A number of alphas/betas I follow have had significant updates, so I thought I’d mention them together. Also, I’m updating the neglected “Dev Roll” on the sidebar to feature games that are in long-term development.
The first update is from Minecraft, which finally reached v1.0 last month, during the two-day Minecon that was held in Las Vegas. The update adds a proper ending and “hardcore mode” to the game, among other things (full changelog). After the release, Notch announced that he is relinquishing duties as lead developer to Jens Bergensten, who was originally hired to do back-end programming.
It’s worth noting that Minecraft made its public debut on TIGForums on May 17th, 2009. Check out the thread for a “Before They Were Stars”-style stroll down memory lane!
[This is a guest review by tim_the_tam. If you're interested in writing an article for TIGSource, please go here.]
What is a game? Does it have to be something fun to play? Do you need to be able to win or lose? Does it need a clear objective? Is it a series of choices? Kometen is a “game” that will mess with some people’s ideals of what a game is, which is no surprise coming from the guy who made Blueberry Garden. It’s because Kometen is not a “traditional” game as you can’t win or lose – there is no conflict, no official goals, and no way to die. Personally, I consider Kometen a game but I can also see an argument for it to be an interactive screensaver. But let’s not get too bogged down with the definition and for the sake of this article, Kometen is a game.
Nifflas, the creator of Knytt, Knytt Stories, and Within a Deep Forest, released a new game at the tail end of 2009. Saira is another platformer in Nifflas’s non-violent, minimalistic style. Unlike his previous games, however, Saira features high-resolution graphics that mix hand-drawn artwork with photographs. Aside from the graphical differences, the game also has a lot more puzzle-solving than Knytt or WaDF, typically in the form of small command consoles that require you to input codes and play minigames. I’m ambivalent about the minigames, which kind of take away from the platforming for me, but it hasn’t been a deal-breaker yet. Partway through the game, and I feel like the story and environments are fun enough to jump through that the game’s small faults do not bring it down too much.
Also, happy birthday, Nifflas! Dude turns 27 today (January 6th)! In celebration, he’s providing a discount to the game. For the next two weeks, the full version of Saira will cost $12 USD, down from $17, and you can also buy a gift code for $1.50 with each purchase. This deal will last until January 20th.
Those of you who are interested in a level editor for the game can find it here, at Nifflas’s support forums.
TIGdb: Entry for Saira
DrPetter, the talented developer behind Deflectorpool and Sfxr, just released an alpha for a new tool, called Sculptris. Sculptris lets you make 3d models quickly and intuitively as shown in the above video. You can export your creations as OBJ files or import OBJ files to use as a base for editing.
It’s really fun to play with. I made this ugly head after messing around for a bit.
This is an alpha, so the good Doctor recommends saving frequently, and reporting any bugs (or general inquiries) to him at the Sculptris forums. According to the readme, the final version is due in early 2010.
I think DrPetter’s Deflectorpool is pretty brilliant. It’s got a unique combination of mechanics, a well-balanced difficulty ramp, a great combo system that effectively employs risk/reward, and lots of ways to score. It’s also deceptively simple and looks/sounds nice, to boot. Players who enjoy mechanical games should really enjoy this one.
In the game you control a “bat” that’s dangling from the bottom of a paddle that’s floating in water. Colored balls drop from the top of the screen, and your bat will collect balls of its color for points. By holding down the mouse button you can bump a different-colored ball to change colors. If a ball drops off the bottom of the screen, the screen is pushed upwards – if the water goes past the top of the screen, you lose.
The fun comes from getting large combos, which becomes ever more risky as the balls begin to pile up on top of your paddle. You’ll inevitably find yourself juggling furiously trying to avoid changing colors until the last moment. At the bottom of the screen, friendly messages encourage (goad?) you to keep going and striving to reach 10, 20, or 30 balls.
DrPetter‘s still best known for his tools like Sfxr and Musagi, but if he keeps this up he’ll soon be well known for his games as well. In my opinion, Deflectorpool is great.
TIGdb: Entry for Deflectorpool
Short development video after the leap:
After a failed start this monday, the IGF 2009 winning Blueberry Garden has finally been released by Erik SvendÃ¤ng. This is notable especially because I can’t recall the last time a grand prize winner was released in the same year that it actually won the prize! I kid of course, and truthfully it’s interesting for something like this to have earnt such a prestigious award as unlike previous titles such as Aquaria or Crayon Physics it’s pretty hard to talk about. You play the bird-man pictured above and simply explore the world however you desire in an attempt to partly play around with the world and experiment with it, and partly to figure out if there is some sort of conclusion. As play begins you are given an image of a tap flowing water, and from there on your task is to do what you will with that information.
It plays similarly to a platformer however you have the ability to pick up and eat different kind of fruits which bestow extra abilities, such as an air bubble around the protagonist. You can also fly, which takes away some of the usual expectations of a platformer clearly. You can’t fly straight upwards though, only on roughly a 180 degree angle with a little leeway on either side. Similarly to Takahashi’s ‘Noby Noby Boy’ its hard not to suggest to people to buy because of the incredibly cheap price point of $5, and whilst it’s hard to really tell people specifically what there is to do in the game there’s certainly a lot to enjoy here. The atmosphere is great and the music is a complete joy, as well as the sheer surreal juxtapositioning of a minimalistic terrain crossed with wonderfully vibrant vegetation and the occasional gigantic block of swiss cheese.
There’s a demo on Steam at the moment, which I hear mixed reports on whether it actually works or not, so at the very least you should play it to see whether you find it interesting or not. Ultimately though at just $5, no bad can come of that purchase, and if its really your curiosity that’s pursuaded you to play the game then that’s exactly the kind of mindset the game desires of you. It’s a game that fully deserves the recognition it received at GDC, and it truly deserves just as much today.
The final deadline for this year’s Swedish Game Awards (i.e. RagnarÃ¶k) has just passed, and the winners will be announced soon. Tim W. picked out a few cool trailers for IndieGames.com and here are my three favorites of those:
Paperworld is a “friendly and cozy” simulation game that has a fantastic papery look. That’s about all there is to know about it at this point.
Unlike a lot of the other entries, Haven and Hearth is playable, although in an alpha state. It’s an MMORPG based on Slavic and Germanic folklore where the player’s actions can have a permanent effect on the game world. Read the about page on the site, it sounds very interesting.