The last few posts have walked through Basic Interactables and Physics Objects, two-thirds of the available interaction types in Interference. However, there is a third distinguishable type of interactive object known as Focusables. Let’s check them out!
Focusables, perhaps, involve the most complex set of interactions available to the player. Not to be confused with Basic Interactables, these objects require the player to engage with them before interaction can occur, and the interactions are specifically tailored to each object.
At the outset, Focusables seem relatively simple: “focus” on the object to use it and “de-focus” from the object to return to the game. However, it’s within that focus where interaction becomes complicated, as each object has its own set of usage requirements, many of which are intrinsic to the core gameplay of Interference.
All the critical elements of Interference are Focusable objects: the radio, the map, and the computer. Each one of these objects necessitates different sets of actions to, well, play the game, as well as dispenses the information needed by the player to engage with the narrative; the radio provides the interface for communicating with your trapped friend, the map gives you the necessary spatial information of the facility she is trapped in, and the computer clues you into the dangers lurking around every corner.
The other Focusables, while not as critical to the immediate narrative, give a greater sense of the world of Interference. CCTV monitors give you external views from your desert outpost, a TV and VCR tune you into 80s-era programming, memos and other scraps of paper provide insight to the lives and personalities of your coworkers. And the linchpin to the entire experience? The book of wordsearch puzzles lying open on the desk.
It’s difficult not to talk about the wordsearch (after all, it’s a featured object in our teaser trailer). While the object itself doesn’t necessarily differentiate itself from the myriad of other distractions scattered around the guard booth, its presence as a Focusable object is representative of the kind of game we set out to make. It was one of the first interactions Brad and I conceptualized when we started talking about player autonomy: give the player something else to focus on (ha), and maybe they’ll forget (or want to forget) about the life-threatening situation playing out through the crackling speakers of the radio.
Even though the functionality of each object may vastly differ, all Focusables share the same set of properties:
- “Using” the object requires that the player is focused on said object
- The player cannot move freely while using a Focusable object
- The player must “exit” the Focusable to return to the play-space
Let’s focus on the facility map, for example (ha, again) to see these properties in action.
The facility map available to the player in Interference is one of the most important objects in the game. Walking through the above steps, let’s see how interacting with the map plays out:
- The player clicks on the map, and the camera zooms into the map for a closer look
- The player cannot move freely while using the map but can do the following:
- Move the camera around the surface area of the map by moving the mouse
- Pick up, move, and place pushpins on the map by clicking and moving the mouse
- Zoom into the map even closer by pressing the spacebar
- The player right-clicks to exit the map and return to the play-space
While Basic Interactables and Physics Objects are important to the overall experience of Interference, Focusables do much of the heavy lifting through their contribution to gameplay and story.
Next time, we’ll put everything together and wrap things up with some final thoughts. Until then!