Poppenkast: 3 Hours to Fame

By: Derek Yu

On: July 14th, 2008

3 Hours to Fame

The Poppenkast have finished their second competition, called “3 Hours to Fame,” and put up a single download that includes all the entries. There are 15 games by 14 developers.

I probably don’t mention the Poppenkast enough. A collective of 33 developers; mostly experimental, mostly using Game Maker. Their ranks include the likes of cactus, messhof, darthlupi, and Radnom, to name a few. In my mind the group embodies a movement in game development and design that is typified by quick development, heavy abstraction of graphics and mechanics, and a focus on the sensory, rather than the narrative.

Claude Monet

If I can get artsy-fartsy for a moment, they really remind me a lot of the Impressionists, both in spirit, style, and the way they are perceived by the gaming public – you either love them or you love to hate them (or you haven’t heard of them… yet). The criticisms are the same, too. Of Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (now widely considered a masterpiece), early critics derided it as sloppy and unfinished, “barely a sketch.” Sound familiar?

History obviously vindicated the Impressionists, and their fresh vision and spontaneous style became more or less universally accepted as invaluable to art as a whole. I think the same will be said of these lads, too. And anyone who ever made a game with this kind of spirit (B-Games included). But the context, of course, will be games, and not fine arts.

(Another parallel: it’s interesting to note that the Impressionists took advantage of a new invention in the art world – pre-mixed paint that came in lead tubes. This technique was introduced in the mid-19th century and allowed them to “work more spontaneously, both indoors and outdoors.” Are Game Maker and similar programs the 21st century equivalents?)

  • http://sophiehoulden.com GirlFlash

    I think the comparison is a pretty cool one, though the movement in the arts took a loooong time to emerge, whereas its just a few years since the first computer games.

    though I don’t know if its a case of games are just growing and developing faster, or merely ‘catching up’ with the other arts.

    either way, these guys are making tracks and at the very least, will get a paragraph on the ‘history of art games’ on the wikipedia of the future.

    but its not enough yet, MORE FORWARD! :D

  • Flamebait

    Such programs are similar to the paint tubes, but only because both they can cause brain damage.

    Unfortunately the range of expression in every piece of rapid game development software I’ve seen is extremely limited. Or, it’s just goddamn impossible to create fairly simple mechanics. But I do believe that one day they’ll rule supreme (even might try my own hand in a few years’ time).

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    Well written, Derek! Very cool.

  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    P.S. I’m alive.

  • ZereoX

    Anyone got it to work on Vista. Right now Only Vectro works.

  • Gutter

    hahah the caption on the picture (where else?) is hilarious!

  • Petri Purho

    BRANDON!!! You’re back for good?

    Also, great article.

  • im9today

    If only it was actually like this article makes it sound.

  • Dusty Spur

    I was about to be all “cool I see im9today’s game in that picture [/plug]” but then I see the lastest comment is by him.

    p.s. You totally should link to Poppenkast more often. Like, just make random words in your articles hyperlinks to Poppenkast.

  • Cow

    That caption is the best.

  • sinoth


  • BeamSplashX

    Claude Monet’s “Story du Cave” is a wonderful piece of work. I hear it was remade into a game in Japan.

  • 0rel

    great analogy.

    …and not to forget that Impressionism was kind of a (counter) reaction to the upcoming photography, which is rather comparable to Poppenkast vs next-gen too.

  • FISH

    its all about the digital renaissance, yo.

    i didnt know these guys had a collective, tho. that’s pretty awesome.

  • FISH

    also, holy shit at brandon’s 2nd coming.

  • ron carmel

    i like the painting analogy and certainly prefer it to the film comparison we so often hear. along the same line, i think mainstream games are now in a realism period similar to the realism movement in painting. in the end, it will hopefully take its proper place in history without becoming the be-all and end-all of video games.

  • FISH

    i cant wait for the druggy surealist part.

    i wanna be game-magritte.

  • http://www.shotbeak.com Tr00jg



    On to post. I quite like this “movement”. Inventive and very intriguing. I’d like to head into that direction myself. As a hobby its much more fun to do it than producing full-blown games that takes ages.

  • This is Houston

    Get back to earth.

  • JW(aap)
  • http://www.tscreative.net BMcC

    No second coming just yet — this is me sticking my toe in the water.

  • robolee

    I don’t get sterf, kutzombies.

    The zombies can’t hurt or kill you and you can mow them down easily… and then nothing but wiggling blobs, I’ve been waiting but nothing is happening.

  • BeamSplashX

    So right now you’re more like a Brandon ripoff?

  • Chris L

    Indie gaming movement as recursive art history? Derek, I- I think I love you.

    What would this make Tarn Adams? Seurat?