May 182008

Rosemary Mosco's AlbacrossThe second round of the Artsy Games Incubator went terrific: all five of us ended up with videogames you can download and play: check out Mouse Police, Bungee Fisher, Cupcake Challenge, Albacross, and my own Baby Runs This Mofo.

It’s a good excuse to interview one of the founding sponsors of the AGI project, Jon Mak, a Toronto game designer who Newsweek dubbed a “wunderkind”. His abstract videogame Everyday Shooter came out for the PS3 and now it’s available on the PC — if you’d like a chance at winning a free copy, leave a comment in response to the MP3 interview I did with him below. In it Jon explains why Guitar Hero is fun despite being a sucky game, that he learns best through failing, how he made ES while working part-time for money thanks to context switch, & how the work gets better the more you take away.

No Flash? Get the MP3 here.

  3 Responses to “Free Artsy Games Released”

  1. I love this initiative! Games for everyone by everyone. Weirdest award goes to “Mouse Police”. I’m not sure if I should be eating mice or not, I’m not sure why I die, and I’m really not sure if I’m “ready to pupate”. I do know I played it three times and am still confused (in a good way). One things for sure, cats make great game characters. Chat noir would be boring without the kitty. It’d be good to have some simple instructions in navigating scratch for the uninitiated.
    All the games were great first steps and I can’t wait to see what happens out of round 3.

  2. Good ramblin’ interview.
    a few thoughts.
    guitar hero is fun because of the maximum output for minimum input rule, that’s true. But I think it’s also fun because it’s actually more than just “press the button when we tell you”. In fact if you play it that way you won’t get very far. You have to “lose yourself” into the music (like you do in DDR) in order to actually succeed. This is key, and not a superficial element of the gameplay. (Of course I base this on half an hour playing it in a Best Buy, but I’m pretty sure I’m right). It means that when you play well, you actually feel like you’re playing the music and that’s the hook that keeps you coming back.
    Your talk about zombie movies and 28 Days Later got me thinking about humor in games. My two favorite recent big budget games are Portal and GTA4.Both these games have a sophisticated humor that teases the player’s pre-conception of what a video game should be. I like this trend, it treats gamers with more sophistication than is usually allotted us. Even the upcoming Bad Company seems to combine satire with its violence.
    Lastly on graphics – yes Jim, I agree that seeing every pore is not important. I think there is a plateau that we’ve reached, and gamers are turning to innovative gameplay instead of high end graphics as the first thing they look for in a new game. You only need to look to the success of the Wii and the failure of Assassin’s Creed for proof. But it’s getting to the point that wanting better graphics makes you uncool. 2nd Life is awful. Why? Because the graphics look late 90’s at best and there’s no voice chat. (That and because everything you do and create there is owned by an American mega company.) I love the wow factor of playing a great looking game. Plus you say we’re “near photo realistic” but I think we’ve still got a long long way to go. I cannot watch a realistically rendered video game character talk without thinking about the uncanny valley. Lip sync is a huge problem, and until it’s fixed I’ll keep skipping every cut scene that I can.

  3. I hear ya on the wow factor. I like my shiny shiny too.

    I don’t think lip sync’s causing the uncanny valley, otherwise dubbed movies would be scary (and not just hilarious). It’s the 3D models — they’ve got a slight sheen or something.

    According to this article, “In November, 2003, Linden Lab made a policy change unprecedented in online games: It allowed Second Life residents to retain full ownership of their virtual creations.” Unlike the EULA of Facebook or MySpace, where content added is owned by the corporation.

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