Tuesday, 4 March 2008

A Life in Silhouette

It’s been a while since I last posted due to a build up of work suppressing my thinking and writing time. I haven’t had the time to write anything significant, but I decided I wanted to get something out there nonetheless. This year I’ve been paying more attention to the growing indie side of game design, and have come across some truly incredible works. I still consider myself very new to the scene, but the following is a small selection of unreleased independent games I’ve really grown excited about. I can guarantee there’s plenty more upcoming games that’ll blow my mind which I haven’t stumbled upon in the indie blogs yet, but for now, this is what’s seriously impressed me so far.

Love




Eskil Steenberg
PC
Website

‘Love’ is a “first person not so massively multi player online procedural adventure game”. I have to admit, I’ve not played one of those before. It’s a game where it’s impossible to describe until something more significant is shown, but the website gives the impression of a small scale MMO where the player has control over the form of the environments around them. It seems personal, with an emphasis on ‘love’ instead of ‘combat’ (although who knows what the final game may include?) What makes it stand out is how stunning the world looks. That isn’t concept art above, that’s in game.

Braid

Jonathan Blow
Xbox Live Arcade
Blog

Blow had done enough on his time-bending side-scrolling platform puzzle game two years ago to secure himself the ‘Innovation in Game Design’ award at IGF, but has since been fine tuning his creation to perfection. He describes his game as “filler-free”, and after listening to hours of his various public lectures I don’t doubt his word at all. He really seems like a man who has an insurmountable knowledge of game design down to the smallest of details. What’s more, the art is done by David Hellman, famous for his work on the critically acclaimed and visually incredible webcomic, ‘A Lesson is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible’. That’s a partnership!

Lila Dreams

Creatrix Games
PC
Website

Creatrix Games is a three man team who aim to make a two dimensional MMO platformer set in the mind of an eleven year old girl named Lila. It’s these kinds of ideas that make the independent scene so compelling to me. Stepping past the genre clichés of level grinding, magic spells, dungeon rats and orcs, this Flash based game incorporates more original ideas than I can care to list. Check out their useful blog that has already detailed much of how the game will work. Nothing has been shown yet apart from concept art, so stick with their site for updates as they come.

Night Game


Nifflas
PC
Website

Nifflas became one of the most cherished independent developers with the creation of ‘Knytt’ and ‘Within a Deep Forest’. I’ve spent some good time with ‘Knytt’ follow up, ‘Knytt Stories’, and came away with a deep appreciation of the teams talent with art and music. ‘Night Game’ is there mysterious latest project. Not much has been shown yet, but we do know it’s set in a 2D world and is physics based with the player controlling a ball. Judging by the two screenshots released, Nifflas only seem to be improving on what they’ve accomplished so far.

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet


Michel Gagné
PC
Blog

Michel Gagné is a cartoonist, and has been involved in several films for Pixar and Disney over the years. One of his latest projects is this fantastically titled side scrolling shooter. It’s by far the most ‘traditional’ game on this list, but also potentially one of the most impressive. I suggest you take a look at the short trailer found on the official blog to see how much a creative art direction can do for classic gameplay.

Flower


ThatGameCompany
PlayStation Network
Website

After ‘Cloud’ and ‘flOw’ comes ‘Flower’, the game where you apparently play as … a flower. Little has been demonstrated since its announcement at 2007’s Tokyo Game Show, but I’d imagine it’ll be more of the minimalist gameplay style found in the team’s previous and excellent work. It reminds me of the ill fated ‘Pollen Sonata’ that almost made it to Wii before everything collapsed in on itself and the project was cancelled. Don’t expect this to fall down the same route. There ‘will’ be a flower/adventure genre by the end of this year.

Limbo


Arnt Jensen
PC
Website

There really isn’t anything I can say about this, other than the teaser on the site looks incredible. It’s been compared to 'Ico', and it has the same highly stylized silhouette look of several other games on this list, which seems to be a trend I’m not going to complain about. As far as I know the game has been in development for a couple of years and nothing else has been said or shown since its birth. In fact, I have no reason to believe the game is still in development. Nice if it is though.

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