IGS 2010: Abusing Your Players Just For Fun

By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: April 13th, 2010

Cactus v. Non-Programmers, photo by Rebekah Saltsman
Photo by non-programmer Rebekah Saltsman

I was planning to simply summarize the various IGS sessions this year, but instead wrote up every single note I had for my previous post. Today I shall exercise some restraint!

IGF Nuovo Award winner and indie mastermind Cactus’ first talk this year, Abusing Your Players Just For Fun, was ostensibly about designing games with obfuscated interactions, bizarre themes, trippy visuals, a high level of difficulty— the kind of stuff Cactus is known for— but really, to me, seemed more about encouraging people who would otherwise not develop games to try, about the desire to see an even greater variety of creative output from the indie games sphere. (I’m sure we’ve all wondered at some point what types of games Bowie might make! Or that baby.)

The session opened with a legitimate seizure warning (though, his talk last year was probably more dangerous in that regard) and, for the most part, he discussed various artists in other fields, like film and music, who bring a singular, unique creative vision to their work. He even stopped for a spell to show this scene from David Lynch’s Lost Highway.

But that’s not to say game designers didn’t get their due! Cactus went on to show the work of a few indies that inspire him, “punk rock” game developers as he called them: Matt “TheAnemic” Aldrige, creator of the surreal La La Land series of games (and most recently Uin); Mark “”http://messhof.com/news/" title=“Messhof’s Site”>Messhof" Essen, in particular his games Punishment, Flywrench, and Randy Balma: Municipal Abortionist; the multi-talented Jph Wacheski; and even Jon Blow. (He probably did, but I would also have to point to Stephen “”http://www.increpare.com/" title=“increpare games (Stephen Lavelle”>increpare" Lavelle and his ever growing portfolio of mind-bending works!)

If you’d like to read a description of the session by someone who, you know, actually knows how to write, I recommend this post Scott Sharkey made to his 1UP blog— he really nails it!

  • http://b-mcc.com// BMcC

    Coffee may have been a mistake this morning? But my mug has rainbows on it, so…

  • Hideous

    See: 1924 and Chase Goose. And a little bit of Let’s Jump.

  • http://b-mcc.com// BMcC

    Hehe, it’s true, you are punk rock as the day is long, Hideous. :)

  • http://b-mcc.com// BMcC

    Since links often get spam-filtered:


    Chase Goose

    Let’s Jump

    Rock on!

  • Mark

    Yay, Brandon. Though what I really want to see a video. I guess I could watch it through the GDC Vault.

    It sure would be awesome if IGS sessions were free to watch for the general public, due to the nature of what the IGS represents and all….

  • anon

    the whole http://www.towlr.com/ thing

  • Anonymous

    You mention Biggt, but not his amazing new game that was released three days ago?

  • http://b-mcc.com// BMcC

    Didn’t I? :P

  • Auto Goose

    That is so fiendish when Chase Goose starts asking things like “the first digit of e” and “1245 * 0”. I was cheating (with AutoHotkey pressing left/right/shift for me), and it still kicked my butt until I got used to the different patters.

    AutoHotKey script I was using cheat follows (Shift F2 to start, Shift F1 to make it stop):

    +f2::SetTimer, PushLeftRight, 150

    SendInput {Shift down}
    SendInput {Left down}
    Sleep 10
    SendInput {Left up}
    Sleep 65
    SendInput {Right down}
    Sleep 10
    SendInput {Right up}

    suspend toggle
    SendInput {Shift up}
    SetTimer, PushLeftRight, Off

  • Auto Goose

    New lines were eaten, should be one command (SendInput, Sleep, SetTimer, suspend) per line. Indented between “PushLeftRight” and “return” and between “::” and “return”.

  • Hideous

    Different patterns? What patterns? It’s completely (well, pseudo) random.

  • Steve O

    Mark: I agree, the whole GDC Vault thing is a pain in the backside and really goes against the Indie spirit. Perhaps talks from AAA studios should be charged for, but I don’t like the idea of keeping the indie ones under wraps.

    I can understand how it makes sense to those who organise GDC to monetise this aspect, but I’m surprised as Indies we aren’t rebelling and doing things our own way rather than just being okay with this nonsense!

    Thinking about it though, I’ve no idea who does organise GDC, perhaps I need to do my research =P