How to make games (and live life) : Hyper Light Drifter style


 One common vein running through life and games alike is strife. Battles have to be won, compromises have to be made, and once you take a few moments off to bask in the glory of your struggle, you pick your sword up again and get right back in. 


Out of the two, contrary to what most people would assume, it is life that gives you an easy way out. It allows you to settle for less. You can cower behind complacent mediocrity, if it means you are let off from the struggle. This is of course a good option if you are happy with that choice, but in a lot of people, it breeds bitter resentment. Trust me, I have been there. 


"Was?" That is a big statement to make. How do I know I'm any different now? Well, I am aware of this overwhelming drive to create something worthwhile before I die. Dramatic, I know, but it is also the truth. All it took was a gentle reminder that I might not have as much time as I thought I did. 


The Man and his Judgement

Meet Alex Preston, Creator of Heart Machine and Hyper Light Drifter. Alex was born with multiple congenital heart conditions that saw him in and out of hospitals throughout his life. He also offhandedly mentions that they can take his life any time and there is little he can do about it. Oh, and Alex's first attempt at making a commercial game is one of the most loved and revered indie games in recent history.


For someone who has been medically sound for all my life, I had a hard time empathizing with people who have health issues. I never really knew what it felt like to pop pills everyday, or having to visit the ER a couple of times a year. I felt absolutely terrified of the prospect of me or my loved ones having to go through that in the possible future. Poverty? Sure! Loneliness? Why not? Death? You bet! But disease? Not me.


So, to see someone living through my absolute nightmare and still going ahead and achieving my dream is not only an inspiration, but a beacon of hope that'll help keep me afloat in the most trying of times.


The Mark

All of this isn't charity praise, far from it. Even without the back story, Hyper Light Drifter stands tall among its peers, and punches way above its weight. The visuals are absolutely perfect, the game play is demanding without being cheap, and the narrative quite compelling, especially for one that is cryptic at best. 


The game's attention to detail is stupendous. Small sights along the periphery of the game area add that mystic intrigue pointing towards its elusive past. The Music and sound effects match the texture of the visuals and the situation at hand. The Drifter's tactile feel is precise, allowing you to "feel" him dash around the screen, pummeling enemies on the way. Secrets are abundant and well hidden, rewarding only the most acute of players. And all these various aspects are brought together into a seamless polished whole. I honestly can't point out a single shortcoming in the game. You can feel the weeks and months that have been sunk to get the feel of the game just right. 


Going Forward...


Make games like Heart Machine. Make them for the their own sake, make them out of love and devotion, and don't shy away from putting in the work to make it happen.  


Live like Alex Preston. Don't let the trials life throws at you hold you back from achieving your dreams. Do all it takes to overcome them, and leave a mark. You will be remembered.  


And look dress well like the Drifter. If you don't make it out alive, might as well look good. 



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January 22, 2019

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Graduate Student | Digital Game Design 

©2018 by Shashank Nagaraja Gargeshwari.