About Data Stains

Posted by (twitter: @Titouan_Millet)
December 18th, 2013 3:45 pm

About Data Stains



About Data Stains !


Hey ! Before reading this, you should play the game here. More than a post-mortem, this post will try to explain what were my intentions in making Data Stains, and explain what the fuck is happening in the game. So It’ll contain some informations that can spoil the experiment, since the game is a lot about understanding what is happening !









These are two representative exemples of how the players react to the game. Often affected by the visual aspect and the atmosphere, but unable to understand what’s happening. And because of that, sometimes people conclude that there is absolutely nothing to do, nothing to discover, nothing to understand, nothing to think about. Obviously I made a system too complex to touch players with what I wanted them to experiment. Perhaps I was too selfish in my approach, not thinking enough to future players who would fall on this stuff.






Data Stains talks about reincarnation. Someone is dead, and your role is to delete his memories so he’ll not remember anything from his previous existance in his next life he’s about to begin. So you play as a “cosmic computer janitor” whose job is to maintain the illusion that you have only one life.

So, the “goal” is to disable as much memories as possible. Each memory disabled will give you one sentence in the final part, after you press ENTER, just like the cosmic computer janitor you’re playing would do once he considers his job done. The “reward” for the player is the possibility to discover or interpret the whole story of the recently dead entity through the 25 unlockable sentences. But to do so, the player will have to understand how the 3D space and the navigation work, and I think it’s where I asked too much.



“But I’m pretty, right ?” éwè


The “game” is to learn how the whole system works. Moving through the memories in a dead brain is not an easy task, and I wanted to express this fact by a unconventional visual system. However, the main principle is not that hard. In fact, it’s simply a “Donjon Crawler” where you can only walk forward, turn left and turn right, in a 25×25 rooms map :


Maps and walls

The map

You begin in the room in the middle, facing the one just above. What you see then is the pattern, the “door” to the room you are facing. You can move forward into that room by pressing UP, or you can “rotate” by pressing LEFT or RIGHT, to face another room. Each time, the spermatozoid/cubes/binary-data will fly away before forming a new pattern. When you are facing an all-white pattern, it means you’re facing one of the walls (represented in dark red on the map). When you’re facing an all-black pattern, it means you are facing the edge of the map (represented in black on the map). You can’t pass through the walls nor over the edges of the map.


You’re facing a wall !


You can disable/enable each room (= each memory) by pressing SPACE. A disabled memory will appear dark, when an enabled one will appear light (light it’s the normal state of each room when the game start). The screen will fade between the state of the room you’re coming from and the state of the room you’re walking to. For example, if you walk from an enabled memory to a disabled memory, the color of the screen will fade from light to dark.



You are in an enable memory !




So, to finish the game 100%, you must fly to each of the 25 rooms and delete the memory they represent by pressing SPACE, and then press ENTER to finish the game. Not a big deal eh ? That’s why I asked you to play the game before reading this post, that could spoil most of the experiment. Because, even if it’s ridiculously incomprehensible and hard, learning what’s happening, how it works and think about what could it means IS the game. You can also be simply plaised by all the colorful shapes in motion, that was one of my intentions, too !


I suppose that some people will always keep thinking that this kind of approach/process/experiment is pretentious and meaningless, and I can’t force everyone to have the same sensitivity about this kind of stuff. But I keep thinking that the Ludum Dare is a good place to experiment and share the result, whether it’s terribly classical or ridiculously insane.


Anyway, It was a pretty good Ludum Dare for me ! Let’s keep making stuff, have a good end of year, and see you in April !




7 Responses to “About Data Stains”

  1. Jiggawatt says:

    >But I keep thinking that the Ludum Dare is a good place to experiment and share the result, whether it’s terribly classical or ridiculously insane.

    This is my line of thought too, but people start acting weird when an experiment takes them out of their comfort zone.

  2. Gaeel says:

    I think my thoughts about this is the same as with ironic/funny t-shirts.
    There are t-shirts which are just a reference to something strange or obscure, which is really nice when you get the reference, but if you don’t, then it’s just a stupid t-shirt.
    On the other hand, there are funny t-shirts which are just a joke anyone can get, but that’s not very deep, and there’s limited appeal, even if you’ll get a smile from most people.

    The best t-shirts have two levels, an accessible front, but contain a reference that only people who have watched both Aachi&Ssipak and Primer will understand.

    I did not see past the veil, but I enjoyed the audio-visual experience, so at least there’s that, but in a way I was close to the “WTF Cubesperm?” side of the spectrum.

  3. timtipgames says:

    After reading your response to some of the comments on your games page and this explanation, I have to say I am sorry to have called your game art.
    I just wanted to express that I enjoyed the explorative nature of the game and that I made my very own interpretation of the navigation part without an explicit description. I felt touched by the artistic style of the presentation and have thus called it art. I did not mean that it is a pretentious meanlingles art game in any way. I was just lacking a better word to describe my impression.

  4. lilinx says:

    I’ve played the game after reading the article on oujevipo.fr, so I knew :
    1. I would have to do an effort to understand
    2. it would be worth it

    With these elements, I really enjoyed the game and the above explanation (I’ve read it afterwards) says pretty much what I understood of it. I played two times, the first time ending with no result at all, I went back to the description of the games (where you wrote down the controls), and then I understood there was some “spatial” movement involved. Then I started to notice the shapes and I could play the game “normally”. This is a very beautiful piece, please do not feel bad because some people rejected its gameplay. You may need to be more careful about the instructions you gave. But the game is about discovery, so the whole walkthrough was unnecessary (but still very interesting to read).

    PS : you can’t win the ludum dare with such a game, but I’m not sure you wanted to make the kind of games that win the ludum dare.

    Congratulations on this wonderful entry.

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