"I feel bad for that kid if he got Cart Life for Christmas.”
December 9, 2013 1:01 PM   Subscribe

The Making Of Cart Life, the 2013 IGF award winning video game. posted by Diskeater (11 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I tried Cart Life and liked the style of it but I couldn't get into it because it just was not fun to play*. I get that it's partially the point of the game to be depressing and show how impossible it is to succeed, but as a game I like to get at least some enjoyment out of the gameplay. Contrast that with Papers, Please which has the same sort of style but builds it on top of a really unique and addictive document inspection game.

* Also my character's cat ran away and due to a bug the event that was supposed to make the cat findable did not happen and I gave up
posted by burnmp3s at 1:27 PM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

I absolutely, completely love the look of this game.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 2:04 PM on December 9, 2013

This sounds fascinating. I certainly understand the sentiment that games are supposed to be fun, but I'm okay with this game not catering to my need to be entertained and instead attempting to give me something significant, even it isn't enjoyable.
posted by onwords at 2:04 PM on December 9, 2013

i bought this game. i love the concept. in execution, though, it's the scene from the kids in the hall movie where the cabbie sings "life is short / life is shit / and soon it will be o~ver~"
posted by gorestainedrunes at 2:54 PM on December 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I honestly can't play it because the color scheme alone depresses me into catonia. If there is a way to unlock even an seventies Polaroid color scheme it wouldn't be so bad.
posted by winna at 2:56 PM on December 9, 2013

I'm getting to the stage where I just don't need something to be a "game" to enjoy it. Games are cool and all, but they're not the be-all and end-all of entertainment, are they? I mean, they never have been, and yet the interactive-entertainment market has always been "the videogames industry" and saying something is "not a game" is still seen as an insult. But it shouldn't be. Playing Gone Home really drove this home for me.
posted by Drexen at 3:23 PM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think I just sort of fell in love with Richard Hofmeier after reading the first linked piece. I don't even care about the game (not really).

This is perhaps my favorite bit:
I think about this all the time. I tried to calculate my hourly pay rate. The constituent materials are metaphorical, for fuck’s sake, and the timescale is liquid… How do you calculate overhead? So I try to look at quantifiable stuff like volts used, on average, per day. I try to think about how much coffee I drank, how many chairs I went through and how much I paid for the mouse and monitor, and the bandwidth. How much money did I sacrifice by turning away paying jobs to do this thing for myself? Punitive damages could perhaps be assessed, due to future health care costs incurred by illnesses induced by stress and compounded by sleep deprivation. But none of those numbers seem to get along with each other; they speak different languages. No matter how I try to regard it as a loss or a diminishing return, and believe me I try, I just can’t. It was fucking worth it, I must say. No matter how I look at it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:30 PM on December 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

I've been writing (this has been mentioned before) a book about video games and the evolution of the medium for the last 2.5 years or so. Of the many, many games that I surveyed, Cart Life is one of just two — the other being Pathologic, which my book is largely about — that really uses the mechanics of its gameplay in a provocative, emotional fashion, at least on any significant scale (so I'm not counting Jason Rohrer games here, for instance). It's a game where winning is secondary, and the emotions you feel as you attempt to play are front-and-center. A game with a message, a statement about its characters and about its world, which is expressed not through monologues as you play through the game but through the actual process of playing the game itself.

It is a seriously remarkable game, ambitious on a level that most games aren't smart enough to try being, and if you haven't played it, you owe it to yourself to at least give the free version ten minutes of your time.

I haven't played it too much beyond those ten minutes, because it really is not a game that I enjoy whatsoever. It is a problematic, glitchy, and depressing game, for all the beauty which I'm sure you can find if you manage to persevere. I already have Pathologic for that sort of thing. But it is much more accessible than Pathologic, and I am grateful that it exists. We are on the cusp of something excellent in game design.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:37 PM on December 9, 2013

I truly hope you are proved right, Rory.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 6:07 PM on December 9, 2013

Games can also be an educational experience
posted by funkycolemedina at 8:19 PM on December 9, 2013

Extremely buggy. I get the whole "experience of being new and confused" thing, but if I took too long figuring out how to make change for the last guy, he should probably not have made off with basically the entire contents of my cash register just because he was a bit disgruntled. Which is a pity; the concept seems very good, but it seems to become very easily unplayable. Also, didn't work well full-screen on my monitor, was *miniscule* in a window. Scaling should not be that difficult in this day and age, you know? I feel like sometimes people get a little too caught up in the Art and don't do much for the execution.

And I do like this sort of thing. I find myself going back now and then to re-play Ayiti: Cost of Life like if I do that enough times *sometime* I will have the right combination of luck to eventually be able to buy a house...
posted by Sequence at 10:08 PM on December 9, 2013

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