I am starting work on a new game called Symbll (its the word “symbol” and “mall” mashed together, and the b will also be an a). If you couldn’t guess from the title the game, it will be a mall management simulation that predominately uses symbols. The idea is to explore how a game can utilize symbols. I came across this idea when I was reading an article about the “failed interface” of Mass Effect (read the point about “poor choice of icons“). Krystian Majewski brought up the subject of using symbols (or icons) to represent an object. What caught my attention was this line: “[t]he actual camera may look nothing like a consumer camera but the shape of a consumer camera is more familiar and thus easier recognizable.” This sparked my interest in symbols and icons. I wanted to explore how symbols represent an idea so quickly and effectively in a limited amount of space. To do this exploration I have decided to make Symbll. Here are some ideas I will be exploring:
- How quickly can one recognize a symbol, especially if it is a symbol that is seen everyday?
- How much alteration can be made to a symbol before the symbol is not recognizable as the idea it is trying to represent?
- How does a person interact with a symbol, the process of understanding and acting upon what information the symbol portrays?
- How can a game utilize symbols effectively?
- Can a game be made entirely out of symbols without explanation, or does there need to be text which explains the meaning of the symbols?
- Can a game about simulating mall management be fun?
- What drives a person to construct environments that are interactive, which humans or simulated humans interact?
- How does structure affect interaction and creativity?
I wanted to start documenting from the very beginning of the project so that I can look back and reflect on how these ideas evolve over time. I also wanted to post this online so that people can share their thoughts. A major reason too is so people can view the active process that goes into creating a game. I will try my best not to bore you with technical details, and focus mainly on the ideas and theories behind Symbll.