GFi Posts by nobody
A People's History of the FPS (part one): Robert Yang (whose blog is almost always worth a look) begins his series charting out an alternate history of the first-person computer game. His initial thesis: "...that this interest in experimenting with the first-person perspective is not a zeitgeist nor a recent trend. It’s more that we’ve been systematically denying the “first-person” genre label to such games."
Valve's resident economist turns his gaze on Valve's own internal workings, situating it within a history of market societies and the firms/companies/corporations they've produced. [more inside]
Prolific indie author Increpare has released two new Flash games today: Crab Planet is a bit like minesweeper, but the player is embodied within the game board and the mines might be moving. Coca T is a bit like pick-up sticks, but focused more on the vertices than the lines. Both leave their game-logic up to the player to suss out.
"The Hyperadictive, Time-Sucking, Relationship Busting, Mind-Crushing Power and Allure of Silly Digital Games:" an upcoming NYTimes magazine cover article, whose recently posted web version includes a nifty HTML5 "game."
Distellamap: Visualizations of Atari 2600 game code by Ben Fry. Assembly code is presented in columns, with curved lines drawn to show the paths of any code jump instructions. By plotting raw data as filled in blocks for 1s and empty blocks for 0s, you can see the game images directly. (Zoom in to the right side of the Adventure code to see the famous "Created by Warren Robinett" easter egg text images.)
Journey on home console, Ian Bogost on Journey in the Atlantic, Joe Houston on Ian Bogost on Journey on his blog
Ian Bogost writes an exemplary article about video games for The Atlantic under the guise of a review of That Games Company's Journey. It explicitly takes games as seriously as it might painting or film, and it discusses Journey as both a fulfillment and abandonment of the devteam's previous games' promises. Industry veteran Joe Houston points out that one of Bogost's key points is just ridiculous.
Adam Saltman, creator of endless-runner Canabalt, the game that launched a thousand iOS clones, has been tasked with creating a tie-in game for the Hunger Games movie. He talks to Gamasutra about why tie-in games are almost always awful and why his won't be.
CraftStudio appears to take the collaborative real-time 3-D world-building aspect of Minecraft, but adds to it the ability to script your own behaviors (also in real time, also collaboratively), so that instead of just building a world, you're building whatever sort of game you can imagine. (Currently in playable Alpha; also currently
"The Gamification of Death": Michael Abbot (Brainy Gamer) provides a write-up of Margaret Robertson's Game Developers Conference talk. Previously a strident evangelist for the unlimited potential of games, her tone this year was more tempered: She and her company had been tasked with making a game to accompany a documentary about a woman whose death in her apartment went unnoticed for three years (with the TV on the whole time). This proved to be rather difficult. [more inside]
Rock Paper Shotgun has a great (and lengthy) article up about various conflicts and controversies surrounding the Independent Games Festival. As we've seen play out in other media (music, film, etc.), the divide seems to boil down to indie games as alternative business model vs. indie games as non-commercial grassroots activity. Phil Fish, creator of the highly-anticipated Fez, comes off as particularly acerbic.
Rumors point toward Valve/Steam releasing an open-source-ish set-top box to bring PC gaming to your television? (previously)
Streaming game service OnLive has partnered with the Independent Games Festival to offer free trials of sixteen 2012 IGF-nominated games. For the next two weeks the first 30 minutes of each game will be available to play. Some, like the mysterious Toren and the Machinarium-followup Botanicula, are available to the public for the first time, here in alpha form. [No direct web link available; from within the Onlive client (win, mac, some android) go to the 'new releases' tab in the Marketplace. The 16 IGF games will be at the top, under Limbo, which was added more recently.] [more inside]
Miniature Indie Scandal: Independent Games Festival finalists were announced today. This year the iPhone submissions used "TestFlight," a distribution system for unreleased mobile applications. One of the unintended consequences was that developers could see data about how the judges played their games, and for at least one hopeful group (see link above), out of the eight judges assigned to them it appears one never installed the game and two installed but never launched it, this despite the $95 submission fee they felt should have guaranteed a fair look. Brandon Boyer, IGF chairman (formerly of OffWorld; soon: VenusPatrol) responds at length in the comments [more inside]
Increpare has released two new simple browser games in rapid succession, each with rules left up to the player to discover: Promises is a brilliant little single-screen game that demands a mere 5 or so minutes of your time. Answer that demand. Negative Space looks like Tetris and controls like Tetris, but does not respond like Tetris. [more inside]
Humble Bundle Mojam: While the Groupees folks still struggle to get their server situation in order (previously), MineCraft's Notch enters the bundling ring with a new sort of offering: for the next 60 hours or so, he and his Mojang compatriots will be livestreaming the creation of a brand new game and offering it to you for whatever donation to charity you choose to make. A public poll served as the mechanism by which the genre was picked, and the public picked "real-time strategy shoot 'em up with a steampunk ancient Egypt theme." [more inside]
Minesweeper + Tetris = TETRiSweeper. I had assumed this would be novel, but not particularly engaging. Or engaging, but not particularly engrossing. It looks like I was wrong.
Click to reveal a square. Shift-click to flag a square as unsafe. WASD to control the falling Tetris pieces as they add themselves to the Minesweeper board. The only way to clear a row is to reveal/flag all of that row's squares, assuming you didn't mess up your Tetris stacking and leave the row unfinished to begin with. The game ends when you accidentally uncover a mine or allow the Tetris pieces to reach the top. [more inside]
With five hours left to go on the (excellent as usual) Humble Android Bundle, a day left for the (alright if you happen to like the selection) Indie Royale Valentine's Bundle, and likely weeks more of the (bizarrely uneven) Indie Gala 2, the most exciting bundle in town is probably the one that just launched: Groupee's Be Mine Bundle. If you have a PC, a $1 min. bid will get you The Ball (intriguing First Person Puzzler), BEEP (cute WALL-E-resemblant robot platformer), Sideways New York (2-d graffiti platformer mapped onto a 3-d world), Xotic (first-person alien shooter), and Wasteland Angel (arcade driving shooter). [more inside]
MIRRORMOON (windows, mac) is a brief first-person puzzle-exploration game that might last 5 to 15 minutes, depending on how quickly you figure things out. You are given very little context for how to proceed. You are on a mostly barren red planet. Another planet is visible in the sky. Perhaps it's blocking your view of the sun, perhaps not. Text on screen tells you to use WASD to move. Later the mouse will start working as well, but not in the way you're used to.
After playing through the brief first person puzzler Soliloquy (browser plugin: Unity) my vision still seems a bit out of focus. The goal is to get from start to exit, but towards the end of the third level you gain the ability to split your consciousness into two, each perspective displaying on half the 'pixels' of the screen, the two interleaved in a checkerboard pattern. A few of the puzzles rely on maneuvering your two selves back into unity. At times there are obstacles only one half of you can see.
Snake on a Plane (adobe flash, free) shares some elements with classic Snake. But by adding gravity, we end up with a surprisingly brilliant puzzle game. You can stretch upward (or wriggle around in any formation) as long as part of your snakebody is still on solid ground. Eating a pellet will extend your body one square further, thus allowing you to access portions of the screen that were previously inaccessible. A few environmental elements are introduced throughout the meager 10 levels currently on display. Perhaps you could convince the developer to make more.
Against the Wall (in-browser through Unity, download also available) is a 3-D, first-person perspective game current in Alpha in which you are tasked with traversing a sheer wall-face. Clicking the mouse will cause the blocks that make up the wall to protrude or retract, allowing you to puzzle your way through a path that will lead you (presumably) higher and higher. Some small touches make this utterly compelling: the blocks have momentum and can push you off your footing; if you're standing on a block as you command it to protrude, you'll be carried along with it, away from the wall. There also appears to be at least one civilization built up along the wall. In this Alpha build, there are at least three events/surprises for you to discover. The final release (date unspecifies) promises much more. [more inside]
Beret (freeware, Win/Mac/Linux) is the best game I've played this year. It has gotten a shockingly small amount of press despite sporting some of the most consistently well-crafted level design I've seen. It may on the surface look like an early-90s 2-D platformer, but it is in fact a brilliant puzzle game in disguise. Its central mechanic is limited-range telekinesis, and while it steadily introduces new, novel elements throughout the game, your little avatar gains no new abilities. It also makes use of a save-/restore-state feature to distill what might otherwise feel like action sequences into their pure puzzley essence. And while the developer has implemented an unlockable level-editor, at the moment no user-crafted levels have been posted to the game's burgeoning forum. Please fix that. [more inside]