When I started to work on Twelve Minutes, all I knew was that I wanted to explore the concept of a time loop and see if that would create interesting gameplay.
I could not have guessed that the game would be about a married couple, living in a small apartment, attacked by a cop in a twelve minutes loop, all this in real time and with a top down view.
All these decisions where part of a iterative process of trying to find the most interesting design (from my point of view) of the time loop mechanic.
For quite a few months now, the core experience hasn’t changed. The way you control the player, the objects in the apartment and the puzzles are mostly the same, just being improved upon.
This meant that I started to have a voice in my head asking “What is this game REALLY about?”
When I set out to create something new, I have a certain amount of control in the creative process, based on my skills, experience and end goal, but there is another side, extremely organic, that only shows itself when the work becomes more than a draft.
This other side, I can only steer it. Its more about listening, being able to hear what it’s trying to say.
I’ve now reached the moment that I’m able to pay attention to it.
Twelve Minutes is about your knowledge. At the end of each loop you learn a bit more about the characters and the world, and that accumulated knowledge changes your behavior.
This shift in perspective will make you deal with the same problems differently.
Not being told what to do AND having the possibility to express your take on the situation is what makes a difference.
I always thought that the game was about the character you play and how he deals with the situation, but its not, its about you, and how you decide to interpret and deal with what you learn.
Understanding this (I hope), has helped me crack the big question, “How does it end?”
This overview of the game also allowed me to cut a lot of fat. Unnecessary characters and dialogues that were adding nothing to the structure and just complicating the story.
I feel once I’ve added these new changes I can move into “production mode” and get the game finished.
Totally unrelated but not worth a separate post, I was recently interviewed by Gamasutra about managing two projects at the same time and surviving. It covers some of the issues I went over in a previous post I did about working one hour every day, but its more personal and goes into more detail. You can read about it here.
I’ve realized there are many other developers going through the same struggle and I’ve scribbled a few notes on the subject so I might write a new blog post about it some time in the future.