Traitor around the Web

I’m somewhat surprised to see Traitor getting quite a bit of attention. I think I’d been sitting on it for so long that I’d allowed my frustration to take over so much that I was convinced everyone was going to hate it, especially the people who liked my previous games. I’ve made some eccentric and/or ambitious games over the years, but somehow Traitor – despite being fairly straightforward – was pretty far outside my comfort zone. I also have to say that making a shooter in Flash isn’t the easiest of tasks, even with the very helpful tool that is Stencyl.

Anyway, here are some links!

My favourite of all these reviews, however, is the one by Games That Exist. Games That Exist is a relatively new blog, but I’ve really admired every article it’s published so far, and the one about Traitor hits the nail on the head in terms of my intention:

Reinventing the wheel isn’t always necessary when it comes to providing something fresh. In many cases, all you need to reinvigorate a proven formula is a shift in focus . Traitor is a shoot’em up that doesn’t throw excessive hordes of enemies and explosions at you. It doesn’t let you shoot a million bullets per second. What it does provide is context for what you’re shooting at and a carefully conceived universe. Nothing gets me excited about shooting stuff like the prospect of overthrowing a tyrannical empire. A funny thing about context in shoot’em ups: when it’s not there, you might not miss it so much, but when it’s there, it makes all the difference.

That’s pretty much a perfect a summary of what I was striving, in my own clumsy little way, to accomplish: context. Because I believe that context matters so very much, and it’s something too many games aren’t doing properly (or at all). There are so many games that impress me with the brilliance of their design and the power of their engines, but fail to make me care. I’ve played so many games that were great fun, but where I felt that they could be so much better if only the setting was more than wallpaper. That’s one reason I stayed away from more complex “storytelling scenes” in Traitor. I know I can do those, and do them well (judging from the response to my Lands of Dream games). I wanted to use the simplest tools available – just mission descriptions and place names – to create a world-based narrative with interesting themes and ideas.

I’m very much aware that despite my best efforts, Traitor still has many flaws, both in its design and its execution. Where games like The Fabulous Screech forced me to go beyond what I’m used to emotionally (and man was that game hard to write), Traitor was a far more technical challenge, and I’m not as good at those as other people are. But I’m really glad that despite these flaws, the game has managed to grip people. I always intended for this game to have a sequel, after all, and revolutions can be complicated affairs.

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