Mile Marker 28: TraumaS

Tired of stodgy corporate games made by The Man and his minions? We're playing the 31 best indie games for a change of pace —- and so we can judge them. Today, Trauma.

In A Sentence
Trauma is the point-and-click love child of Kafkaesque confusion and Myst exploration.

State Of Completion
The PC game will be free to play through most web browsers when it hits in early 2010.

Thoughts
Krystian Majewski's Trauma is more art than game. You work your way through a number of photographs, manipulating your perspective, moving from scene to scene, while trying to unravel just what is going on. The innate mystery of being dropped into an unusual setting under surreal circumstances makes for an interesting experience.

It isn't until you mouse your way through the first couple of sections that you start to piece together the game's story of a young woman who survives a car accident that claims her parents' lives. The gaming presentation may be a bit methodical and cumbersome for some, but I found the end result very evocative.

Answers We Demanded
Kotaku: The entries of the IGF are an eclectic bunch, ranging from esoteric art titles to straight forward drop-in-and-play casual games. In creating your entry what do you hope to accomplish with your game?

Majewski: I see TRAUMA as the straight forward drop-in-and-play esoteric art title. One of initial goals of the project was to create a game that also people, who haven't been interested in computer games would be curious to try. So it's supposed to challenge the notions of what a computer game is like. The visuals, the realistic setting and the ambitious story are part of that plan. But just making people curious would be pointless if the game wasn't straight forward to play. So TRAUMA is also extremely short, easy to learn and it's challenges are very simple. Even if you have never played a computer game before you should be able to see the end of TRAUMA in a short amount of time. The point is that this time will be very well-spent.

Kotaku: What was the inspiration behind your game?

Krystian Majewski: I did a very detailed analysis of the history and current state of adventure games during my research for the project. A lot of what I found went into the game. There are obvious influences from the Myst series for example. But actually, the initial idea was sparked by Samorost. It demonstrated what you can do using Flash and photography in the adventure game genre. Later during my research I found other inspiring indie projects like the games of Mateusz Skutnik or 99 Rooms.

As for inspiration from outside of games - again, there is plenty. The project began as the final thesis for my design studies at Köln International School of Design. A lot of what I've seen and learned went into the project. For example, I experimented with combining CGI elements with real-life footage in a short project called "Twisted Reality".

There are also some influences by some local artists from Cologne, for example the long exposure photography of Lichtfaktor (http://www.lichtfaktor.eu/).

Kotaku: Why video games? There are plenty of ways for a person to express themselves creatively, why did you choose this way?

Majewski: I disagree with "Form Follows Function". So I didn't set out with the idea of expressing myself creatively and then decided to do that in games. Instead, I grew up playing games and started making my own pretty early on. I was motivated simply because I was fascinated with games. I started thinking on how to utilize games more purposefully when I got older. I realized it was a good idea because it is a discipline where I had an advantage and where I still see a lot of potential. But making games was the starting point, not the other way around.

Make sure to check out the rest of the Independent Games Festival finalists as we head toward the March awards show.