> Managing Control
As development of this game moves forward, it becmes clearer and clearer that it would fit in nicely with my Cyberpunk/Lovecraft transmedia project.
Control is intrinsic to games as a medium. The feeling of lack of control is key to creating an atmosphere of cosmic horror. The key to creating a Lovecraftian horror within a game is maintaining a careful balance between the two – allow the player to control enough to be engaged with the game (achieved through its puzzle solving elements), and then altering or removing that control through in-game events to have the player feel helpless. And finally, the game can take control of the player’s save files, or close itself entirely.
> Unspoken Rules
Digital objects that are created and used for pragmatic reasons, like save files, initialization files, and shortcuts, are seen as existing “outside” the game itself. To the player, they exist only to support their play. However, this is a boundary that can be broken by the game.
I will be taking a page from Undertale’s book. At one point, the antagonist tells you that you can’t win, and the game will close itself. When you reopen the game and reload your save file, but the antagonist interrupts you and “deletes” it, replacing it with their own, which you have no choice but to continue playing. This interruption of play takes control away from the player by breaching a barrier that the player holds sacred.
It’s important to not that this will not produce the same feeling as the vast existential helplessness of Lovecraftian horror. While I could write some dread-inducing prose to attempt to achieve the same standard, it would be far less effective when placed within a game. Instead, this subversion of the player/game dynamic is its own representation of such, performed in a way that is unique to the medium.
With all of this in mind, is it possible to “win” a Lovecraftian game?
Short answer: no.
Long answer: nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
The question that should be addressed is: can a game like this be enjoyable?