Games

Eternity 12 minutes: as the author of Twelve Minutes attracts far from the games people

When a lot of user experience can only interfere.

The author of GamesIndustry.biz published a text in which the creator of Twelve Minutes, Luis Antonio, spoke about the details of the development of the game. He paid special attention to the fact that people are too accustomed to unambiguous endings, and also described how he is trying to attract an audience to his title that is not familiar with games. We have chosen the main thing from the text.

When Luis Antonio first thought about creating Twelve Minutes, he wanted to show the whole day, during which many interconnected actions took place. Over time, he increasingly limited the initial idea.

Antonio proposed the Twelve Minutes idea both at Rockstar London, when he worked there as an artist, and at Ubisoft Quebec, as an art director. Both studios rejected this concept because at that time it did not fit into their vision.

Nevertheless, he found support when he worked on The Witness as an artist. While he worked in this team, many developers spoke positively about his ideas and urged him to learn how to program, as well as translate his idea into reality.

After the release of The Witness, Antonio did just that: with the support of Microsoft, and then Annapurna Interactive, he began to develop the game. At first he worked alone, but then his team grew to six people. Although Antonio is the only one who is involved in the project full time.

I am attracted to the development of games by the opportunity to constantly look for something new in the field of interactive experience. But the problem with AAA studios is probably due to their size or the fact that they do not give developers enough freedom to take risks. After a while, this was a disappointment for me. Many good projects that we started did not grow into anything because of decisions made from above.

In indie, I realized that the much smaller scale and the fact that everyone in the team has a lot of different skills allows a lot to process and develop ideas. The very concept that a designer can still be a programmer is simply huge. Jonathan Blow came into our room with an idea, and after an hour showed what it was. This is different from what is in AAA, where the game designer first writes a document, then we are going to a meeting, the programmer is given this task, then he realizes it, and in the end we all see a half-finished version. And then the cycle repeats.

Luis Antonio

creator of Twelve Minutes

When Antonio became an indie developer, he felt that he had a unique opportunity to draw attention to the development of the gaming industry in Portugal – he was sure that there were many talented people in the country, but they just needed a little investment help.

I think the main problem is the lack of investment, which is generally very common for Portugal. Most of the energy goes into mobile games or small projects. In terms of talent and skills, everything here is the same as everywhere else.

I tried to bring some Portuguese developers to the team and do my best for the industry. I think we need a couple of Portuguese titles that will make investors believe in talent and see that we are a good investment.
Luis Antonio

creator of Twelve Minutes

Twelve Minutes is a time loop game in which the protagonist survives 12 minutes again and again, but each time he remembers previous attempts, which helps him find solutions to emerging problems.

According to Antonio, initially the title was conceived as a way to study the player’s choice, but gradually turned into a game that takes into account the user’s knowledge and understanding of the situation in which he is. It should turn out to be very ambiguous, since there is no specific indication as to whether the player did something “right”.

In the beginning, I did not understand what the study of the time loop would be connected with. But I decided that we will focus on the knowledge that the character accumulates, and on the interpretation of this by the player. The hero learns new details about the characters around him, but if I [the developer] don’t tell you [the player] what to do with this knowledge, I don’t set specific goals and direct you, it will become a very subjective experience.

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In a very superficial interpretation of the movie Groundhog Day, the fact that the hero could do everything right to “win” the cycle is what deprives me of experience. [If I repeated this in the game] I would say that you did the “right” set of actions that allowed you to get out of the time loop. But if I do not tell you what these actions are, and I do not say whether you did the right thing or not, everything will depend on your interpretation. This is becoming rather ambiguous. As soon as you stop trying to do everything right, a deeper layer will appear, which, I hope, the players will like.
Luis Antonio

creator of Twelve Minutes

Based on this, one may wonder how a game without a specific “correct” line can lead to a definitive end?

The book has the last page, and after two hours of watching the movie you see the credits. In games, we can do a little more. In six to eight hours, you will reach a satisfactory completion of your experience, but I am trying my best to do something that is not the ending, because we are used to the fact that it always is. This is a temporary loop. My main question was how an endless experience could end, and not what ending it should have.

Luis Antonio

creator of Twelve Minutes

Despite the importance of ambiguity for the plot and meaning of the game, the real gameplay is not at all ambiguous. Twelve Minutes is a top-down game that uses only a mouse. The user can pick up objects and combine them with others: if you drag a glass to the sink, it will be filled with water; if you bring it to the hero’s wife, it will be regarded as an offer to drink water.

Once you understand how objects work, they will become your vocabulary. When you play first-person shooter, you don’t think about dropping a gun and lifting a stone from the ground. You know that you have this thing, and all you do is shoot and kill other characters. The same with the platformer. You know your vocabulary.

I wanted to make a game in which you would have more than one or two actions with different options. Therefore, I was inspired a lot by classic quests. But their problem is that if you lose in the platformer, then you understand the reason. And in the quest, you can jump out of the window or combine one object with another. You constantly speculate and try different options.

But this is the breadth of opportunities for using the environment and the transfer of experience, which is not the case in most linear games. 
Luis Antonio

creator of Twelve Minutes

According to Antonio, he wants to combine this feature with simplicity and a clear understanding of the rules that are in platformers and shooters. He wants to achieve this because he hopes to interest people who are far from video games – so Twelve Minutes should be intuitive for them.

My wife is far from games. I remember that at the beginning of our relationship, I tried to play Portal with her, and she could not even look around. She was uncomfortable using the gamepad and getting used to the movement and rotation of the camera. Then I realized that there is a whole range of impressions hidden due to the complexity of the interfaces and the knowledge that you need to possess.

When people with gaming experience try Twelve Minutes, they begin to collect all the items and try to combine them to understand what they are doing. And they are not moving very far. The things around us are arranged in a very logical way. While not gamers, they just know that you need to use the mouse and click. It goes a lot better for them. They do not think about systems and their destruction.

Luis Antonio

creator of Twelve Minutes

There is a moment in the game when you need to prove to yourself that you live the same day. They [non-gamers] find a solution instantly, just with a little thought.

People who have rich gaming experience, especially in quests, do not think how to prove it. They just start to unite things, hoping that they will open something. I always wanted to bridge this gap so that people do not perceive games and interactive experience as just entertainment, but look at them as a good book or film.

Luis Antonio

Creator of Twelve Minutes

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