Loveshack Entertainment's narrative-based, panel-shifting game, Framed, will allow players to pivot, rotate and reuse panels, in addition to changing their order, studio co-founder Joshua Boggs told Polygon today at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
When the game was first shown publicly last year, it featured painterly panels of noir imagery that players could rearrange to change the game's order of events and context. In a demo of the latest build of the game shown today, certain panels could be rotated, which not only changed the actions depicted within the panel, but also the context of the events in a level.
In one example, a female character attempted to sneak past a group of men who were on the lookout for her. Originally, the panels were arranged in such a way that she would run down a series of corridors, past a ladder that was lying horizontally on the ground, and right into the view of a thug who was ready to shoot her. When the panel with the ladder was rotated, she climbed it onto the platform where the thug was, snuck up behind him and took him out.
The inclusion of this mechanic encourages players to think not only of the order in which they should arrange panels, but how their characters can interact with the contents of each panel.
In later levels, players will be able to reuse panels by moving them while the level is being played out. This requires much more thought because there are more variables at play, like how the panels should initially be ordered, then which panels should be moved mid-play and how often they should be reused.
"There are people who stop and try to figure everything out, and there are those who trial and error their way through, and there's nothing wrong with that," Boggs said. "People who trial and error through just want to see what happens."
Most of the game's narrative is inferred, and how players choose to rotate, rearrange or reuse panels will depend on the story they've gleaned from the game's visual cues.
"The visual language enables people to put their imaginations into what's going on and infer what's happening," Boggs said. "We're never directly telling or even showing people what happened. We're sort of saying, here's two plus two, we want you to make four.
"We're doing that consistently throughout the whole game, so the visuals just need to clearly frame an action or clearly frame specific events."
Framed is currently in development for iOS, Linux, Mac and Windows PC, with an Android version likely to follow.