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Shrinking, growing and how a 3D modeling tool inspired Scale Exclusive

October 18, 2013 | By Kris Graft

October 18, 2013 | By Kris Graft
More: Indie, Design, Exclusive, Video

Steve Swink and his Voltron-esque clan of game creators at CubeHeart want to bring their first-person-shrinker/grower Scale to the masses.

So yesterday, Swink and his crew launched an $87,000 Kickstarter campaign for the game, which has been making muted appearances in early form at trade shows for over a year.

The main point of interest here is the game's main mechanic: The ability to use a gun to "suck" size out of one object, and shoot it into another.

"I was pondering things that were obvious but unexplored," he tells us, explaining the origin of the mechanic. "I do a lot of 3D modeling so I was thinking about rotation, translation and scale.

"It occurred to me that using the scale tool in a 3D modeling package is kind of cool and hey, maybe I could make a game out of that," he says. "The only thing I was worried about was making it intuitive for people. I hit on the idea of just having it be first-person and just letting the player point at what they want to scale. Past that, I wanted to (and have) left it unconstrained."

Giving players a mechanic that is meant to enable to explore, discover and generally tinker with a game world is a rather generous gift. Need to open a locked treasure chest? Just grow the chest enough to where you can drop through the keyhole. Need a ride? Grow that tiny butterfly and jump on its back. But by giving players such latitude, a game's design can become...complicated.

"Allowing relatively unconstrained scaling and nesting has been pretty tough," he says. "Especially in Unity where some of the PhysX parameters are not exposed. The exceedingly-awesome Eddy Boxerman of Osmos fame has helped me wrangle things.

"It's pretty stable now, even with players banging around in it and trying to break the system. It was really important that every time a player asked a 'what if' question, the system had an answer."

While the game does draw inspiration from games like Portal and The Swapper, the shrinking-growing mechanic isn't meant to serve as a tool to solve what players would typically consider "puzzles."

"People assume it's a puzzle game, but I have no interest in making another 'unique mechanic shows off the designer's creativity through hard puzzles' game," says Swink. "Scale is all about exploration, discovery and secrets."

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