TELL TALES

Grin­ning Pickle is build­ing a tow­er­ing game on the foun­da­tions of a jam

EDGE - - KNOWLEDGE TOTEM TELLER -

The de­vel­op­ers of Totem Teller are fas­ci­nated by the ideas of degra­da­tion and re­com­po­si­tion. Th­ese themes run through the en­tire game, which sees you ex­plor­ing a bro­ken world as you at­tempt to ex­ca­vate and re­con­sti­tute the sto­ries that record its jour­ney to this point. Iron­i­cally, even the game’s strik­ing vi­su­als were in­spired by poor im­age qual­ity. “The glitch­ing and dig­i­tal ar­ti­facts be­gun when, very early on, I made some test an­i­ma­tions as GIFs,” ex­plains artist and de­signer Ben Ker­slake. “I loved what com­pres­sion ar­ti­facts do to im­agery in gen­eral, so we pur­sued that line more broadly. It also over­laps nicely with the con­cept of in­for­ma­tion – in our case, a story – be­ing de­graded in its telling or trans­mis­sion.”

The game plays a lit­tle like a point-and-click ad­ven­ture, though play­ers have di­rect con­trol over the cen­tral char­ac­ter, while the ul­ti­mate act of “retelling” the sto­ries found in each area is rep­re­sented by be­spoke puz­zles.

Totem Teller orig­i­nally came into be­ing dur­ing a one­week game-mak­ing chal­lenge. The re­sult pro­vided the foun­da­tions on which Ker­slake and coder Jerry Ver­ho­even have built a larger-scale project. “[The orig­i­nal in­spi­ra­tion was] sim­ply to make some­thing that was about the joy one feels ex­plor­ing a new place – be it a city or a patch of wilder­ness,” Ker­slake tells us. “Totem Teller still em­bod­ies that core value.”

The plan is for a 2018 re­lease on con­sole and PC.

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