By: Xander

On: March 26th, 2009


Tag is this year’s Digipen entry into the IGF Student Showcase. Whether it wins or not will be decided later tonight (Update: They did!), but at the very least you can form your own opinions at home!

In the interest of keeping the front-page compact for GDC goodness: Continued in the extended!

So ‘Tag’ is roughly a first-person platforming puzzle game. Your character is capable of very few actions himself, only the ability to walk and look around. So, in a socially irresponsible fashion he must rely on the power of substance abuse to escape this monochromatic misadventure.

What this means without my poetic license, is that your character has a paint-gun which you can collect three kinds of paint for. Each kind when sprayed upon an area will imbue it with certain qualities. Green paint will cause you to jump, red to speed up and blue to stick to anything it’s attached to. It’s a simple play of powers, but it’s one that works quite well.

The problem with the game is that it holds your hand an awful lot. I’d understand this if the developers were trying to show their tech off to as many people as possible, but even the technique of ‘wall-jumping’ is spoiled for you by a massive sign next to the puzzle its required for, completely pre-empting your own identification that there was even an obstacle there to begin with. It does loosen up later, throwing in satisfying leaps of faith and a rather inspired set-piece around a train, but the refined simplicity of the gameplay makes the earlier tutorials seem entirely redundant, and only serves to shorten the length of an already bite-sized game.

This isn’t to say it is bad by any means, its a suprisingly well formed game where I never once found myself having to restart and progression was always smooth and entertaining. The paint system is a clever tool which makes first-person platforming far more fun than the perspective should allow, and the stylish visuals are only made more impressive by the fact that I never once saw my paint fade from the walls. Even after creating a hell of a mess in an attempt to create post-credits fan art.

It’s easily worth your time and hard-drive space (though the Pixel Shader 2.0 requirement does alienate some gamers), and I’m glad to see the students of DigiPen are as reliable as ever. You’ll be snapped up by Valve in no time! Probably.

(Thanks go to Destructoid and especially to Anthony Burch who has been covering basically every indie-related GDC moment this year.)


Good luck at the awards everyone!

  • sinoth

    Not bad! The controls are a bit loose for my liking, but it was still fun. The lack of air control made the platform jumping parts more frustrating than they should have been.

    This quote interests me: “though the Pixel Shader 2.0 requirement does alienate some gamers”

    How long do we have to worry about this? You can get a video card with Shader 2.0 support for <$50. I think its silly to restrict ourselves because someone won't be able to run it on a 6 year old laptop.

  • Shih Tzu

    Gamespot liveblog says they won. Congratulations!

  • Luther

    Yeah sinoth lol. whenever I hear “HURHFHGHG I CAN’T RUN THIS” and it’s a game with some lighting effect that was coined 8 years ago I honest to god do roll my eyes.

    It’s indie games, not “new old games” =)

  • Cobalt

    Are you referring to Narbacular Drop? I played that game before it’s dev team was hired by Valve. Good times.

  • Cobalt

    @sinoth: I agree. I have a Radeon 9600 which supports Pixel Shader 2.0. My card was released in 2003, I believe.

  • mechazoidal

    I can’t speak for everyone, but in my case I’ve been running on a backup Athlon-based Shuttle for the past four years, thanks to a melted-down workstation, a small town developer job and car payments. So I’d have to either scrap it and get a new machine, or find a useless-in-any-new-hardware AGP card just to…use some rinky-dink lighting effect that doesn’t really add much to the game play.

    (If it’s actually using it for a good reason, I have no complaint. But all I see from these screenshots is toon-shading)

  • raindog469

    And that, in a nutshell, is why I play games on consoles rather than PCs.

    I look forward to seeing this on XBLA or WiiWare some time in the future.

  • Jotaf

    That’s right.

    There’s something called “low graphics settings”, and it’s there for a reason!

    Some games even only allow you that option.

  • anon

    Tag won an award! woooo

  • Bob

    There’s some fantastic fun to be had here!
    Glad they won something.

    Slight rant ahead. Avoid!
    Also, I found the difficulty to be perfect. The signs were placed appropriately, and I’d rather have a game show me how to do something once (that will ultimately help me in the end) then not tell me at all and leaving me frustrated and in the dark, wondering what I should do next.
    Now if it had constantly reminded me, that would have been a bit too much, but it didn’t.

    And not being able to run PS 2.0 is a bit odd in this day and age.

    Rants over.

  • http://www.djshardhouse.com Starshot

    Great fun puzzler. One of the most disorienting games I’ve ever played.

    There is a bit of a glitch, however. If you minimize or alt-tab out of the program, all the paint on the field disappears. Other than that little bug, it’s perfect.

  • bladpenis

    That’s not a bug, it’s part of the game… you win for finding it.

    WTF is this anyway?

  • hermaphrodyke

    Why do people become so interumbellishednessdesitized when these big conferences and festivals are going on???

    Hark, I question thee!

    Dah well.

  • http://0xdeadc0de.org/ Eclipse

    the concept is nice but it really looks ugly

  • robolee

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leFub-Z02kg contains cactus’ talk at 3:33 (but some is cut out :( )
    day one and two are just commuting to GDC, meets a few indies on the way.

  • Jay

    i played this with a huge hangove en got some serios motion sickness xD

    great game!

  • AClarkFS

    I blue screened on my first run, was really hoping it was a joke when I first saw it.

    The games fun, physics are weird in it though. The specular highlights are few & far between on the paint, need more light sources!

  • Nels

    Fun. I would have liked slightly more air control, and some alternate goals (like collecting stars) that made the levels feel less linear, but still it’s well done.

  • Marten

    This game is so much like the Swedish game RGB. It’s a FPS game made by students where you use a paint gun with 3 different colors contained in separate cans which, when shot, give the surface different properties. Properties like wall jumping and making them sticky…


  • largo

    i like it, but it runs terribly slow on my machine, especially when i shoot colours. and my system is double the requirements of the game.

  • none

    Wow, that RGB game is terribly similar with TAG, I wonder which one came first…

  • Anon


  • Flamebait

    It’s definitely a game you *can* complete in one sitting, but I was interrupted. You cannot save. So I typed “help” in the console to get the commands, and 15 of them, including the one I need, were cut off. AFAICT you cannot scroll in the console. ARGH

    They made an awesome, fancy-ass main menu, yet somehow never got around to saving, or hell, level select, or hell, a list of console commands you can actually use.

  • Matzerath

    Um, for those of you nitpicking on this game, you realize that this isn’t a full release but mainly a student project, right? If anything its brevity and the fact you weren’t charged for it might clue you in.
    When Gabe Newell first played Narbuncular Drop he didn’t bitch about its graphics or how short it was, but saw a great concept and immediately hired the creators, who then landed the professional gig of making Portal.
    You should probably find more worthy places to sharpen your critical claws.

  • Anonymous

    Replying to a 3 year old comment, I know, but it’s kind of funny that you made that comparison considering that the exact same thing happened with the creators of Tag being hired to help create Portal 2.

  • kamran

    There’s something called “low graphics settings”, and it’s there for a reason!