Inspiration For The Word Is Not The Thing

The Word Is Not The Thing is a video game inspired by J. Krishnamurti’s message:

“where there is fear there is no love. The problem is to comprehend fear, not how to get rid of fear. If you merely want to get rid of fear, then take a pill which will tranquilize you, and go to sleep. There are innumerable forms of escape from fear; but if you escape, run away, fear will follow you everlastingly. To be fundamentally free of fear, you must understand this process of naming, and realize that the word is never the thing. The mind must be capable of separating the word from the feeling, and must not let the word interfere with direct perception of the feeling, which is the fact. When you have gone so far, penetrated so deeply, you will discover there is buried in the unconscious the fundamental cause of fear. And again, if you avoid it. if you escape from it, saying it is too fearful, if you do not go into it without giving it a name, you will never go beyond it. The mind has to come face to face with the fact of complete inward loneliness, and not allow itself to do anything about that fact. That extraordinary thing called fear is the very essence of the self, the ‘me’, with its web of words in which the mind is caught. Only when the mind is capable of going beyond that ultimate loneliness, is there freedom – the absolute freedom from fear. And only then will you find out for yourself what is reality, that immeasurable energy which has no beginning and no end.”

J. Krishnamurti was a 20th century philosopher, speaker and writer. His subject matter included psychological revolution, the nature of mind, meditation, inquiry, human relationships, and bringing about a radical change in society. He constantly stressed the need for a revolution in the psyche of every human being and emphasized that such a revolution cannot be brought about by any external entity, be it religious, political, or social.

The Word Is Not The Thing Questions

Here’s some questions I think are worth answering in relation to The Word Is Not The Thing.

Aren’t you using words to explain all this?
You’re not rejecting the word. You’re only seeing its effect. You’re seeing if the word gets in the way of directly feeling.

What’s the point to be free of fear? Isn’t ‘being free of fear’ just a trick of the mind? Isn’t the fear still there?
I don’t know. Go into it. Find out for yourself if it is. Is there something to fear if you don’t fear it at all? If you understand how you escape, not try to be free of fear by doing something, but by seeing how you yourself operate and the effect of the word on that fear, seeing that and not doing something about it, is freedom.

What’s the point of removing the word?
You’re not just removing the word, you are understanding that the word is never the thing. What’s the point of that? If you understand, truly understand, with your heart and your mind, then you are free of whatever the word binds you to and can feel freely. And if you are willing to go into things, if you are free to feel, then you can move past that feeling and let it run its course. And then you can be free of this fear. Then something new, fresh, can come about.

Aren’t video games an escape?
Instead of explaining or getting into that, just ask yourself if they are an escape for you. Are you using video games to escape? Find out. Go into it. When you play games your actions are choices. Games can be useful as a mirror to reflect the functioning of your own mind. It’s not an escape when you feel all the emotions.

What about the symbol/image not being the thing?
If we remove the word ‘enlightenment,’ what’s left? The symbol. If we remove that, what’s left if we remove the image? It’s implied. The word, for the sake of this game, is what we’re using to go into this.

What does any of this have to do with awakening intelligence?
It’s not that you press a button and awaken intelligence. It’s not just a matter of saying you get it. It’s when you actually take the action of separating the word from the feeling, allowing yourself to discover what happens when you don’t let the word interfere with the direct perception of the feeling. Not rejecting the word, or suppressing it, but seeing its effect. Not running away with explanations, or with another set of words. Seeing that escape. And doing nothing about it. It’s only then that intelligence begins to awaken. When you actually do that, intelligence sees and that same intelligence is what can deal with the emotion. That intelligence is freedom in action, not all this talk about awakening intelligence.

The Word Is Not The Thing: Update 2

A quick update for The Word Is Not The Thing. I’ve completed the home and train areas and am moving toward building out the first trailer. Things are moving along well.

Some design notes include trying to understand what happens when I play through just the first area. It’s quite an interesting thing indeed. I think as long as you go in with the understanding that we are not rejecting the word, but seeing its effect, we can directly experience the feeling that remains when we remove the word. And if we do indeed keep observing, that feeling gets dealt with. I’ve spent a little bit of time trying to understand that myself. Intelligence sees, and in seeing the word’s effect we are left with the feeling. What happens if we don’t escape from the feeling with another word is up to you to find out. I think this excerpt from a J. Krishnamurti book sort of relates: “Intelligence sees the falseness of what is going on. When thought is free of this falseness it is different. Then it begins to be a parallel to intelligence.”

At any rate, I’ve also noted that each player will have a different response to any given word. So, in essence, somewhere along playing the game, there will be a word that a player has a stronger emotional connection to than others. The words and narrative are designed to build up from environmental words to the stronger emotional words we might just not feel comfortable with.

Check out the train area for now.

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The Word Is Not The Thing: Update 1

Started my latest game a few weeks ago. After thinking about its design for a little bit, I came up with a 3 day structure with interconnected characters and story that develop over those days. With five locations: Home. Commute. Office. Nature. Self. The self being the character’s own head, where the player chooses to go inside and ultimately finds their way through sort of a ‘mind maze,’ going up against the core fear.

Initially, I worked on some art assets and brought them into Unity, but ended up coding the player, dialogues, interactions, controls, camera, and particle effects right away. I’m using SVG Importer and TextMesh Pro for the vector graphics and fonts, as well as texture atlases on the particle effects to make each word destruction unique. Also, Anime Studio Pro now has a SVG exporter that works nicely with what I use SVG Importer for.

Further design notes include some of the little things. From the start, I wanted a simple and minimalistic approach to the graphics and I try to maintain that. I do provide a little bit of tutorial text in two parts of the game, unfortunately, but I think it helps. At the start of the game, we’re using mostly environmental words, seeing if they get in the way and as the story/game progresses, the emotional words start to come in. The game’s use of words, without faces, sort of explores the emotional effect words themselves have on us and if they get in the way of truly listening/seeing things for what they are. I think that’s interesting.

After playing with the simple mechanic a little bit, I can’t help but see things clearly. I hope that whoever plays just goes into it without reacting, defending or accusing, but that’s up to them. Also, there is also the fact that the the symbol/image is not the thing as well, but for the sake of this game, we’re using the word to go into this.

Up next, world building and fleshing out a trailer.

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Paws: Update 4

Recently added a few things to Paws and finished up the panic scene.

I decided to make the levels all about reaching the target score while balancing between using power-ups to keep going without using all the panics or moves. One can complete a level by getting power-ups, keeping the stress meter down, not making too many moves and skillfully using the other power-ups.

The stress meter is not necessarily to deter. It’s to make the game funner, not stress the player out. I’ve made it so that it’s not difficult to keep it down. And even if it gets too high, that’s where the power-ups come in. I was also able to change the pitch of the background music to match the stress meter with Unity’s audio mixer snapshots.

With the panic scene, one needs to keep their finger on the screen and follow along with the animation to get back to the level.

Next up is the menu, level start/complete/fail boxes, facebook integration, animating Paws and level design.

 

Paws: Update 1

Poor little Paws. He overheard some humans talking about all the things they stress about and now he’s got all these crazy ideas about stress and relaxing stuck in his head! No wonder his stress levels are all over the place. Help Paws on his journey. Remove the ideas of stress and relaxing from his head. Ensure that he doesn’t panic! Calm him down and help him breathe!

Paws, my new game is starting to come together. I created a few mockups to help flesh out some details and how things may work together. I also started on a little backstory about Paws.

It’s no longer so much about balancing between stressors and relaxers, but to remove the whole idea of stress and relaxing from Paws’ head.

Somehow it’s turning into a match-3 game of sorts. There are 8 pieces, 5 special resources, a stress meter, target scores, move limiting, and stubborn pieces that are harder to get rid of than others. Point is to make matches to keep the stress meter from going up in order to reach each level’s objective. The more combos you make at a time, the happier Paws gets, the more the stress meter comes down.

Check out the layout so far and stay up to date on Facebook or Twitter for now.