Jason Roberts, the developer of Gorogoa answered some of our questions about the game.
Gorogoa is a puzzle video game but it has a rather unique gameplay. Players solve puzzles by finding the connection between different panels and then arranging them in the correct order. The game also sports some gorgeous visuals and a great story, and it’s certainly a surprise given that this is the developer’s first ever game.
To learn more about the game and its development, Gamingbolt reached out to the game’s developer Jason Roberts with some questions, and he provided the following answers.
"Although it’s been hard at times, I think I prefer working in this medium to any other"
What originally inspired the very unique gameplay seen in Gorogoa?
At one point maybe back in 2010 I was trying to make a comic book. But after a while I realized that the layout of panels on each page was more interesting to me than sequential storytelling. I was drawn to the idea of a collage or quilt of smaller framed images that nonetheless related to one another. Or maybe something interactive, with moving parts, like a magic jigsaw puzzle or card game. Those ideas percolated around in my mind for several years before becoming the picture-connecting mechanic that eventually led to Gorogoa.
Being your first game, what has the experience of working in this medium been like?
Although it’s been hard at times, I think I prefer working in this medium to any other. I say “I think” because this is the only serious creative project I’ve ever embarked on, so I don’t really have much experience in other media. But I like puzzles and mechanisms and things with intricate moving parts, and I also like drawing and visual design. And also storytelling. This medium combines those things in a way that others don’t, and I think it’s the best match to my skill set and to the way I think. Also it’s a younger medium and therefore a frontier, with so much unexplored territory still out there.
You’ve stated that comic books have been a major source of inspiration behind this game? Does this extend to the gameplay as well?
As I’ve said, the idea evolved from an interactive comic in some ways. But the relationship of the core game mechanic to comics is more indirect. Gorogoa leaves out one of the defining features of comics, namely the use of panels to tell a story sequentially. The game Framed, for example, uses that sequential structure as the basis for gameplay. I think Gorogoa takes its gameplay DNA as much from a card or tile game, or a jigsaw puzzle, as it does from comics.
What got you interested in video games as a medium?
I’ve been playing games for most of my life, starting with early Atari games and old Infocom text adventures. Those games, being interactive spaces with moving parts that only revealed a portion of their meaning or potential at a time, had a stronger and more vivid effect on my imagination than works in other media. Making games also seemed to combine into one discipline several skills which separately interested me, like puzzle design, programming, writing, and art.
Are there any particular video games that inspired you when making Gorogoa?
The 1987 game The Fool’s Errand was probably the biggest single influence, and clearly had plenty of time to sit in my brain before I started making my own game more than 20 years later. I was also inspired by a number of Infocom games, especially Trinity. Myst and Riven were also hugely influential. In later years I loved Ico and Shadow of The Colossus, the early Silent Hill games, Okami and Portal. All of these worked their way into the stew of inspiration.
"The art style I chose was very labor intensive and time consuming, especially when it came to animation"
What are some of your major sources of inspiration when it comes to the themes explored in the game?
The search for meaning–especially spiritual or metaphysical meaning–in the world around us was a personal one for me. It’s about anyone who is searching for something invisible, something vastly beyond ordinary experience, but who must do so in the aftermath of disillusionment with organized religion, exploring the spaces between those religious traditions, or piecing something new together from fragments of other beliefs.
Were there any particular challenges you faced during this game’s development?
Almost everything about it was challenging. The art style I chose was very labor intensive and time consuming, especially when it came to animation. But an even bigger challenge was the way that the picture-connecting game mechanic caused the visual and narrative design of different scenes to become entangled into a very complex knot. Iteration on puzzle design was very slow because so much of each puzzle’s implementation depended on small details of the visual design. These are all reasons why the game took so long to make, especially when combined with my inexperience.
Would you say video games can be used to convey deep and meaningful experiences?
Absolutely. Without question. This is not a matter of potential. I’ve already had those deep and meaningful experiences over and over again in games I’ve played. And I’m trying to create those experiences myself. If I haven’t succeeded with this game, I hope to in future projects.
Are there any other games you would like to work on in the future?
Yes, I have a new project I’ve already put a lot of thought into, and I hope to begin prototyping soon. More than that I will not say!