The Depths to Which I Sink is a soft of software toy that requires old-school 3D glasses, the kind with tinted plastic panes. The basic dynamic is the same on each level; you control a dot, which moves in the X and Y dimensions with the arrow keys, but moves at a constant speed in the Z dimension downward to the "edge" of the play space, and then back upward.
Different levels (there are three in the demo) offer different challenges; in one, you try to move your dot through floating rings, in another to "break" floating window panes, and in another, you try to move through tubes. There is not, however, any scoring, so it's more along the lines of a play activity than a classic game.
Submitted by IanSchreiber on Fri, 12/10/2010 - 22:59.
The creator of this game initially did it as a game design challenge: is it possible to create a game where the mechanics center around zen and meditation rather than action and challenge? Conventional game design wisdom says no: entering Csikszentmihalyi's flow state requires challenge, not relaxation. On the other hand, a few games have tried this before (Journey to the Wild Divine being the largest project I know of), but few have done it in this minimal a style. Conventional wisdom, apparently, still has a way to go.
Ferry Halim has, over the years, produced some of the most polished and most pleasant Flash games imaginable -- 'casual' in the sense of highly accessible and not particularly difficult, but typically using a handful of mechanics that you'd normally think as non-casual, and often with one little twist on the mechanics.
Drifting Afternoon is typical of his ouevreoeuvre, a brief little game with graphics that remind me of the illustrations of Tasha Tudor, and a score that would not be out of place on an easy-listening radio station. You play a cute little animal bounding through the grass and leaping atop floating pastel balloons. Everything is done with the mouse, with left-click triggering a leap and the direction of the mouse pointer from your critter determining the angle of the jump; you earn points by leaping atop balloons, and more by leaping over intervening ones.
As is usually the case with the games at Orisinal, it produces a curious sensation of serenity and pleasure.
Osmos is a game that you are designed to like. Sure, it's designed for you to like it, but you are also designed to like this game. And by designed, I mean intentionally by a vengeful Christian god, not in a stochastic evolutionary sense. This game, with its celestial motes harmonizing around the vacuum, slurping each other up, mirrors the precise neurological feedback loops of brain cells congealing electrical signal spikes. The very chemistry of fun is embedded into these floating dynamics, and it's a floating world. You might as well become huge.
You play a mote, an amoeba-type entity, that gets bigger when it contacts smaller entities and smaller when it contacts bigger entities. You can propel yourself by shooting off a tiny portion of your mass with a single mouse-click. Like the cthonic god of Paul Czege's tabletop RPG, Acts of Evil who turns out to be a single powerful microbe predating billions of smaller microbes in antediluvian seas, you are trying to get huge. It's a primal deal, survival of the fittest (or is it fattest? Just going by the current geopolitical benchmark. I mean, what is Thanksgiving about anyway?). Like corporations merging and aquiring until they turn into a bloated parasite like Activision Blizzard, like accounts ripping each other off over a stock exchange, like posturing teenagers drinking beer and licking each others faces, this is evolution or some grotesque approximation. But unlike the cluster-fuck we call reality, this game has charm, it's pure, it's serene. Zen meets billiards meets libido. It's like splitting a doobie with the unbearable lightness of being.
Aesthetically the game is a knock-out, Eddy's background is in "technical art" which is a catch-all to describe everything from light filters to shaders to procedural animation, and this game has all that stuff. I'm a 2d purist and for this scale of a team, you would probably not get such a fine sense of awe, contiguity and most importantly, shininess if they tried to make a 3d take on the same concept. The music tracks all have a kind of groovy Brian Eno feel, like Spore was going for, and its generic qualities are offset by the absolute appropriateness of the genre to this gameplay. One commenter on TIGSource, (which I believe stands for "Trolls In Games Source", Rinku actually banned the word "pretentious" from being posted in comments there) had noted that like the holocaust or the dramas of homosexuals being Oscar bait, amorphous floating blobs with a physics engine are IGF Award Bait. I reckon that troll had a point, and after all, what are trolls for besides brewing regeneration potions from samples of their nanotech-like skin? However I have to defend it, this game is as cohesive as the congealed lipid/water complexes that populate it, its aesthetic is beautifully understated, it's the music of the spheres reconciled with the rhythms of evolutionary biology.
The gameplay in the demo, linked here, gives you the basic gist, the gentle hook, but the variations in the full version are sublime in their nuance. I know this review is getting way to laudatory, so lets break it down in practical terms. You've got three threads of gameplay: ambient settings where you have to puzzle your way from speck-hood to being the biggest, contest levels where you have to rush to become bigger before the already larger motes dominate the field, and physics oriented levels where you have to snipe orbits and other tomfoolery. Each has a different bent and subdivides into mechanical variations, and whats best, the structure is non-linear, so if you're looking for fiero you'll find it, it you want to chillax with some paidic puzzle-solving at a slow pace, as I do, you can just park yourself on that. The alt-Z key allows you to reconfigure the level in a randomized fashion, so maybe we are talking more evolutionary stochasticism here rather than divine intervention, but the replay you get from that is worth the price of admission. My main criticism, and this is a minor one, is that you have to push alt-r to restart or alt-z to scramble, for an otherwise mouse-based game the mapping of complex keyboard inputs to these purposes is unwieldy.
Whether you're a high powered business mote or a lowly student mote, you will enjoy this game and find it soothing from your daily struggles with all the other motes in your local petri dish. And maybe, just maybe, you'll become more humble from the exercise, because after all, does it really matter if you're 100 or 1000 times bigger than the average mote? You're still just an amoeba in the sea.
During the CD-ROM era -- that is, in the early-mid 90s, when it was thought that the CD-ROM itself was a "new medium," and people experimented with all kinds of non-game apps delivered on CDs -- there was a category of CD-ROM's called "click and wiggles." The best known of these was Just Grandma and Me, and it was aimed at kids; there were, as in graphic adventures, places to traverse and a narrative, carried in text; but nothing in the way of puzzles, particularly. Instead, clicking on screen hotspots would cause cute little animations or sound.
Windowsill is a bit like that, except that there is an element of puzzle-solving. To exit each room, you need to find a cube. Unlike a typical graphic adventure, there often is no particular logic to how the cube is found; it's a matter of trial and error. And yet, the animations are engaging enough that it doesn't seem to matter.
A Global Game Jam entry from students at Carnegie Mellon, Balloon Man is a pleasant, dream-like little game in which a man holding three balloons rises upward (an "upscroller" rather than a sidescroller, if you will) past a somewhat surreal skyscape. Various obstacles float in space, and if a balloon intercepts one, it pops -- lose all three balloons, and you lose, of course.
klish was certainly the most polished game at the NYC/Columbia site of the Global Game Jam. It's a little level-based Flash game in which your mouse pointer is a repulsor, pushing other screen objects away; you use it to herd them around. Your goal -- well, this is an almost immediately intuitive game. You will figure it out very quickly. Six levels, each of which will probably take you no more than a minute to play. I list the download site above, but it's a freely distributable swf, so it's also embedded here.
Dyson is a 4X (explore, exploit, expand, exterminate) space game with unusual technology and a curiously serene feel. You play an alien lifeform that colonizes asteroids, but competitors are doing the same (RTS-like), and your ultimate goal is to exteriminate them.
Your mobile units are "seedlings," which both battle enemies and can be used to build "trees" on asteroids; it takes 16 seedlings to initiate a tree. Trees are of two types -- ones that create more seedlings, and ones that grow defensive pods that are launched at enemies attacking your asteroid. Asteroids range in size and energy, and can each support between one and five trees.
What's interesting about Boomshine is they way it both fits into and defies expectations about "the game," that is, the elements that (pace Wittgenstein) all games actually do share, that makes them, in esse, games.
It's a little one-click game in which a number of colored dots wander about the screen, in a Newtonian way, bouncing off the edge of the screen. Once each level, you may click anywhere; doing so creates a bubble that quickly blows up to a fixed size, and lasts in duration for a few seconds. During that duration, any dots that encounter the bubble likewise blow up into bubbles -- and any dots that encounter this bubble then likewise cause dots to bubble up as well. In principle, you can clear the screen through a chain-reaction of bubbles; in practice, this rarely happens.
Mars Miner is essentially Bomberman with somewhat improved graphics, designed for PCs, and with pretty smart level design. Either this sounds interesting already, or else you have no idea what I'm talking about. (Or you didn't like Bomberman, of course.)
...when you Log In or Register. Gives you the ability to post to the forums and your own blog; to rate games and receive recommendations based on your ratings; and to bookmark games for later reference.