You may be surprised if I tell you that Freak Factory is about life, but it is.
Every time you play Freak Factory you lose, eventually. You may prolong the game, you may get a high score, but eventually you will lose. Losing is inevitable and every Freak you make reduces the space you have, reduces how much game you have left. While you play it the game doesn’t get harder, it gets less. With every move you make you see the end approaching.
But the end doesn’t matter. The game isn’t about the end, just as it isn’t about the start. It’s about all the bits in between. What Freaks are you making? What score will you achieve? What inspired, lucky or surprising moves will you make? Will you remember this game?
And then there’s the obvious stuff. After they are born in the machine, the Freaks do two things – they move and they grow. Life.
A friend’s son said he didn’t like that they’re called Freaks, because they’re not Freaks, they’re lovely. I said Freaks can be lovely too. I asked him which is his favourite Freak, he said “Archer, because sometimes he feels sad and he doesn’t know why.” Not just any Freak, a depressed one.
Freak Factory appeals to all demographics. It has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on the iOS store. Some of our most avid players are seniors and some of our most avid players are young children. It’s a game for generations to play together.
A friend tells me he loves it because he’s better than his teenage children. It’s the only game where he gives them tips. Another friend slugs it out with his teenage daughter. His best score is 88, her’s is 93. For now. That’ll change soon.
Freak Factory doesn’t require fast reactions, it requires planning, thought, a steady mind. It’s hardest to play when you’re distracted. So much can go wrong.
Some shots in Freak Factory exhibit “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”. Which means a small change in your shot will cause a big change in the outcome. Which also means “it’s easy to mess up”. The problem with many plans.
You’ll never get a perfect game. If you restart every time you make a mistake, every time your game doesn’t go according to plan, then you will never finish a game. The theoretical maximum score is a few hundred, but the practical maximum is about 150. My best is 118.
Getting a high score means accepting your mistakes, discovering the new opportunities they present, making a new plan. John Lennon sang “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. So is a big Freak in the middle of your factory.
Sometimes you decide to be cautious, and sometimes you go for the big shot, the wild shot, the exciting shot, because it might just work. Because games exist to be explored, to be played. Because life should be interesting.