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Interactive Comics:
Strip ’Em All

A new kind of interactive comic strip with Daniel Ahlgren is launched in Sweden by Athletic Design

Spatiality, speed and abstract thinking play a major role in most computer games, while comics rather invite to close reading and psychological interpretation. Ola Hansson, of the game design company Athletic Design in Lund, has spent much time ever since his novel Kameleont Killers (1994) on thinking about ways for computer games to include also the strengths of comics. Through a grant from the Culture Administration of the City of Lund through its programme “Lund for the future” it became possible to take a few initial steps towards this goal and towards what we hope to be a new genre of games.

We therefore now present Strip ’em all on the web, a combination of comics strips and computer games with drawings by Urhunden-winning cartoonist Daniel Ahlgren, and design and scripts by Ola Hansson.

The Narcissist comic in the game Strip 'Em All

All jumbled up but already revealing some narcissistic tendencies!

The overall theme of the game is:

”Make comic strips and reveal the inner nature of the characters”

The two first strips are purely tutorial and extremely simple. (You have to endure some seconds of an ad, related to Mochi’s encryption and distribution of the game. But the direct links to later levels, have no ads.)
Tutorial 1 demonstrates how to move panels.
Tutorial 2 how to change the content of panels.

The first real strip is called “The Little Cynic”. This one is also extremely simple once you have learned how to use the click function: you can change panels by clicking on significant objects, but first you must find these object; you cannot just click anywhere in the panel.

The following strip, “The Narcissist”, is more complicated and somewhat more representative of our ideas for the rest of the game.

Another strip in the same style, “The Egocentric”), introduces a minor new play mechanism and carries the psychological humour closer to absurdism than the pure satire in “The Narcissist”.

The game then makes a leap in both difficulty and complexity with the deceptively nondescript four-panel strip “The Self-destructive”. Several new mechanisms are introduced and the many different strips that can be formed contribute clues to both the creation of the final strip and to a larger story that encompasses all the possible strips, including the tragic ending.

The Self-destructive comic strip in the game Strip 'Em All

Was it an awful rip-off of an old Peanut-strip that made the girl commit suicide?

As it is very hard compared to the earlier levels, we have made a walkthrough to this one

It is also very useful if you want to get an in-depth impression of the game but don’t have time to play it!

But we are still just at the beginning. The drawings for many more strips are completed but not yet developed into games. The levels will become more complicated to solve and we will introduce more mechanisms as we go along. The future will determine how well we succeed and how we proceed. First and foremost, the game is an experiment in the design of psychological puzzle games where (in contrast to almost all other games no matter what genre) spatiality does not play any role.

One goal has also been to disprove the future envisaged in Kameleont Killers where computer games have developed from children’s play and mass entertainment into a culturally respected art form where humbug and ploys are honoured as great art. We want to show that it is possible, by simple means, to create artistically meaningful games that are both accessible, challenging, and entertaining to play and read.

Athletic Design, 19 May 2013

Find out more about the game in our game blog!