My new first stop tomorrow when the E3 halls properly open: the Ubisoft booth, hoping to get a closer look at Child of Eden, the new motion-controlled game from Rez creator Q? and Ubisoft.
Q? have evolved Child of Eden beyond the sharp, vector-line world of Rez to a lush, bio-luminescent seascape, but look to be retaining its tunnel-vision gameplay, now with Kinect and PlayStation Move gesture control. More on this if and when I get my hands on it! Read the rest
Microsoft were the first to bat at this year's E3 videogame expo, before its official Tuesday opening (following Nintendo and Sony's own presentations), with both the bacchanalia of Sunday night's Cirque du Soleil-headlined event to reveal the final form of its motion-control system now known as Kinect, and with this morning's press conference to show what the next year has in store for their flagship Xbox 360. Here's a quick rundown of what we learned:
1.) Microsoft are releasing a new, slimmer Xbox 360 model this week.
The new model, simply being referred to by Microsoft as The New Xbox 360, will be sold at the same $299 pricepoint as the current Xbox 360 Elite, but will increase the hard drive size from 120 to 250 gigs, and come standard with a built-in wi-fi adapter.
2.) Microsoft are banking on motion-interface Kinect to make the Xbox 360 a new "family console" choice.
Previously known as Natal, Kinect is a motorized camera and motion sensing bar that adds a controller-free gestural interface to the Xbox 360, due for release in North America on November 4th for a yet-unannounced price. On the console level, Kinect will add both voice and virtual touch controls to the 360's interface, as well as face recognition -- selecting your profile amongst the many on your console was demonstrated by simply facing the camera and waving. Read the rest
Tomorrow I'll be headed out for week at the yearly-roman-orgy-of-videogames that is E3, and while it's not quite the indie tour-de-force of GDC, there will be a good enough number in town to make for some interesting times.
Case in point: before the expo properly begins, games-culture shop Attract Mode, Giant Robot and upstart non-profit LA Game Space will be partnering to do a free, public live event with Gaijin Games, creators of yesterday's top recommended game, Bit.Trip Runner.
The Bit.Trippers will be having their games projected onto Giant Robot's GR2 building itself -- as all games should be -- and GR.eats (their accompanying restaurant) will be offering a special Bit.Trip menu, as well.
So, you should come out! It's probably going to be pretty amazing. It'll all be taking place Monday, June 14th, from 7:30-10pm at GR2, 2062 Sawtelle Blvd, and will mark the first of a new bi-monthly series of similar 'Game Night's.
More information is available via Attract Mode and Gaijin Games. See you there!
Get this game: the pitch-perfect pitfalls of Bit.Trip Runner ... Read the rest
Looksley's Line Up [Nintendo, DSiWare]
It must've been just coincidence that Nintendo released head-tracking downloadable game Rittai Kakushi e Attakoreda (Hidden 3D Image: There It Is!) in Japan just weeks before going on to announce its actual 3D DS followup, still codenamed the 3DS, especially with the confusion that followed, where many thought the demonstration video above was for the latter.
By now we know the forthcoming handheld's 3D will have little to do with tracking technology, but Looksley's Line Up (as Attakoreda has now been released as in the U.S.) still might've made a nice showcase title for the new tech. Read the rest
Bit.Trip Runner [Gaijin, WiiWare]
Much has already been written (lots of it previously on Offworld) about Gaijin Games' approach to retro-inspiration with their Bit.Trip series, a franchise which digs even further back than the usual 8-/16-bit classics to gaming's earliest iconic mascots -- the block, the paddle, the ball -- and brings them forward into the 21st century with their rainbow-tinged chiptune-laden signature.
Their first three games Beat, Core, Void are suitably stark, purist games, at heart, interaction at their simplest, and almost damningly difficult, for the amount of "full screen at once" observation they require.
And then came Bit.Trip Runner: a jog forward in inspiration from Pong to Pitfall!, the first to put their Commander Video mascot at the fore, and, put plainly, the best game they've created yet. Read the rest
Picross 3D [Nintendo, DS, Amazon link]
Writing about Picross 3D turns out to be more of a challenge than expected not because it's not a fantastically inspiring game, but because there's little to be added that Margaret Robertson didn't already lay out succinctly in her Offworld writeup of its import debut over a year ago.
We were obsessed with it then as much as I have become re-obsessed now, not just because the lineage of logic puzzles that came before it have remained an underdog favorite genre, but because it truly is -- as Margaret said -- the world's best representation of an entirely under-realized game design verb: sculpting.
Borne of Nintendo's original reimagining of the popular pen-and-paper logic puzzle pursuit known as nonograms (well before sudoku would, somewhat unfortunately, claim the ultimate logic crown [nonograms honestly being the more stimulating and rewarding game!]), Picross 3D is the Michelangelo equivalent to the original Picross series' semi-Seurat-ish pointillistic painting. Read the rest
Cave Story [Nicalis, WiiWare]
Japan has always had its own version of an "indie game" scene, but one that's carried a certain amount of "books read right-to-left" unfamiliarity. Speaking very generally, it's never had quite the same amount of experimental flair that's taken root in the West, sticking largely to traditionalist takes on top-down shooters (see especially: Kenta 'ABA' Cho), fighters, and visual novels, distributed as hobbyist/amateur boxed goods.
Which is maybe what made Cave Story such a surprise on its initial late-2004 release. Daisuke 'Pixel' Amaya's five-year, spare-time one-man-show was, like its Western kin, a spot-on mix of platforming, shooting and exploring -- a love story to the early 8- and 16-bit games that laid the groundwork for so many indies over the past however-many years (and would itself do the same, with ' Read the rest
WarioWare DIY [Nintendo, DS, Amazon link]
The most common pitfall suffered by would-be game designers? It's not one of language learning, or one of logic, or even one of graphical/musical skill -- it's scope. Far too often, first-timers eager to bless the world with the massive, sweeping epics they've had pent-up since their youths spent wandering Hyrule or Midgar or Britannia run face-first into a brick wall when they realize how near-impossible it is to create that coherent, engaging world as an amateur.
It's a problem borne of thinking of games as worlds rather than games as rules, and it's what makes WarioWare DIY quite possibly the best tool for aspiring designers yet, especially one available at retail.
Nintendo's long-running and (at its debut) groundbreaking WarioWare franchise has always been predicated on discrete games played for 5-10 seconds at a time, in rapid succession, and it's precisely that stripped-bare approach that makes it an ideal launchpad for re-wiring the way aspiring designers think about what makes games fun. Read the rest
This is, I suppose, as much my fault as anyone's, but over the past few months, Nintendo has been moving from strength to strength with a handful of first-party and indie-developed releases that few are giving them due credit for.
To remedy that, then, over the coming week I'll be highlighting one DS or Wii game per day -- either retail or downloadable -- that's been flying too far under the mainstream radar for too long (read: a game that isn't the otherwise obviously wonderful/blockbuster Super Mario Galaxy 2).
I'm kicking that off starting now with a short look at WarioWare DIY -- Nintendo's best attempt at raising a new generation of game creators by instructing, rather than simply inspiring. Read the rest
Rizzoli publishing imprint Universe has officially announced the October release of 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die -- the latest in their series of essential books, albums, paintings, foods and beers -- of which yours truly contributed about a whopping 1% of that total.
The book was edited by my former Edge Magazine editor Tony Mott, and contains contributions by a handful of my favorite writers, so even though I haven't yet got a galley-glimpse of the finished product, I can just about guarantee it's going to be a good one.
The book's already up for pre-order at Amazon, and, should you make your way chronologically through its list, probably will indeed just about last you all of your remaining years.
1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die [Rizzoli/Universe] Read the rest
After making their million dollars in the charity-driven Humble Indie Bundle, all four of the indie game developers that promised to release their source code have prepped and released that source.
Bundle organizers Wolfire have the relevant download info for all four of the games, at the following links: their own Lugaru HD, Cryptic Sea's Gish, Frictional's Penumbra and Bit Blot's surprise addition, Aquaria.
The Humble Indie Bundle [Wolfire]
Humble Indie Bundle hits $1m, goes open-source, gets 4 day ...
Humble Indie Bundle adds Samorost 2, teases source code release ...
World of Goo, Aquaria devs announce pay-anything charity game ...
Linux users twice as generous as Windows users Read the rest
OneBigGame -- the charity-focused games publisher you will hopefully recall as being behind Zoe Mode's excellent music puzzler Chime -- has just announced the next release in their ongoing fund-raising catalog.
This time it's WINtA, a new iPhone game designed by NanaOn-Sha's Masaya Matsuura -- the developer responsible for foundational music games Parappa the Rapper, UmJammer Lammy and Vib Ribbon -- with the help of Dutch developers Triangle Studios.
Descriptions of the game itself are vague, for now: OneBigGame says that it "combines elements of pattern recognition challenges with the natural tendency of humans to tap along with music and words", but at top is video of an early prototype of the game from last year's GameCity festival that should give you a better idea of what to expect.
As usual, all proceeds from sales of the game will be going to charities like Save the Children and Starlight when the game is released on the App Store later this summer. Read the rest
We haven't seen or heard much from Sweden's inimitable indie dev Cactus since my last extensive introduction to his Lynchian-disco-punk world. Apart from winning the 2010 IGF 'Nuovo' award for his psychoactive platformer Tuning, his Gamma IV entry (video below the fold) has essentially been his sole major unveiling in quite some time.
Just to prove he's still hard at work, though, he's updated with the smattering of concept-proofs above, and they're as strong a showing as ever. My personal favorite: the apparent human-to-car mod preview at top right, which I'm crossing my fingers is merely the select screen leading to the Cronenberg-ian future-human autobahn game I never knew I always wanted.
I'm not dead! [CACTUSQUID.com]
Cactus flowers: an intro to the indie game mind warps of Jonatan ... Read the rest
It might not be the one currently sweeping megaplex theaters, but it's probably the best (and least likely) videogame film adaptation you'll see in a while: Seni Kovski brings Molleindustria's previously highly recommended Every Day The Same Dream beautifully to life, with about 99% of the twists intact (the budget, apparently, wouldn't allow for rental of a cow).
You'll probably want to play the game first to appreciate the structure.
Pragmatism not idealism: Molleindustria's Every Day The Same Dream ...
Boing Boing: Games To Get Read the rest
Basically at the exact moment when I thought to myself, "I should maybe hold off on posting any more Katamari things", along comes Kate Elizabeth's stunning art nouveau tribute, and how could I resist. See the original sketch here, and her process animation here. [via Alex Litel]
Image: Katamari's Prince, bronz'd
Get This Game: Katamari creator's Noby Noby Boy stretches onto ... Read the rest
OK look, let's set aside -- if you would -- the whole "it's actually Link, not Zelda" thing and just appreciate how nice animator Carlos Ramos's Gashlycrumb-Tinies-inspired drawing turned out, and think about how desperately he needs to expand it to the other 25 letters.
'Z is for Zelda' by: me a million years ago. [Carlos Ramos]
Carlos Ramos: "India" painting show
Carlos Ramos paintings Read the rest
You've already seen an extensive breakdown of the concept art behind Double Fine's nü-cult-classic Brutal Legend right here on Boing Boing, but above, interface designer Joe 'codeloss' Kowalski goes awesomely in-depth on work he put into the menu and title screen systems -- a system brilliantly aping the wonderful yesteryear of gatefold sleeves and ballpoint-pen scrawled notebooks.
If you're still a stranger to its foreboding metal world, see our Games To Get page for links to newly discounted copies of the game, or visit Double Fine's own shop for autographed copies & ephemera.
Thrashing, mad, metal: the art of Double Fine's Brütal Legend ... Read the rest