[Alexandra Hall delves into the world of the scenery-warping puzzler <i>Perspective</i>, quizzing its student-led team about the challenges it faced during development.]
In December of last year, a team of students at DigiPen released Perspective, a mind-warping treat of a puzzler that challenges you to safely navigate a 2D platforming hero through oft-hazardous terrain derived from the first-person view of a moveable camera. (It's hard to sum up in a sentence.) You can download it here.
Alexandra Hall: How'd you come up with that concept?
Pohung Chen: Initially we wanted to make cameras and projectors that displayed 3D holograms. The idea was similar to Portal, and we weren't sure how we could create interesting puzzles with that particular mechanic. Eventually we described the basic idea using scribbles on the whiteboard. Our first levels were created using Google SketchUp. It gave us a visual tool to describe an initial proof of concept.
There are games with a similar premise, but Perspective is more of a first-person puzzle game than platformers like Crush or Fez. We ended up borrowing more heavily from first-person level design and game structure than we did from 2D platformers.
AH: Did you conceive of all the perspective-warping gimmicks at the outset?
PC: We had most of the core pieces early on. It took a long time before we figured out how we can best teach each piece to our players. We spent a lot of time making the game more accessible to people who aren't spatial-contortion masochists. Players who seek really challenging puzzles didn't find Perspective to be mind-bogglingly complex.
There were a few mechanics that we came up with or stumbled into later in the development process. One of the more controversial mechanics was moving objects; we didn't want to turn Perspective into a reflex/dexterity-driven platformer. We wanted to expand upon the purely puzzle elements of the game by using moving objects, but it was always tempting to create levels that require dexterity and reflex.