What is Fragile Equilibrium?

Fragile Equilibrium is a game about the imperfection and impermanence of life. It is a reflection on transience, a balancing act between progress and regrowth, a reminder to find beauty in decay and inevitable destruction. Using old-school 'shmup' mechanics and forms, [FE] invites the player to explore a world of quick actions, forced decisions, and subtle strategy: but with each decision, the player falls ever out of balance.

As balance decays so does the world, eroding over time and out of space, binding the player to a smaller area, pressing in upon the mind. Built upon multi-layered interactions, a Wabi Sabi aesthetic idealism, and a rich, broken world of yesterdays fantasies, [FE] asks the player to reflect upon their play, their world, their nostalgia, and themselves. Find your balance, live a life well played.

[FE] is a first effort in collaboration with Microsoft as a part of the new Creators Program. It was developed simultaneously for Windows PCs and XBOX One, using Unity. Production tools include Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk Maya, Surface Painter, Visual Studio, and more. Professor Phelps worked with students in the fall of 2016 and again in fall of 2017 as part of a production course, and then with his team of students directly in studio roles, with co-creator and collaborator Aaron Cloutier at MAGIC Spell Studios.

As a work of art, [FE] is a thinly veiled allegory for dealing with depression and anxiety: it is intended specifically to create in the player the sense of being 'squeezed', a slowly building pressure and feeling of being trapped, and to lead players to reflect on balancing their forward progress with a constant need to reconsider, rebuild, and refocus on internally facing (i.e. inward facing) issues and obstacles. It challenges players to find a Fragile Equilibrium in their own play, as a metaphor for conveying issues of instability. You can read more about that in our extended artist's statement.

Who Made Fragile Equilibrium? When? Where?

[FE] was produced in residence at the Rochester Institute of Technology in a studio course offered through the School of Interactive Games and Media, with guidance and support from the RIT Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction & Creativity (MAGIC). It is published and maintained through MAGIC Spell Studios, LLC.

The original concept of [FE] was created by Professor Andrew Phelps, and Creative Director Aaron Cloutier. (Andy and Aaron have had a history of prior collaboration on games and software projects.) From there they worked with an incredible team of RIT faculty, staff, and students to realize the vision, design, and technology for the game (see the team listing on the right/bottom of this site).