The most controversial design element in Luxuria Superbia is also the most conventional one. In the 10 years that we have been making games at Tale of Tales we have never even once considered adding a score to any of our games. In fact, from the outset, scores were high on our long list of things that games do that we wanted to avoid.
Scores add an element to the screen that disrupts the illusion of the immersion that we find so important. And scores are meant to measure the performance of the player in a competitive context (even though, in most cases, the player only competes with themselves). We had no desire to make competitive games. If anything, with our art we want to counter the all too great pervasiveness of competitiveness in the world.
But we are fanatically against fanaticism. So we’ve always left an opening for everything. The idea was to keep our eyes on the goal of our art. We started from the assumption that things like scores did not contribute to this goal. But if we would encounter a case where such an element would contribute, we would consider including it.
It took us 10 years to encounter such a case.
Like all of our games, Luxuria Superbia is inspired by experiences in the real world. One could say that all of our games are attempts at sharing our subjective experience of certain situations. Luxuria Superbia is inspired by sex. It emulates the structure of sex to enhance the pleasure of playing.
Sex is a game of responsiveness. One is constantly observing the other, with many senses simultaneously, in order to adjust one’s behaviour. Not just to maximize the pleasure of the other (or the self), but also the compose a sort of choreography of intensifying and relaxing. Sex is very much an aesthetic activity. A sort of performance even, for a very intimate audience.
Luxuria Superbia responds to your touches. You use this response to adjust your behaviour. Since computers are crude and primitive and our skills and time are highly limited, a score provides an easy to read shortcut to representing the “feelings” of the game. I’m sure some players will ignore the score display completely, favoring a subjective interpretation of the other visual and auditive elements. But for others, including myself, I feel it helps greatly. And it adds another way to play.
There’s two numbers in the score display and a graph. The number on the right measures Delight. Delight keeps going up through your trip through a flower/level. The speed at which it increases is determined by a combination of factors, Arousal being the most important one. Arousal increases and decreases in direct response to your touches. Arousal is represented in the color of the flower’s petals, not by a number. The higher the Arousal, the faster Delight will increase. But if Arousal is full, a Climax will happen, during which Delight does not increase and the risk exists that your journey may end. So to optimize your score, sometimes you have to hold back.
Every time Delight reaches a certain threshold, you are awarded Luxuria Superbia’s equivalent of one of three stars. This is represented in the graphic element of the score. To successfully end a level, you need at least one star. The period before that first full circle is considered fore-play.
The number at the bottom only appears at the very end of a level. After the climax, a large number of seeds appears on the screen. The number simply represents how many seeds you have collected. These seeds are then used in the garden part of the game to color the patch next to the flower. The play goal of Luxuria Superbia is to bring color to a blank world.