I’m here in San Francisco for GDC ’12. Yesterday was the Independent Games Summit – lots of really interesting and inspirational talks by some of the big figures and innovators in indie games.
The clear highlight so far has to be a game called ‘Dog The Wag’ – an ingenious invention by Douglas Wilson of Die Gute Fabrik, the creator of Johann Sebastian Joust. It pretty much involves tying a PlayStation Move controller to your butt, getting down on all fours and shaking it around as much as possible, while other ‘dogs’ try to beat you up (or at least wrestle you to the ground and press a button on your controller). Hilarious, slightly awkward and nothing short of amazing. The game certainly goes a long way towards his rhetoric of embracing the flaws in new technology rather than fighting against them.
Today is the Social and Online Games Summit – so I’ll try to post something vaguely more sensible. It will probably have something to do with leveraging the synergies of low-hanging fruit on Facebook and very little in the way of booty shaking. Which is sad.
As a fan of indie video games, I always enjoy seeing obscure titles getting mainstream attention. Earlier this week, The New York Times ran a lengthy story about Tarn and Zach Adams, developers of Dwarf Fortress – a non-graphical (if you don’t count text as graphics) dwarven civilisation simulator – not exactly the most saturated of gaming sub-genres, to be sure.
In development since 2002 and available for free since 2006, Dwarf Fortress tasks the player with managing a group of dwarves as they set up and maintain a settlement, digging out caves, building fortifications, developing farming and industry. This is just the early-game, mind you. Later you’ll be building an army, developing an economy and dealing with the demands of nobles and possible a king – if you last that long.
Rock Paper Shotgun already took the headline “My Chemical Romance” so that one will have to do.
If I look a little tired today, it’s because I was extremely late last night. It wasn’t my fault, however. It was already pretty late when I decided to retire for the evening, but before I could hang up my smoking jacket and pipe, SpaceChem kicked my door down and forced me to party til 2:30am. Indie games, man. Those guys can be @#$%s.
But I did have a hell of a time. SpaceChem from Zachtronics Industries is design-based puzzle game that has you combining elements into complex molecules and loading them onto awaiting spaceships. It’s pretty hard to explain so maybe you should just check out the trailer.
Pretty crazy looking, sure. The trailer can make it look pretty daunting, but be assured that the game takes you gently by the hand for the first half a dozen levels and explains the mechanics clearly before leaving you to it. I found that in no time I was making stupidly complex machines in multiple factories in order to fill waiting spaceships with sulphuric acid. Hang on. That doesn’t sound like a great idea to me now.
There’s an extremely lengthy demo to get you hooked and then it’s $20 for the full game.