Introducing Loop Thesis
Introducing Loop Thesis
If you’ve been following Reset Hard for a while, you know I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the name. Heading into Magfest, I felt like there was never going to be a better opportunity to test out a new name.
I printed out new business cards and posters, set up a second domain, and changed relevant dialog in the demo. THen when I demoed at Magfest I watched people’s reactions and occasionally asked them about the name.
The result was overwhelmingly positive. No one was put off by the new name, and pretty much everyone I asked like it better than Reset Hard.
I know that the name has gotten a somewhat tepid response from the existing community, but I now feel confident that a lot of this response may stem from the fact that Reset Hard was the name by which people were introduced to the game. I suspect that the name will grow on people over time, especially as more of the aesthetic and narrative elements of the game are revealed.
I also feel more confident now that the name does actually communicate the ideas that I want it to communicate.
So, say 'goodbye' to Reset Hard, and say 'hello' to Loop Thesis!
Why change the name?
There are two categories of concerns; practical and aesthetic.
From a practical perspective, search rankings for Reset Hard are bad. They’re bad on Google, Twitter, blogs, you name it. This is because Reset Hard intersects with a popular Git command, which will always be more commonly and prominently talked about than the game is.
One of my major concerns has been finding a name that shows up in search engines without a lot of work. If someone uses the game’s name on Twitter, I want to be fairly certain that they’re actually referring to my game (this also makes media monitoring and filtering easier).
Another practical concern is that Hard Reset is already an existing game with an active playerbase. I feel like there is a non-trivial chance that consumers would be confused by the overlap in names. In comparison, there are no games that I can find online (big or small) that share the name Loop Thesis.
From an aesthetic perspective, Reset Hard is a pun that no longer works. In my original model for the game, before I even started designing anything, I imagined time travel as if I was navigating a Git tree, with individual frames represented like commits, and player controllers represented like git branch heads. But the Git model is entirely innacurate to the current model of time travel in the game, which is much more concerned with concepts like meta-time and determinism. If you approach the mechanics as if they are analogous to Git, you aren’t going to get very far in the game.
And finally, if you’ll permit me to get a little esoteric, I think the word 'reset' fails to capture a kind of feeling about the game that I want to convey. Philosophically, I’m not building a game about fixing mistakes. This is a very subtle distinction that is difficult for me to put into words, but there is a difference between "undoing" and "repeating". I’m building a game about repeating.
Why Loop Thesis?
The short answer is that I think Loop Thesis describes the game better.
In more than a few ways Loop Thesis is an interactive thesis. It’s my thesis on a particularly interesting model of time travel. It’s my thesis on system-driven design. It’s my thesis on narrative and general game design.
Loop Thesis is a practical, working model of many disparate game design philosophies I hold. To no small degree, I am building it as the thing that I can point to when someone asks me, "what games does your studio want to build?"
I also feel like Loop Thesis better communicates the puzzle-driven gameplay and style of the game. The word "thesis" implies a certain level of thought. It also implies a level of internal consistency and unity, which is important because one of the game’s hooks is that it’s model of time travel is a highly consistent, honest simulation. Even at a narrative level, I want Loop Thesis to feel unified. I want there to be one central idea that informs every design decision. The game is about exploring systems.
Finally, it’s also a fairly bold name. The word "thesis" carries connotations about research and quality. A good thesis will feel like a definitive work, like something that defines a category of research. And for better or worse, Loop Thesis is an extremely confident game, not a humble one.
Of course it goes without saying that Loop Thesis is a more unique name that is easy to remember and to build brand recognition around. There are fewer games that are using a similar vocabulary, and the name matches in both search engines and social networks are sparse. With the name change, I’m no longer worried about how I’m going to get to the top of Google.
While a name change isn’t the most pressing issue for the game, once I have a good name it is advantageous for me to stake my claim on it fairly quickly. Changing the name early gives me the opportunity to immediately register several related domains. A fast change also allows me to set up social media profiles, and to make sure that most usages of the term refer to my game.
This means that if an imitator pops up later, they’ll have an uphill battle trying to make their name look like anything other than a copycat. If my search presence is strong enough, they may even give up and decide that it’s not worth fighting a battle over public recognition.
In reality, I assume this is a bigger deal for me than for anyone else. Name changes are relatively common during early game development. But while it may not be significant for many people, it is significant for me, because it helps me pin down exactly what I want the game to feel like.
Because the name is changing fairly early, nothing will really need to be altered with my development or marketing plans. It may take me a little while to track down every reference to the old name. If you see the old name being used somewhere that I control, feel free to let me know so I can update it.
If you don’t care about name changes, my big development focus is core engine work — optimizing the game for lower-end hardware, getting a native client running, and refactoring timeline code to re-enable multiplayer support. I’m excited about the direction of the game, and I look forward to keeping everyone up to date!