Double Fine's two-week Amnesia Fortnight event begins today in earnest. The studio's collection of over 20 concepts has been voted on by the public, thanks to the Humble Bundle, and the four most popular are primed to be prototyped. Introducing: Hack n' Slash, Spacebase DF-9, The White Birch, and Autonomous, potentially four of Double Fine's future games. For the next two weeks Double Fine will build prototypes of these games and livestream the process -- starting today at 2PM PST.
To give a bit of perspective into the prototypes Double Fine will be working on, here are the concept summaries supplied for the voting process:
#1: Hack n' Slash
"Hack n' Slash is an action adventure game focused on exploration and discovery, not just of its charming fantasy world, but also its internal workings. Based on my childhood experiences hacking on games in emulators to discover new things (and break others), Hack ‘n’ Slash is a world of puzzle dungeons based on progressively more sophisticated cheating, hacking, and reverse engineering techniques. Instead of a sword, you get a laptop, searching for and building software to help you dismantle and rebuild the world around you."
#2: Spacebase DF-9
"As the omniscient overseer tasked with building a single habitation pod into a glorious sprawling flotilla-city, you will be able to peer into every thought and impulse of the citizens who come to inhabit your corridors. Citizens live and work as bartenders, scientists, dockworkers, entertainers, bureaucrats; they have needs, personalities, daily routines, and memories... which means that over time they develop friendships, enmities, prejudices, addictions, phobias, and so on. You'll also have the power to do things like set base policies (which may not necessarily be obeyed), issue orders to maintenance robots, and decide which visiting ships get to merge with your base and become a part of its permanent architecture. Each player's base becomes a unique, unpredictable city teeming with the tragedies and comedies of daily life, with a sense of creative ownership that grows along with it. Players in turn share their bases with friends, and the game expands over time with input from a thriving community."
#3: The White Birch
"A young girl wakes in a clearing in the forest; ahead of her is a crumbling tower overgrown with Ivy that climbs high above the dark woods towards the sunlight. An Owl drifts back and forth between the tower and the darkness of the trees. Following the Owl the girl begins to climb…
The White Birch is an ambient and moody, vertical platforming/exploration game in a similar vein to Ico or Limbo. The main character is a young girl who can clamber and climb her way up to the top of the mysterious Escher-like puzzle tower. At the top is a lone White Birch tree with a single prize hanging from its branches.
The game should be a mood game – slower pace than an action platformer with a melancholy and ambient soundtrack and tone; somewhere for people to put on their headphones and lose themselves. The game is a short (< 4 hour) first playthrough but encourages repeated playthroughs by the use of alternate endings and different prizes hanging from the tree depending on the play style of the individual and the path taken through the climb. The puzzles are physics based exploration: ‘find the way out of the room’ style puzzles rather than lock/key or collection puzzles. The tone and story should be opaque and open to interpretation – the Owl is loosely a guide for the girl’s path through the tower from the danger of the forest towards the sunlight and the tree, the different endings and prizes reflect the play style and infer meaning towards the purposes of the girl’s climb."
"You explore a new-wave inspired, futuristic "junkyard world" in a first-person perspective to collect primitives and energy in order to construct, and give life to, automatons. Once activated, automatons have a "mind" of their own that you cannot directly control. Automaton behavior is derived both from the type of primitives that they are built from as well as an array of dials and sliders that you set during their construction. But assembling automatons isn't just a creative exercise-- it’s also a matter of survival. The environment is a hazardous one, and you must find ways to harness the self-directed automatons to explore, survive and ultimately shape the world around you."
While each of the prototypes sound very interesting, I'm personally excited for Spacebase and The White Birch. They both seem to have a clearer vision of what the "game" will be and the direction needed to develop an interesting prototype. Of course, considering how much personality Double Fine puts into each of their games, it's almost heartbreaking that none of the other concepts will be made.
It will also be interesting to see what sort of coverage Double Fine stirs up for the livestream. Will they split the coverage between the games, or focus on a particular group so they don't to overexert themselves organizing everything? Will the teams have prepared some material to show off during the livestream, or will the teams just be winging it? Whatever the format, it's exciting to see more of the Double Fine development process.