Archive for August, 2007

That’s that then

Today’s my last day of work.

It begins.

Right then, I’m off to Spain for a week 😀

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Knytt Stories

If you read the various indie gaming blogs, I’m sure you’ve heard the news already: “Within a Deep Forest” creator Nifflas has finally released his long awaited atmosphere-em-up Knytt Stories.

The poor game’s had to endure a hell of a lot of hype – in part, just from being the sequel to the excellent Knytt – but mostly from all the interviews, the previews, the hundreds of people who seem to have got their hands on the pre-release version – all of which seem to have come back ecstatic about new game.

It wouldn’t be easy for any game to live up to all that. And yet, it does. Knytt Stories is fantastic.

First of all, Knytt Stories is not just a game. It is nine games – and no doubt in a few weeks, it’ll be dozens more. Rather than just make a straight sequel, Nifflas has instead opted to make an engine, a good level editor, and a couple of small and very distinct mini-levels. The release pack contains one level, and there are eight more on his site (which includes four “third party” levels).

All the levels are good, but my favourite has to be “An underwater adventure”, which returns to the last level from “Within a deep forest” and is the most game like of the lot.

Wanna see it in action? Tim’s put up a video of the “Strange Dream” level on youtube:

This is NotKnytt. It’s way better. In fact, it’s so good, I’m giving it a place on that all exclusive list 🙂

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Surprise! I’m actually posting what and when I said I was going to post!

Ok, well, I said I’d post these three ideas, so I’m going to post them. Thinking about it, though, there’s only really one realistic option. I just don’t have time for game 1 or game 2. You’ll see what I mean in a moment.

Game 1: The Soap Opera RPG

This idea plays on the “sincere” side of B-Movies that I mentioned in the last post. If time wasn’t a factor, I wouldn’t even hesitate to go with this one. I think this game has by far the most potential, at least for me.

Basically, it’s a short plot driven RPG in the vein of Pulp Fiction – five short stories within a story that intertwine with each other. The interesting thing about it would be how seriously it took itself: everything in the game would have a double meaning – every character’s name would be a reference to figure of Greek tragedy, every item would have significance and a detailed description – even the structure of the game would have meaning. The game, ultimately, would be about death, and coping with death. With that in mind, each of these five stories would be about a different stage of coping with great loss – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

Some of the things I was considering:

* The game would have a kitschy, soap opera style plot line. Every other scene would have a plot twist – the main bad guy killed your father, and then IS your father. The love interest is having an affair with your best friend, and then gets pregnant. And so on!

* Traditional elements of RPG design would be used to tell the story – as the plot went on, you would gain physical items called things like “Guilt” and “Remorse” – in one particularly dramatic cutscene, for example, you would be presented with a menu like this one:

* The game would ask a lot of rhetorical questions about politics, religion, morality, and things like that. It would use the word “sheeple” a couple of times.

* As the game went on, thing would get less and less coherent – near the end the whole thing would just be the main character in the middle of a black screen, mumbling and saying the title of the game a lot. Eventually the whole thing would break down into a stream of consciousness and dump you at the command prompt – but get this – for “effect”, it would dump you at an actual command prompt, like a picture of it or something, and just leave you there for a couple of minutes.

* This last bit is key: I wouldn’t be the designer. I’d create an alter ego to act as the designer, and little elements of this guy’s life would ever so subtly make it into the game. For example, while most of the characters would have fancy Roman or Greek names, there would be a few characters with ordinary names like Bob and Susan, who’d play the really detestable people in the game – like the “best friend” who cheats or the girlfriend who gets pregnant, or the end boss who’s trying to take over the world, or whoever. Also, the main character would basically be a copy of this fictional designer.

I really like this idea 🙂 I think it’s a fun interpretation of the contest’s theme, and potentially a very funny game. But there’s no way I can do it with my time constraints. No way.

Game 2: The awful, awful warioware style game

Another idea I liked is to play up the exploitation aspect (or bizarre aspect) of B-Movies – to make a game about doing something *awful*, as in starting a nuclear war or cheating on your taxes. None of those games seemed substantive enough for a whole game, though, so I didn’t really go anywhere with it. Until I thought about the warioware aspect, and it all fell together.

This game would just be a mash up of a few dozen minigames that got you to do really reprehensible things, but only for a few seconds at a time. A screen would come up with (for example) instructions to “deny the holocaust”, and you’d control a pen that had to scribble in a book for a few seconds to win.

Some examples of the minigames I’d thought about:

* Cheat on your taxes
* Steal an election
* Deny the Holocaust (Thanks Stephen!)
* Start a nuclear war
* Stop a war prisoner from escaping
* Lie to the electorate
* Rob a bank
* Shoot a puppy

… I honestly don’t know if I have the stomach for this game. I think it would have been kinda cool, but I’m such a wuss that I don’t even like listing horrible things. Anyway, this game would have taken too much time. So it’s not really an option either.

Game 3: The tribute to Ikiki

This is the game I’m almost certainly doing, if I do anything at all. It plays up the “amateurish” aspect of B-Movies… sorta. Actually, it would just be a simple game built around a slightly bizarre game mechanic. I’m thinking a big destructible world where you make things explode by headbutting them. I’d mess around with it, get it to just about work, and then make the whole game with it, similar to how people like Ikiki seem to approach their games.

This idea is a lot less ambitious than the others, but it’s the only one I have any hope of finishing. Also, it’s potentially the most fun to play out of the three. I also kinda like that I really have nothing planned here – I’ll probably end up making a good deal of the game’s content up as I go along. Which sounds like an interesting experiment to me. 🙂

By the way, all of these games are up for grabs if anybody else wants to do them!

I’d love some feedback on this. Is game three a decent enough choice? Or should I try to simplify one of the first two and go with that? Hell, are any of them any good?

Cheers for reading down this far, anyway 😀

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An intro

I’ve been thinking about what I could enter in this contest. I had a bit of trouble deciding exactly what a “B-Game” should be – different interpretations led me to different approaches, and as a result, I have not one, but three games I’m trying to choose between.

Also, I’ve managed to highlight a couple of core features that I think apply in all cases:

Number 1: B-Games should be Kitsch, not Camp. Essentially, a game in this style should take itself very seriously, as if the designer really believes he’s doing something groundbreaking. If he’s poking fun at amateur game design though, then it’s a parody, not a homage. So I think this is fundamental. Also, as far as I’m concerned, this approach is a lot funnier!

Number 2: A B-Game, by definition, I think, should be a “second grade” game – i.e. it should have a certain degree of amateurishness. After all, once your production values hit a certain point, you’re making an A-Game, regardless of what flaws the game might have.

Number 3: A sincere, unprofessional game isn’t necessarily a B-Game. One more thing is needed, I think – the game needs to be ever so slightly bizarre. It needs to head in a direction that normal games don’t usually go.

I’ll post my three game ideas tomorrow – it’s getting a bit late 😀

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Final Fantasy VII is camp, Final Fantasy VIII is Kitsch, Final Fantasy IX is Trash

I am so entering this.

Here’s the competition description, as quoted from the rules:

Description:

Just like cinema has its B-movies and cult cinema, video games has its B-games. They’ve got Ed Wood and Roger Corman, and we’ve got Jazzuo and MDickie. You’ve seen ’em, you’ve played ’em… we’re talking about games that are bad in the right way.

By popular demand, TIGSource is sponsoring a competition to celebrate the creation of B-games! We want to see some bad games with some great personalities! Broken gameplay that works; low budget graphics that titillate the primitive and perverted parts of our brains; outrageous themes beyond the ken of normal human beings. We want to see bad games with that certain “je ne sais quois.” Terrible, hilarious, sincere games that have the kind of moxie that can only come from the independent game community.

Do you have what it takes to make the baddest, baddest game there is?

Check out this topic at TIGSource for more information!

Apologies for the grouchy post a few days ago. I was just a little annoyed at myself for my perceived lack of progress. Stuff is still being worked on, though I’m working long hours at the moment so I don’t really have the time to do much of anything. But hell, in three weeks I’ll have all the time I could possibly want 😀

Watch this space – I’ll post a bit about my entry for this contest in the next few days.

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A little update

I know it’s been a bit quiet around here lately – sorry about that. The reason it’s taking me so long to put these game proposals together isn’t because they’re so long, or detailed, or whatever – it’s mostly because I’m finding this kinda work a little tedious, and it’s left me a bit demotivated. I don’t like sitting down to my laptop and trying to force myself to write this stuff out in detail. My problem isn’t that I’m really busy – it’s that I’m spending a lot of time posting on forums and browsing reddit and playing indie games, and basically procrastinating anyway I can.

I’m getting a bit sick of the feeling that I have to start typing about these games everytime I sit down to use the computer – so instead I’m just not going to worry about it – for now, anyway. I’ve got a pretty good idea what I’m going to do come October, and I’d really rather not put it to a timetable just yet.

In other words, I’m taking a break from the blog for a while 😀

Things are probably going to be a bit quiet around here until late September or so. I’ll probably still be posting new indie games and things like that to the forum, though 🙂 Just today I found an excellent new C64 game called Joe Gunn, well worth checking out!

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