Hazard: The Journey of Life
Hazard: The Journey Of Life is a surreal exploration puzzle game, set within a non-Euclidean labyrinth of manipulable geometry. Explore a vibrant and deceptive world, where space can change and nothing is as it seems.
With a philosophical narrative, Hazard is about appreciating the simple things in life: experiencing the wonder of discovery, learning through curiosity, and the unexpected nature of a world that we do not fully understand.
What was your inspiration for making the game?
I've spent my life playing games, and decided that when it came to making them, there were already enough people out there making the kinds of "normal" things that people play. I like a challenge, so my goal was to create something the likes of which the world had never seen!
How is your game unique from others out there?
Apart from the obvious things like non-Euclidean space and manipulable geometry, Hazard is unique because the flow has been designed entirely around player psychology and how we learn in life. This isn't a game where I created the mechanics, and then had to work out how to make players understand them. I paid deep attention to feedback and reactions from playtesters to find out what their expectations were, and would go back and rework parts of the game to either fit with their expectations (when I wanted an abstract system to feel intuitive), or break them further (when I wanted to break away from fundamentals of how a gaming experience should feel).
How long did it take you to make your game?
Technically, the development of Hazard started off back in 2006, when I was doing experiments with Dynamic Geometry. In 2007, I did experiments with Recursive Space (among many other things), which later became the foundation for spatial mechanics in Hazard. Through 2008, I was creating random experiments that dealt with perception, which ultimately ended up becoming the basis for a number of puzzles in the game. I spent 6 months working on it in 2009 in my spare time to turn all of these prototypes and systems into a game, and then spent all of 2010 working on it full time. Videos of the old prototypes
are available on my website.
What was the hardest part about making it?
Designing a game that's based around psychology is really, REALLY difficult. Everyone thinks differently, and trying to craft such an experimental experience that works well for a large number of people is certainly a challenge! Half of solving that is intuition, the other half is lots of playtesting.
Any other unique or interesting facts about your game we should know about?
I never intended to create a game about life and philosophy. Hazard started out as Snake, then became a multiplayer arena combat game, then a single player puzzle game, before it finally ended up where it is now - a game about choices, consequences and exploration.
How did you pick the name of your game? Did you have any others in mind?
Hazard got its name in 2006, when my Dynamic Geometry system was all about killing the player brutally. The world was, literally, full of hazards. Eventually, the game changed into a philosophical, psychological experience, and Hazard didn't sound descriptive enough anymore, so I added "The Journey Of Life" to it to fit the new design. I'm glad I did though, because trying to find the game by Googling "Hazard" is pretty much impossible!
People still always ask me why it's called Hazard though. One friend said "It makes sense if you look at Hazard as a verb, not a noun. You hazard the journey of life." I like that.
Questions for the Team Leader
Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia
What is your gaming background?
I've been playing games since before I could talk. I started making them at 19, once I got out of high school. Games are my life!
How long have you and your teammates known each other? What's the story behind how your team got together?
I'm the only person working on the game, but I sometimes feel as though I have multiple personalities. I met one of them at a bar, and the other one at university. They're good guys to hang out with... sometimes...
What game or games are you playing right now?
Left 4 Dead 2, Peggle Nights, Chime, Super Meat Boy. My tastes are all over the place!
What is your favorite all-time game?
Chrono Trigger! I've finished the game 64 times, because it's such a wonderfully crafted experience (and I had to get all of the endings... and all of the cats... and get everyone up to level 99...). However, Super Metroid (my second favourite game) is my biggest gaming influence as a designer.
What is your least favorite all-time game?
I've played some pretty terrible games throughout my life. Choosing my least favourite is pretty near impossible.
What is your best game-related story?
So... I was at a wedding party at GDC 2010, and I ended up holding hands with Cactus
for 5 hours, eating a cereal box (not the cereal... the box) and coining the term "Brucing Out". It's... a long story.
First video game system you owned?
I started my gaming days back on an Amiga, though my video game system was a Gameboy.
Current system you spend the most time playing?
I'm still a very strong believer in the PC market, though I do love what Microsoft and Sony are doing with indie games on XBLA and PSN.
When you and your team aren't making awesome games, what other hobbies are you involved in?
In recent years, I've discovered just how wonderful going outdoors and absorbing the atmosphere is.