The overarching narrative and message of Arlo has changed a lot over the course of third year. When I started researching for the game I pushed into a number of words that interested me.
- Character Building
Of these 4 it was Silliness that really took off, and eventually led into anarchy and Dadaism. I won’t lie, my initial plan was to build a roleplaying system, somewhat reminiscent of DnD that anyone could sit down and play with minimal knowledge.
Everyone else however, preferred the, lets set fire to everything idea, and thus, Arlo came to fruition.
Initially, Arlo started off as a level based game. As you moved through the game you would come to different decisions you’d have to make. 1 would be a reasonable, sane answer to the issue at hand, and one would be to set the issue on fire. It was primarily a game that slated a pet peeve of mine, being the “It could be worse” mindset.
I struggled however with implementing this idea into a game, and that’s when I had the idea to set fire to a bigger peeve of mine, that being late stage capitalism and corporatisation in general.
The narrative then built itself off of that. We had Arlo, an oppressed worker in a corporate society that is run by robots and Cap City, the setting, which name is pretty self-explanatory. Arlo’s story has been inspired a lot by my father, who worked in finance in Jersey for 50 years and as far as I’m aware, hated every second of it. Obviously, I won’t be changing society having my little tantrum in the corner of Winchesters Games Design and Art course, but it’s been fun to scream at the wall for a bit after what has been a pretty awful year.
The game starts with Arlo being pestered by his Boss, who I named Mr Plank. Mr Plank explains to Arlo that his efficiency is down to 98% which isn’t good enough. Arlo apologises and admits he was thinking about his wife and child, who had been replaced because they weren’t efficient enough. Excuses won’t be tolerated and Arlo goes for lunch, where he obtains his flamethrower. If you want more information have a gander at the script I put together.
As Arlo tears his way through Cap City he uncovers hidden messages, lore and a few memes and references I scattered around for fun. And then when everything is finished he goes back and the world has changed and there’s nice pink trees everywhere.
Arlo has been painted with quite the edgy political standpoint, and I’m of no doubt that will turn some people away, but really Arlo is just about my personal experiences with society, the fact that I’ve been brought up one way and after going to art school and making new friends and finding out about new stuff, it’s made me question a lot of things about who I am and what I’ve been taught. It’s about not feeling like you fit in the area you are, and rather than do what everyone else does and change to fit in the machine, you set the machine on fire.
I’m sure I’m coming across as very pompous, entitled and egotistical and who knows, maybe I’ll look back on Arlo one day and be like, oh god, that was not a high point in my life, but I can at least say now that I’ve enjoyed development, I’ve enjoyed pushing this “eat the rich” mindset, and that’s all I can really ask for
My weird little anti-right, anti-societal, anti-corporate, scream into a wall, Dadaist, Videogames are art, side scrolling burn-em-up.