Since working on Racer and launching it a few people have said, ‘oh it’s like such and such a game’ but I’m yet to find something that is truely as unique as this AND is in a browser. Racer is a multi-player, multi-device Chrome Experiment. A retro-style slot car game played across screens. On phones or tablets, Android or iOS. Anyone can join. No apps. No downloads. Just the mobile web. It’s now up for The FWA Cutting Edge Project of the Year. If you think it deserves it please cast a vote!
Here’s Racer being demo’d at Google I/O 2013 – live demos are always nerve wracking, thankfully this one went smoothly.
Also awesome and cutting edge is that there’s also an installation version that runs on the same code base as the mobile game. The table was at Google I/O 2013 and another Google event ‘Zeitgeist’. Here’s a couple of pics of the table:
In addition to the table version, there are two flight case boxes containing a line up of mobile devices ready to play. This version also runs on the same code base. Here’s a pic of the cases and me demo’ing it at Cannes 2013 in the Google tent :
Kickstarter is an amazing crowd-funding system that lets inventors, artists – makers of all kinds – describe their dream project and define a financial goal that they must reach in order to get their project into production. The hoards of tasteful internet folk who believe in the vision and want a piece of the action can put their money down (typically between $10-$100). If and only if the declared minimum funding amount is reached, the project gets the green light and the money.
Kickstarter is full of success stories of the little people who would never get funded by professional investors.
What’s also starting to happen is big names are turning to this sort of funding model for adventurous or niche projects. If they have a reputation they can bank on it.
The key ingredient for a successful project is a compelling and convincing video and a big enough crowd of believers.
One such big name is epic historical science fiction author Neal Stephenson. I don’t want to give anything away about the project since it’s more fun to watch the video about it:
Indie Game looks like an exciting new documentary film about indie game development. The story follows the obsessive personal creative process of real developers making real indie games. Michael Dante DiMartino recognises it as a movie less about video gaming and more about the purpose and nature of Art:
Create fearlessly. Follow your passion.
The documentary follows the tumultuous emotional journeys of a handful of intensely-driven dudes as they forced these games into existence, facing adversity at every level-up. The film itself was acclaimed at the Sundance Film Festival and is featured in Possible Worlds, the 2012 Canadian Film Festival in Sydney at the Dendy. The feature was inspired by a short film about Alec Holowka of Infinite Ammo. Yes go watch that too.
It seems like the technological and economic conditions are right for indie games. It even seems as though independent video games are in a renaissance. I’m old enough to remember the 1980s where the shelves of suburban computer stores were usually stocked with video games with photocopied disk and cassette sleeves – home made Commodore 64 computer games. Back then we were naive enough to believe that video games could be made without large teams of dedicated artists, producers and QA people, even going so far as to believe it was possible for an individual programmer to make something fun to play! Such childish idealism! People actually paid money for those home made games, if the price was right. Kids everywhere wanted to make their own video games and be like their heroes: people like David Braben and Jeff Minter. It seems like those days are back again. People are buying and playing video games made by individuals and small teams and this spells trouble for big dumb companies who have grown lazy peddling a catalog full of big budget mediocrity. What’s more, indie games frequently adopt a lo-fi styling using pixellated graphics as if to emphasise the attractively humble origins of the game project, or perhaps to highlight this fact:
Fun is resolution-independent.
In a twist of feel-good indie fate that is so perfect that a froth of conspiracy theorists will surely claim it was concocted by an evil PR firm for an old media kiretsu to lull us indie game fans into a false sense of disruptive innovation, the film project was hatched and funded on Kickstarter. They hoped for at least $15k but actually raised just under $25k from nearly 300 backers pledging anything from $1, garnering thanks, to over $300 in exchange for (amongst the special edition merch) having one’s own video game trailer tastefully appended to the movie!
If you’re in Sydney you can get a festival ticket for $16 (includes a free drink) and not only watch the movie, but see the video games first-hand as they will be set up to play. If, however, you don’t drink/live in Sydney/want to be seen in public, you can get an even cheaper fix as a digital download direct from the filmmakers. Just like buying a cassette from the back of an artist’s car.
Does this make you want to be an indie game developer? Are video games Art? Are we witnessing an indie games renaissance? What do you think of the movie?
That Neal Stephenson video is a classic. Kickstarter is getting more professional and competitive. I wonder if those VC guys really are nervous about crowdsourcing…? A thread started on Quora for the topic.
My favorite Kick Starter pitch vid so far from games industry veteran and ex LucasArts guy Tim Schafer great sense of humour and makes you feel like you’re almost going to be working with him on the project.
Both Stephenson AND Schafer made their targets on Kickstarter. Double Fine raised 3.3M when they only aimed for $400K and Stephenson scraped by with $526K of the $500K target. Venturebeat reported that Shafer is making a documentary of the Double Fine Adventure game with the additional Millions.
Kickstarter is a great platform for fans to vote with their dollars for awesome projects, it’s also the perfect way for indie personalities to leverage their popularity.
So you know Portal, the little game that in everybody’s eyes single handedly created the genre “first person physics puzzler”. The much anticipated Portal 2 was released in 2011 and ever since, the portal gun meme has infected many games and popular culture.
We’ve blogged about the Super Mario Portal Mashup previously. And because portal guns are the bacon of video games – making everything better – why not start with the portal concept and mash it up with time dilation and discontinuity effects such as those that form the game mechanics in “Snapshot”?
Why not indeed?
Here’s Super Fun Dungeon Run:
You take photos which can be placed and then become portals that you can walk through, teleporting you like portals, to the position they were taken but with the crucial addition that they also hold time still until you enter them. Or until things exit from them! Ready to freak out?
And here’s 2d platformer Snapshot:
Which uses the snapshot mechanic in a way that brings to mind the incredible time-direction-reversing, lush, painterly Braid :
Is there no end to Portal Mashups? Not yet. There’s even a Minecraft Portal Mashup:
Evergreen highschool in the US sent their kids on a field trip to Valve, kids made their own levels, understood the value of working in teams and made some really cool stuff using physics, creative thinking and the latest technology… Better than the zoo?
Minecraft redstone creation videos are always trying to one-up each other. The nerdcore amongst us compete to take the crown for fastest or most compact implementation of some kind of machine – or to build something everyone before had assumed was impossible.
With this in mind, I introduce you to toasttify’s Piston Powered Monorail. Give it up for toasttify!! woo!
So obviously there are much smaller ways to do this… but this looks FREAKIN AWESOME
Hans Lemurson has managed to do that seemingly impossible self-reflexive stunt that all computer science students joked about once the first freaks began building a working computer within Minecraft by using redstone circuitry. “Ho ho, wouldn’t it be cool if you could build a computer out of redstone circuits in Minecraft that was able to run Minecraft! chortle chortle, hee hee.
Well since someone had already built a version of the game of Pong, Hans figured that some kind of Minecraft might not be impossible to create…
… and then he disappeared for some time.
When he re-emerged from his troll cave, Hans had constructed a 2D 8×8 pixel version of single-play Minecraft with mutable world pixels, player pixel and even turn-based gravity! He’s even managed to include a means to build Jump Towers!
It was supposed to be a simple demonstration of how to make a fireplace in your house. It became much more than that. In fact after several million youtube views, it’s pretty much become “how NOT to make a fireplace in your house”.
Wooo! Getting excited. Minecraft 1.8 will be out within a couple of weeks according to mighty creator, Notch. In this preview from PAX, he demos many of the new features.
He also goes on to explain how the feature list for 1.8 became too large and Mojang has decided to split it into two releases, one that will become 1.9. This is good news because it means that 1.9 is already begun and 1.8 is soon upon us.
Some of the features demoed:
NPC Villages, little towns with little automatic people getting busy in them
New effects for explosions, lighting (including brightness control) and fighting.
New larger and more pronounced biomes
New terrain such as Rivers, Ravines and Plains
New Monster! Creepier than a creeper: The Enderman. Harmless until you look at them. They teleport towards you and can pick up blocks!
Experience points – though they have no effect yet
Hunger – you need to eat regularly even if you’re not damaged
Sprinting – short bursts of speed
This all amounts to a lot of excited little minecrafters who can’t wait and are counting down the sleeps until 1.8 is released. GO NOTCH!
This is an interview from a couple of years ago from Tim Sweeney, genius megacoder from Epic, developers of Gears of War, Unreal etc.
I just read it and thought it was interesting to hear how a big successful game developer got started (small).
What id had done — let’s put it that Wolfenstein and Doom were so far ahead of everybody else’s wildest dreams, that it just seemed crazy to try to compete. But it was around 1994 when I started to see that, yeah, they’re actually beatable.