- Journey of the Broken Circle writer and game director Andrea Brasch talks about the fusion between the game’s story and mechanics.
- The main character’s journey and relationships bring up topics and emotions we can all relate to.
- Journey of the Broken Circle is now available for pre-order on the Xbox Store with a 15% discount.
Journey of the Broken Circle is a story-driven platform game about an imperfect circle who seeks to be complete.
Storytelling and gameplay literally go hand in hand in this game. They’re completely intertwined, and like in every relationship, they both limit and enhance each other. The ludo narrative (compelling story in perfect synchrony with gameplay) was rewarded with “Best Narrative Game” at IndieCade 2020.
Let me take you through parts of the brainstorming process:
[Story] A story about longing…
Journey of the Broken Circle is a game that has been a long way on the way, and somehow both Patrick Jarnfelt and I grew into adulthood with the game. We both started out single and by the end of the production we are both in committed relationships. So, it has been a journey for the game and certainly also for us on a personal level. The game relies heavily on lived experiences from my personal life, so yes, it is a very personal game!
I wanted to address how humans often long for something else: A better job, a nicer place to live, an ideal relationship. Of course, love and romantic relationships are a big part of that, but the missing thing can also be a soulmate friend, a place to stay in nature, an amazing job, a pet…
[Gameplay] An incomplete circle as the main character…
What is the most basic and metaphorical way to represent something that is not complete? With an incomplete circle, of course! And since it’s almost round, it rolls but with a hump, so we are constantly reminded that it is not whole… This opens all kinds of cool ideas for a platforming game!
[Story] A journey of search and discovery…
Obviously, Circle rolls in search of a complementing piece… And it meets new characters! They’ll chat, get to know each other better, share their views and feelings and react differently to the places and events surrounding their adventure.
[Gameplay] Two merged into one = new abilities!
Circle can conveniently pick up new characters that fit in its mouth. Merged like this, they roll as one and can use each other’s abilities. This is how new gameplay mechanics and platforming environments are explored!
[Story + Gameplay] Portraying realistic personality traits.
Let’s delve into the creation process of the character Sticky and see how the story and design decisions kind of snowball into a final protagonist:
We all know somebody who loves their routine and is afraid of change. What action can represent this? Sticking! What has a shape that could fit in Circle and can stick to things? A pinecone! And together they can easily climb, especially on snow and ice!
We have a new character with which Circle can have conversations (and arguments!) over moving forward and discovering new things versus settling down! And we have the level environments: A lot of climbing in mountains and caves!
Let’s now have a quick look at some other characters. All of them are inspired by people we know, our friends and family (not exposing which ones though):
- Ms. Moss: The caring grandmother figure. Soft like moss and hugging Circle so it can safely roll without bumps or falls.
- Balloon: Someone who changes their mind all the time. Balloon is volatile and goes where the wind blows. It does make Circle fly, but it is very fragile and demanding.
- Perfect: A very fun character that seems like the perfect alter ego, and a perfect physical match for the Circle. They roll fast and smooth together. However, it can spin totally out of control and become awfully hard to keep up with.
At first, I thought I would write the story and then implement game mechanics accordingly, until we realized that they had to be made together. So, during the creation process, one narrative decision led to a design decision that led to another narrative decision and so on. The characters are talking objects, gender-neutral and minimalist. The aim is to be universal and relatable. Everyone will experience the game differently, based on their own life, experiences, and memories.
These “love stories” that Circle rolls through are a frame used to talk about many other things than love. Journey of the Broken Circle is a story about self-discovery and existentialism. Maybe we often feel like a piece is missing because our life is an ever-growing puzzle. It doesn’t mean we’re broken, only that we are on a journey…
Journey of the Broken Circle launches on March 12 and is now available for pre-order on the Xbox Store with a 15% discount. If you want to chat with me and other players about it, please join the Discord server of our publisher Nakana.io.
Journey of the Broken Circle
Andrea Brasch, Writer and Game Director, Lovable Hat Cult