Tue. May 30th, 2023

Day Frog fractures hitting the Ars Technica Orbiting HQ was…not the most productive day in the site’s history. Instead of focusing on writing, virtually every member of the Ars editorial team spent a few hours probing the depths of the strange, ostensibly educational title and discussing its enduring strangeness.

If you’ve played the game, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you really should give the free online version a try before reading on, as the rest of this piece will necessarily ruin some of the game’s magic. We will wait…

Seriously, we won’t move on until you play the game. Give it at least 15 minutes to really grab you and show you what’s going on. If you’re still stuck figuring things out, you can check out this walkthrough to move on, but don’t unless you’re really confused. Don’t worry, this story will still be there after that.

You’re back? Good. So unless you give up after a few minutes, you probably understand what an unexpected surprise it was to discover such an inventive, clever and downright strange experience hiding under what at first glance appears to be a fairly disposable item. Missile Commando-like Flash game. Its surprising depth (literally) helped the game become a miniature viral hit upon release, though primarily with a certain class of obsessive game fans.

“Even now I don’t have a good sense of the scale of [the game’s reach],” creator Jim Crawford told Ars in an interview. “I think a disproportionate number of the people who like it were game developers. … I certainly got lucky with it in a way. In a very real sense, Frog fractures was lucky. I did something that I thought was cool and my friends thought it was cool, and I was proud when I released it, but after that it’s like trying to win the lottery again.”

The problem with making something as truly surprising as Frog fractures is that it’s hard for a developer to do it more than once. “For a long time I thought about making a sequel Frog fractures was impossible because people now expect this kind of thing from me, so I can’t surprise people,” said Crawford.

Pay me to surprise you

De originele <i>Frog Fractions</i> is much more than meets the eye in this screenshot.” src=”https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ff2_1.png” width=”636″ height=”479 “/><figcaption class=

The original Frog fractures is much more than meets the eye in this screenshot.

His solution to that dilemma is one of the strangest crowdfunded sequels we’ve ever seen. Frog fractions 2 won’t actually be released under that name, but it will see a hidden, stealth release as a different game from a different developer. The idea is to provide the same level of surprise players felt when discovering the mysteries in the original Frog fractures by hiding it in a place where they will never expect it.

“[Frog Fractions 2] will probably be called something like ‘Lost kingdom: reckoning,” by Fork Bomb LLC or “Turbo financing 2015from Vespenta Holdings,” Crawford writes on the game’s Kickstarter page. “Does that Russian flight simulator on Desura look suspicious? Play it for sure! Or maybe it’s a plugin for BonziBuddy and you discover it when your grandpa asks you to speed up his email. Wait, are you playing Frog fractions 2 straight away?”

Crawford realizes it’s a bit odd to ask fans to support a game he, by definition, can’t tell them much about. As it stands, backers won’t get a copy of the mystery game until ‘the mold is out’, ie the secret is broken and ‘you start seeing articles about it in the enthusiastic press’. Backers have already sent him guesses as to the game’s true identity, with some suggesting that the Kickstarter itself (with its strange time-travel-and-deliberate-video-compression-artifact-filled video) is the actual game. Crawford denied that idea, saying the game would be an actual, executable file that you could download next year.

“It was a tricky line to walk, figuring out exactly how much to say,” Crawford said. “I always knew I didn’t want to say anything, that I wanted to make it a complete surprise, and the question is how much did I That.”

Of course, if Crawford really wanted to keep the surprise of Frog fractions 2, he could have skipped the Kickstarter campaign and just secretly released the game without any announcement. But it’s hard to make a living releasing secret games that players have to discover the existence of. As it stands now, when the original Frog fractures went viral, Crawford recouped his server costs only by selling the soundtrack separately. “If I didn’t have to pay rent, I would work in silence Frog fractions 2 and don’t tell anyone when it was over. Part of the Kickstarter is a little bit about ‘How am I going to live for the next year?’”

Even Frog fractures was not a financial success, Crawford said the original game “got me a reputation, which is how I can hypothetically make games on my own terms now.” That reputation is probably a big part of why Crawford managed to raise more than $33,000 of his $60,000 goal from more than 1,200 backers in less than a week.

“I’m very open about how much I’m not telling you,” he said of the Kickstarter effort. “This is the point of the process, I can’t tell you what I’m going to do. As a result, I’m actually kind of surprised that someone gives me money because I’m basically saying I’m going to take your money and go away for a year and a half. And I’m not going to tell you when I released the game, so who knows, if I were a backer I’d be really worried about that.

“I’m really trading on my reputation as someone who’s lived up to something like this in the past,” he continued. “A lot of people know where I live. They’ll find out if I moved and sue me or something.”

Rediscover mystery

Geen echt screenshot van <i>Frog Fractions 2</i>… or is it?!” src=”https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ff2.png” width=”640″ height=”480″/><figcaption class=

No real screenshot of it Frog fractions 2…or is it?!

For Crawford, both Frog fractures and its sequel are an attempt to recreate the sense of mystery and discovery built into the games of his childhood in the ’80s. He remembered the sense of disbelief that swept through the schoolyard when his friends talked about it Metroid‘s Samus Aran is actually a woman, or the legendary Minus World in Super Mario Bros.

“That one of these stories came true actually made all the other stories believable,” said Crawford. “Because there just wasn’t a lot of information about games back then – there were no GameFAQs or endless previews on game sites – every game was so mysterious. Basically, at no cost to the developer, every game had this weird air of mystery just because it was a interactive piece of software I think it really improved the player experience, made it much more interesting and immersive.

“I wanted to make a game that would give people that experience back,” he said of the strange, unremarkable release plan for Frog fractions 2. “Not just, ‘Oh, this game has this weird other game that’s a big part of it and is a huge secret,’ but maybe that means each game I play could have that too. Maybe when I dive underwater Duty I’ll find a huge viking castle to explore or something like that.”

Part of that lack of mystery in modern games is probably just the difference between being a kid and being an adult, Crawford admitted. But part of it is what he sees as a disturbing trend toward games that hold players’ hands and push them to the finish line, rather than letting them explore. He specifically mentioned the one from 2011 The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword as frustrating having to explain every little bit of the game instead of letting players figure things out for themselves.

“People have long paid lip service to the idea that everyone should play every game,” said Crawford. tenacious. I think the drive for that is that games are so much more expensive, so you have to have a bigger audience for people who haven’t played a lot of games. For example, you don’t just want people who have played past Zelda games to play the new ones. But if your way of doing things ends up knocking out the people who played the games before, that’s probably not a net win.”

The original Frog fractures is at the extreme opposite end of the spectrum from Heavenward sword, tell players almost nothing about its true nature. However, it wasn’t always like that. During development, Crawford said the game had an extensive tutorial that told players “exactly how everything works and what you need to do”. Those tutorials were only removed after a playtest session that Crawford called “one of the pivotal points in the game and I think in my life.”

“[Tester] Tim played and refused to read anything…he spent half an hour before he figured out how to dive. And I pulled my hair out, ‘Dude, you’re missing all the tutorial popups’, but his reaction afterwards was that it was great. He compared the discovery that he could dive underwater to the discovery that you could burn bushes The Legend of Zelda, which is one of my top 10 moments in video games. That was the point where I realized I could do something really special.

The risk of this approach, of course, is that some people never figure out how to dive in and give up the game as a silly distraction before discovering what really makes it special. But Crawford says you have to take that risk.

“I think at least half of the people who play it don’t [figure it out], and I’m okay with that. If I can get half the people to have a better experience, it’s worth making the other half of the people walk away. … I’ve told people flat out ‘If [other] people don’t get it, let them walk away.’ Maybe bug them to come back to it later, but don’t force them to play it for hours if they’re miserable. And don’t screw it up, don’t tell them how to move on, because it’s so much better if you find out for yourself.”

For Crawford, that potential for limitless discovery can make everything else about a game more interesting. “For me, the point is even more than the game itself, that people are wondering about it,” he continued. “For people who, when they play a game, wonder if there’s this huge secret under the pond. Is under this curtain another 90 percent of this game?

“If I wanted to be a dick about it, I could take your money and say I already delivered That experience. But I don’t think that would be a very kosher way to go about things.”

By akfire1

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