Posts with ‘messhof’ Tag


By: Derek Yu

On: January 13th, 2014

After what seems like forever on the exhibition circuit, Mark “messhof” Essen’s fighting game Nidhogg has been finally released, on Steam. In it, two players face off in a fencing duel across one of four surreal arenas. Death is temporary, but comes swiftly and gives the other player a brief opportunity to race towards the “goal-zone”, thereby winning the match (and receiving the honor of being devoured by a dragon). Early versions of the game let you attack, parry, jump, and throw your sword, but the release adds some new moves, like sweep kicks and jumping off walls.

Nidhogg offers local and online multiplayer, a single-player mode, and a tournament mode that supports 3-8 local players. The dynamic soundtrack is by electronic musician Daedalus.

Read the rest of this entry »

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 “”" 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 “”" 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!

Space Invaders: Art in the Computer Game Environment

By: Guest Reviewer

On: February 20th, 2010

Night Journey

[This is a guest article by
Thomas Maxwell-Smith. If you’d like to contribute a guest article to TIGSource, go here.]

Space Invaders: Art in the Computer Game Environment is a not-exactly-overdue attempt at moving on the debacle of a debate that is ‘are video games art’ – from whether the two should share a sentence to whether they should share a room.

Situated across the three New Media-focused gallery spaces of Liverpool’s Fact Cinema, the exhibition seeks to “[explore] the increasingly blurred boundaries between videogame spaces and real spaces”, and whilst utterly failing to make any sort of coherent comment on such a thing (what game doesn’t “explore space”), it’s still a pretty fun look at the benefit of experiencing games beyond the comfort of your living room.

Recessed into a slightly gloomy alcove, the exhibition starts with CuteXdoom II, by Anita Fontaine, the sort of deranged nightmare a techno-obsessed, 4-year-old Tim Burton might have imagined. Based on the Unreal Tournament III engine, it features enough malevolent looking teddy bears dripping in day-glo neon to overlook the fact, as a game, it solely amounts to fetching a few tokens and watching the screen collapse into an (admittedly rather cool) green, pixelated mess.

And everything started to fall

Exhibited as the winning entry in a competition to make a game based around the theme of ‘art’, And Everything Started To Fall, by Alexitron, is an enjoyable, if predictable, extension of the ‘Profound Indie Game’ template. It combines classic old school game mechanics with social and existential commentary – in this case, the journey through life. Urged by time (the rising screen) into an ever-upward ascent of near impossible 2D precision platforming, you start at birth, jumping though school, work and marriage until ultimately death. Different paths through the game represent different choices in life (e.g. skiving off smoking is an easier route than studying) and the character’s movements slow down in old age. While there are some neat ideas, its place in the exhibition merely highlights the generally naïve, gimmicky approach games take towards presenting meaningful messages.

Oddly, the exhibition doesn’t provide information on how any of the games should be played, and while most are simplistic enough to be relatively accessible for the general audience, Onteca’s Monsteca Corral is impenetrable. Even the pleasant lady paid to stand around being pleasant and helpful couldn’t help. According to Onteca’s website it’s an RTS being released on WiiWare later this year. Hopefully they’ll provide instructions.

The largest space of the exhibition is also the most traditionally ‘art’. COSplayers, by Cao Fei, is a video installation that attempts to illuminate the average life of a typical Chinese Cosplayer beyond their presumably hectic fan convention commitments. Cue shots of grown men with enormous green hair, in leather bondage, eating TV dinners with their Mums. Beyond that is a pixelated video of some people doing parkour (Ludic Society’s Real Play) which completely fails to mention Mirror’s Edge or Cananbalt, some photos of Chinese World of Warcraft sweatshops with some fun pop culture economics about their impact on the game (Chinese Gold by Umbermorgen), and an umbrella that makes terrifyingly loud noises whenever you swing it (Amagatana by Yuichiro Katsumoto), although why you would want to swing it is anyone’s guess.


The room also features mainstream games GTA IV and Fracture, presumably because they let you explore a ‘virtual space’, and Counterstrike, because whenever you’re killed or shot in the game an elaborate looking contraption of blood bags will start leaking down the wall (Riley Harmon’s What It Is Without the Hand That Wields It). Finally, there’s a rather adorable make-and-do section from Aram Bartholl called First Person Shooter, where you construct paper glasses with FPS style guns in the lenses, enabling anyone who wishes to psychotically walk down the street shooting people with their imagination. At last!

The final area features a more eclectic selection of games, the least traditional being LevelHead by Julian Oliver. Like Sony’s interactive card game for PlaystationEye, a camera picks up the movements of a cube you control, with each face appearing on the screen as a level. As you tilt the cube the character inside the cube moves accordingly. It’s a pretty basic puzzle game and the technology is about as advanced as the power light on Project Natal, but it’s also one of the most intriguing and accessible games on display.

Perhaps the best game of the exhibition, Night Journey, by Bill Viola (a non-game artist) and the USC EA (!?) Game Innovation Lab, is a supremely creepy affair dripping with unresolved suspense. Wholly immersed thanks to a projection screen the size of a house, you control some… ‘thing’ crawling painfully slow along the floor, the grainy black and white visuals tearing and bleeding into one another as you explore the barren landscape to no apparent end. There’s even a ‘reflect’ button that triggers ominous noises as you pause to look at things sinisterly! God knows what it’s about, but this needs to be an actual game.

The final highlight, from the generally rather awesome Mark Essen (Messhof), is also the sole game to have been specifically commissioned for the event. Far more subdued than his usual games, Malfunction tasks the player with guiding a astronaut through the gravity-free bowels of a spaceship. The twist is that the playthroughs of past attendees aid you throughout your experience and you work with people you’ve never met to try and beat the game. It’s a fascinating example of how games can be stretched and fitted for a gallery situation. Aside from the aimlessly spinning bodies of the former players, it doesn’t appear to be more than a stylish bit of ambient gaming with a few switch-pushing puzzles thrown in.

Elsewhere, ubiquitous thatgamecompany art game staple Flower is bestowed a peacefully secluded projector for a contemplative experience. Colossal Cave Adventure by William Crowther & Don Woods is a classic text adventure which would probably be totally amazing if only the dialogue options didn’t feel as futile as asking hole in the wall about its holidays. Lastly, a video demonstration of the confusing, and sadly unplayable, Video Terraform Dance Party, by Jeremy Bailey: it shows a city-building game that for some reason ends with the burgeoning metropolis going bankrupt, fruitlessly declaring war on its neighbours and celebrating its demise from an imminent atomic bomb by turning purple and dancing to ’There’s No Limit’. Will Wright take note.

The fact that the most successful games of ‘Space Invaders…’ come from a traditional, non-game, artist (Night Journey), have been created especially for exhibition (Malfunction), and don’t feature a 3rd-party Xbox 360 controller (LevelHead) is telling for this and similar events in the future. Rather than placing ordinary or commercial games on a pedestal, developers should be being challenged to utilize the environments and opportunities afforded by galleries. By engaging, exciting, and surprising the audience, games can deliver something unique to a gallery, opening them up to a whole new audience and invigorating an established one. But for exhibitions like this to truly succeed they shouldn’t be trying to justify today’s games as art, they should be trying to inspire tomorrow’s art to be games. Then maybe, that debacle of a debate might really start to be worth having.

Space Invaders: Art in the Computer Game Environment runs at Fact Liverpool until tomorrow.

Cream Wolf

By: Derek Yu

On: February 18th, 2010

Cream Wolf

Pixeljam (Gamma Bros., Dino Run) and messhof (Flywrench, Punishment), have teamed up to create a new “8-bit Rejects” game for Adult Swim. It’s called Cream Wolf.

TIGdb: Entry for Cream Wolf


By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: August 17th, 2009


I should have seen this on either Heather or Renaud‘s blog, but of course I saw it on ’ll never get away with this, Offworld!">Offworld.

Stimergy is a game by Kokoromi‘s Heather Kelley and ’s Site">Polytron’s Renaud Bédard (Team EMERGENCY HAMMER), created in under 36 hours for the Bivouac Urbain game jam in Quebec. In the game you must guide ants toward a picnic blanket using attractive and repulsive pheromones. According to Renaud:

"The game was made from scratch in C# 3.0 using the Truevision3D engine with no prior design, graphics or sound work. All the graphics in the game are procedural, and the gameplay itself is based on AI rules, basically a cellular automaton plus the notion of “stigmergy” from the insect world."

You can find Stimergy here, along with a postmortem and time-lapse video of the creation of the game. And on the forums Renaud was kind enough to post a link to the rest of the Bivouac Urbain games, which includes entries by Anna and Messhof, among others. Pictures of the event can be found here.

The Thrill of Combat

By: Derek Yu

On: June 1st, 2009

The Thrill of Combat

Messhof’s first shareware title, The Thrill of Combat, is a cooperative helicopter surgery simulator, where the goal is to incapacitate unwilling donors and harvest their organs to meet your quotas. I know, it sounds almost too good to be true.

The game is disorienting as hell, even more than Party Boat, which I now realize was the warm-up version for babies and little girly people. In TTOC there are more flashing lights, the controls are even more drunk, and the screen zooms in and out in a way that would make it hard to navigate even if you could fly straight in the first place. Meanwhile, you have to zap people and dodge missiles… and eventually drop the helicopter’s gunner so that he can harvest the organs in splitscreen. If you have a friend around, one person can control the helicopter while the other controls the gunner. (But I can’t imagine this makes it much easier.) Once the gunner has collected enough organs, the helicopter needs to pick him up and take him to the boat to offload them. Then land. And repeat.

Many of messhof’s games are a good fit for the gallery setting, and this one’s no different. It’s stylish, provocative, and made for two people to play while others watch. And everyone will be puking at the end of the night. $5 is a fair admission for this game, provided you are prepared for a physically demanding experience.

TIGdb: Entry for The Thrill of Combat

All Aboard the Party Boat!!

By: Derek Yu

On: May 20th, 2009

Party Boat

Avoid the Missiles!!

Flip for Multipliers!!

In messhof’s Party Boat.

TIGdb: Entry for Party Boat

messhof and cactus would like your brain to dance

By: Derek Yu

On: August 12th, 2008

I’m making this 3d motorcycle racing game with Cactus. We don’t have a name for it yet, but it’s looking pretty cool. It has a two player mode, split screen as well as online. The music in the trailer is John Marwin. –messhof

(Source: Tim, via the blog)

Photos: messhof at Light Industry

By: Derek Yu

On: July 24th, 2008


Here are a bunch of photos taken at messhof’s Light Industry premiere. Looks like a good turn out! But then again, they all look like they might be related to messhof. Hmmm…

Still, I wish I could have attended!


By: Derek Yu

On: July 16th, 2008


messhof’s latest game, Cowboyana, debuted last night at Light Industry in Brooklyn, New York. The game, which is set in the Old Pixelly West, is strictly a two-player same-computer kinda affair, so if you want to enjoy it you’d best find a friend to play with. Or perhaps an enemy? In Cowboyana you’ll be both – as the game moves from scene to scene, you’ll alternately find yourself fighting alongside your pal and trying to shoot him. Other times you’ll work together to pour whiskey shots. The game goes on indefinitely, but what happens in one scene can determine how later scenes play out. Get shot, and you may even end up as a horse!

As the game muses:

Hard to talk, drunk
Hard to walk
Hard to kill your buddy

Cowboyana oozes all kinds of Old West style and grit – I daresay more than any other cowboy game I’ve ever played. It also seems particularly well-tuned for same-room multiplay, although I’ll have to get my buddies over here before I can test that theory. In the meantime, you can read auntie pixelante’s thoughts on the game. She was at Light Industry last night playing it the way it was meant to be played!

TIGdb: Entry for Cowboyana