Snakes and Years

Slithering in after the dragon of yesteryear, 2013 is the year of the snake in accordance to the zodiac calendar. It is said to be a year for steady progress and attention to detail, that focus and discipline will be necessary for those who aim to to achieve what they set out to create.

Those who are born in the year of the snake are reputed to be thoughtful and wise to approach problems rationally and logically; instead of instinctively.

Of course, I’m not here to discuss about zodiac signs – but instead about the classic game of Snake.

My first game of the genre was one on Windows, named Paulie Python. Like other Snake games, the player controls the snake and maneuvers through mazes, eating up all the mice on the map to advance to the next level. Each mouse increases the snake’s body length and speed as well.

As someone who is constantly thinking of catchy names for our games, I take my hat off to whoever named the game – I can’t believe I still remember the name after almost eighteen years! I remember playing the game almost eighteen years ago, first watching my cousin spend countless afternoons trying to beat her own high score while singing to 25 Minutes (it apparently helped her to concentrate better). Now that I think about it, I wonder if the creator wanted to instill the rationality and steadiness supposedly found in those who are born in the year of the snake?

Paulie Python definitely taught me to have more control through the ever-increasing speed and complexity of mazes. In fact, it was the first game that taught me one valuable lesson: panic often leads to game over!

What I loved most about the game were the mazes. Not only did the mazes form illustrations of cartoon snakes, they were also increasingly challenging and unexpected as the game continued.

The straightforward and simple gameplay has also donned various skins and appeared in numerous variants in the years after: from a Neopets version named Meerca chase, to the popular one found on many Nokia phones. Even Youtube and Gmail have their own secret (or not so anymore) Snake game hidden in the services. Some variants are more creative in terms of obstacles and bonuses, and some are just as simple as it can get.

Meerca Chase II on Neopets.

Superstition or not, I think we could always heed the beliefs of the Snake Year: to focus and pay attention to details for a steady progress. An enjoyable game does not come with aimlessly rushing for a launch deadline, or misplaced focus and juggling too many aspects in one go. The most important things are intangible, and on top of the list is the core gameplay. Neglecting to set solid rules for the game would lead to risks of the development constantly falling back to square one.

Here’s to wishing everyone a year of focus and steady progress!

To those who are celebrating, Kurechii wishes you a Happy Chinese New Year !

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