There’s the thought that a small-time history is useful at all, something BKNFR can’t shake. They rewrite this post with bruised, bumpy, happy heads until, one, they’re represented cooly enough so people don’t hate them and, two, all their thoughts are represented in equal proportion, with no clear spotlight:
There were burnt complexions when Bark and Fester first thought of making games. A while spent in a hot sun afternoon – a weekday removed from the conventional work of other people and in places of extreme unemployed comfort – made Bark emerge from humming summer bugs, saying “We should make games.” Fester was sleeping. They were both burnt in the sun.
Thinking it above them to wear sunscreen, just like above them studying, or working, or being alive, they too believed games were something far below them. “They’re just literally all awful,” says Bark, “None are not silly.” Fester dwells on all of them coming from a place of quarter-coin reckonings. They both assume they can make a difference, being above them, making better games with soul and passion.
But they can’t. Fester says, “We were made lazy with armchair designs of very high-concept things.” A list, BKNFR says, made of “being brought to the low low stoop of settling on games, the dumbest most simple baby things that have ever existed in history.”
There were tree and eating the planet simulators, rotating agarose gel puzzles, Patrick Klepek hair roguelites, dogfighting snakelikes, evolution action-edutainments, MMOdeceptionRPGs, voyeur apartment-watching matchmakers. All too inspired by novelty and intentional obfuscation, and hate for video games.
Fester turns crazy, channels inanity into free-flowing inexperienced design, repeating the same mistakes over and over. He makes demands of bigger, brighter, more complicated novelties of Bark that would never work. Bark is tested by it. He develops, simplifies, churns the thought-cancers into functional parts of larger dysfunctional wholes. All barely worked as first intended, then scrapped for other whims. It was going nowhere.
Bark and Fester are eventually made aware that they are not above games:
There’s a thing that happens, Fester admits, after an extended time of failure and doubt of that failure, when the things thought to be good-at are things not good-at at all. “Like living in dreams of Vlambeer-like and Pope-like successes and a happy home and loving people, with praise for being Game Maker #1 in the world then awoken sweating, under a bridge or a sinking car,” being dramatic.
For Bark, the whole of it was a case of ambition gone too nebulous. A small team, little game experience, and the moon. Where out of reach were those bigger, brighter, more complicated novelties, read: not being anywhere above the surface and then being fine with it. Bark says, “Starting low is a pragmatic first step for us in wait of the capital and experience to realize our more ambitious designs,” because Bark is a calculator-type person.
They take two separate paths about it. Bark paces designs and Fester finds renewed interest in all games (all being someone’s baby), both doing for grander things to be made in future. Important, though, they’re not above games at all. Games kick their butts.
Design, they know now, isn’t an amalgam of all the things they hate about video games and the things they think they can do better than everyone else; It’s something of knowing that design is difficult and shitty until evolved over time. There’s always hardship and iteration and trashed papers and code blocks and late nights for Fester rolling on the floor nekkie (Bark plugs-in, meditates for more juice).
Games, they know now, aren’t simple things made of armchair conceit and spending thought masturbations on message boards. Maybe one day the complexities of agency and probability spaces and play loops and dynamics and “novelty” (especially) are solved things coalesced into menu sliders. Today, though, there’s still all kinds of room in these spaces for exploring, something BKNFR hopes to do well someday. At this point, Fester does not stare into space thoughtfully. He stares straight ahead and tears up, grinning. He says he doesn’t. Bark scribbles a new idea with a smile and confirms Fester does tear up, and does it a lot, that the future seems pretty alright.
“Eventually, we’ll have made something for the both of us, and maybe for other people too, and some of the time incidentally really being somewhere above where we’re at now, maybe not up on the bridge or ways off the moon, but definitely not always under it.” Bark adds: “But, if not, that’s fine. Quietly moving shapes around inside spaces until the end times is fine.”
They’re now working on ROTOPO, their debut game born of Bark’s desire for simplicity (and attractive geometry). Fester came around off a hook-up with RADIOSPACE (development TBC) and they’re both very proud of their baby.
… and BKNFR begins the next iteration of this post with bruised, bumpy, happy heads.
Also, once opposed (lacking time and know-how, not hating an audience) to cultivating community, Bark and Fester now attempt to catch up and wrangle the attentions of other busy developers to prevent their better games from ever being released and so write lengthily on justifying their decisions to enter the web game industry, on ROTOPO’s visual design progression from start to slightly more than fine, and detailing BKNFR’s attempts to make sense of web-based monetization.