a Marxist scuba diver


I’ve got a process down where I can do a whole PS1-style lowpoly character like this in less than a week. I divide up the different tasks (modeling, texturing, rigging, and walk cycle) into different days, since I find it easier to keep working when there’s a particular, limited goal for the day. I could probably do it faster if I could convince myself to do more than one task in a day and somehow ignored all the other stresses in my life. But considering that it took me a whole semester to make a 3D character for a course nearly a decade ago (with no practice making more characters in between), I’m pretty happy with this. And since I’ve deliberately limited the characters to a number that I could make in a reasonable amount of time (there are 6 in the first part of the game), it’s manageable. Of course, this one is in a skintight wetsuit, so I really couldn’t ask for an easier character to animate. I had fun animating the flippers.

Although I've written most of his dialogue already, the one thing I haven't decided on is his name. In Time Bandit, you work as an independent contractor for a mining company that is trying to take control of time in order to make you work for them forever. He’s the rebel character who invites you to begin stealing back from them. I think that he looks a bit mean, strange, mysterious, sulky. He makes you wonder what his motives really are. The phone calls that he'll pay you, like everything else in the game, take place in real time, meaning you'll receive them over the course of actual days and weeks. Of course, you can also give him a call anytime. He’ll explain a lot of Marxist concepts like surplus-value and commodity fetishism and give his take on what the consequences of economic crisis and technological automation are for workers.

You'll find a wide range of tones in Time Bandit's dialogue, but a predominant one is that of speaking directly to the player on political themes. The game takes an explicit position and is no-nonsense in its presentation of it. It strikes me that the historical forms of videogames have primed us to easily accept that the game is speaking directly to us. Just think of the way that they deliver instructions and button prompts. I found the meta dialogue in The Beginner's Guide, Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy, and the ending of Blues for Mittavinda really inspiring and to have a "new sincerity" appeal. I think it also has a lot of political potential. But my purpose isn't just to demand acceptance of certain political ideas. In fact, many of the characters in Time Bandit will contradict one another. All the dialogue, no matter how straight to the point some of it may be, is situated within a drama, not to mention slowburn game systems deliberately paced to give you plenty of space (and time!) to think over all the ideas that are presented yourself.

[I originally posted this blog post over on the page for the as yet unreleased full version of Time Bandit, but since I've just made the prologue chapter available for download, I thought I'd repost it here, especially as it gives a good overview of some of the design decisions that went into Time Bandit.]

Get Time Bandit – Prologue

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