FuturLab In 2013: More Art Thanks

Yesterday’s post was about looking back and recognising a valuable period when playing games religiously transformed into mastery and a deep understanding of twitch mechanics.

I didn’t cover how we use this understanding to help distinguish our games in the marketplace; it’s a big part of why you folks enjoy what we do.

But it’s not just a deep understanding of twitch mechanics that makes a FuturLab game.


FuturLab games all have the following in common:

  1. Simple gameplay mechanics that quite often seem too simple initially
  2. Design that enables a player to demonstrate proficiency to a stunning degree
  3. Art

Whilst the first two points above can be repeated fairly easily by anyone, art is much more elusive.

So let’s define art once and for all:

Art: a satisfying engagement that takes place between an artefact and a person experiencing that artefact.

This engagement happens most reliably when an artist combines something well known with something unexpected in a delightful way.

It’s hard to generate, because it requires a very deep and very broad understanding of a particular subject. The artist needs a vast array of variables to mix up.


Even with meagre budgets and strict timescales we’ve been able to generate these satisfying engagements, and we can do it because we deeply understand our subject matter.

Have you ever wondered why Surge calls you a cyborg when you chain seven or more blocks together? Nothing about that makes any sense from a game design perspective, unless you understand that people who have invested a lot of time engaging with futuristic worlds probably have a soft spot for cyborgs. They probably also have a soft spot for teleportation, time travel, space travel, black holes, cryosleep etc.

People who really enjoy our games probably don’t even wonder why they’ve been called a cyborg, they are just pleasantly tickled on a subconscious level.


It sounds pompous, but that is art at work, and whilst many other studios will be adopting the free-to-play cattle milking strategy in 2013, we’ll be making more art.

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