Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Future of Game


You know, keeping up-to-date and in-the-know with video games news is tough. But keeping up with indie games is miles, leagues, bounds, and other measurements tougher. On a journey to expand my gaming horizons, I plan on keeping a log on new indie games, demos, interactive pieces and other things of this nature. I'll review, discuss, jest and praise any little indies I find, in quick little posts for you and me.

I urge you to send me links to anything interactive, be it flash or .exe, anything. Please do this, so that I can reach my proverbial tentacles throughout a larger expanse of this goldmine that is the internet.

And to start off, here's to great gems I found via my many contacts on Twitter and the suchlike. Links to some good contacts below.

Tiny & Big (Demo)
.exe file, Fullscreen mode enabled.

Posted as a "prologue" to the full game, Germany's "Black Pants" dev team created this inspired piece to demo the full title upcoming in the near future. A simplistic puzzle platformer, it utilises a basic Croftian rope pulling system, intertwined with a very impressive laser-gun, able to carve through enormous pillars of rock.

The demo itself gives a taste of the full story, a quirky little tale of a slippery, pants pilfering "Big" antagonist, and his plucky pursuer "Tiny", the player's rather frail-looking character. It seems Big has stolen Tiny's now deceased Grandfather's pair of favourite (best?) magical underpants, and is using it to teleport frantically away from the player's grasp. In an attempt to reclaim the undercrackers, Tiny dons his helpful companion "Radio", and chases the criminal up a cloud-piercing mountain.

The game itself runs very smoothly, in-part due to it's very minimalist style. The on-screen assets never really go above a dozen or so, so the framerate keeps strong and steady, even in the destructive finale. the movement can be quite difficult, with a deceptively low jump and ice-skate movement, keeping steady on a treacherous mountain with pin-point jumping puzzles can be frustrating if not treated with a furrowed-brow level of concentration. The definite best points, however, come from the laser/rope combo, and the art style in full. Cutting down humongous pillars and catching them to be pulled down with a simple few steps backwards feels very rewarding, and the slow, hulking physics feeds this indefinitely. The art style is very cute, even with it's grey greyness being very grey. Sound effects appear as giant onomatopoeic dictations of "GRAB" and "CRASH" and my favourite, "GAME OVER", looming over you as you dodge, or fail to dodge, pillars of looming rock casting shadows over Tiny.

Loved it, keep an eye out for the full title.
Dev Team Twitter:

PS, the sound didn't actually work on my computer, the music could be awful, I have no idea. I hope it's bongos. Or a harmonica. Simplistic instrumentation to complement the art style.

.exe file. Optional Fullscreen.

So this one actually came out in June 2009, but I only just stumbled upon it with the release of "A New Zero" (which was quite impressive in itself considering the team size) and upcoming "No Quarter". Coincidentally, if you haven;t heard Tool's cover of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter", get on that, it's phenomenal as it is long.

Anyway, I Somnia seems to include around 12 levels of bizarre, shadow-based platform mindfuckery. I actually could only handle the first 4 levels before I gave up, but it was an interesting ride to say the least. You control a character in first-person that, going by the shadow, seems to be some kind of Vortigaunt from Half Life (that took way too long to find out what they're called
). Now bare with me because this next part is hard to describe...

Basically, you pass between 3-dimensional realm, and the Shadow Realm, a top-down view of the existing level, where the player stand upon the shadows cast by the assets from the game. Except, you're sideways, but when you change back you're on top of the assets... it's... like... not exactly intuitive. A difficult gameplay mechanic, harboured further by odd movement makes for a rather agonising experience. HOWEVER. Considering the idea behind the game, it feels about as right as it could be, and the art direction is quite impressive, the 3D assets in each level looking rather American McGee.

A bundle of games here, I recommend you give em a look and see what you think.
Dev Team Blog:

Thanks for reading, hope you subscribe and I'll keep this updated with new and interesting indies, as well as some other posts that may or may not resemble a regular human blog. You know, about me and things I like and stuff. Stuff you don't want to read. Grazi!

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