Friday, April 27

Three Great Independently Made Computer Games

Here are three great independent games made in the last few years. Like music and film, independent game makers are producing the best content, often on their own, putting in countless hours for very little money. Why? Because they are artists, and if they don't they will die.

1) Cave Story - A great Metroid-like game. You can shoot missiles, fireballs that roll along the ground, a stream of bubbles that turn into ninja stars, and other cool weapons. You befriend a group of rabbit-like things and start protecting them from The Doctor and his minions Balrog and Misery. Excellent level design, a good health/weapon experience mechanic, whereby your weapon becomes less powerful when you take damage, great music, the works. Released in 2004 by Daisuke Amaya after 5 years of development. Links: Wikipedia Entry, Download.

2) Dwarf Fortess - I'm a little daunted by this game. This is a Dwarf simulator: you control 7 dwarves, each identified with a different colour ?, and you set up a camp by unloading things from your wagon, digging a hole in the cliff, moving the rocks left over from the digging, etc. Eventually you will be building things like tables, coffins, and aquariums, attracting nobles to your cave and fighting off beasts. The game is incredibly complex and "realistic", for example, to make steel for weapons and other things, you will need: limestone, wood or coal, hematite, and pig iron, and you will have to combine them in different quantities at the right time. The whole game is done with ASCII characters, like other roguelikes. Made by Tarn and Zach Adams, released in 2006 after 4 years of development. (Try a premade world first, as creating a new one can take the computer an hour to do).Links: Wikipedia entry, Download.

3) Dwarf Complete - This game is the latest by On of Eyezmaze, who made Grow, which I first discovered at Chad's a few years back. Dwarf Complete is completely done in Flash. It's very much like Zelda, with puzzles like push the block on the button to open the door, step on the button to turn the direction of the cannon, but with much more challenging puzzles too. It only takes a few hours to complete. Great sound effects, puzzle design, and pace. Plus it's got autosave. Links: Dwarf Complete, Other Eyezmaze games.

Why are these games so great? For the very reasons that most of the games coming from the big developers aren't: they're free, they are intended for a large audience equipped with computers two years old or older, with the exception of DF they are intuitively controlled, they are made by a small number of people who love what they are doing, and they are fun to play.

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Monday, April 2

Tricksy Radios

Back when I used to announce the news at the radio station in New Glasgow, we got all of the sound bites in a big digital .wav file over the wire, and, sometimes, as I was preparing clips of George W. Bush for on air, I used to extend the long pauses between his phrases ever so slightly, to make him sound that much more of an idiot.