“This is the sad tale of how the Dermonts, after twenty plus years of fruitful life and contributions to society, were torn apart after a vicious struggle with the undead.” — August 20, 2011
Noyb’s remarks: “Clever survival shoot-em-up. You control a family of four, each member of which only shoots in a single cardinal direction. Health isn’t some abstract number here, but is instead concretely represented by each family member, the loss of which has gameplay ramifications. Lose that family member and you lose the ability to shoot in that direction. Lose two family members on the same side of the original square formation and you also lose a bit of visibility on that side.
“This is a game where the mistakes permanently cost the player, where the range of options available to the player can only decrease as a play session progresses. Errors compound, as a single slip can make it easier for the enemies to catch you by surprise from a direction you aren’t equipped to defend. The Dermonts’ house seems like a safe bet at first, since it narrows down the angles of attack and the rough AI tends to get caught on walls, but you quickly realize that the walls and corners also limit your own maneuverability, creating blind spots you can’t fire at without stepping outside.”
“I don’t have the guts to complete this game. Do you?” — February 28, 2010
Noyb’s remarks: “Nor do I. But as I’ve said before, creating a game you don’t intend a player to win is a valid way to express oneself. Instead of trying to simulate and digitally replicate Thoreau’s experience in a full 3d environment, the developer highlights a perceived conflict in Thoreau’s philosophy of simple living against the social distractions and vicarious experiences offered by the modern computer.
“Like The Haunted Mouse, Walden: The Videogame is another example of exoludic play, a game which contains rules that the system itself is incapable of enforcing. And what’s unlikelier than a computer capable of ascertaining its own nonexistence?”
“5 games available NOW” — November 7, 2012
“give feedback. v1.3 is coming next week with 3 new games” — November 17, 2012
Noyb’s remarks: “Minigame collection thematically linked around the fictional off-brand monochrome GAMEDOG handheld, featuring warped or broken takes on space shooters, dating sims, narrative role playing games, sports. Games that might look and initially act like what we’re familiar with, but with something subtly wrong. Where some of the games are just playable enough that you can imagine a young gamer with nothing else to play putting in the time to understand and master these systems. It all trades on the notion that the GAMEDOG is a consumer artifact from the past you might have found in a yard sale, a system that came prepackaged with both cheap knockoffs and something more inscrutable.
“Quimdung is good at inscrutable, at evoking the presence of a larger world that’s more cohesive than the snippets you might see. Believer’s Beliefs, one of the games included here, evokes the disjoint narrative style Quimdung’s earlier Four Winds Fantasy DX, dropping the combat entirely in favor of an extended single-town trading quest. This extends to the external GAMEDOG interface — which hides secret games through a deliberately buggy scroll bar — and the game design shared among its titles, which give the player room to experiment with a directional pad and two action buttons among games that may or may not provide explicit instructions. What looks like a traditional hockey game reveals itself to be a first person shooter where you try to cause as much mayhem as possible before either team wins the game. A disturbing dating sim by guest developer thecatamites where the girls may not be present when you arrive, show obvious signs of trauma, sometimes kick you into another game entirely if you say the wrong thing.”
“Sweet beats ride while defeating monsters, overcoming avalanches, and trying to figure out why mankind shape-shifts into dreadful.” — June 17, 2012
Noyb’s remarks: “Like the developer’s own Pool Table, Cobalt Carousel also subverts its ZZT engine trappings, here offering the player a guided tour through a turbulent emotional state metaphorically linked to the titular carousel. The ups of a room filled with an absurd amount of health and ammo pickups, the downs of combat and empty rooms. A room dedicated to blinking lights that stop their manic flickering the moment the player steps on them. NPCs interchangeable with carousel rides. A narrator that tersely warns the player about harmless boulders but rambles on for a while before eventually telling the player that OH LOOK THE FINAL BOSS IS IN THIS ROOM. A short game so filled with ups and downs that the developer displays the music controls on every screen, asking the player to manually turn the jaunty background tune on and off as the fancy strikes her.”
“it is very scary and there are a lot of shockers in it, so be warned!” — July 21, 2012
Trigger warning: suicide
Noyb’s remarks: “It’s always a good thing when game development tools allow the user to extend functionality beyond what has been explicitly provided by the tool developers. Game Maker DLLs, Multimedia Fusion’s extensions, Twine macros, Ren’py’s integration with Python and PyGame. Making the base actions required to create a game as easy as possible, while still allowing those with a little knowhow to develop a game under fewer constraints.
“Not that those constraints are necessarily bad! Never, ever let someone make you feel like your game needs to be programmed from scratch or be technologically innovative or use the full feature set of your development environment to be a good game.
“Sleepless Nights didn’t click with me. I liked the backgrounds, but found the writing clumsy, characters painted in such broad strokes that I got little sense of who they are. Structurally, it does things I haven’t seen before in a Ren’py game, alternating between the standard visual novel conversations built into the engine and light adventure game scenes where you click on objects to observe them, although it wasn’t clear at first that the back arrow signifies the player giving up on searching a room, an action necessary to progress the story at times. The puzzles generally follow dream logic: sometimes trusting the player character’s intuition, sometimes getting killed for unpredictable reasons that only make sense in retrospect or operating under the assumption that the player character has the worst luck imaginable, including one that punishes the player for investigating following the standard adventure game procedure of investigating everything. For a horror game, I didn’t find it that creepy, mostly due to the generic storytelling, a mishmash of deaths and monsters that don’t give any one idea room to develop or breathe.”
“Over the course of five years, on and off, I worked on a MegaZeux game called Ryan Thunder […] I hope you enjoy it! I would love to hear feedback!” — June 15, 2012
Noyb’s remarks: “Forty seconds. That’s how long it takes to restart the game after you run out of lives. Forty seconds of waiting for the game over music to play, navigating the main menu back to your save file, waiting for the pre-level jingle to play. Forty seconds. Every time. Forty seconds, not including the time it takes to get back to the part where you died, the unskippable cutscenes along the way. This is not a game that respects the player’s time.
“Technically, it’s impressive: a fast-paced platform game made in MegaZeux, with a lovingly animated introduction and reasonably well executed in-game art style, although one in which instant death traps like spikes aren’t visible enough and which doesn’t always clearly telegraph what parts of the level are solid platforms.
“The game design itself isn’t tight enough to endure the post-death repetition. The platforming works well enough most of the time — focused on building up momentum to jump further and trigger a more powerful speed-based attack — but it sometimes fails when asking the player for precise movement. It also isn’t charitable when interpreting the player’s input every discrete timestep: in the screenshot above if I hit jump and left simultaneously when next to a pit of spikes, I die because the game’s code seems to resolve horizontal movement first, then gravity and collision, killing me *before* the player character ever jumps. I do like the boss battles. Their patterns are generally fun to figure out, finding gaps in attacks and places where I can build up enough speed for the special attack. However, their difficulty feels designed around a player who already knows them, making them unlikely to beat on a player’s first try.”
Note: This game requires a free MegaZeux interpreter.
“I am in fear to get arrested again, so tomorrow I will write something here if I was not arrested” — June 2, 2010
Noyb’s remarks: “Vasily never did make another post on the IGDA forums. He last appeared in August of 2010 with the third episode of this game. From what he’s said about himself online, Vasily is an actor and a game developer. A refugee from Russia that fled to America to escape their mental health system before finding himself struggling with the day-to-day hardship of being an undocumented worker previously diagnosed with mental illness, eventually being targeted for deportation. He speaks more about himself in an interview with TIGSource and the background materials included with each of his games.
“Refugee is an adventure game of sorts. Its structure reminds me of a terrible Mario fangame I made in middle school, mechanics changing so wildly among each scene that the game needs to explicitly tell the player how to control each scene and just what the new goal is every time, feeling oddly cohesive in just how consistently inconsistent the whole production is. The player follows orders, orders that aren’t always easy to understand in a world that is happier to kill the player than a typical Sierra game. This isn’t a game about figuring out puzzles, but more about experiencing a Kafkaesque nightmare, about trying to follow instructions in good faith only to move slightly out of line, fall into a spiked pit and die at the hands of a spear-throwing government official.
“From that first scene follows a violent fantasy about breaking free from federal custody in a private plane, cut short after crash landing on a island just as Vasily’s own story was cut short after his disappearance from the Internet.”
Thanks to Jeremy Penner for submitting this link.
“It’s called qmuHS, because it’s a backwards Shump. Clever eh?” — June 20, 2009
“qmuHS has a similar concept to Retro/Grade — play a shoot-em-up game in reverse chronological order, watching as your ship flies backwards from the enemy homeworld, ‘unfiring’ lasers as it goes — which earned a few IGF nominations in January of 2009 with a short prototype. While Retro/Grade turns the idea of a shmup played in reverse into a rhythm game focused on ‘catching’ predestined bullets that emerge from dead enemies, qmuHS takes a more traditional approach.
“Hitting enemies ‘undamages’ your ship. The game ends if your ship will have existed at any point in the timeline with more health than it should have, although the UI doesn’t make this maximum clear. You can hit the fire button at any time to spawn lasers from the top of the screen, which automatically home in on your ship, ‘unfiring’ at will. Hitting an enemy ship with one of these lasers destroys both the laser and the ship. Mechanically, this works well as a twist on standard shooting, but it doesn’t quite scan chronologically. Played forward, the player’s ship never fires that laser, the enemy ship does as it blinks into existence, giving the player some points. That paradox is precisely why backwards Mario game The Mushroom Engine denotes certain enemies as dead or alive, tasking the player to ‘unkill’ or avoid, respectively.
“Still, it’s a good experience with winding enemy paths, a solid reversed music track and a clever ending-beginning that explains the shape of the ship. A backwards game that isn’t so concerned with getting the player to tightly replicate a predetermined set of events.”
“Lawyers who solve their problems with giant tanks, what more could you want?” — June 25, 2012
Note: The game contains spoilers for the first Phoenix Wright game.
Trigger Warning: homophobic slurs
Noyb’s remarks: “The Phoenix Wright games contextualize courtroom arguments as dynamic combat. Anime speed lines, dramatic pointing, high tempo music, desk slamming and gavel hitting as punctuation. Phoenix Wright Tank Mayhem makes this subtext literal. No longer the underdog defense attorney, the Phoenix Wright in this game takes to court with a literal tank, calling the prosecutor a ‘faget [sic]’ and dropping out-of-character profanity all over the place. (The developer is young. If he hasn’t already, I’m hoping he learns that using bigoted language in this casual manner is not okay.)
“Mechanically, it’s yet another instance of the one-on-one shoot-em-up. Player character on one side, enemy bouncing around on the other. Large hitboxes and copious bullets make it impossible to dodge all or even most attacks, making the game a war of attrition, mashing your two attack buttons — graphically linked to Phoenix Wright’s ‘Objection!’ and ‘Hold It!’ catchphrases — and hoping your opponent’s health bar drops faster than yours.”