By: Derek Yu

On: December 4th, 2009


Igneous has been described on the forums as “what 3d Sonic should have been” and I can see why – it moves fast and it looks really good. Going Down in Flames, the four-man development team from Digipen, have done a great job loading the game up with special effects. It’s impressive how much is going on at any given moment… especially since you’ll be flying by at a high clip.

I gotta say, though, I prefer Sonic’s 90’s ‘tude to the tiki totem’s lack of personality. And at four levels, the game is relatively short (the first level is more or less a no-level). Still… it moves fast and it looks really good!

TIGdb: Igneous

  • Xion

    I tried playing this and it made my computer all like “uuuuuuugh, what is wrong with you, what makes you think I can run this, here, have some choppy-ass black and blue mess”

    Guess I’ll just have to watch the video and imagine myself playing:

    …”Woah! Sweet! HOLY SHIIII–! Lasers! This game is awesome!”

  • Patrick

    I wonder what portion of these talented Digipen kids are going to go on and work for Death Star Games Inc. Losing your IP rights to the school, and paying for it, probably sets a good precedent.

  • arrr

    I would have liked this game a lot better if they slightly tilted the camera up so you’re able to see the upcoming holes earlier, rather than seeing it right when you’re at the edge.

  • Matzerath

    I really enjoyed this this demo/sampling/whatever. I would definitely choose the stoic non-personality of the Tiki over Sonic any day.
    Homebrew engine, too!

  • http://www.roachpuppy.com Chris Zamanillo

    A good chunk of them probably do but lucky for them there are a ton of smaller to mid-range studios around here in the Redmond area. Some of them can be as bad as EA since a lot get license game gigs (stuff like movie/cartoon games) which are just as soulless. There’s also Nintendo of America HQ right next door and Microsoft.

  • SirNiko

    The concept is FANTASTIC. Ever since the escape sequence in the original Metroid, I am thoroughly addicted to any game that operates on the “GETOUTFAST” concept. I played DinoRun to freaking death. This is exactly what I need from a video game!

    However, I JUST upgraded my computer and I still can barely play this. I have about a 3 second delay when I push anything, and the framerate plummets the moment I get into the open area of the first “Level”. At that point I was just holding the jump button and pressing the control pad towards the colored blur that looks the most like a ledge, hoping I will land on something not made of fire when the game jumps ahead three seconds later.

    This is already after I turned off blur effects, and I don’t see any other options to trim down the graphics.

    Need a lower graphic version of this. I mean, seriously need a lower graphic version. I really really want to play this.


  • Chris.R

    Worked decently on my 2 year old Dell laptop (Core2Duo mobile, GeoForce 8600M 256mb). I was surprised.

    Impressive engine, but the game didn’t appeal to me. It felt like more of an exercise in memorizing than in reacting. I don’t enjoy dying repeatedly until I memorize all the explosions/collapses.

    Or perhaps I’m just not very good at it.

  • Bob

    Impressive (ran real fast on my PC), although it’s randomness, while neat, got a little annoying (the camera angle took some getting used to.

    Also, and I’m not sure about this, but I think it did something with Google Earth after playing…the Google Earth icon suddenly appeared on my desktop, and some of the folders claim they were modified. I don’t remember telling it to automatically update. I don’t think this is any sort of foul-play, but perhaps some error that occurred after I changed some of my settings.

  • Bob

    Actually, it might have installed Google Earth on it’s own…hmm…

  • cigarettes

    what? blinked and it was over.

    all those crazy effects and square blocks made it more of a tech demo than a game.

  • Tekno

    Got a choppy black and blue blur. Huge delay after every key press, and startup was very odd and jittery.

    Wish I could play.

  • JoeHonkie

    It runs fine on my PC, looks great, sounds great, and is totally frustrating and unplayable. It’s pretty much impossible to see what’s coming up or plan in any sort of way, especially when blocks are flying from offscreen right in front of the camera. It was total memorization at times and total guesswork at others. The whole thing left me annoyed and unwilling to continue to completion.

  • Bob

    Cigarettes – I was thinking the same thing (those pillars at the end seemed to scream “Look! Our game has PHYSICS!”)
    Still, not bad work for a student project, although the gameplay could use some further tweaking..

    Also, I was mistaken (apparently, Google Earth likes to do ninja updates without my knowing), so please nuke my other two comments.

  • Hypersapien

    I so wanted to play this when the 2010 IGF was announced, but my video card isn’t good enough. All I got was a black screen and the sound of someone grunting.

  • Phasma Felis

    From the website:

    >”Igneous only supports Xbox 360 controllers–no other gamepads will work. The game can still be controlled by keyboard & mouse.”

    Man, seriously, what the damn hell is the point of adding gamepad support if you’re only supporting one brand? How goddamn hard can it possibly be to expand your Xpad support to include HID standards? Or is Digipen in bed with Microsoft and forbidding students from properly supporting anything else? I’m not normally that paranoid, but this is the third Digipen game I’ve seen that does this and it makes *no sense*.

  • EToaster

    It was quite pretty, but the bad camera angle that prevents you from seeing the ground in front of you, random rubble hitting you in the back from offscreen and destroying your momentum, and floor sections arbitrarily collapsing out from under you as you go over them made it a very frustrating experience overall.

  • Zmann

    @Phasma Felis: If it was made in XNA, that would explain it.

  • Rolf

    Percussion music + controller rumble + big ass lasers coming right at you = awesome.
    Too bad it was so short though.

  • judgespear

    shader overkill much?

    sure the graphics look amazing, when you can’t even see what they’re supposed to actually be when they have 100s of graphical filters applied to them.

    im not a big fan of overuse of shaders. it just makes the whole thing look tacky and over done.

  • Mrmotinjo

    For some reason, the options menu set itself to ‘impossible’ on its own, and I kept dying on the second level without even knowing that I was playing at a higher difficulty.
    When I found this out, and switched to ‘normal’, along came level three, with its random spontaneous ‘whole section of the ground just fell around you’ things, and after a couple more tries, I ragequit ;(
    Beautiful physics, nice graphics, exciting upbeat music, and an incredibly frustrating experience overall. Should’ve stuck to the old “challenging & fun” formula, instead of the “foolish mortal, you cannot play this game” one :(

  • Davioware

    Devs with high end workstations need to understand that not everybody has high end workstations. If your game has shader whoring going on, then there better be the option to disable them.

  • http://doujingamer.blogspot.com/ DoujinGamer

    I’m gonna have to try this out. I like the whole escape the fire / boulders / other bad stuff chasing you while everything around you crumbles concept.

  • http://www.eobet.com/ eobet

    The video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdZYh-MStp8 looks awesome, but complaints about framerate and only 360 gamepad support worries me.

    But then again, this is just a demo pitch to get a job, I guess.

    The gameplay does look spot on. I’d love to see Sonic in there.

  • Gutter

    Yep. This look like what Sonic should’ve been on next gen.

    I wasted about 10 lives in Normal and maybe 3 times that on Impossible. This game isn’t that hard, it fits the “difficulty” of a platformer like Sonic quite well.

    They should extend the game and make it about 2012. A Totem built by the Inca as the only thing that can save the world, and you race across crumbling cityscapes with Incan Gods as backdrop (I didn’t say that the world would escape completely unscathed). With lives and hidden skill coins. I’d buy that!

    BTW, This is a student project, made from scratch. It’s not a mod of UT3, not a map for Q3. I’M SURE THAT THEY KNOW THAT IT’S NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THE WHOLE WORLD.

  • Gutter

    Oh, and for the record, I only have a pair of 8800GT, and the SLI is disabled (I enable it for some games, as it play havoc with some java IDE I use. I didn’t even need to enable it for this one)

    I’m surprised that so many people have problems with that game… It’s not like if my card was bleeding edge, even when I bought it a year ago.

  • Lazerbeard

    Hey, I’m the graphics dev for Igneous. Thanks for the support, and I’m sorry if it wouldn’t run on your computer :(. We’ve tested the game with as low as a GeForce 6 series card, so as far as I know it’s compatible with those cards. Performance is another story. I know it works on a GeForce 8600M pretty well as that’s the card I developed on. GeForce 7 series cards run it ok as well if you turn off motion blur and make the resolution lower. I definitely know older single core CPUs will have a tough time with this game unfortunately. Just a note: There is a bug in our menu system which changes the difficulty to “impossible” if you change any settings in the menu. This has been fixed, but the link may have an old build still up. If you are having a lot of trouble with the game, you might want to check the difficulty tab and make *sure* you aren’t playing on impossible.

  • Eric

    Neat coincidence, we just did a lengthy discussion about this last night in the Immortal Machines PC podcast going up this weekend. General consensus was that everybody really liked it, though Impossible mode can be brutal on the 2nd and 3rd levels.

    Lazerbeard, if you want to listen to us talk about you guys, keep an eye on the frontpage of ImmortalMachines.com (or go subscribe to the podcast via iTunes), the episode should be out soon.

    I also wrote it up in a feature over there called Free and Worth Every Penny:


    So yeah, in short, it’s fair to say we like Igneous. ;)

  • aerloth

    What, this is a whole game? 3 chapters? I wouldn’t call this a full version…probably demo. Devs, if you’re reading this, you should consider extending this project, for it can attract many gamers with $$$ on their PayPal accounts.

    ’cause it’s purely awesome.

  • aerloth

    one more thought.

    level editor.

    just imagine…

  • http://www.roachpuppy.com Chris Zamanillo

    No need to apologize, it’s perfectly reasonable to have a 4+ year old video card as your minimum spec. Expecting indie games to not be technically demanding is just as bad as expecting them to cheap or short. That being said I fully agree with allowing the player to tweak settings to improve performance as I usually do the same with my games. Looks awesome though, nice work on implementing everything yourselves rather than using 3rd party libs. It’s tedious sometimes but an excellent learning experience.

  • jrjellybeans

    Video looks sweat.

    But, judging from everyone’s comments, I doubt I could play the game on this computer :(

    Congrats to the devs on the release, this looks awesome!

  • Eric

    Hmm. I tried to post a response in here for Lazerbeard, but I guess because it had a link in it it’s “awaiting moderation.”

    Anyhow – LB, we’ve been covering Igneous pretty heavily over at the Immortal Machines PC website, I wrote a feature on it called “Free and Worth Every Penny” on Black Friday, and we just talked about it last night in a podcast recording for an episode going out this weekend.

    Safe to say, we liked it. If you want to hear yourselves talked about, keep an eye out for that stuff. ;)

  • Anthony

    My computer ran it perfectly, it was pretty…and fast. Quite fun, I’d like to see it fleshed out though.

  • Radnom

    Phasma Felis – have you ever used XInput? It’s absolutely fricken easy as pie to get Xbox360 controller support into a game, and you don’t have to worry about different controller layouts. It’s not so easy to put support for other controllers into a game.

  • UltimateWalrus

    “I couldn’t get past this game. The holes came up too fast and I had to memorize the patterns in order to get through. This game is obviously horribly designed”

    Anybody who says this apparently sucks hardcore at the game. If you are memorizing level patterns here then you are definitely doing it wrong.

    Look, you’re allowed to suck at videogames. I don’t fault you for that. But you sound like a total douche when you blame the game designers for your ineptitude. Does it look like this game is designed for a casual audience? Jesus.

    That having been said, I enjoyed the game very much. It’s really thrilling. Probably the best game I’ve seen come out of Digipen. The engine and graphics are really impressive, and the gameplay blew my mind. I love the whole Tiki-Volcano theme; it’s very surreal and intense.

    I hope you guys at Digipen know how lucky you are. OK, OK, I know the nazis at Digipen retain all the rights to your hard work. But I’m a CS Games Student at USC, and our final game projects suck complete donkey balls compared to pretty much any game on the Digipen website. I wouldn’t even WANT to retain the rights to them.

    The fact of the matter is, Digipen students are way smarter than USC students — and whereas you see top-tier games like this coming out of Digipen, USC just generates a lot of shit-tier garbage and tries to parade it around like it’s the best thing ever. It actually makes me pretty sad…

  • K

    This game/tech demo was awesome. In fact, I actually said just that out loud a couple of times while playing. Sure, it’s mostly just visually dazzling, but holy hell is it visually dazzling.

    I found it challenging, but got through it pretty quickly. Good, quick fun.

  • JoeHonkie

    UltimateWalrus, telling people they aren’t allowed to dislike something and it’s automatically their own fault is a useless and offensive tactic, especially when they give valid concerns for their criticism and don’t just say “It sucks.” by itself. I’m sure that plenty of people here do fine at many, many other games.

    Just because you like something does not automatically make any criticism of it invalid, or people who disagree with you clumsy or stupid.

  • Lazerbeard

    @aeroth If only, DigiPen does not allow us to make money off our work. I’ve said it elsewhere and, I’m speaking entirely for myself, not for the rest of the team but I wouldn’t want to sell it. It’s a student project, and was a learning experience for us, as well as a way for us to get our work out and have as many people as possible enjoy it. Charging for it as it is now would feel awkward for me. As for the level editor, I wish we could have done something like that, but we just didn’t have the time. Stuff like that, lack of more graphics options and the shortness is what makes it a student game, but I’m grateful you would actually like to see more.

    @Eric, We’ve seen your review. It was quite the excellent writeup, very flattering indeed. Thanks for the tip about the podcast as well, we scan the internet for mention of the game every so often but I’m sure we don’t pick up everything. I’ll definitely be waiting for it.

  • UltimateWalrus

    JoeHonkie, I never said you’re not allowed to dislike the game. You’re putting words in my mouth.

    I just said that, if a game is too difficult or fast-paced for you in particular, this is not a “valid concern” that should be viewed as a fault with the game. If I told you that a game like Contra is “unplayable” because I personally cannot handle the difficulty level, that would generally not be viewed as a valid complaint. How is this game any different?

  • JoeHonkie

    Because people are complaining that the game seems arbitrary or random. Which is completely a valid complaint. It’s one thing for a game to seem hard because it requires a set of skills and makes that clear, but if it feels like you have little to no control over when things go south that is frustrating. Many of the deaths in this game are pure chance and I couldn’t even see them until I was actually dying, which doesn’t happen in Contra or Dino Run.

    Miyamoto said something like “A good game makes you mad at yourself when you fail.” IE You know it was your fault and you know what you did wrong.

  • Keymax

    The fast-paced gameplay was really enjoyable, high speed + motion blur = win. I’m loving the effects, especially those pew pew lazer beams in the 4th level. Lazerbeard, could you reveal some of your technical secrets? How are those beams generated?

  • Lazerbeard

    Sure. The beams themselves are simply cylinders which extend from the tiki god’s eye to a point chosen by casting a ray from the eye toward the player in some random fashion. (I wasn’t the gameplay or physics programmer, so I can’t go into how the ray was chosen or how to speed up the raycasting)

    At the explosion point I have two particle effects, one for the spraying fire(which shoot out in a circle in the XZ plane around the point, then decelerate quickly until they stop) and one for the red sparks(which are given an upward initial velocity, and a downward acceleration to simulate gravity). We also generate an “explosion” a force pushing out from a point around the area to cause the bridge to collapse and the towers to topple. There was also supposed to be a dynamic light on all of those lasers, but I forgot to add it in for the version we put on the website, maybe if we ever re-upload they’ll be in there.

    Beyond that, how I got the particle systems to look exactly like they do is something I dunno if I could fit inside this window XD I have a rather extensive editor for particle effects and special stuff. I can say this: Most of my particle parameters (size, general transparency, texture size and scroll) are controlled by natural cubic splines. Position can also follow either a spline or be simulated by a simple physical model, allowing you to give an initial velocity and an acceleration. Particles can either be a model(sparks and laser) or a billboarded quad (fire and smoke). The color and alpha is determined by a method I saw in one of Bungie’s papers In short it works like this:

    Get one grayscale texture that outlines the general shape of the particle

    Get another grayscale texture that is filled with some kind of continuous noise(perlin noise looks fine)

    Make a bunch of 1×256 color key textures that are basically a gradient that goes through all of the colors you want this particular particle to be, then fades to transparent.

    Scroll the perlin noise texture underneath the outline texture, multiply the two values and use the final value as a look up into a 1×256 color key texture.

    The laser has a white to pinkish red to transparent gradient. The lava has some crazy thing that goes from red back to yellow back to red then to transparent and the smoke is pretty much just different shades of gray then fades to transparent.

    You can adjust the look of the particles by adjusting the size and scroll speed of the noise texture, the shape of the face texture, or changing the color key. It was nice because it was fairly easy to make the similar effects by just swapping out the color key (red fire vs blue fire) once I found something that looked good.

    Here’s a link to the original Bungie article

    it’s light on the technical details but it has a lot of pictures explaining how the final result was composed. I don’t have my own site yet (It’s high priority once the semester is over) but when I do I’ll also post the slides and presentations I’ve done on the effects and lighting in the game.

    If you do want more info or my very abbreviated explanation just made things more confusing I’m happy to leave my email. I love talking graphics :).

  • Lazerbeard

    Hey, it didn’t leave my email… *looks at wall of text he just wrote* I guess I should have asked how much detail you wanted first… Anyway, In case it still doesn’t work my email’s [email protected]

  • Lazerbeard

    oh god, it didn’t actually post? Terrible!

  • Baltirow

    Brilliant graphics (well, except perhaps that desktop icon ;) ), perfectly fitting thrilling music and a great gameplay concept.

    That said, I have to join a few others here that complain about the randomness which is hurting the gameplay. I must have played the bridge level fifty times or so, but yet to get to the other side, mainly due to parts of the bridge collapsing without any visual warning, usualy right under the totem, making it bump or richochet in a random direction and losing its momentum.

    As soon as you loose speed the camera gets so close you have no idea where you are going, even the wall climbing/jumping will hardly save you.

    I think it would have been great if floor tiles would look ‘loose’ before they actually start tilting or collapsing, allowing you to respond to that threat (also when deciding on a landing after a jump).

    Also, I feel that the richochet response the totem makes when bumping on the side of a block in the air (i.e. during a jump) is too strong. Stone blocks are not rubber and the totem should mostly slow down by a sidescrape, not be slung to the side.

    It seems that at low speeds you actually move faster from left to right, but that might be my imagination.

    Mostly I’d like a more stable and higher set camera (so you see tha gaping hole you are going to jump at) and better visual feedback to the player.

  • Dan Q

    @ Lazerbeard, brilliant game you and your team have made! Are you guys still working on it or planning to release any updated versions in the (near) future, or have you moved on completely?

  • Lazerbeard

    Well, our principal deadline was submission to the Independent Games Festival, and the Indie Game Challenge, which was Nov 2. So this is the “gold” version of the game. In that regard we have no plans to continue development at this time.

    Right now I need to focus on not failing my classes this semester and I haven’t gotten a real break from coding since the summer of 2008. However, I continued working on the game all those nights because I really love working on the game, and I love that you guys are enjoying it. I still have a passion for this game and depending on my schedule I could see myself(Again, only speaking for myself!) making some optimizations and tweaks to the engine. My graphics engine is a standalone piece, so I’ve already made some modifications while using it for other projects and just for fun.

    I certainly wouldn’t expect more levels unfortunately, we had a hard time coming up with just three that we really liked and worked well together. In the process I think we have at least another two complete levels, two or three prototypes and a whole lot of concepts we scrapped because they weren’t quite up to snuff(the video on our site shows quite different first, second and fourth levels. If you look at our February video even the type of game was completely different).

    If we do decide to update anything, I’m sure we’ll update our website/facebook. Thanks a ton for the interest.

    @ Baltirow: I can see what you’re saying, the bridge seems to be a love/hate thing. We can’t show which tiles are about to fall because we don’t know which ones are going to fall ourselves. Blocks fall either because:
    A) They are part of the crumbling bridge behind you, these are hit with a large force to make them go up in the air and spin like they do.
    B) They are hit by some physical object (either one of those lava balls, or from another loose block)
    Everything on the bridge is dynamic, the lava rocks are spawned inside a random area in front of you, and the destruction behind you is based on your position and speed(to keep the destruction from catching up to you unless you’ve stopped). We liked this, because during most chase scenes in games there isn’t a real feeling of danger because everything’s scripted out to work neatly and if you memorize the pattern you’re fine. However we also recognize that doing this means that the exact difficulty is kind of out of our hands, especially in “impossible mode”. We really struggled with how to deal with the difficulty on that level. Make it too easy and there’s no real feeling of threat. Make it too hard and not many people can actually beat it. We did our best to balance the two on normal mode, but I admit it’s still not perfect.

  • UltimateWalrus

    JoeHonkie, I can see where you’re coming from; however I had no problems reacting to the game’s randomness, and even in Impossible mode I felt that my deaths were indeed my own fault, and I knew what I did wrong (except for perhaps the laser level, which I still have not managed to beat on Impossible… XD). I was unaware that the level destruction was actually predetermined until people started mentioning that they memorized the levels.

    My point is that the game is perfectly playable. It’s just designed for people with quick reactions. Just because you can’t play it doesn’t make it “unplayable…” and I think making that claim is really unfair to the game developers.

  • spudmastaflash

    “I was unaware that the level destruction was actually predetermined until people started mentioning that they memorized the levels.”

    It’s not, the destruction is completely random. The only memorization you can have is the initial bridge layout, but where the rocks spawn, where they hit, and how large they are are all determined by the good ol’ rand() function ;).

  • spudmastaflash

    And the explosions on the cave level are slightly random (where they spawn + a random offset), and the laser level has pre-determined lasers + dynamic random ones that actually try to hit the player.