Every year, Double Fine Productions takes two weeks to prototype a handful of game concepts, throws them at the wall, and sees what sticks. They call the event Amnesia Fortnight.
This normally-secretive process is named “Amnesia” because the entire team at Double Fine forgets what they’re working on, and “Fortnight” because it lasts for two weeks. During this time the company is divided into smaller teams, and each team must make a game in those two weeks.
Amnesia Fortnight was held in December, and this year they opened it to the public. Each potential project leader pitched their idea not only to Double Fine, but to the internet. The internet then voted on the concepts, selecting five that would be developed over the two-week period:
- Hack ‘n’ Slash is a Zelda-style RPG that incorporates computer programming as a game mechanic. For example, you can jack into an enemy and edit their hit point attribute, killing them by setting it to zero.
- Spacebase DF-9 is a systems-based simulation game in which you build and manage a space station. Check up on the inhabitants by reading entries in their social networking platform, SpaceFace.
- The White Birch was inspired by Ico and Journey. Jump and climb through a beautiful environment.
- Autonomous presents you with a Tron-like junkyard full of robot parts. Combine parts to create automatons that will carry out tasks.
- Black Lake is a dark, but beautiful game world in which plants and animals are corrupted by nightmare.
The entire process was documented by 2 Player Productions in a series of 12 films, beginning with the pitches and following the teams as they turn the ideas into playable games. The films and the games are being sold through Humble Bundle. I didn’t actually find out about the whole thing until after the holidays, but I picked up the bundle in January, and I’ve been watching the films. They’re very well done, and I wish I had the time to show every one of them to my class. So many of the points made in Jesse Schell’s book, The Art of Game Design, are played out in front of the cameras. I haven’t played the games yet, as I want to finish watching the films first, but the more I see, the more anxious I am to try them out. I think there is a lot to be learned here about not just game development, but software development and general creative process and innovation.
If you have an interest in game design, I recommend checking it out. The downloadable version is only $9.99.