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As I Lay Dying!

I’m pleased to announce the release of my latest game, As I Lay Dying! or, Teale’s Big Hike! It is a challenging puzzle platformer I began writing in the spring of 2010 for Noah Wardrip-Fruin‘s Playable Media course. You can play it free online here. I would love to hear what you think of it!

Before you continue reading some of my thoughts about the game, I encourage you to play it for a few minutes to get a feel for what the game is all about. If you can get past one or two levels, you should be in good shape.

Those of you with a background in American Literature might recognize the allusion to William Faulkner’s classic novel of almost the same name (and yes, it is an allusion to the novel and not to the metalcore band). It was, after all, designed for a class on stories in games.

But wait–where are all of the characters and features of that classic novel we have come to know and love? Where are thoughtful Darl, bumbling Anse, and brooding Jewel? Where are dark family secrets of illegitimate children and incest? Where is the crippling poverty of the south? Where is the disconnect between a judgmental Christian community and a family facing ruin struggling to the best of their ability? This game barely even features any characters.

As opposed to common practice in the game industry, where creating a game based on existing intellectual property largely means skinning an existing game with the characters and landscapes consumers are already familiar with, As I Lay Dying! takes the approach of loose inspiration based on an existing artwork. You will notice the driving force behind the two stories is the same: the goal of the main characters is to move a human body from one location to another. And while the details of the obstacles hindering that goal differ, their effects are similar. As you play, you are forced to fight off the forces of nature as they attack your health and eat away at the corpse. My hope is that you feel some of the same frustration and absurdity the Bundren family faced in their quest to bury their matriarch. Perhaps this style of adaptation won’t result in as many sales as traditional strategies for making a game out of something else, but in my opinion it does a far better job of showing off the power and unique characteristics of games.

I hope you enjoy the game, and I would be happy to further discuss it in the comments!

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