May 20th, 2013 / 8:16 am
I Like __ A Lot & Massive People

An Interview with the Creators of Starseed Pilgrim

Yesterday, after my lunch but before theirs, I interviewed Droqen (i.e., Alexander Martin) and Ryan Roth, the developer and sound designer of Starseed Pilgrim, a beautiful, mysterious game about “tending a symphonic garden, exploring space, and embracing fate.” It’s six dollars and I am extremely confident your computer can run it. I was kind of awkward and shy, predictably, but the two of them did great. We did it as a video because that was expedient, but if I were you I would treat it like a podcast — listen to the audio; don’t feel like you’ve got to watch. We talked mostly about video games — Starseed Pilgrim, Droqen’s other games, stuff we had all played and enjoyed, and things we didn’t like so much. But I don’t think you have to like video games very much to find a lot of what they said interesting. I made some annotations (indexed by time code) to provide context and further information for the things we discussed; click past the fold to see them.

00:01:21 – Steam is the premiere online digital video game retailer, as well as the name of the platform through which you can access and manage games purchased at the Steam store. For indie game developers, placement on Steam represents an important milestone, as the store’s contents are curated — in other words, they won’t sell just anything.

00:12:10 – Here I’m referring to this lecture, Designing the Universe, by Jonathan Bow and Marc Ten Bosch. (I apologize to Marc Ten Bosch for blanking on his name!) It’s a really fascinating lecture.

00:13:00 So Jonathan Blow is the main guy behind Braid, a puzzle platformer about time manipulation, one of the first real indie hits. Jon Blow is also one of Starseed Pilgrim‘s big boosters, and probably responsible for much of the game’s recent success.

00:20:22 – Here’s the page for Asphyx.

00:21:59 – You can learn more about Analog Defender here.

00:25:15 – So I think that here Droqen and I are talking about the same thing — I couldn’t remember the name, but he’s right, it’s called Desperate Gods, and you can see more about it here.

00:29:14 Here’s the page for Probability 0. I haven’t played it, but it looks fun!

00:34:05 – System Shock 2 is a predecessor to Ken Levine’s BioShock games. I never played it, so I can’t say much more than that! But it was pretty important to a lot of people.

00:38:06 Here’s the Tim Rogers review of BioShock Infinite.

00:45:24 – This seems to be the video to which Droqen is referring.

00:48:00 If you’re not familiar with the term “roguelike,” here’s an essay I wrote about this kind of game.

01:03:22 – You can see the sequence Droqen describes here, (and then the next couple hours of the game!), here.

If you watched and/or listened to this, thanks very much! And again, check out Starseed Pilgrim.

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  1. Janice Lee


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  3. bartleby_taco

      This game looks sweet, I’ll have to look it up. Have you heard about Anodyne? I played it recently and really enjoyed it. The music/atmosphere was very nice, sort of gloomy/downer, open but opaque, etc. Made me wish more people were making 16-bit revivlaist games with weirdo aesthetics.

  4. Mike Meginnis

      I have, although something about the review I read put me off a little. I can’t remember what now. It may have been something like the issue that’s kept me away from Hotline Miami, which looks like it would be hell to control.

  5. bartleby_taco

      Yeah, the action got a little dull sometimes, and the jump puzzles were more annoying than enjoyable. But I think I’ve realized, after all these years, that gameplay is something that comes secondary to me with regards to the enjoyment of a game. I have to like how it feels // its ‘worlding’ effect. Anytime I’ve played an older RPG I used to love when I was younger I’ve had to play it with ‘level 99’ / ‘no random battles’ cheats. I feel like on some level that probably says something about how I think about video games. More a corollary of reading than anything. Or something?

  6. Mike Meginnis

      That’s not how I approach video games (I like a lot of games with pretty painted-on story/atmosphere, like some racing games and strategy games and such) but it certainly makes sense to me. When you find a game world you feel good just kind of hanging out in, that’s always a really satisfying experience. I could probably just walk around the towns in FF7 for quite a while, and that game isn’t even good much of the time.

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