Diametric is a digital game and experimental narrative, a solo endeavor that started as my MFA Thesis project. It is still a work in progress, projected to be finished by 2017.
Diametric is an art game that experiments with creative structures in non-linear comics, offering an exploration of identity through oscillating perspectives and progressions. The experience centers on physical shifts in perspective, allegorical shifts in character, and spatial representations of temporal relationships. Diametric takes the player through a pensive exploration of identity in personal and interpersonal facets, as experienced through nonlinear temporal and spatial progressions.
Rough outline of visual artwork planned so far.
The two key ways in which Diametric builds an exploratory experience is through dynamic perspectives and progressions. The structure of the game world is built as a series of simple three-dimensional boxes. The view of the game for the majority of the experience is constrained to a flattened two-dimensional perspective of these geometries, so as to focus on one rectangle at a time. This rectangular unit serves as a comic frame and the flow of the comic is to be experienced by shifting the perspective, rotating the block to view another side. With constant knowledge of the existence of another perspective, but with the limitations of a flat viewpoint, the player keeps moving and shifting through the world to acquire a fuller sense of the story. Depending on the direction of the shift, the geometric perspective leads to either a shift in character or an opening of pathways to enter a different part of the experience’s progression.
The progression of the experience is non-linear, or more precisely the combination of multi-linear progressions. The importance of the temporal element is highlighted in the recurring appearance of the clock. Time is manifested as a physical entity; a clock at the center of the world’s physical structure exhibits multiple faces that show three different progressions of time. The distinct temporal paces are backwards, forwards, and accelerating forwards, respectively corresponding to temporal states of past, present, and future. As the player moves through different areas of the game, he or she is required to enter through the clock as a gateway to another temporal place in the story. As the player enters through a single type of clock at a time, the story of one of the three temporal states is activated. The clock is also a UI element on the top corner of the screen at any given time, reflecting the particular progression of time that is active in the clock at the center of the world. Through the exploration of past, present, and future progressions of the game’s temporal map, the whole picture of the multifaceted story of identity comes together in intriguing ways.
Contemplation of Relative Time
The conception of the ideas in Diametric takes inspiration from Martin Heidegger’s philosophy in Being and Time, on what he describes as two modalities of being: the private, isolated, anxious being and the public being immersed within others. His philosophy theorizes that we naturally find ourselves in oscillation between the two modes. Heidegger’s view on time shares a similar dynamic motion and is integral to understanding the nature of being. The intricate ideas posed by Heidegger served as a base for my own exploration of being, time, and identity, and became a structural guide for how to build a world that would offer such an experience. The two characters that inhabit the story are of virtually inverse identities, each embodying one side of the aforementioned two-fold experience of being.
The formal work on Diametric began with an amalgamation of interests in disparate fields, comics and games, with a goal to combine the two in a way that explores the possibilities and extends limitations inherent in each medium. The question that moved the project forward was: what does each medium lack on its own and what does it excel at, and how can these two artforms coalesce to form a whole new experience that resonates in a thoughtful way?