Typing in the future.

Michaël Samyn, May 7, 2012

Have you noticed how in almost all science fiction movies, computers are operated exclusively through keyboards? Instead of using a mouse, future people just rattle on the keyboard. I presume this is because it makes them look more like hackers.

Something similar may happen in Bientôt l’été. I want at least the main part of the game to be completely controllable with only the keyboard. There’s also going to be things that can be done with the mouse (especially the multiplayer part -the conversation at the café table) and perhaps I’ll throw in a gamepad interface. But you’ll definitely be able to begin playing the game by only using the keyboard.

The game starts with traveling through space, to the space station. So typing your way through the first few scenes, might enhance the feeling of being in a space craft, operating the mouseless computers of the future.

Sometimes, there are buttons on the screen that you can click. But you can also simply type the corresponding key on the button (a letter or an arrow). Next to the button there’s text explaining its function, in the language chosen by the player. It will be your own choice to navigate using the keyboard or not. Much like you will decide yourself how far you will travel in space, before you start playing -the first scene of the game is potentially endless: it generates planets and solar systems as you continue to fly through space.

There’s something very nice about controlling a game through the keyboard alone. In a way it feels more intimate, perhaps because of the association with writing. A mouse feels like an extension of the arm. As a result it keeps things at arm’s length. The cursor should feel like a fingertip but it rarely does. And in a game where you control the entire body of an avatar, mouse control, somehow, doesn’t make much sense.

PS: Only while proofreading this post do I realize how very appropriate a keyboard interface is for a game inspired by the work of a writer.

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