Get your video game with a side of psychology
Millions of people play video games, often just for a thrill or to blow off some steam. To have fun for an hour or two.
That actually never drew Brookfield resident Tye Abbott to games. When Abbott, a 16-year-old junior at Lyons Township High School, puts his time into a game, it has to deliver something special.
“Games — a big cohesion of the medium — are good at delivering a certain type of experience,” Abbott said. “At the same time, I started playing Eastern European games and they were exhilarating and difficult. They use video games to improve audiences.”
Take, for example, the Russian role-playing game Pathologic. In a city plagued by a plague befitting our times, players take on the role of a doctor faced with difficult life-or-death decisions.
“The game makes it upsetting to be a good person,” Abbott said. “It’s a brilliant exploration of medicine and altruism and can only be told through the medium of games. It is powerful to give people agency in these decisions.”
Abbott hopes to apply these kinds of lessons to a new video game he has in development, RD Mars, which should be out on January 19th and will be available on a website called Steam (store.steampowered.com), where you can also buy and download Abbott’s first immersive video game – Lucid: Parables of the Ubermensch – for just $3.99, prompting one reviewer to warn, “If you’re prone to tantrums, this isn’t.” the case the game for you. This game will test your patience” and another described as “a funky, abstract platformer with simple but good-looking pixel art.”
The “trippy pixel art” that characterizes both Lucid and “RD Mars” will remind older gamers of first-generation desktop computer games, where the action takes place in two dimensions – often with a top-down view of corridors and Clear as the journey progresses.
“While the art may be a throwback, I pride myself on the narrative and gameplay experience, which are fairly rare in the modern industry,” Abbott said.
“Visually, the art I’ve chosen is a matter of scale. As a designer, I have limitations, but pixel art provides enough to engage with ideas on a larger scale. The visuals serve the themes I’m exploring.”
In developing RD Mars, Abbott drew inspiration from the European horror genre games he enjoys playing. The player in RD Mars is an artificial intelligence reconstruction of a fictional once-great inventor named Felix Darwins.
The game guides the AI reconstruction to learn about its developer’s history and confront its own destructive passions.
“It’s a cohesive view of what made an all-consuming ride on Felix,” Abbott said. “I didn’t want to pull any punches while telling the story.”
While the psychology might get lost on some players just looking for a fun game, Abbott said most who’ve tested RD Mars get the point.
“I spend a lot of time talking to playtesters,” Abbott said. “People experience art in different ways, but the majority of players understand the themes and ideas I’m trying to explore.”
Truth be told, Abbott has always liked his games on the challenging side. By the age of 7, he was building his own board games and testing them “until the games were too complicated for a human to remember all the rules,” he said.
Abbott’s father suggested computer programming as an outlet for this interest, and in sixth grade Abbott took a course in Java programming, where he created his first animated sequence – a rising and setting sun.
By the time he entered his freshman year at LTHS, he knew he wanted to pursue video game development. He’s a fan of Brookfield’s Galloping Ghost video arcade and said he alerted owner Doc Mack to a possible event surrounding the eventual release of RD Mars.
Abbott said he’ll probably get a computer science degree in college but will still code games.
“I will work on it every day to see if I can make something out of it that can support my life,” he said.