About

 

This is a blog about Kinaesthetics.

What’s Kinaesthetics? Wikipedia links this question to Proprioception (more or less a human’s true “Sixth Sense” – their sense of presence in space), but for the sake of this blog, Kinaesthetics are the “feel” of being in a videogame – virtual proprioception, symbiosis of man and machine, the texture, colour, and flavour of the interaction.

They exist at the intersection of ergonomics, human-computer interaction (including feedback in the form of graphics, animation, sound, haptics), psychology, philosophy, and programming. That’s a lot of rather broad subjects, but this is because Kinaesthetics can only be noticed in the emergent soup of this mongrel medium: without an interface, game state, feedback and intelligent agent interpreting the game, a game experience does not exist, and the quality of that experience, its Kinaesthetic, cannot be described.

In short, Kinaesthetics are where form meets function. It’s also a word you have to right click and ‘Add To Dictionary': It is a made up word.

I am Aubrey Hesselgren. I’m a UK-based game developer. I’ve worked both on independent games, and mainstream games. None have been particularly successful, or even release-able, but each has been more edifying than the last. In the 12 years I’ve tried to make games, I’ve come into contact with a lot of genuinely talented game developers who I’ve learnt or stolen from, and who have helped me along the way. My hope is to write articles from these experiences, create working examples to chip away at this subject area, and give you a few cheat codes to get you past the basics of making your game feel just right.

This blog is inspired, in part, by the book Game Feel by Steve Swink, and the envy felt when sound engineers can’t stop going on about how important and overlooked audio is in games.

2 thoughts on “About

  1. “Game feel” is the area I’m most excited about in design and yet as someone who doesn’t write her own code it’s one of the most inaccessible. Vanquish, Bayonetta, Super Mario Galaxy, Cave Story – all games I’ve loved head and shoulders above other titles in the last few years as the feel of “being” their player characters is a joyful experience. (And all Japanese, would’ya look at that?) Look forward to seeing your plans for the site unfurl!

    • Some companies like that seem to have a core philosophy of developing around the canvas they’ve been given – they have this weird idea that the game is an expression of what’s fun/interesting/neat to do with the interface/hardware. I read somewhere that Miyamoto’s first rule of design is to “Design Around the Interface”. I’d say it serves them pretty well.

      Others come at it from what I feel like is a kind of backward way: character/world/story first, and then trying to retro-fit mechanics to them, treating gameplay as a format. I prefer to see games where the character design is an expression of the affordances of play, so that there isn’t that weird mismatch of over developed, melancholy, realistic, macho biffermans who can jump 12 feet in the air for no discernible reason.

      I think a lot of other places, this consideration ends up being secondary, and it’s more important to cram bullet-pointable features into a game, and build the brand.

      From a business perspective, this always sounds more “responsible”, because giving up budget to find a fun, fitting mechanic sounds too much like a gamble when it’s perfectly fine to re-skin an existing concept. Arguing that you should have one highly polished feature at the cost of 15 cheap features is a hard sell.

      I would like to address that in this blog simply by trying to improve understanding of what makes a game feel good, and why feel is so important, so that kinaesthetic quality could become as marketable as “AMAZING! FIFTY GUNS!” style bullet points.

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