It’s been over two years since we were collectively exposed to the madness and delight of Jim Crawford’s Frog Fractions. Subversive, hilarious, autobiographical and described as possibly the greatest game of all time; Frog Fractions left many of us wanting more. Our prayers were answered with a successful Kickstarter for a sequel. We recently sat down with Jim to discuss working on a game with such high expectations.
Jim has been making games for years, but for a long time didn’t show anything he made to more than just a few close friends. Soon after moving to the Bay Area he started going to game jams and his new friends were other game developers and journalists. At the time he rushing to get a version of Frog Fractions submitted for the IGF, but the few people he had exposed to it started to generate buzz. A tweet went out and within days over 100,000 people had played.
Frog Fractions, if you haven’t played yet, isn’t an edutainment game about learning fractions. If you jump that small hurdle early in the game everything changes. Frog Fractions was designed as a callback to games that existed before the internet, before game trailers and Let’s Plays. We live in a world without mystery and you know everything about a game before you play it. Somehow Frog Fractions sustained the communal mystery, mostly because the community felt like they were a part of something.
So fast forward a year and we get a Kickstarter video for a sequel to Frog Fractions, with the promise of a game, maybe, if you discover what it takes to unlock it. The Kickstarter is equally insane as the concept by featuring time travelers and secret codes. But there’s a reason the campaign was successful. We understand what Jim Crawford is creating. We may not want or be able to express what that is in words to others, but it’s a feeling that we all experienced as children playing games for the first time and talking with your friends about them on the playground or arcade.
This concept of preserved mystery is something we discussed a lot in our interview with Jim because it’s something he’s heavily considered and did a GDC talk about. What’s interesting at this point in time, well into development of Frog Fractions 2, our conversation with Jim circles around raised expectations, similar experiences, and the fleeting zeitgeist we chase in so many games. We all have high expectations with whatever Jim Crawford is working on and he feels that pressure. But I believe our only expectation boils down to those feelings we’ve all had before: surprise and elation. I’m confident Jim will deliver those feelings again.