GioCities

blogs by Gio

Tagged: literary themes

gaming Boneworks' Aesthetic of Substantiation

  • Posted in gaming

If you asked me what I expect “VR” to look like, I would answer lowpoly, wireframes, etc. You know, the SUPERHOT vibe, or the crisp plastic cartoon vibe of Virtual Virtual Reality or VRChat, or maybe even a little Quadrilateral Cowboy. Boneworks is not that. Instead of freely-manipulated wireframes and polygons, we get… this:

Boneworks blue DANGER Heavy Calculation machine with barrel "Memory Dump" waste barrels, marked "256 mb storage capacity"

Boneworks’ aesthetic goes in a wildly different direction. Everything in the world is industrial and thoroughly utilitarian. There is a deliberate theme of substantiation rather than abstraction permeating the game’s design.

At first I thought it was a visual gag (“What’s this barrel full of, anyway? Oh, data, haha”), but no, it’s consistent throughout the universe and turns out to be a core part of the world.

I love this approach, both for its aesthetic effects and for its function as a storytelling device.

fandom Psycholonials Commentary, selections

  • Posted in fandom

The following are exerpts from my fully transcribed playthrough of Psycholonials, which I wrote last summer. If you aren’t familiar with psycholonials or haven’t played the game, I recommend reading that to catch up.

bonk

If you’ve already played Psycholonials though, here’s some food for you. Exerpts though, not the whole thing.

literature W.D. Gaster and fake depth

or, “W.D. Gaster undercuts Undertale’s cohesiveness as a work”

When I wrote The Raphael Parable, I updated it with a little ARG. “The ARG Update”, I called it. There were scattered clues, and a puzzle, and secret notes so the diligent scavenger could piece together what really happened. Except nothing did really happen. There wasn’t a story I wanted to tell, there wasn’t an interesting mystery to solve, there were just clues tied to more clues tied to an arbitrary ending. It was the trappings of mystery without any of the meaning.

Petscop, on the other hand, has a substantial depth to it because it keeps tying itself to reality. The viewer is given a real person recording themselves playing a game. It’s set in our world. The game itself seems to be intricately tied to real-world events; too. Disappearances, the player’s family, even the YouTube account managing the videos. Petscop tells a deep mystery story because the mystery is backed by a story: a death, an abuse, a revenge. There’s meat to the mystery.

Sans (Undertale) is a fun character. He’s spooky. He breaks an unbreakable log, he teleports, he’s figured out something about the timelines. Then there’s a fight with Sans, where he’s very tough and has a gun. Then he needed a backstory for his gun and science, and we got Gaster, who is almost those things. Gaster was a fun idea, though, so he got some extra Easter eggs. We get room_gaster, the gaster followers, Mysteryman, the wrong number song, and the sound test. He’s fun, and mysterious, and ended up carrying most of the mysterious lore bits of Undertale that were never quite explained.