This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to pauses, rewinds and dissect the systems that make their games tick (tock).
Here are the five stages of first playing Super Time Force:
1. It’s just another arcade run and gunner.
2. Huh, I play alongside my former lives?
3. Causality, paradoxes? And a time limit? Oh god.
4. I CAN REWIND TIME.
5. Haha skateboarding dinosaur
It turns out that Capybara Games’ experience of making Super Time Force mirrors that of a player’s first hour or so, except, you know, stretched over three years. In fact, it sounds like it nearly broke its creators’ brains, as they tried to grapple combining a Contra-style platformer with time travel, and getting it to both function on a computer and make some kind of sense in a player’s head.
The story of how Capybara arrived at Super Time Force’s eventual design is a model of the complexity of making games and planning time travel. And it took them well over a year before they even arrived at Super Time Force’s amazingly empowering core principle:
THE MECHANIC: Time Out