Some clarifying thoughts? Why yes!

If we are completely honest with you, we were very nervous to share not only the very first trailer of Moons of Madness but also show our Vertical Slice/early Demo to the press. It was a gamble and honestly, a little bit nerve wrecking. Needless to say, we are super excited by the positive feedback and have also been looking at the constructive input and concerns voiced on various social channels.

For a developer, there is always a fine balance between listening to testers/gamers and staying true to your vision, even or especially during later stages of development. Looking at comments for a trailer or even short game-play of an early game build, asks for even more things to take into consideration. It was clear to us from the start that a trailer won’t be translating our vision perfectly and there will be basic questions or concerns about the game. With that in mind, we wanted to write a tiny bit about some of the most mentioned concerns or tidbits. So here we go:

“It’s a walking simulator” - several outlets

I guess in order to write about this issue we have to first define or at least settle what a walking simulator is. We just had a quick discussion internally and it is pretty clear that the definition can be different from person to person. We also don’t want to treat this term as either positive or negative. However, we settled down to more or less define it as follows:

  • unusually heavy emphasis on narrative and exploring a physical space, while de-emphasizing conventional game mechanics and challenges such as puzzles and interaction.
  • they are focused on delivering content to the player (typically narrative content, although not exclusively), and for this reason gameplay challenges tend to be trivial or absent altogether.
  • first-person perspective

Now that we have established some basic definition, we also have to acknowledge that defining how many puzzles or game mechanics (or lack thereof) are necessary to define a game as a walking simulator is also part of this discussion and might vary from gamer to gamer.

It was pretty clear to us where this impression is coming from. The Cave part is not the best example of a Zone Out Event in Moons. In the case of the Demo it’s a very passive version while most Zone Outs will have the player in a very active role (solving puzzles or/and interacting with objects and environment, always in context with what your main objective is). 

With that in mind we confidently say that Moons of Madness is not a walking simulator. It was also never a goal of ours to make one. While you will walk around and explore terrain or locations (After all you are on Mars. You have places to be and things to do), Moons also has a lot of puzzles for you to solve. Puzzles that are not just there to have you walk through the story as a passive bystander or to go from place a to b. You will have decisions to make, tasks and challenges to overcome and machinery to use in order to progress through the game. That includes fail states and even the danger of death.

“They are using mental illness as a trope for marketing” - several outlets

This one is also a very understandable fear. Especially if you have personal experience with the topic. However, one of the things that keep you passionate and caring for working on your game is if you are personally feeling involved or connected with it. Using a specific trope just for the heck of it won’t keep you passionate and focused on working with it. In turn, it will make for a halfhearted project.

Without wanting to overstate this or making it the main reason that we make the game, we have members in the team who are interested in having the topic of mental illness approached carefully for personal reasons. That doesn’t mean in any way that we are experts on the subject or that we want to make an empathy game/serious game. Or that we claim to try to be super realistic in the approach. It does however mean that we are very interested in telling a mental illness story that is important to us in a lot of ways. We feel that a lot of games have portrayed this issue the wrong way and we just really wanted to find a different way to approach this.

Movies can have the same issues, sometimes they either antagonize or over-analyze the sufferers or people around them. One of our main inspirations in this regard is “A beautiful mind”. We feel that, as a movie, it really succeeded in treating the issue respectfully but also in trying to give the viewer an impression of what it can be like to be directly involved. This is something we are trying to portray to a wider audience. In other words, we are trying to make a game that appeals to a wide audience but also has a story that is important to us.

“You should not get damaged by falling in the cave” - several outlets
gravity/atmosphere on Mars and hard science

This is actually interesting since we’ve done quite a bit of research into the atmosphere on Mars. Yes, Gravity on Mars is 3 times less than on Earth. Objects also weigh 3 times less. However, very importantly, atmosphere pressure is a fraction of that on Earth. What this means is that yes, if you fall from a cliff, initially you won’t fall fast. You will start falling slower but the longer you fall the faster you will descend. The terminal velocity of falling is even higher than on earth. “Fun” fact: On earth you would fall with approx. 200 km per hour while on Mars it would be 1000 km per hour.

With that said, there are safe heights that you can jump down from without taking any damage. For example, if you fall from approximately 13m, you will most likely break a bone. Falling from 6m (like in our cave) will result in impact injury of sorts, albeit not a grave one.

If we are off in any of those calculations or assumptions you should absolutely let us know. Feel free to leave your thoughts and feedback in the comment section 🙂

3 Replies to "Some clarifying thoughts? Why yes!"

  • comment-avatar
    Darth Biomech
    August 22, 2017 (10:28 am)

    Walking simulator, imo the game in which 80-90% of time consist of your character making long walks from point A to point B with little to nothing happening in-between. Firewatch is a good example (in both senses). Most people concider these types of games to be simply boring.

    But the other two criticizms I do not understand. Mental screw-ups are inseparable from Lovecraftian atmosphere!

  • comment-avatar
    September 5, 2017 (4:23 pm)

    Inertia of a moving object is given by p = mv. The amount of kinetic energy is given by 1/2mv^2. From these it’s easy to see that mass and velocity determine how big of a splat you’ll make when you hit the ground. The faster you’re going, the bigger the splat.

    Falling on 6m on Mars results in an impact velocity of approximately 6.7 m/s (around 24km/h), with a fall time of 1.8 seconds. The same fall on Earth results in an impact velocity of 11.6 m/s (39km/h), taking you 1.1 seconds to hit the ground.

    If we shuffle numbers around and do some math, we can calculate that a fall on Earth which would give us the same impact velocity as a 6m fall on Mars would need to be around 2.3 meters. A controlled drop of 2.3m wouldn’t bother most people, but an accidental fall from that height would not be fun. A bad landing would definitely result in some ouchy.

  • comment-avatar
    March 1, 2018 (2:55 pm)

    I just want to say I’m really happy to see such an open and honest dev diary and i hope the team reaches the success they deserve.

    If I was to give a small quality of life suggestion, be careful what interupts dialogue, especially given it can be necessary for the player.
    Some people just get fidgety and play around with stuff, I know i do and i hate when it interupts dialogue I was really engaged in.

    Other than that, i just hope that you don’t let people’s opinions stop you from bringing your collective vision to life.

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