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GDC: Johann Sebastian Joust dev: Embrace the silliness of motion control

Current techs "kind of suck" says Douglas Wilson, but let us play the fool

Douglas Wilson, of Johann Sebastian Joust developer Die Gut Fabrik, has told the audience for his GDC presentation that the limitations of current motion sensing technology should be embraced, encouraging players to be ridiculous whenever possible.

"It's an excuse, or an alibi, for the players to look like a**holes and make everyone in the room laugh," Wilson said of motion controllers.

Current motion-sensing "technologies kind of suck", said Wilson, but added that developer must "accept these limitations and embrace them, rather than trying to fight latency."

Johann Seabastian Joust is based around the concept of engaging with others rather than a television when playing. Instead of focusing on a screen, the graphics-free JSJ has players face each other, holding move controllers. The objective is to 'jostle' other players' controllers whilst protecting your own.

When the game's music, that of the eponymous Bach, is played slowly, players must match its pace or face penalty. When it speeds up, they're free to fence each other more quickly. This parlour game ethos gives rise to what Wilson describes as a "folk game" - which encourages individual interpretations of the rules and relaxed play.

All these technologies kind of suck - it's precisely because they suck that they can be fun."

Douglas Wilson, Die Gut Fabrik

"Moving in slow motion feels badass - and looks ridiculous," Wilson told his audience. "You have fun and the spectators have fun. Moving in slow motion is f****** sweet!"

"There's an aesthetic of imperfection here. The games are really messy, the technology is imperfect. All these technologies kind of suck - it's precisely because they suck that they can be fun."

Die Gut Fabrik is currently looking at the smartphone marketplace, hoping to inject a little of its insouciance to that platform.

"I'm not interested in how technology can improve games, I'm interested in how games can improve technology. I actually kind of loathe this f****** little smartphone. I want to use games to improve it and do something more personal."

Johann Sebastian Joust is currently in the running for the Seamus McNally Grand Prize in the 2012 IGF awards, the winners of which will be announced at GDC this week.

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