Madness Is A City: HomeMake’s Crazy Mind-Swapping

By Nathan Grayson on July 3rd, 2014 at 10:00 am.

wow

HomeMake is a game being made by architecture students, which makes sense because it looks like what would happen if a builder’s brain exploded, untethered itself from all limits of the physical world, and just vomited structural insanity every which way. Make no mistake, though: I mean that in a good way. Developers Franklin Cosgrove and Archgame have given life to this overwhelming cacophony of a place, and I can’t take my eyes off it. The city, in this case, is a principle character, and the goal of the game is to explore and understand it by mind-swapping into various avatars with different perspectives – both literally and on, you know, life. Video and details below.

HomeMake sounds utterly mind-bending, to hear its creators describe it. Try to make heads or tails of this, a world in which there aren’t really heads or tails (or any consistent direactions at all) to speak of:

“Cities change every day. In HomeMake the environment will constantly change at an unnoticeable rate. The concept of progression works on multiple scales. The overall scope of the game is one of progression, as the player evolves their understanding of the world and narrative, the city morphs and adapts, creating an ever changing cityscape. The totality of the system is never fully understood as a constant state of progression is maintained. An inverted planet, the player travels along the interior surface of the sphere, providing a continuous playing field with no obvious boundaries.”

“The existence of the urban fabric as an inverted planet creates a variety of unique moments. Although the city development and types of spaces vary widely throughout, the constant factor acting on all structures is the gravity. Radiating from the center, buildings must thrust inward. Available air volume decreases as buildings grow. Negotiations and tensions arise and create architectural problems as buildings begin to bump into each other. The nature of the street, and the views of the city above are in constant dialogue with the battle happening between buildings as they clash in the sky.”

Bonkers.

HomeMake will also focus a lot on the concepts of identity and perspective, with players leaping between characters with “distinctive abilities, desires, and biases.” This can lead to entirely different views of the same places. They city will present itself very differently depending on whether you’re playing as, say, a robot, a plant, or a hippo.

Naturally, this system will be used heavily for puzzles and secrets. Kiji the robot, for instance, can see sound and shoot light, which is really useful for navigation. Sandwiches the fox, meanwhile, is colorblind but has a powerful sense of smell to make up for it.

HomeMake looks like quite a unique game, which of course means it could totally crash and burn under the weight of its own ambitions, twisted blocks scattering into abject chaos. It certainly looks promising, though, and it’s nearly reached its relatively modest $15,000 Kickstarter goal.

The goal is to have it out by September 2015, which is still a loooooong way away. I’ll be watching and waiting eagerly, though. What about you?

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13 Comments »

  1. maicus says:

    More architects making videogames, please!

    • Ross Angus says:

      Agreed. I remember reading that Bungie hired an architect to work on the levels of Oni. Can’t say I noticed. But in general, I’m in favour of this sort of thing.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Oof, yes. I remember being mesmerized by Soul Reaver’s locations.

    • Polifemo says:

      Agreed. Since architects design space and solve spacial problems for a living it makes every sense to have them design spaces for videogames as you woul have them design your house in real life.

      Many developers dont apreciate enough the posibilities and benefits of having someone that designs spaces for a living can do for their games. Im an architect though so I might be biased on this matter.

    • Alien426 says:

      Did you know that Jonathan Blow collaborates with (landscape) architects for The Witness?

      • maicus says:

        Yeah, and the difference it makes is night and day – that game looks beautiful, the landscape tells a story all of i’s own… going to be an amazing experience.

  2. Scurra says:

    Does anyone remember the old Infocom text game Suspended in which the various avatars of the player basically only had one sense and described the world through them? (I was also reminded of Italo Calvino’s wonderful Invisible Cities, which is all about different perspectives on the same ever-changing location.)

  3. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Is the video slightly broken for anyone else? The ‘play’ button stays on all the way through and there are no video controls. Same on my laptop as well as mobile.

    Looks nice, hate the free jazz though, makes me go full Bruce Banner and sort of gives the video a 2am on channel four in the nineties feel (needs french language and subtitles). If that was the game soundtrack I would need to know there was a “music off” option.

    EDIT: Its similar to a Dyson Sphere. Thats what I was trying to remember. No sun at its centre though?

    • Rizlar says:

      Yeah, click through to the kickstarter site, that video seems to work.

      re: music; just wait for the bass to kick in. Acid jazz, baby!

    • Alien426 says:

      Reminds me of this video inspired by the novel Rendezvous With Rama.

  4. Eery Petrol says:

    “Puzzle platformer. Main mechanic: Switching between characters with unique abilities like Lost Vikings. Characters also have different visual effects like possessed creatures did in Dungeon Keeper. Last but not least, eye-catching world like Trine.”

    Thought I’d filter all the lingo from the Kickstarter for those who have less time to waste than myself. The game looks cool :)

  5. communisthamster says:

    Cities change every day. In HomeMake the environment will constantly change at an unnoticeable rate

    Yes, yes please, this is very much my aesthetic

  6. TechnicalBen says:

    “Inside a sphere” and “no obvious boundaries”, technically only apply if your thinking in 2d space… in 3d space, well, the boundary is obvious. :D