What do NPCs do when the player is not around? Set inside another game, Playerless offers a glimpse of the backstage. Bring up AI in this uniquely cute puzzle adventure with dark undertones!
How many games can you play at once?
1, if you’re a normal person.
604, if you’re a chess grandmaster.
2, if you’re playing Playerless.
Playerless happens inside another game, which was perfectly normal - until the player abandoned it and the AI gained self-awareness. Your character - the debug unit - was built by a team of long-forgotten developers to help them fix it when needed. But the task you two are facing now is much more difficult than that - is fixing what the world truly needs? See for yourself what years of solitude and prayerlessness can do to NPCs - and the player character himself.
How many buttons do you have?
104, if you’re using a keyboard.
120, if your keyboard is an accordion.
1, if you’re playing Playerless.
The game’s physical mechanism is broken, too. Only one button is still working. While you’re still figuring out a way to communicate with the debug unit, you’ll encounter obstacles that require you two to cooperate - and figure out what this all is really about.
Can self-awareness appear all by itself?
No, say the religious.
Probably, say the scientists.
Hi, say the Playerless.
Your character is not your property. But as long as you’re on friendly terms, you can gently nudge it in the right direction. Just remember - unlike the player of the other game, you have real influence on the game and its inhabitants. To the AI, you’re like a human parent, and you’d better be a good one.
For the past thirty years, video games have been evolving in a way no one has ever dreamed of. Nobody expected them to be so much more than temporary entertainment. From today’s perspective, it makes them comparable to cinematography in the early years of its development, when its creators, the Lumière brothers, may have often been hearing: it’s not going to last long.
Luckily, video games have survived and nowadays we can fully appreciate them, sometimes even as works of computer art. Besides the artistic values, another crucial part of every game is immersion. It used to be a part of games from the very beginning. But does it still play the leading role, even after the development of the main medium?
First of all, let’s assume that immersion is an enormously subjective part of a video game. There are players that need a perfect plot to be absorbed, others will say that a visible development of their hero is something that keeps the flow going. Someone will find the simplicity of game mechanics immersive. Player’s preferences on what makes them feel like being part of a virtual world have been changing through the years because the gaming industry gave them a reason. For example – in the early eighties, players used to find the very first version of Elite realistic and also immersive, despite the fact that the graphics at the time were far from life-like. Today we can enjoy another part of this series (Elite: Dangerous), created in a meticulously detailed manner as if it was almost a copy of the existing cosmos and still some of the players will say it’s not even close to immersive at all.
So the creation of a perfectly absorbing world seems to be an impossible challenge because immersion is subjective as someone’s opinion, and everybody has their own definition of what makes them involved in the game.
Nevertheless, there’s a small hero growing in the gaming neighborhood, and it’s very likely to change the general opinion on immersion subjectivity. It’s a huge responsibility to take part in that transition.
Our Playerless is an adventure that may seem fairly ordinary at a glance, but that what may later unravel as a positive shock during gameplay is something that we wanted to achieve. First of all – just like the title may suggest - the game requires one button to play. By limiting gameplay mechanics we wanted players to stay focused on the game itself. That’s why the controls needed to be as simple as possible. Secondly, it’s about breaking the fourth wall. A few of the Playerless’ characters are aware of the player's presence. Our goal was to make the players feel like they’re in the middle of an adventure. And they’re not alone during it!
Our main goal was to construct a plot that would engage the players to the point they feel like they have been in this world for a much longer time than their actual play-time. The game also shares numerous features with our existing world, making it a little bit more familiar to the player. Last, but not least, there is another game inside Playerless. Sadly, expanding this topic would spoil the game’s story, so we must leave it here and let you wait until you play it by yourself.
When developing One Button Adventure, we thought of it like a game exceptionally interesting and filled with fresh ideas. We wanted it to be very flexible when it comes to the immersion. Also, we wanted to stir discussion among players where everyone has a different view on a topic but everyone finds out their own valuable experience at the game’s very end. We wanted our players to simply absorb the game, and we hope we have achieved that.
We’re not only developers. We are players in the first place. And from the player perspective, we can say that Playerless is an intriguing and innovative title. We wanted it to be immersive on many levels, so we hope many types of gamers will be entertained with even more different flow preferences. Returning to the cinematography comparison: we are happy that games still remain an entertainment but for some also evolved into a hobby. The world would be an awfully empty place without various surprising ideas developed into a game that wait for us to be enjoyed. And we hope you will enjoy our's very soon.
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