Up for Air

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cache.pngThis time of year is always busy, but this year has been especially busy for me. This is the first chance I've had in a long while to come up for air and leave a post on the blog while I'm here. Other projects have kept me from updating for the past several weeks, which is a shame mostly because I left a lot of interesting comments hanging on the previous entry. Certainly there is a lot to be said on the relationship between games and movies, and it's a topic that I hope to revisit in the near future.

For the moment, let me share with you a bit of what I've been working on lately. Here's the Cache website, which is intended to be the public face of a series of projects that Jamie and I are currently working on, all related back to one key idea: creating narrative through a process of discovery rather than role-playing. The first such project, titled CONTROL, is currently in a beta stage and can be downloaded from the website.

CONTROL is based on a card game created by Jamie and Mike Rossmassler. There are 256 cards, laid out in sixteen four-by-four grids. Each card in the grid represents a space; each of the sixteen sequential pages represents a fifteen-second span of time. The player chooses a card and reads it: it describes the space during that time. The player chooses more cards, or turns the page in order to increment or decrement time. After a few such moves, the player selects one card out of his or her hand to set aside; the others are returned. After sixteen turns, the player has build up an inventory (a cache, if you will) of sixteen carefully-selected cards which tell a story.

This story represents the creative aspect of the game. Although the player doesn't create, or even influence, what is written on any of these cards, they get to choose which ones to include and which to ignore, and how they should be assembled. The results can be surprisingly unpredictable. Some players are documentarians; others take artistic license with their stories. Once the game is completed, the story remains, an artifact of the experience.

We're looking for feedback from playtesters so that we can continue to improve CONTROL and the other games that will follow. You can help by downloading and playing the beta version and filling out our survey. Any feedback is appreciated! This is an experimental game, so we're trying to push boundaries, but ultimately we're trying to figure out how to make it fun, as well.

Special note to people who have already played an earlier version of CONTROL: There were a couple versions that saw closed beta testing. One was the original paper prototype that Jamie and Mike put together. Another was an early digital version that suffered from a massive memory leak. If you played one of these versions, I encourage you to at least register your email address at the Cache website. The memory leak has been fixed, and the most recent version added in a much-requested feature that was missing from the original release. We will continue to update the game with features, based on feedback and our own wishlist, and we'll notify you occasionally when a new version goes live.

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