I played A Light in Chorus at EGX and thought that it was beautiful! Its an experiential game where the entire world is rendered though points of light. I was lucky enough to get an interview with Elliot Johnson, one of the two developers making the game.
What was the inspiration behind A Light in Chorus?
“The game came out of some research I was doing into the history of visual technologies. I was looking at lot of Sonar and Lidar scans, they have a really haunting quality that I thought would be interesting to play with in an interactive space.“
“LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) data is very accurate, high resolution 3D data. Captured using special sensors, from the air or the ground, it results in a set of “dots” suspended in a 3-dimensional space. These dots can be displayed in special software or converted into a 3D mesh for use in many modern 3D software packages.” It has been used in film vfx for on-set surveying and for helping with tracking.
Did you draw influence from games themselves, or outside sources?
“We’re both artists outside of games and so we’ve been influenced by many things, some games, some not. An important part of the creative process for both of us is being receptive to influences from places we least expect. Game wise one of the biggest influences was Ed Key and David Kanaga’s Proteus, it resonated with a lot of ideas we were already interested in (ideas not necessarily tied to games- situationsm, psychogeography, leylines etc) and also existed as this very concise aesthetic experience, playing it is like a kind of meditation.”
I love that Proteus and meditation was mentioned here – shows I’m going in the right direction with my thinking.
Situationism describes a psychological state in which behavior is influenced only by outside sources, a leftist political ideology that is similar to Marxism and Anarchism, or an art moment similar to Dadaism or Surrealism that seeks to integrate art into the everyday.
Psychogeography is an approach to geography that emphasizes playfulness and “drifting” around urban environments. It has links to the Situationist International. Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals.” Another definition is “a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities… just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape.” – This is a really interesting idea. I’d like to find a way to use it in my project without straying too much into design or psychology.
Ley lines are supposed alignments of numerous places of geographical and historical interest, such as ancient monuments and megaliths, natural ridge-tops and water-fords. The New Age movement see them as mystical.
What part of the particle/light style rendering do you think appeals to players?
There’s something enticing and hypnotic about bright coloured glowing lights. It’s not something I’m qualified to explain but if I had to guess I’d say that it’s something to do with perceived warmth and how the eye is drawn to areas of high contrast (we’ve certainly got plenty of those) It’s almost sickening how attractive it can be, it’s something I’m keen to play more with within the structure of the game arc, how to temper that beauty with some ugliness or awkwardness, to dial down the spectacle and allow you some space to think.
One of the other interesting/appealing things about the style is that so much is left to the imagination, there are literally thousands of gaps all over the world that your brain is filling in.
Is there a certain emotion or feel that A Light in Chorus is attempting to evoke? If so, how are you achieving this and why?
One of the feelings I’d like to evoke is that calm you might get from walking around a small town or suburb at night. It’s the familiar made strange by emptiness and quiet. Suddenly what’s mundane is full of mystery and possibility, the smallest light or sound takes on new significance, it clears a way to think about things differently.
I found the game to be a sort of wondrous, calm experience, do you think there should be more games out there like this or are you satisfied with the current games on the market?
We both play a wide range of games from AAA to Indie, more diversity is always a good thing and should be encouraged, everyone wins.
I read on the eurogamer site that you want the game to be enjoyable on a purely sensory level, how does this tie in with narrative – are you trying to tell a particular story?
We’re still negotiating how we fit the narrative into the game, but there are several stories we want to tell, all based around animal migrations/travels. We’re hoping to tell this story in a more environmental way, mirroring how the visuals work, giving you just enough information for you to be able to fill in the blanks.