Mar 062013
 

Pipe Trouble is an arcade-style game like many of the “pipe-connecting” genre — except you’re connecting natural gas pipelines in Alberta. Build too close to farms and livestock and risk incurring an eco-saboteur’s explosive wrath. Build too far around and your boss gets upset that you’re wasting money. It’s a serious game that attempts to model the tensions in the region while providing engaging gameplay, with a score by members of Fucked Up (who I think should be credited as Fracked Up, given the issue we’re addressing).

Play the free trial here in your browser. A percentage of the $1.99 full version for iPad and Android goes to the David Suzuki Foundation.

Update: Due to the Sun’s sloppy journalism, there’s been a bit of a media furor, but unfortunately in a “taxpayer dollars paid for this?!” vein rather than about the more important environmental or industry issues the game addresses. We’ve issued a press release in response.

My thoughts on it below.

It might just be a surreal experience that a bunch of premiers have been questioned about our game, except that I can’t help but think that it’s likely to have a chilling effect on funding of games tackling serious issues in the future. It’s a given that publicly funded film documentaries can have a point-of-view and that everyone benefits from the public discourse it provokes — why wouldn’t it be the same for videogames?

Thankfully the Current on CBC has followed up with some thoughtful and balanced coverage of the hoopla. Listen to it online.

For those that are interested, here’s how I came to be involved.

I met Alex Jansen from Pop Sandbox when we released graphic novels at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival a few years back (Kenk was his and Sword of My Mouth was mine). We met up to discuss a game idea he had, and unlike a lot of people who come from non-games backgrounds, his idea had a solid mechanic and a satirical commentary as well. He brought me on as associate producer and I was able to connect him with the programming talent he needed at Golden Gear Games.

Alex put together funding from the OMDC, Bell Media Fund and TVO. Once the game was well underway he brought me on to do level design, and I ended up doing a fair amount of tweaking of the core design, milestone setting, playtesting and difficulty balancing, which I really enjoyed. By the end of it Alex decided to split the designing credit with me, which was generous of him. The whole team was super-talented and fun to work with.

  4 Responses to “Pipe Trouble”

  1. Nov 27: “There are probably some good stories […] in Northern Alberta at the moment, but lining up funding for them might be tricky.”

    Was this in the works at the time of our interview? If so, you get the straight face award.

  2. […] because a news report more or less decried it as government sponsored eco-terrorism — it’s another interesting read on how the larger world tries to come to grips with political satire in […]

  3. […] cheerful 8-bit pixilated graphics and basic soft-edged square shaped sprite characters fool you. Jim Munroe was also co-designer behind this game. He is an independent Canadian science fiction and comics […]

  4. […] because a news report more or less decried it as government sponsored eco-terrorism — it’s another interesting read on how the larger world tries to come to grips with political satire in […]

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