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Game Design

Birthing A Brain Child

Half a year later and this game still weighs heavy on my mind. The story I wrote for it and the intricacies by which it's been bound, I feel, have largely gone unnoticed. This blog sets out to tell the story and lay bare all its most subtle ways while also giving the reader some history on its development. It goes without saying that spoilers will be present, but given the lack of activity on this page and the age of the game, I feel very little risks to be lost.

Table of Contents
1. "Vive la liberté d'expression!"
2. "Who lives and who dies?"
3. "The only true G."
4. "It's beautiful."

1. "Vive la liberté d'expression!":
"G" started off as a demo project that criticized the abundance of lazy art games that used a vagueness and reliance on the odd to hide the fact that there was no story to be had. Originally you were going to play as the G man (who got his name solely because his head was shaped like a G, another snipe at lazy, surreal artsy ventures) and would talk to the final product's actual genderless protagonist and receive the garbled exchange that would eventually make up the entirety of the intro text.

When it came time to actually craft the game, I started off with creating different characters based on the template established by the main eel (later known as Sir Eel, a pun off the word "surreal"). I knew starting off that I wanted for the mysterious G man to grant these characters gifts that greatly altered their appearance and capabilities, so I took the heads of these character and added characteristics that relate to the G man, such as long legs and stumpy hands. As the character of the G man as a dominant force in the world became further established, I created the oddball "eyes" eel which is depicted as having massive, grotesque eyeballs that bulge out of its head, along with the police eel that's depicted as riding around in little cars with flashlights on their chests and who are preoccupied with the G man and the badge they've been given which they believe gives them authority over other eels. Their simplistic dialog is reflected in this with repeated words ("beep beep" and "sparkle sparkle") and strange inclusions of the badge during conversation.

The plot progression was simple: do little tasks for each kind of eel before confronting the G man about his authority and the mysterious Tide, concluding with the player traveling to the other side of the Tide. Later I gave thought to how this society might not be a world of its own but a collection of pre-life entities that are waiting to be born, and who are waiting for the G man to grant them passage across the Tide so that this can occur. This became the central part of the game afterward and why such things like "choice" and existentialism started to crop up in places such as the church.

2. "Who lives and who dies?":
"What's this story about?" Well... life, actually. While a lack of tackling the human condition is a common critique I've seen, the truth is that it very much does do just that, only starting at a place where most don't discuss. You see, the story of "G" begins at the very beginning, when what constitutues "life" and "living" are actually little more than the ability to move. Indeed, the story of "G" begins long before birth (before coitus, even). You are a sperm.

Now, before you vomit all over your keyboard from shock, let me explain. Where others are quite open about their subject matter (take calunio's Polymorphous Perversity for example), I felt it would be wise to take a more subtle approach and leave this a mystery until it comes to a head during the first and only battle in the game, where you're fighting a syringe called Dusk (the "ending" parallel to the egg called Dawn, which represents "beginning") that threatens to abort you before you've had the chance to live. During this battle, the conditions of this syringe spell out "Pro Choice", to highlight the cold, hard truth of what it means to be "pro-choice". It all comes down to unborn children, and as someone whose entire consciousness up to this point has lead you to be born, an abortion is your greatest adversary. Your options granted to you are to either to Push Back ("you should.") or Push Forward ("you must."). These are your choices, and they follow you through your life.

Once you've taken down this enemy called Dusk, you swim towards the egg and are taken from the allies you've surrounded yourself with and begin the process of gestation, which is where "G" truly gets its name from. Before you're born, you Push Back to remind yourself that you're still alive, a means of explaining the actions of an unborn fetus. When you're born, you're cold and scared and Push Forward with your hand (as you must) and grasp the finger of the G man who is your father.

This whole scene is accompanied by the protagonist's feeling that they're with people who know them better than they know themselves, and that the presence of what they can only assume is the G man (being the only form of authority they've ever experienced) is comforting to them as he was the one that gave them the strength to see them across the Tide in the first place, as opposed to giving them a premature death by being taken away by the Tide (and given the nature of the eels and how the Tide relates to them, I really don't feel like it's necessary for me to go into greater detail of how this would come about).


It's a sad truth in this world of eels that not everyone is created equal, and despite having "opportunity", not everyone will succeed. This game, despite being so open to the notions of "choice", argues that some things are set in stone. Case in point: the eels that hide their eyes. If allowed to prosper, they would become black sheep who would dishonor their families and corrupt society as a whole. The G man knows this and - seeing as he controls the Tide - separates them from success and condemns them to be taken away by the Tide.

How cruel, the G man! Curse him in all his ways!

But he's not perfect, and you owe your life to him. Regardless of how you feel, you're responsible to him and he's responsible for you.

3. "The only true G.":
Throughout the game, the G man's true nature is unknown. Many have speculated over time that the G in the G man's name represents Government or God, and in a way, both of these are true. The game's writing, however, allows for both to be equally valid conclusions up until the end when his true nature is revealed. I'll explain this below.

If the G man represents Government:
1. You live your life learning and proceeding to grow until you're ready to serve a purpose in society.
2. You meet the G man who gives you a job in which to serve him in society.

If the G man represents God:
1. You do good deeds in society and eventually come to a point in which the G man can use you.
2. You meet the G man who gives you his word and you become a prophet of his to serve him in society.

The vague nature of the G man allows for both of these conclusions to be realized in their fullness before the true answer is revealed later on. All the while the player learns more about the world around them and their purpose as an eel, making choices and ultimately creating an identity for themselves by way of the "choice" that they've been given. Remember: "it all comes down to choice."

With time and the choices of the player, the eel they control comes to meet the G man who seems to crush their preconceived notions of a divine ruler or a tyrant by telling them that he's "not perfect", and that he "makes mistakes". Now why would someone who demands perfection - or who exhibits perfection - be so open to admitting their own faults? Because they're neither one. Instead, they're very much a human just like you or I. Who is this human? Clearly they hold power over you (as evidenced by their faceset depicting a hand over a temple), but they're only a parental figure.

So we know the G man is your father, but why is his faceset that of a hand over a temple? Surely this depicts some sort of divine authority above all else, right? Well, not necessarily. The temple used in this game is based on Roman architecture, which while serving as places of worship to gods was also used as places of council for the governing party. The G man's hand over this temple does give the impression that he's above the law of man and God, but only as far as the children he produces. If he should so decline to have children, neither the law of man (government) or of God apply to them, so in a way he has his hand above both, explaining the picture.

4. "It's beautiful.":
So with all this as it is, what point is there to all of this? Why is life with all its trouble worth dealing with? Why does this game spend so much time painting a bleak outlook on life? Because "it's beautiful." These are the last two words given to the player during their time with "G". I know I personally struggle with my sense of self-worth and getting up in the morning, but with all that as it is, I know that life is beautiful, and that no matter what happens, I'm better off alive than dead. It's this message that I wanted to leave the player with, so that they know.

It's not easy - matter of fact, it's downright frustrating - and learning from your mistakes seems like so much more of a hassle than learning from someone else's, but you've never had it as good as you have it now. You've made it this far through all that you've dealt with, and that's beautiful. Never forget that.

That's the lesson the G man wants you to learn.

~ "the G man"


Share your theories.

It's been a month since the last ship departed across the Tide, and though we
remained hopeful, nothing came of it. I was certain that my dear eel Ma'am would
result in a positive report... but we'll just have to try again.

I'm stricken by sorrow, my children. Please reassure me that one of you will be
strong enough to survive. I want to know that at least one of you is motivated
enough to see this journey through to fruition.

We want to hold you in our arms.

Now I ask you, with all that you've known and heard in your time with me, what
do you feel is the truth? Our society isn't perfect - I've tried my best at
giving you all that you need - but how do you feel I've done? What do you
speculate is the meaning of all this?

So far, from what I've heard of my children, I'm to believe that this is the
world you see.

We are workers in a religious colony. From those I've spoken to, I've learned that the G man is some sort of god figure and that we all live to serve him.

I'm flattered that you think so highly of me...

To whomever sees this, please let me know.

~ "the G man"


Introduction to the Other Side

Some think it's foolish to speculate what lies beyond the Tide as all we've ever known of it is death, but I know that the G man wouldn't send me off with a ship of his own design if he didn't think it was wise to do so. Throwing myself into the unknown, I use this faint spark of hope as a beacon, and I can only pray my trust isn't misplaced.

And while I'd love to tell you what waits for us on the other side of the Tide, I'm not even entirely certain myself. It could be death or it could be a new life.


Introduction to the Tide

The Tide came in this morning...

I'm writing this letter to you under the assumption that you weren't one of those who were swept away. Yeah, that black, poisonous liquid that surrounds our town? That's the Tide. Many have fallen victim to its ways, being taken in their sleep by its flow. How terrible, to lie down in comfort, unable to foresee your demise. We all live in fear of never waking up, even though we understand its inevitability.

An eel in the city said it best: "In my eyes, the Tide is death." It flows downstream from the road of the G man and it fills the baptismal vessel of the church. How strange that eelkind might try to control - to conquer - the Tide, as though it could ever be overcome. Me? I try to live apart from the Tide; it's not my place one way or the other.

I didn't see you this morning, which is why I started this letter in the way I did, but I'm still writing in the hopes that someone, if not you, will read it. In the end, all we have are words.

~ Sir


Introduction to rebellion

If you get this letter, not only does it mean that the postal service is still active, but you've also gotten yourself a stable home. Congratulations all around.

But no seriously, how has it been? I hope you're doing well and have made a few friends. It's important to find someone to spend time with and to cleave to around here; they help make the everyday humdrum not so unbearable. In my time around here, I've made a few... of course, that's not to say that everyone was so warm or that everyone that I did get along with stuck around. That's one of the things you have to keep in the back of your mind: who's going to make for a good friend?

Now obviously we have the freedom to make our own choices around here, but just as a word from the wise, I'd be wary of the people who hide their eyes. Not only are they a pack of stiffs, but I've heard that they all congregate in the city's underground and worship themselves and promote an unrighteous lifestyle. Agency is a two-edged sword.

They're never seen at church and they openly oppose the G man and his authority, sometimes referring to themselves as the one true G. So great is their pride that they're sometimes seen just outside the gates that lead to the congressional building of the G man, pounding their chests in rebellion. It's only a matter of time before the eels with badges raid their hideout and take them all as prisoners, and I don't want to see you end up on the wrong side of the law.

Even if they're never approached about their rebellion, hiding themselves away underground only makes them more susceptible to the Tide; not the smartest choice, if you ask me. If they truly wanted to survive the Tide and its wrath, they would hide away on the cliff overlooking the church...

Anyway, stay strong and do what's right, friend.

~ Sir

PS: Enclosed is a picture of one of those who hide their eyes. Beware that you don't become one of them.


Introduction to the G man

I haven't seen you around before. Were you washed in by the Tide, or... how did you even get here? Well, whatever by, you're here now, and that's about the short of it. But there's a few things you'll need to know if you're going to hold a place in our little society of eels. The first and most important thing you have to remember is that "the G man knows all".

I've seen this insignia around the more industrialized parts of the place we all call home, so I assume it means something. From the looks of it, it's meant to represent the authority of the G man, with what appears to be an outstretched hand over a congressional building. How do I know these words? The eels that have been given a badge by the G man taught me these words. They're also seen where these are seen, so I guess you can put two and two together.

The second thing is that you must attend church at least every other day for your spiritual inheritance and free snacks. You need to be strong in body and mind. Frankly, I don't care much for the snacks, but it beats starving to death. Needless to say, if you spend long enough around here before the Tide takes you (and it will; it always does), you'll see a few dried up bodies who couldn't make it. It's not something you can easily forget either, so church is always at least beneficial. You can also pray to the G man if you've got something on your shoulders you can't shake off, like something you've seen or what have you... I mean, if you want.

You'll probably want to get a job or do something else to help out around town if you want a blessing from the G man. I haven't gotten mine yet, but truth be told, I haven't been trying very hard. When I first got here, I wanted to hurry and "grow" as soon as possible, but all my friends went through that change and they regret not taking time for themselves.

So I'm going at my own pace, and I suggest you do likewise, so you don't end up like them.

I know we'll meet again soon. Try to get comfy before then.

Oh, and I'm Sir if you didn't know.
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