a portfolio of videogame writings
Regardless of their medium, every creator starts with a blank canvas; an inaugural point where there’s not a single note, word, lyric, or lick of paint yet applied and infinite possibilities lay ahead. It’s likely there was once a time when Giant Sparrow creative director Ian Dallas sat down to begin writing videogame code, and, staring at his own blank canvas, found what would be his greatest inspiration for The Unfinished Swan.
It opens with a simple premise, involving a young orphaned boy named Monroe who is drawn into one of his late mother’s paintings by the golden footprints of a half-painted swan. From here you assume Monroe’s perspective and are presented with a disorientating screen of pure whiteness; no indicator as to which button you should press, not an environmental clue as to which direction you need to walk, nothing but a small hollow black aiming reticule, inviting you to pull the trigger.
Lobbing that first ball of black paint, unsure about where in the ark of its trajectory it will eventually collide with the environment, is a delightfully disorientating act, with each splat bringing a new discovery, be it a spiraling stairwell, reeds of grass or a pond of water blocking your path. Only the glint of a few golden objects stand out on the stark horizon, serving as effective pathway markers. They’re less artificial than the handheld waypoint directors that have become something of a standard within adventures game these days, and are eye catching enough to naturally draw your gaze.