Hubris was an experiment in minimalist beauty and color. At the end of university’s fall term I wanted to return to level design, which I’d been neglecting in favor of class. Hubris stretched my skills in design and art, for which the sciences provide few opportunities. With new-found inspiration, I completed the blocking in a few hours, and the aesthetics over several subsequent days.
Discovery was central to the design. At each turn the player encounters something new. There is a visual continuity, but beyond each doorway is a surprise intended to awe the player. This builds from the subdued start underground to the conclusion in the plane of obelisks. The lack of interaction was a concern, but the player’s pace and navigation are a sort of interaction. The effect certainly isn’t as clear in the screenshots or video.
The overwhelming scale of Shadow of the Colossus was one of the level’s many inspirations. Like DM-Psi, there was some inspiration from ancient Egyptian architecture; here it is most apparent in the obelisks (below), and the yellow-brown, mud-like material. Perhaps the main inspiration—both in style and in getting me on my feet—was the work of Robert Yang (particularly This).
After completing the level proper, I considered adding a narrative aspect, like Dan Pinchbeck’s Dear Esther, to amplify or juxtapose the visual. I also considered adding distant, manic laughter, which I’ve wanted to do in a level since DM-Monas. However, these only detracted from the sense of awe I wanted to instill. And so, the level was finished.
Robert Yang wrote a brief response over Here. “It’s like Ico HD on acid.” IndieGames.com and Indiegamemag.com have also written about it. Hubris was also placed in the Top Ten (free) Experimental Games of 2012 by IndieGames.com.