For anyone who hasn’t read The Weekend Fix; firstly, hello new readers, and secondly, as the name suggests, it’s a little feature lovingly put together to give you a little bit of gaming goodness, whilst the press release fairies and news announcement gnomes are sleeping over the weekend.
Sometimes the best gaming stories don’t come through regular channels — sometimes, they float along by word of mouth, or require a little bit more investigation. This has never been more true than today (excluding the dark days, pre-internet). Since the resurgence of indie game development, the process of finding interesting indie games, or even exciting tales of development has become really challenging. Indie games lack a clearing house and many developers don’t have the time or resources to manage PR, and considering that just on the App Store alone there are more 120,000 games… well, people don’t have time to play all of them, put it like that.
This week I focus on interesting and emotionally engaging indie games. Hope you enjoy.
Something to listen to
Emille was one of the game’s created for Molyjam, and was inspired by the merger of two tweets.
- and -
Game where you must hold onto your mother’s hand. Let go for more than X seconds and it’s game over”
The game is still very much a work in progress, with just a few levels, because of a gamejam’s time constraints, though I’m really excited, mainly for one reason: its soundtrack. It’s rare to find a game soundtrack that can carry its own without its gameplay, but I’m pretty sure its composer Sean Ursani has managed a first, to perfectly set a tone for a game that a has yet to be completed.
Sean Ursani’s soundtrack is lofty and foreboding, and for some reason I’ve been playing it on loop, for at least the last hour. There’s something gripping about it that I can’t really explain — I probably should read more about music theory. The entire soundtrack is available for free on Bandcamp, but it’s more than worth the buck that Sean is asking for it.
You can get the game on iTunes or Google Play, though you can breeze through the game in a couple of minutes, but with a little bit of foresight it’s possible to see what Emille will become in the coming months.
Something(s) to read
Little Miss Left Behind is an interesting little game, with one of the most enthralling uses of Kinect I’ve ever seen and created by three experienced developers. Your goal is simple, raise your arm to hold your mother’s hand with safety, or lower to collect items, with the risk that entails. At MolyJam London I interviewed the game’s makers, Sarah, Shaz and Wolfgang. We talked about the realities of Kinect, being lost in malls, Peter Molyneux and Guinness.
All three of the developers have days jobs in the industry; Sarah is a UI and concept artist for The Creative Assembly, Shaz a developer at Honey Tribe Studios and Wolfgang a programmer and producer at Funstorm.
Both Sarah and Shaz have blog posts, which tell how Little Miss Left Behind came together, both of which are a great source of information if you’re interested in getting into game development.
Sarah Ford’s Post – Little Miss Design Process
Shaz Yousaf’s Post – MolyJam 2012
Something to play
Someone obviously shares my fantasy, and has decided to create a zombie experience different from anything previously seen in the genre. Class 3 Outbreak allows you to survive in real world locations, from your home town to London and New York, all thanks to Google maps. The standard weapons are here. You even have the opportunity to build barriers and search buildings, although, having the game projected onto an area of your choice makes everything more interesting and feel more realised.
The game is integrated into Facebook, meaning that you can invite friends into the fray and defend your chosen location. It’s the closest you’ll get to a real world zombie outbreak… for now.
Something to keep an eye on
Some games are simple in their aesthetics though deep and beautiful thematically — Thomas was Alone is one such game. Whilst the game isn’t a massive project, nor is it brainchild of a veteran developer, it does provide something more than a little bit special.
The game’s creator, Mike Bithell, calls Thomas was Alone, “a minimalist game about friendship and jumping.” Whilst that description is stringently to the point, that is the game’s focus, to make you feel attached to a character whilst platforming… except, well, that character is a rectangle.
The game was released last year as a Flash prototype, and for a game built in 24 hours, it was surprisingly deep and well featured. All things considered, Thomas was Alone, even in prototype form, was engaging emotionally. To this day I’m not sure whether I played it because of the gamer instinct of completing one level after another, or a genuine emotional engagement with a block. Either way, i’ll admit I played that game through more times than I think the developer intended.
Since Thomas was Alone‘s release 16 months ago, Mike has been slaving away at the project in his spare moments in order to make the prototype into a full game. Thomas was Alone is now expected to release around in May or June for PC and Mac.
You can head over to the game’s indiegogo page for more information, an opportunity to name a character, and a chance to contribute to the project, if you wish.