Sheldon J. Pacotti, writer of Deus Ex, provided us with a very surprising, and very odd, indie game last year. Cell: emergence bemused me. It asked you to Fantastic Voyage your way through voxelly insides to fight off infection, and I couldn't do it. But now the man is back with something quite different.
Described as "a free library of visual programming 'blocks' for first-time game developers," Game Blocks is the result of something Pacotti built for an interactive writing course he teaches at the University of Texas. The idea being to encourage others to create non-linear storytelling in games. It's a visually simple tool, based on BYOB, that lets you construct scenes without being stuck in a linear path, as well as include simple physics, and even platforming. Confused? There's a free lecture below to explain!
Pacotti tells me, "They are meant to provide the simplest possible environment for constructing non-linear stories, which in my mind comprise more than talk trees and branching conversations. My students typically add mini-games, puzzles, and even arcade-like interactions to their projects, all of which can convey story." Take a look at the video that explains it all:
This is the first part of a series of videos that will get deeper into how to use Game Blocks. Clearly Pacotti's desire is to get people started in game development, give them a tool that provides a space to begin seeing what's possible, rather than a complete solution for game development. You can get it for free, here.
In other news, I am so envious of University of Texas students who get to attend lectures on game writing by the author of Deus Ex.