Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Freedom Engine

A recent trend in videogames has been to try and create worlds where the player has some degree of “freedom”. There is, at its core, the pressing question of how do we combine the two; how do we make a structured world, bound by rules, where the player is truly free? This “freedom” was a concept we seriously had to consider in designing Johnny Outlaw. What could be freer than the American West, where men were free to kill and steal, with Manifest Destiny at their side and a trail of tears behind them? Could we capture that freedom? Impossible. And yet, now I can say that Johnny Outlaw has achieved the impossible. We have taken the concept of freedom and combined it with videogames.

You may believe that other games have lots of freedom- especially those so called “sandbox games”. This is a lie. The freedom they offer is bogus. Do they really allow you to make choices free of constraints? No. These “programmers” put thousands of constraints on you. They say “be free” but if you push them too hard, they break. They expect you to choose between good or evil, and then force you to conform to their puerile notions of morality. They tell you “go anywhere”, and trick you into believing that their games are not linear. Even worse, they tell you that linearity is incompatible with freedom. I say this: our lives are linear, our history is linear, and time itself is linear! Do they dare proclaim that mankind, especially American mankind, does not live in freedom?

Who can free the modern gamer from these nauseating conceptions? The answer is not a who, but a what. And that what is Johnny Outlaw’s patent-pending Freedom Engine. This groundbreaking Freedom Engine allows the player to do literally anything that the engine allows. But before we delve into its incontestable power, you should become familiar with the principles on which it operates.

The key to developing the engine came with the discovery of freedom’s true nature, a discovery hundreds of years in the making. You may have noticed that there are things that are free which are not freedom. Free samples, free Tibet, free falling: all are free, but they are not freedom. Freedom, as many have noted, is in fact not free, and it is certainly not infinite. Isaac Newton was the first to discover that freedom could not be created or destroyed. The logical course of action would then be to start hoarding freedom. After all, in this zero-sum game, the freer others are, the less free you are. For now we will set this aside, lest we stray too far from the topic at hand.

What we at Johnny Outlaw studios realized is that freedom is a very real, quantifiable, convertible, unit. Using Einsteinian principles of mass – freedom equivalence, we could take pure freedom and convert it into mass, and therefore, into a videogame. This is how the Freedom Engine succeeds where all other games have failed. Others tried to create freedom via videogame, a process that is physically impossible. We convert freedom into a less useful form: the videogame. Modern gamers, who live their lives with closed minds, may not be able to appreciate this truer, purer freedom. They may say that the Freedom Engine has created too linear an experience, and they are of course completely wrong, as they always are. What they see as linear is actually freedom in action. It is a concentrated lifetime of the greatest freedom created for you to play out as you see fit. The compounded layers of freedom create an experience so powerful that the player may even feel less free when not playing the game.

This engine is perhaps the greatest marvel of modern gaming. I don’t mean to sound presumptuous, but the facts are simply undeniable. Today, when you think of our great freedom, you might think of the Declaration of Independence. Your children will think of the Johnny Outlaw Freedom Engine.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Dream Deferred

Alfred Nobel is primarily known today as the inventor of world peace but his greatest invention is, in fact, dynamite. As every man knows, the West was built on a foundation of dynamite, and so it is our duty to make dynamite the foundation of Johnny Outlaw. Dynamite is a powerful weapon if used properly, but unlike a gun, dynamite is not a toy. Nowadays we believe that every cowboy and prospector is entitled to his explosives. This is dangerous thinking. And things become exponentially more dangerous when we give this power to every video game playing Tom, Dick, and Harry.

Why believe me, though? Maybe I’m just trying to keep you from your God-given right to dynamite. Maybe I want to keep it all for myself. True enough. But before you go blowing up everything in sight, have a listen here.

Let me tell you a little piece of American folklore. It is a cautionary tale. It is a tale of dynamite’s power, the power that all men seek to wield. Let me tell you the story of Dynamidas.

Dynamidas was a bitter old man. Hated people. Didn’t want anything to do with them. Made sense that he’d head out West. Out there you could get by all on your own.

He was a poor man, though. He couldn’t afford dynamite like the real prospectors. He couldn’t crack open a mountain, and he certainly didn’t have the strength to dig for his riches.

What Dynamidas did was he panned for gold. Every morning he’d get up, bring his big old brass pan with him, head down to the stream, and start panning. Head back to his shack at noon for a meal, then it was back to work. Nothing really came of it.

That is, until one day, one magnificent day, he found himself some color. Gold. All the gold a man like him would ever need. He could live the rest of his days and never again have to break his back panning.

He celebrated long into the night. This would be the first night of sleep without worry, without a hard day of work to wake him. But as he was celebrating, a knock came at his shack door. It was a small girl; an orphan. In tattered clothes she stood there. Her family had been taken by the cholera and, who knows, maybe even the whooping cough. Now all she had left in this world was hope; the hope that when it was her time, she’d go quietly.

Dynamidas hated people, sure enough. He hated everything about them. But he didn’t hate this little girl, and he knew she deserved better than her lot in life. He was a full grown man, he’d worked every day, and y’know, he could keep working if he had to. So he gave her all his precious, precious gold and his best wishes.

As it would turn out, a magical being saw all of this transpire and approached Dynamidas. It was a spirit. An American spirit. The spirit was so moved by the kindness of Dynamidas that she promised him any gift of his choosing.

Dynamidas told her “Oh American Spirit, grant me the power of dynamite, so that I might be like the other prospectors. Give me the power to crack open the mountains so that I will never again break my back panning for gold.”

“Very well, Dynamidas. From now on, all that you touch shall turn to dynamite.”

Before she had even finished speaking, the magic was done.

He tried out his newfound powers. He touched the mountainside, and it blasted open! He reached down to touch a flower and when the dust settled all that remained was a crater.

The little orphan girl may have lived a life of sadness, but even she recognized how awesome Dynamidas’s powers were. They danced and cheered, celebrating harder than ever before.

Then Dynamidas, in true American fashion, went for the high five.