No - no words. No words to describe it. Poetry! They should have sent a poet. So beautiful. So beautiful... I had no idea.
Glad you liked it man. I suppose for me when I look at something like Dear Esther I am struck by the quality of the level designers work, am enchanted by the woman who created the score, and find myself impressed by the performance of the voice acting.
These things together are forms of art in their own rights, from digital artistry, to audio, to performance art. However, I consider them to be "game assets" in game pipeline and development.
If I take the island, strip out the narrative, put in just about any set of characters that could fit the space, a couple of puzzles... presto I get the classic Alone in the Dark, or 7th Guest... or a viking out of time... whatever, it doesn't matter. This sort of brings up another point... writing happens (often time) last in a games development... mostly, it's the easiest thing to change and requires the least amount of effort.
The irony here is that as a narrative experiment, it more or less, makes that point... 3 stories written from 3 different time lines about a person called "Esther" is as good as "anything" one would of populated the space with. It didn't matter, the art was in the assets.
And to be fair, those works are simply excellent and reflect the craftsmanship of the performers. Out of all that though... assets do not a game make.
Proteus is in the same boat by degrees, someone knows music well; someone else seems to have lifted the back end from a couple different sources. It's a presentation, it's neat for what it is. There are some art things I could discuss although it's visual presentation is pretty simple. As a game, nothing to really say.
I see a procedural generated wind-chime. Not really going to go any further than that.
If you have not tried it out the Stanley Parable mod, (or just watch a watch through) has quite a bit to say on the topic of the hallway simulator. Interestingly the gentleman who made it commented that in an attempt to make a "not game" illustrating the "not game" or contrived skinner box aspects of gaming, ironically, he made a game... with objectives. Ultimately he had to for the narration to work.
Interestingly during his development he timed how long players would spend doing certain activities and scheduled his narrative delivery to that timing. Stripping out player agency, agency emerges that had to be calculated to control the pace of the scene. It is really brilliant. I do consider SP a game.
Of course when he went to make a game standalone from the source engine he ran into a wall of issues. Technical issues from the hard aspect of designing systems.
The accessibility consideration is interesting and where my treatise on "people really don't like games" would begin. There is a certain segment of the population that are interested in systems and many who are not. Games in many respects model systems, and it is not everyone's thing. Most everyone likes stories so it does not surprise me as the technical walls of engineering have come up with more's second law, that the emphasis has been in facilitating tools to give to artist in an effort to tap their creativity.
This is the same same-ness of the hallway simulator, where we in DOOM 3 several patents in technology, become utilized in Dead Space 3 in a different way. Or generic military shooter ver. X... interestingly again, I mentioned Mirror's Edge, the animation studies of that are used heavily in Battlefield 3 to enhance it's presentation.
A lot of folk really enjoy the artistic and narrative potential that has been unlocked by this "paradigm shift" (to call it something). The social aspect also has a low entry gate for consumers, so for the all mighty market penetration; that is studied and catered to.
So while in Battlefield the presentation is truly second to none, there is however, a change in some game play design elements, especially maps to funnel players into quick deaths. Tread milling, and emphasizing a rather distinct lack of intelligent play. As astonishingly beautiful as it is, debatable it is the worst game in the series, ironically generating the most sales of the series.
Market penetration studies modeled doing what they do best... turning a buck.
I suppose for me the thing is that tic-tac-toe is a game. Tried and true. It has all the trappings of a game that can be played with some dirt and stick.
A game does not have to be complex, but really... it should be a game. The best games have layers and layers of strategy... something like Plants vs. Zombies comes to mind.
I just tend to think that much of what is called "games" today, are not really games. They are hybrids or narrative delivery systems and that isn't a bad thing at all. Like a lot of stuff in life it more and more looks like a derivative of a derivative of a derivative. I simply question as I would in evolutionary ring theory, 'at what point', is a 'thing' not of a 'kind' anymore. I like categories, it helps me understand what we are talking about.
There is perhaps a need to "be" different on the surface, but a very strong desire to fit in and be accepted. I appreciate art, I love a good game, some games are even art... something like Total War Shogun 2 as a trilogy is composition-ally a work of art, without ever having of tried to be.
It knows what it is though, a very very good game.