The greatest joy that a game developer can have is to watch players who are playing your game at the moment and to talk to them. During the pre-release presentations and travels of My Memory of Us to fairs and gaming events, we had an incredible pleasure to see various players and a wide array of their reactions to the game. At the very beginning, we really feared the first reactions.
We tried to do our best to make sure that the adventurous game about a couple of kids, inspired by the events that took place during the occupation of Warsaw in the times of World War II, shows great respect for the victims and their families. Creating a game inspired by the events of the Holocaust is a real challenge and walking on a dangerous ground.
There are many things that can go wrong. Is an adventurous game about kids who can get together as a couple to exchange skills a good idea? Could anyone find the fairy tale version of a gloomy story offensive? Will the players themselves discover what part of the history is the tale based on?
The players’ reactions and their own judgments were most important to us. We did not get scolded by anyone and the players kept surprising us all the time. We saw that bringing the characters together into a couple and holding their small hands was a great fun. The players sometimes laughed at funny animations at moments which were not always intended by us. Some of them tried to complete the game by playing the characters together as a couple all the time, sneaking when the couple was led by the boy or running fast when the girl was the leading character. Others played both characters separately almost all the time, helping each other in various ways.
There were emotional moments, too. The players lively reacted to the events in the game, enjoyed the characters’ joys and shared their sorrows. It is really surprising when you see little groups of people crowded in front of one console, exchanging their feelings and commenting on what is going on the screen. The players were not the only ones to get emotional. When you see a kid sitting on his parent’s knees while both are playing a gloomy fairy tale inspired by all these terrible events, you really feel very hot. And you feel even hotter when you hear the questions the kid is asking his parent. Who are the bad robots? Why do they dislike figures who are red? Why do we have to run? I have to admit that some parents gave extremely warm and wise answers but I am sure they felt hot, too.
I admire players who are capable of making hundreds of attempts to complete a difficult stage of a game just to experience the next part of the story. I saw people who could not cope with the skill-demanding parts of the game but kept trying persistently and finally got better. I saw someone stumble on a logic puzzle and make a heroic attempt to overcome it alone without the developer’s help. You ask yourself then a question whether you have designed the action or the riddle scenes well. However, this is not about the level of difficulty. The players did not have a grudge against the developers for any difficulties. They were able to spend more time just to see what would happen next. A great deal of fun came from the so-called “old hands” who first claimed that the game looked simple and they were repeatedly defeated by a swarm of drones in a sequence showing an escape on a motorbike or in a riddle with programming trajectories of robots tracking you.
The greatest part was always the conversation and the unexpected questions. It was actually hard to believe how diverse connotations people had with the game. Some of them immediately related the allegory to the times of World War II and the occupation of Poland and asked about such intriguing things like whether the red costume of our heroine is a tip of the hat to the Shindler’s List. Some associated the game with the communism reality of the cold war era and some others found references to some contemporary events reported by present-day newspapers. We very much liked such a diversity of reactions. We are really curious to hear what you think when you have already played the game.
The players are always full of surprises. See what awaits you in My Memory of Us, out now on Xbox One.