game" then that relationship is still in place.

Meaning

The Cocteau Twins are a band whose lyrics are actually just syllabic-- they aren't words, but they aren't exactly scatting (i.e., voice-as-instrument) either. Instead, they are strings of syllables that sound like words. So you end up making your own words to them. This is their whole intent, according to some sources.

For my part, I also don't want there to be "one interpretation" -- I think if you experience a game and draw conclusions that are a little bit (or a lot) different than mine, then that is just as valid.

Now, as for The Real Texas I do have in most cases a definite idea as to what is going on. So don't think that I've just thrown it together randomly. But if you feel something in the game has a particular deeper meaning, I'm not going to tell you that it's wrong, even if it's not exactly what I intended. So it's up to you to figure it out.

After all, every game really takes place inside your imagination, no matter how fabulous the graphics are. All a game developer can do is give that a bit of a (technologically-assisted) nudge.

As a player, I personally hold to this fan-interpretation of FF8 (SPOILERS) even though I can see it's likely not what the author's intended. I just think it makes the game far, far richer and who are they to tell me what I should think?

Mathilda and Carrie

All this in mind, I can definitely reveal some "nuts and bolts" about Mathilda and Carrie. This isn't so much about the meaning of their actions, but maybe more my own creative process.

If you haven't beaten the game, don't read this, as there are major spoilers in it.

Otherwise, here is a separate page on Mathilda and Carrie's Motivation.

I don't think there is anything in it that will lessen your enjoyment of the game, and it doesn't really explain too much, just points out some more or less obvious things about my process in creating them.

Note: if you want to post spoilery comments, please do so on the other page, not on the dev blog! Thank you!

2012-08-03


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