I was recently linked to “Convergence,” the first game by a group called Streetlight Studios. It’s a Flash game about growing up and making choices; it could be described as a mix of “Passage,” “Pathways,” and “How to Raise a Dragon,” which is a pretty amazing combination.
The game asks you to follow a character from infancy to old age, making choices along the way. Infancy makes you crawl around your house as a baby getting toys before your sibling, in an odd exploration platformy way. Adulthood has you balancing love and work; I’m glad that they didn’t make this drag on too long. Shades of “Every Day the Same Dream” here. Old age, at least in the ending I got, was more of a little vignette to cap off the choices made in the rest of the game.
Looking up at my description, this game sounds like a mixing-together of various art games, and it’s definitely inspired by the work others have done before, but the polish and design in “Convergence” makes it feel fresh. Definitely something to check out for fans of blocky pixel games about life and choices.
Cave Story is a classic of the indie games movement. It single-handedly showed many people that a single developer could make a game with dated graphics that was as good as AAA commercial games. This was already clear to some, but Cave Story‘s prominence means that it has heavily inspired much of the work done by the modern indie games culture. There are a lot of things that Cave Story does well; its handling of mood and narrative structure are great, as well as its balancing of humor and pathos. One thing it does badly at, however, is providing the player with effective choice and agency.
I’ve finished up a little game that’s partially a test for a conversation engine I cooked up. It’s called “Narthex.”
After a long journey, you will reach the Narthex, the waiting place before the oracle. There you must wait until your time. Then you will be given the answer to a single question. This game has two endings. The second is not worth getting.
Play “Narthex” at Ludus Novus.
The players in a tabletop roleplaying game never do what you expect them to.
Case in point: I’ve just started up a campaign of Promethean. It opens with the player characters being drawn to a mysterious, sprawling house, where they discover an otherworldly being called a qashmal who dispenses a cryptic riddle.
This is the second time I’ve run the beginning of this campaign with different players each time. The first group did what I expected: they searched the building top to bottom for clues, then proceeded to follow up on the riddle. This latest group, however, decided against that.
In this podcast, I talk about exploration games. Exploration games, as I categorize them, are games with an open world that offer an array of paths at any one time. They’re awesome because they appeal to players’ curiosity and completionism, and they help deal with player frustration.
The music for this episode is “Space Doggity” by Jonathan Coulton, and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 license.