Almost a year ago, I started meeting with local NYC game developers Naomi Clark, Josh DeBonis, Nathalie Pozzi , and Kristopher Schlachter, with the idea of making some kind of indie, experimental game. I had worked with Naomi and Josh at Gamelab (and elsewhere), and Nathalie and I of course work together on our museum games. Josh and Kris had worked together, so we were already a tightly-knit group.
We met several times over the next six months, every few weeks, bouncing around ideas and just exploring open-ended brainstorming. We were all too busy to actually start developing a game, so we had the luxury of these occasional, purely conceptual meetings. Sometime during the early summer last year we settled on the notion of a game inspired by the infinite library of Borges from his short story The Library of Babel. Gradually the idea turned into a paper prototype, then a design spec, and finally into a digital prototype. We’ve taken the functional but somehow also pretentious title of the Brooklyn Game Ensemble.
Since the fall, we have been meeting every week for a full day of production, a kind of slow-mo development cycle that is extremely regular but just not every day. We have been keeping a development blog at the Brooklyn Game Ensemble website, which has more information about the project and our recent advances.
I think this production strategy is paying off. While progress is a bit gradual, the week of time in-between our intensive days of production gives us some cognitive elbow room to think critically about our design and production problems. Many ideas that seem brilliant in the heat of a design session just don’t hold up a week later. The group is very design-heavy (Naomi and I are both game designers, Josh is a designer/programmer, Nathalie has a design background as an architect, and Kris is full of design ideas too) but somehow it’s working.
The game itself is coming along well. A bit of an ugly baby at the moment, but full of promise. Check out the blog for more details.