There’s a lovely game that’s been in development by Polytron Corporation for a bit over two years now called Fez. What really captured my imagination was the basic mechanic of the game – so much so I tried copying it.
The concept is that the protagonist, Gomez, thinks he lives in a 2D world just like all those other characters in sidescrolling platformers. But he soon discovers that really the world is 3D but it objects just behave as if they are projected on to a 2D plane, and of course he has the power to change which plane the world is projected to.
From one viewpoint two platforms might appear right next to one another, whilst if viewed from the side you would see they’re actually miles apart. The key to Fez is that when objects are viewed so that they appear to be next to one-another, they actually are next to one-another, and Gomez can easily hop between them.
I really like this attempt to make some sense of the apparently 2D world in which so many games operate. Because of course almost no “2D” games really are showing us a 2D world. So long as any elements of the world are allowed to overlap or there’s any concept of things being in the background, the game’s world must involve a third dimension. Don’t even get me started on two dimensional digestive systems.
I was interested in the challenges and design decisions that would need to be met when implementing the world of Fez, so I had a go myself. It’s pretty rough around the edges, and it’s just a movement prototype set in a tiny world; but I think it’s quite fun. It almost goes without saying that I learnt a great deal making this. I’m not taking this prototype any further; if you want to play it for real go buy Fez when it’s released next year (or the year after).