Artist and designer breakdown: “Maslow” project

A look behind the curtain on the art piece and game that I made entitled “Maslow”. I want to speak a little bit about my design choices on certain elements in the first “draft” of my game, Maslow. I however choose not to go into explicit detail because the thing about video games is the author is most definitely dead. The author is dead, gone, buried and moved on to another project (Barthes called it). Once I have put a game into the world, it belongs to the world. It is still my child but its living its own life and free to your interpretation. No matter how many carefully crafted decisions and ideas I have about it, my signifiers will mean something different to you and that is wonderful. I welcome you to add your own meanings to anything I do.

Maslow’s elements

The music:

Erik Satie’s Gnossienne 1

I chose this piece due to its open form and sweet brand of melancholy. It switches time signature without skipping a beat (literally). It’s structure moves like a branch drifting down a turbulent river. Satie takes the waltz and seasons it with firey rattling upbeats and gorgeous dissonance. Like Stravinsky, this composer made no concessions to the lovers of upbeat classical feel good music (gtfo Vivaldi), he made music that feels much more like the inner world; music that makes the fickle ego dance.

Consequently, my art piece is about psychology, existentialism, our needs, and their futility so Gnossienne meshed nicely with this. In my other video pieces, you will notice I use waltzes often, I am in love with ¾ and 6/8 time signature. To me they are the sound of the human experience.


You run around without much instruction, sandbox style. There are gameplay elements: you can open all the doors and explore, you can collect water bottles, food items, and other resources or try to reach as far as you can to the outskirts of the level before your time runs out; you can even set a car on fire if you make it to the second floor (it’s a fiat…so you know you want to), or go worship the burning man figures if you so please; or you could even just sit in the first room and stare at the ceiling and listen to the music and poetry. I, the designer, will not tell you what to do. I just put the elements there for you, the choice is yours. This is a nod to life, being, and creator myths. When it comes to tight game play mechanics, in “Maslow” I like to play the role of an apathetic god.


The give up cheat is a commentary on our relationship with money and how with it you can propel yourself through many hardships in life yet at the same time you’re not “playing the game”. Yes you get to the awards more quickly, you may get to see more, but at what cost? Maybe you enjoy that though, maybe you didn’t want to search desperately for ways to open doors to upper echelons. Maybe that’s just not your thing so go ahead G.I.V.E. up and ride your way up the pyramid 🙂

(and for people familiar with “pay to play” gaming, this will have a double meaning to you)

The poetry (opening room):

This choice is related to our relationship with the need for gods, leaders, and the strange relationship we humans have with our fathers.

Sylvia Plath’s Daddy



You do not do, you do not do

Any more, black shoe

In which I have lived like a foot

For thirty years, poor and white,

Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.


Daddy, I have had to kill you.

You died before I had time——

Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,

Ghastly statue with one gray toe

Big as a Frisco seal


And a head in the freakish Atlantic

Where it pours bean green over blue

In the waters off beautiful Nauset.

I used to pray to recover you.

Ach, du.


In the German tongue, in the Polish town

Scraped flat by the roller

Of wars, wars, wars.

But the name of the town is common.

My Polack friend


Says there are a dozen or two.

So I never could tell where you

Put your foot, your root,

I never could talk to you.

The tongue stuck in my jaw.


It stuck in a barb wire snare.

Ich, ich, ich, ich,

I could hardly speak.

I thought every German was you.

And the language obscene


An engine, an engine

Chuffing me off like a Jew.

A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.

I began to talk like a Jew.

I think I may well be a Jew.


The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna

Are not very pure or true.

With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck

And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack

I may be a bit of a Jew.


I have always been scared of you,

With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.

And your neat mustache

And your Aryan eye, bright blue.

Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You——


Not God but a swastika

So black no sky could squeak through.

Every woman adores a Fascist,

The boot in the face, the brute

Brute heart of a brute like you.


You stand at the blackboard, daddy,

In the picture I have of you,

A cleft in your chin instead of your foot

But no less a devil for that, no not

Any less the black man who


Bit my pretty red heart in two.

I was ten when they buried you.

At twenty I tried to die

And get back, back, back to you.

I thought even the bones would do.


But they pulled me out of the sack,

And they stuck me together with glue.

And then I knew what to do.

I made a model of you,

A man in black with a Meinkampf look


And a love of the rack and the screw.

And I said I do, I do.

So daddy, I’m finally through.

The black telephone’s off at the root,

The voices just can’t worm through.


If I’ve killed one man, I’ve killed two——

The vampire who said he was you

And drank my blood for a year,

Seven years, if you want to know.

Daddy, you can lie back now.


There’s a stake in your fat black heart

And the villagers never liked you.

They are dancing and stamping on you.

They always knew it was you.

Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.

Oh right now that you know all this here’s the playthrough again. If the first iteration of the game magically packages (refer to my previous post on this), I will post it here:



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s