quinta-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2016

The Witness

Jonathan Blow is the game designer behind Braid, one awesome 2D platform game that uses time distortion as gameplay. In Braid, you can manipulate time to avoid death, solve puzzles, send a shadow to the future to perform an action, create “bubbles” of time lapse and many others cool mechanics. It’s one of my top 10 games. Check the trailer below:



In January of this year, Blow launched his new game: The Witness. Similar to Braid, it’s a puzzle game, but in a first person point of view. The mysterious narrative puts you in an abandoned and colorful island, full of digital screens. Each screen has a kind of an enigma that conducts you to the next one. Each puzzle solved gives you a small piece about the enigmatic history. You can check the main idea in the game’s trailer:



Points to highlight in the experience of the game:

1) Jonathan Blow recreates the classic mechanics of drawing a line through a labyrinth. Using colors, spatial restrictions, different shapes and logical reasoning, the game designer put the players’ mind to work, many times. The level of resolution of some puzzles is impressive.



2) The scenario is part of the narrative, and it works as a tool. Every single detail and object in the ambient contributes with the history. The island is full of statues and behind them there are hints for the plot. There are also some digital recorders with voices saying facts about the place. The colors of the trees, the direction of the light, the passing of time etc. everything could be an element for the story.

3) The game is full of references from movies, literature and other games. I found lots of similarities with Adolfo Bioy Casares’ “The Invention of Morel” book.

4) It’s a daring production. The Witness is a very artistic game. It explains little to the player and, most of the time, it’s essential to explore and use your mind to try to solve the puzzles.

I’m still playing the game, but the experience – till this moment – is strange, difficult and relaxing.

#GoGamers

segunda-feira, 7 de novembro de 2016

INSIDE: an obscure ludic experience in a dark landscape

Limbo, created by the independent studio Playdead, was my favorite game in the year of 2010. I think I might have played the full game around seven or eight times. It’s a simple puzzle-platform 2D game, but the narrative and dark ambience won my attention in an epic level. Six years later, Playdead launched another big hit: INSIDE.



Put the mechanics and gameplay from Limbo in a blender. Add some dystopian elements from George Orwell’s “1984” novel and mix in a pinch of technological horror. There you have it: INSIDE. The gaming plot is about a nameless red-shirted boy that must survive in a hostile futuristic ambient, trying to avoid well-equipped guards, killer dogs and natural disasters. As the story goes, you will discover parts of a huge conspiracy that aims to create an abominable creature. To go further in the narrative, the player must solve puzzles using things that are scattered on the scene; sometimes, they seem pretty obvious and sometimes not too much. I want to highlight the “mind control” puzzles where you put a device on the boy’s head to gather zombie-type characters from the scenario to help you (a very similar mechanics from the game Swapper).

Check the gaming atmosphere and gameplay in the video below:



The soundtrack is another incredible feature from the game. During all the experience, you can hear a very disturbing soundscape. INSIDE’s soundtrack is very similar to Zoät·Aon’s album “Star Autopsy” and Robert Rich and Lustmord’s “Synergistic Perceptions”.





INSIDE
is not a horror game, but it can create a unique atmosphere of fear and despair with the strategic use of its dark scenario, obscure music, horrible deaths and dangers in the journey. Saint (2014, p.3) argues that the mixture of fear and the sense of impotency (two basic features of this game) can create an aura of horror and a deep dive in the game’s reality. But, in this context, it’s important to remember that the “term horror is extremely broad and covers an expansive range of themes, experiences and reactions” (MARSHALL, 2014, p.60). INSIDE offers a different specter of horror/fear/terror. It’s subtler and demands the use of the players’ imagination to complete some points from the narrative.

In other words, INSIDE’s context works with the immersion in the dark reality of the game and the empathy we can feel for the fragile character fighting the dangers.

When we feel with other individuals or characters we not only use our imagination in order to undertake a shift in our cognitive perspective and imaginatively to experience the world from their point of view but we also use our imagination to adopt the assumed emotional state of the target individual. That means, when moviegoers or readers* feel empathy with a character, they perceive the events in the story from the spatio-temporal position of that character and at the same time experience emotions that match those of the target character in terms of quality, albeit maybe not in terms of quantity” (TRIEBEL, 2014, p.5).

INSIDE is a masterpiece to discuss questions about game design and narrative. It’s an awesome example of how the classic platform format still can be creative, immersive and full of meaning. In this ambient full of “ludic fear” there’s a crucial question: why do some players search for fear and other bad feelings in games? To solve this puzzle, we quote Suits (2005, p.55) who says, “Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles”.

*We can include gamers in this context



References:

MARSHAL, James L.. The potential and limits of a visual arts practice. IN: SMITH, Shilinka; HILL, Shona. Transforming fear, horror and terror: multidisciplinary reflections. Oxford: Inter-disciplinary press, 2014.

SAINT, Michelle. Horror in art, horror in life: its nature and its value. IN: SMITH, Shilinka; HILL, Shona. Transforming fear, horror and terror: multidisciplinary reflections. Oxford: Inter-disciplinary press, 2014.

SUITS, Bernard. The grasshopper: games, life and utopia. Toronto: Broadview Encore Editions, 2005.

TRIEBEL, Doreen. Manipulating empathic responses in horror fiction. IN: KATTELMAN, Beth; HODALSKA, Magdalena. Frightful Witnessing: the rhetoric and (re)presentation of fear, horror and terror. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2014.

domingo, 30 de outubro de 2016

A Brief History of Graphics

An awesome class about gaming graphics. A great timeline to understand the history of videogames.



#GoGamers

sexta-feira, 21 de outubro de 2016

Book: Play Anything - the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, and the secret of games

I bought a new book for my ludic library: Play Anything - the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, and the secret of games. Written by the game designer and philosopher Ian Bogost, the book is an awesome discussion about limitation, boredom, games and fun.

You can buy on Amazon. Click here.



Check the synopsis below:

How filling life with play—whether soccer or lawn mowing, counting sheep or tossing Angry Birds—forges a new path for creativity and joy in our impatient age.

Life is no game. It’s demanding, boring, and rarely fun. But what if we’ve got games wrong? Playing anything—whether an instrument, a sport, or a video game—takes hard work and makes absurd demands. Where’s the fun in that?

In Play Anything, acclaimed philosopher and award-winning game designer Ian Bogost reveals that play isn’t a mindless escape from boring reality. Instead, play is what happens when we accept limitations, narrow our focus, and—consequently—have fun. Which is also how to live a good life. Manipulating cards to make a poker hand is no different than treating chores and obligations as tools but which we can discover new happiness.

Ranging from Internet culture to moral philosophy, from ancient poetics to modern consumerism, Play Anything reveals how today’s chaotic world can only be tamed—and enjoyed—when we first impose boundaries on ourselves.


#GoGamers

domingo, 9 de outubro de 2016

Horizon Chase – a Brazilian game

As a Brazilian game designer, I like to discuss and bring some Brazilian gaming examples to this blog. Today, I want to talk about Horizon Chase, one very cool game that is a tribute to classic arcade racers.

Created by Aquiris Games Studio and launched in 2015, the game won many prizes and it’s a master class on how to use mobile media to give players a good experience. Check the trailer and gameplay below:



Some important game features to highlight:

1) Horizon Chase is a causal game and its gameplay is created in a simple and intuitive way;
2) Graphics are completely adjusted to the gameplay – the roads, cars and landscapes work together in a very intuitive mechanics;
3) Freeware model for gaming distribution (the studio created this product to win prizes and acquire “symbolic currency”);
4) Horizon Chase dialogues with new and old gamers with its retro mechanics, with a cool, modern layout.

The Brazilian gaming market is coming up with great ideas every year and mobile platforms are a good possibility for many companies. We don’t have a triple A industry here, but there are other options to show the work to the world.

Click here to access the site and download it for free on Apple and Android platforms.

#GoGamers 
#GoBrazilianDevs

quinta-feira, 22 de setembro de 2016

Rock Flickz: download it now!

This month, my new mobile game, Rock Flickz, was released. I already talked a little bit about the game in this post and now you can download it in the App Store and Play Store for free.



I created this game in a partnership with the digital agency Sioux, from São Paulo and the site Shovel Music. Rock Flickz is a casual experience with a “match the color” mechanics. In the background, players can listen to music from Brazilian independent bands and share their impressions about them. The game has a business model structured in advertising and partnership with a music site named Shovel.

Download it now! Experience a true Brazilian indie game filled with Brazilian indie music! Click here to access the official site.

One more important information: today we celebrate FIVE YEARS of Gaming Conceptz*! Cheers, my friends!

#GoGamers

*Check the first post here.