You’ve often heard the word “relativity” but Albert Einstein defined it in one way as “space and time being considered together and in relation to each other”. So what happens when you take the fundamental laws of physics, turn them upside down and inside out, and build a world inspired by M.C. Escher – a famous artist known for his lithographs and mezzotints? You get Relativity, Willy Chyr’s independent puzzle-based exploration game.
GamingBolt had the opportunity to speak to Chyr about the same and discussed the various intricacies of Relativity’s design process and level creation.
"The game explores the core mechanics fully and in every direction, utilizing them in puzzles to get players to think more carefully about the rules of the world."
Rashid K. Sayed: To begin with, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and Relativity?
Willy Chyr: I’m an artist and independent game developer based in Chicago.
RELATIVITY is an exploration-puzzle game that imagines a universe with a different set of physical laws. It is set in a Escher-esque world where players have the ability to re-orient themselves to walk on any surface and change the direction of gravity.
Rashid K. Sayed: What was your inspiration behind developing Relativity?
Willy Chyr: I was largely inspired by the works of M.C. Escher. My past work as an installation artist has also had a major influence.
Rashid K. Sayed: How do you plan to create a mind-bending and visually compelling?
Willy Chyr: The game explores the core mechanics fully and in every direction, utilizing them in puzzles to get players to think more carefully about the rules of the world. Often, while the rules may appear simple, their consequences can be quite surprising.
Likewise, I’m really pushing for a strong sense of aesthetics that is simultaneously overwhelming but also visually very interesting, like Escher’s works.
Rashid K. Sayed: Are there any plans to include a level editor in the game?
Willy Chyr: Not at the moment.
Rashid K. Sayed: The game looks like it could fit in perfectly for the Vita. Any plans to launch a Vita version?
Willy Chyr: Not at the moment.
"It’s an open-world puzzle game, so the idea of “levels” doesn’t really make sense in the context of the game."
Rashid K. Sayed: What are your thoughts on Xbox One’s indie policy?
Willy Chyr: I don’t know the policy well enough to comment.
Rashid K. Sayed: How many levels are you planning to pack in the game?
Willy Chyr: It’s an open-world puzzle game, so the idea of “levels” doesn’t really make sense in the context of the game. There are several distinct areas in the game, which can be grouped together based on certain themes. However, each of these areas can be broken down into smaller areas, and there’s quite a lot of overlap, so to call them “levels” would be inaccurate.
Rashid K. Sayed: The puzzle and the level design seem to be far more open ended than Portal. How did you managed this and will our brains burst out with frustration?
Willy Chyr: In some ways, I had to follow a more open-ended design process because I didn’t want to duplicate what Portal did. Portal was able to utilize a very linear level design, because it offsets puzzle fatigue with GLaDOS’ commentary.
RELATIVITY doesn’t have a GLaDOS character, and there’s no voiceover. Consequently, the game varies pacing through the environment, with a mix of puzzles and large area for exploration. I have been playtesting the game significantly so as not to induce unnecessary frustration in the player.
"In some ways, I had to follow a more open-ended design process because I didn’t want to duplicate what Portal did."
Rashid K. Sayed: Why is Relativity a PS4 exclusive and is there any reason why it’s not coming to the Xbox One?
Willy Chyr: Relativity is not PS4 exclusive.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is the player going to receive any special skills or abilities as the game progresses?
Willy Chyr: Not unless you count knowledge and understanding of the rules of the world as “special abilities”.
Rashid K. Sayed: What are your thoughts on the current generation competition between PS4 and Xbox One? PS4 is in the lead but do you think Microsoft can catch up?
Willy Chyr: I do not know enough about the situation to comment.
Rashid K. Sayed: Will the PS4 version run at 1080p and 60fps?
Willy Chyr: That’s the plan.
Rashid K. Sayed: Are there plans to use the PS4 touchpad?
Willy Chyr: Not sure yet.
Rashid K. Sayed: Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?
Willy Chyr: Check out the website and follow the devlog for more information.