Hi, I’m Matt, and this is Friday Links.
Here’s a totally gorgeous game: A Short Hike (available for Switch/PC/Mac).
You play a bird exploring a mountain. There are animals to chat with. It’s… beautiful (and it’ll only take a few hours to play all the way through).
There’s a perfect balance of exploration (the “levels” of the game seamlessly unlock), challenge (it’s not crazy hard but you do have a sense of achievement), and character (like, the dialogue is so deft).
Promise me you’ll play this weekend 🙂
BONUS LINK: watch this 30 mins talk by Adam Robinson-Yu, game designer, at GDC on Crafting A Tiny Open World: A Short Hike Postmortem (YouTube). Great lessons on how to design an unfolding experience that is directed but still feels open.
Coziness is an aesthetic that has made an appearance recently in games and tech. A Short Hike is cozy. But what creates that feel?
Read: What is Cozy? (2018) by Daniel Cook.
You’re in for some deep theory. For example, from the definition, cozy has three parts. Quoting and summarising:
Safety: A cozy game has an absence of danger and risk. … To maximize safety, activities should be voluntary and opt-in so that players never feel the threat of coercion.
Abundance: A cozy game has a sense of abundance … providing space to work on higher needs (deeper relationships, appreciation of beauty, self actualization, nurturing, belonging).
Softness: Cozy games use strong aesthetic signals that tell players they are in a low stress environment full of abundance and safety … There’s often an intimacy of space and emotion, with a slower tempo pace and manageable scope (spatially, emotionally, and otherwise).
What would it mean for a working session over Zoom to be cozy?