We made a new game!

The Graveyard-song2

We have just released The Graveyard, a very short game that we’ve been working on in secret. Its about an old lady who visits a graveyard. She walks on a path, she sits on a bench, she listens. That’s it. Except that in the full version (only $5!), she can die.

Here‘s the press release.

Download the trial now!

And support your indie game developer! 😉

read a preview/review of The Graveyard on Rock, Paper, Shotgun!

Note: the Mac version is now a Universal Binary (meaning it will run on PPC processors in addition to Intel.)

Games less casual

casual games

All games are casual. Computer games are no exception. Games have been casual for centuries. There is no distinction, in terms of structure and mechanics, between a first person shooter and a game of pop the bubbles. Casual games are nothing new. And they are everywhere.

Contrary to popular opinion in the video games industry, everybody plays games! People play scrabble, they play chess, tic-tac-toe, cards, etcetera. People have always played games, casually. And now they play them on computers. The so-called rise of casual games does not exist. It’s simply people using computers (and other techno-gadgets) more.

Some computer games, however, offer more than casual entertainment. These games simulate believable environments and feature interesting characters, artificial intelligence, deep stories, sophisticated soundtracks. Games like this show us a glimpse of the future of the interactive medium.

But to this day, sadly, even most of these games still contain a mind-numbing layer of casual gameplay. Get the keycard, kill the boss monster, solve the puzzle, collect the gold, win some stupid game. Go to the next level, start again. Ad nauseam. Completely destroying the delicately woven layer of fiction and simulation that can be so rich and meaningful.

While we can play games with computers, we don’t need computers to play games. But to create an interactive illusion, an immersive and believable environment, a fiction that responds to your every move, requires a computer. This is where the heart and soul of computer entertainment lies. This is what we need to focus on.

The casual designers can continue to explore the myriad constellations of “interesting game mechanics” and “cool level design”. As they have been doing for centuries. We can even learn a thing or two from them. Accessibility for instance. While there may not be much difference in terms of structure and mechanics, the interfaces of explicitly casual games are often simply much better designed. Because casual games target everybody, their interfaces need to be intuitive and simple. There is no reason for interactive entertainment to be complicated.

Casual gameplay is universally appealing. Even on a computer. Everybody plays casually at some point. But these experiences are not meaningful. They are not important to most people. Casual game experiences are nowhere near as significant as experiences with film, literature or music.

If we want to realize the enormous potential of the interactive medium, we need to get rid of casual gameplay! Move on. And concentrate on the unique things we can do with this technology. Less casual, more ambitious, deeper, interesting, new.

Audio Games for DS Homebrew

HYENA DS logoSurfing for new thrills for my Nintendo DS the other day I was happy to find that one of my favorite homebrew devs Collecting Smiles, Jens Andersson of Colors! fame, has a new release just out!

The wickedly named HYENA is created to usher onto the DS the genre of Interactive Fiction, but with a twist. Using the unique qualities of the hardware he has created a system for the playing of “Audio Games” which can be played only with sound (a reading of the text via voice synthesis) and one button for interaction. Though if you keep the screen up you can also read the text and view graphics.

In addition he’s put up documentation for the scripting language so that anyone can make their own Audio Games. A pretty wonderful idea! This already has me thinking of ways the system could be used to create some interesting, and simple, audio/visual games. And I hope many people do come up with games for this.

The first game released for HYENA is Lone Wolf – Flight From The Dark… I’m in!

Games in Star Trek

When fantasizing about the future of computer games, we often think of the Holodeck: an area from the Star Trek science fiction universe where reality can be simulated in extremely convincing ways. The residents of the starships that house these Holodecks, however, do not use them for games.

Games on the Enterprise, on Voyager and in Deep Space 9, are generally more like electronic versions of our current board games than anything resembling a simulation.

Kal-toh is a Vulcan puzzle game.

Continue reading “Games in Star Trek”