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