Personality matters in Pillar Matt Perez January 6, 2015 Archives With the call for more choice in games, it’s easy to forget the characters involved in the stories also have their own unique motivations and values. In the upcoming puzzler Pillar, learning about a character’s demeanor and attitude towards others encompasses the main mechanics of the game. Pillar bases its mini-games around particular personality ticks and how the player can use them to progress through the adventure. As described by designer Michael Hicks, “There are introverts that lose energy from being around people, extroverts that expand energy from interacting with others, characters that make decisions with logic, characters that are more feeling based and so on.” Pillar takes a minimalist approach to the puzzles, boiling interaction down to clearly numbered floor panels in order to simplify controls to simple movement. Players must manipulate the characters through their personalities to activate the panels in the correct order. Certainly some of the challenge and interactivity of the game comes from learning and understanding the attitudes of the characters in order to better conquer the brain teasers at the heart of the gameplay. Currently, the most concrete hints to the personalities at play can be found at the bottom of the game’s website. Listed are the words “distant,” “focused,” “giving,” “capable,” “enduring” and “renewing,” each leading to resources to help flesh out the idea behind these descriptors. “Those are the personalities you can pick in the game, and the ideas tie directly into the gameplay,” Hicks said. “The personality names are really the only clues you get to understanding why the mechanics are there for that particular person.” Pillar’s sequential puzzles require the use of multiple characters. The narrative is very non-linear and intends to show far more than tell. Players lead these characters through a snowy village as they search for an ancient artifact. Clues to the backstory can be seen in the environment and the characters are linked through a central, overarching theme (in a blog post, Hicks made reference to the film Magnolia when discussing this element), but Pillar otherwise foregoes a traditional narrative. Set with an isometric camera view, the visuals carry a hand-painted, Braid-influenced aesthetic “to help make it feel more personal,” Hicks said of his development partner Goncalo Antunes’ art. “I feel pixel art has almost become a stereotype in indie games, so we wanted to avoid that and go in a different direction.” Along with the intimate art, Hicks used the game’s atmospheric soundtrack to further help create an isolated, winter vibe—as well as influence and flesh out some of the design mechanics. “I started recording the music as I was writing down the initial design ideas, then as the levels progressed I fleshed out the songs more to go along with how the design was progressing,” Hicks said. “I’d say the music and design decisions went back and forth: sometimes I’d add something in the game based off the mood a song was going, other times I completely rewrote tracks based on how the design was feeling. I don’t think many people have made a game that way, so it was really exciting to do that!” The first major release from the developer, Pillar releases sometimes in 2015 on PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox 360. Check out the game’s first trailer below.