While the people behind CarniVale get to savor the glory of the indie gaming scene with their prototype game, it’s time we check out the recent entries of the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab program of this year. Fresh out of the presentation held on September the 1st, here is what’s on tap from these bright young game designing stars:
What Is It: Shadow Shoppe is a word-assigning game where you are presented with a bunch of shadows of differing shapes and sizes and label them with one (or two) adjectives or descriptive words. Then, you have to remember which shadow gets which traits and description, and put it in the correct box. It’s pretty fun for a while, with the challenge level ramping up when you have god-knows-how-many shadows you have to label with two words, and then you lose track of which is which.
Possible Employers: Nintendo R&D1. The team here’s got a thing going on with the shadows and labelling theme. It’s ideas like these that could work in a minigame scenario, much like how Rhythm Tengoku and the WarioWare series are presented.
What Is It: This game pits two Aztec tribe leaders in a debate on who has the rights to obtaining the Sacred Grove. Presented in a cartoony manner, you play a God whose sole objective is to influence their dialogue via using four emotion cubes: Anger, Bravery, Fear, and Calmness. The conversation goes into real time; you can choose not to do anything and get an ending. The whole point here is to experiment and use the cubes at any time to see different endings to the game.
Possible Employers: Bioware. With conversation-heavy games that have an overall impact on their respective storylines like Mass Effect, Baldur’s Gate 2, and even the upcoming Dragon Age, the people behind Camaquen could show off their own unique brand of manipulating and enhancing dialogue trees and scripts.
What Is It: Pierre is a puzzle game in which you walk around a rotating globe collecting items that are adjacent to the centre pictures. Touching either spike balls or the wrong item that’s on the wrong end of the globe not only depletes your life, but also have some guy in a mustache either cheering you on or hurling insults at you. The game comes to a split-second halt whenever the mustached man appears, so it gets really annoying and unnecessary especially when you got a momentum going. The game also gets challenging in a good way, with the centre slowly rotating the opposite direction and red spike balls coming in at random intervals.
What could add more to the challenge factor if, somehow or other, the feedback affected the gameworld itself. For example, when the mustache man chastises you, the globe somehow spins slightly faster, or more spiked balls come in your way. Feedback that doesn’t affect the environment and just tug at your emotional heartstrings are null and void to gamers in the long run; there’s a reason most games are created with the “carrot-on-a-stick” mentality. Nonetheless, the game is a nice diversion.
Possible Employers: Lionhead Studios. Peter Molyneux’s studio seem to have a special knack with emotion-driven elements on-screen, what with games like Fable 2 and their way of handling the responsibilities of a hero and his actions.
What Is It: An overhead action game, you are a lost soul who has to search for a way out of what seems to be limbo. You have a radius of light surrounding you which can trigger enemies into awakening and chasing you down if your light happen to touch them. Getting hit by enemies result in your light source dimming; as the screen gets darker, you reach near death’s door. In some levels, you have to find your halo (placed usually on the opposite side of a map) to gain access to the exit.
The team behind this game did a remarkable job in creating a nifty simplistic art style that separates itself from other 3D independent games. I feel that the music, as adequate as it is, itself should also take centre-stage and help accentuate the art style and moody tone of the game.
Possible Employers: Self-employed, in the likes of Jonathan Blow and his game Braid. Abandon seems like a nifty title and with a few polishes and tweaks (some graphical tears appear on my comp, stage music could be more dramatic, more stages), it can be a nice $5 dollar title on Steam in the veins of Blueberry Garden.
What Is It: Touted as an educational game, Waker/Woosh is a 2D puzzle platform game that relies on the “learn by doing” principle set by old-school games. The sole mechanic of the game is the spherical devices which, when used, creates a platform maker that ascends or descends when you move forward or backwards respectively. Art style here is pretty cool and abstract too. Should be a hit to those who love their Flash browser platforming games.
Possible Employers: The Behemoth, who did games like Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid. The team behind Waker/Woosh seems like they can handle 2D-style games; why not find solace with a company whose passion is based off the 2D culture of the 80s and 90s?
What Is It: A two-player game in which you have to lead herds of water-stealing monstrosities to collide with each other. Just think of the recent downloadable game Flock!, only in 2D and in a constricted maze and with a second person to help you out. You can play the game by yourself, but where’s the fun in that?
Possible Employers: Pyramid. Why do I get a sort of Patapon vibe when I play this game? It’s probably the cryptic tribal aesthetics, but if the team on Dearth can somehow make the maze-style co-op gameplay more variable in the future, they could have something big on their hands.
Don’t take my word on these games. Click on the links and check them out yourselves; you’ll be pleased to know that the future of local games development is in good hands.