Thanks to Marcus Beard for penning this in-depth article about the Brooklyn Game Ensemble’s current project – a game inspired by the infinite library of Luis Borges. Naomi Clark and I were the main interview subjects for the piece, but Josh DeBonis, Michael Hansen, and Nathalie Pozzi are all part of the group.
Somehow Marcus managed to turn our incoherent ramblings into a readable article. Well played, Mr. Beard.
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.