The Bridge is a 2-D logic-based puzzle game that forces the player to reevaluate their preconceptions of physics and perspective. It is Isaac Newton meets M. C. Escher—Manipulate gravity to redefine the ceiling as the floor, and venture through impossible architectures. Explore increasingly difficult worlds, each uniquely detailed and guaranteed to leave the player with a pronounced sense of accomplishment, while immersing the player into a captivating story. The Bridge exemplifies games as an art form, with beautifully hand-drawn art in the style of a black-and-white lithograph.
What was your inspiration for making the game?
The works of M. C. Escher were my original inspiration for The Bridge. Escher has always been my favorite artist, and I've always been captivated by the mystifying nature of impossible worlds that he has created. Specifically, Escher's “Relativity” and “Another World” inspired the mechanic of gravity manipulation and multiple gravity vectors, “Belvedere” and “Waterfall” inspired the impossible world mechanics of the game, and “Tower of Babel” and “Metamorphosis” inspired the player inversion mechanic. The artwork was of course largely inspired by his works, as the same black-and-white lithograph style of Escher drawings is used in The Bridge, which strongly complements the Escherian gameplay mechanics.
How is your game unique from others out there?
After watching a video or reading about The Bridge, many people think that the game is all about changing gravity, like AYIM, VVVVVV, or many Flash games. In The Bridge, gravity control is simply a tool to allow players to explore the Escherian world that they find themselves in and solve the underlying puzzles within the world. The game builds on the concept of gravity manipulation by introducing vortex fields, inverted planes of gravity, objects using disjoint gravity vectors, etc., and the game also uses the Escherian impossible world construction to allow the player to invert between gravitational dimensions. These concepts build on each other to create a deep and intellectual puzzler, all set in a captivating lithographically-drawn world.
How long did it take you to make your game?
I've been working on this fulltime (and then some) since August 2010. Mario started working on the art fulltime around January 2011. We're both still working on the game, jugging it between Mario's school and my work, but we hope to add more content and have it released in the coming months.
What was the hardest part about making it?
Creating an M. C. Escher-style world of impossible architecture is about as difficult to create as it sounds. At first I toyed with the idea of making the worlds in 3D, but by definition this was impossible. I later decided to go with a fixed-perspective 2D view, which would make the world look like it was possible while still clearly being an impossible 3D construction. However, in terms of physics, it didn't make sense to construct the world this way. Ultimately, I ended up using magic.
Any other unique or interesting facts about your game we should know about?
We're often asked to explain the storyline. Much like the atmosphere that is created in the game, it is intentionally mysterious. The small bits of poetic narrative are intended to give players clues to what is happening, or what has happened, in the world. I usually prefer not to talk about it when I'm asked to explain it, because part of the magic of the game is to take the very little amount of information that is given to you and figure out the meaning to the story. Consider it one more puzzle to solve.
How did you pick the name of your game? Did you have any others in mind?
Mario and I explored dozens of other titles, as many game developers do before making the game public. “The Bridge” came about after the basic framework of the storyline had been determined, and although the title has nothing to do with the gameplay mechanics, it provides a metaphorical significance that can be realized after completing the game. Let's just call it coincidence that “The Bridge” is the name of one of Escher's earlier works.
Questions for the Team Leader
I grew up in a town called Dover, Ohio. I went to college in Cleveland, and now I'm living and working in Redmond, Washington.
I graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio with a Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science, with a focus on Game Design and Development, as well as Mathematics.
What is your gaming background?
I've been designing (non-computer) games for as long as I can remember. When I was a child I would design mazes, puzzles, race tracks for RC cars, CTF and paintball courses, etc. for my friends to play. I've always been amazed by the joy and attention that games were able to pull from me, which is likely what sparked my propensity for designing even the most rudimentary of “game” as a child, and this is what originally drove me to learn to program. I've been creating video games since 2003 as a freshman in high school, when I first learned how to make games for the TI-83 calculator (which everyone at my school was required to have). After making a game called Snake Death (now on XBLIG) which was relatively successful at my school, I was driven to learn to make games for PC. Before college, I made several small text-adventures and puzzle games, as well as various maps and games in easy-to-use editors and game makers. In college, I learned advanced programming and graphics to really get the ball rolling. After creating dozens of small, experimental prototypes, I was able to make four XBLIG games by my last year at school, when I started The Bridge. That was over a year ago, and I'm still finishing the game.
How long have you and your teammates known each other? What's the story behind how your team got together?
I met Mario around the time that I was starting the project. He too was from CWRU, and was working as an artist on a different game with a mutual friend, who introduced us after I started looking into artists for the game. When I saw Mario's previous works and the work he was doing for the other game, along with his concept art, it was clear to me like he'd be able to produce the black-and-white, sketchy, lithograph-style art that I wanted in order to emulate the game as if it were an Escher drawing. He started a few months later as the full-time and sole artist for the game.
What game or games are you playing right now?
Lately I've found myself playing other indie games that have gotten my attention through their novelty. In the past week I've played through Don't Look Back, Nous, One and One Story, and Langman.
What is your favorite all-time game?
Portal. I like any puzzle game that can take a relatively simple concept and create a variety of exceptional levels out of it, and Portal does this remarkably well. Valve's addition of a captivating storyline and fantastic dialogue create a truly magical experience for the player, setting a high standard for optimistic developers like myself to aim towards.
What is your least favorite all-time game?
Any game that intentionally manipulates players in an effort to draw more attention to itself or sell more copies. On XBLIG especially, and some Flash game sites, I've seen several games that draw attention to themselves by using some kind of shock value or by showing attractive women on the cover, but having the gameplay be nothing more than Pong or another simple knockoff. The sad part is that some of these games get played more than lesser-known titles with genuinely excellent gameplay.
First video game system you owned?
On the day of the ultrasound when my father found out I was going to be a boy, he bought me an original Nintendo Entertainment System. This slightly sexist decision is what sparked my lifelong passion for video games, and I've been playing them since before I could talk. Good thing I was born with a Y-chromosome.
Current system you spend the most time playing?
The Xbox 360. Not only are the exclusive titles like Halo and Fable excellent, the Xbox LIVE experience is fantastic, and I am a huge fan of the XBLA platform and the outstanding games you can find there. I also have an appreciation for the XBL Indie Games platform, which I used to distribute some of my earlier games that I made in school.
When you and your team aren't making awesome games, what other hobbies are you involved in?
I have every intention of crossing the Atlantic in a jetpack before I die.