Flee, a Designer commentary
We are proud to announce the release of Flee (click for the game's website), our first commercial game.
1. Starting from scratch: in every LCD game, every time you start playing you do it from the very beginning. As you gain dexterity in the game, beginning from scratch becomes boring and you lose interest in the game
2. Repetitive: every LCD handheld game is, by definition, repetitive. Do the same task, again and again, at an ever-increasing pace.
Also, after the last level of every mode, every subsequent level will be chosen randomly, so even memorizing the sequence of levels won’t help you anticipate what’s coming next.
In game mode B, the player controls the obstacles and has to avoid just one (and moving) obstacle. skills learnt in mode A are exactly the opposite of the skills needed in mode B.
3. Unsurprising: In LCD handhelds, the game’s graphics are always the same, you can never expect something new to appear. Also, pressing the screen of those devices unveiled the frames that where not lit.
4. Poor sound: in the 80’s, there was no such thing as MP3s or cd-quality sound music. The game’s sound consisted exclusively on bleeps that acted as a metronome, and short tunes when you lose one life or earned an extra life.
As the game’s theme is ‘leave everything behind, forever...Flee!’, we chose to implement a car radio. Every time you start playing, one of the 20 songs is played randomly. At the beginning of every stage, you hear the radio being dialed, and another (randomly chosen) song fades in amongst interferences and radio programs. All the songs were taken from the public domain, or were licensed as Creative Commons without further restrictions. The musical styles are wildly varied, to reflect what you can find dialing a radio while driving, and go from baroque classical to chiptune. Also, as noted in the manual, on some levels the music beats match the rhythm of the opponent cars, while in others the music will misguide you. Music becomes, subtly, part of the gameplay.
5. Playing alone: LCD handhelds had no network capabilities, so achieving a highscore was a solitary success.