Tag Archives: casual gaming

Can’t escape smiling at this Ludum Dare game called BATHOS

If it wasn’t for Notch, I would have never even known about this crazy thing that recently took charge, known to indie game developers worldwide as the Ludum Dare. Basically, participants develop games from scratch in a single weekend–that’s 48 hours, okay–based on a theme suggested by community. This time around the theme is escape. Browsing through the 500+ finished entries is a bit daunting; some of them really do look great, and others…well, not so much. Unfortunately, a good chunk of them blur together.

The first submission I clicked on to check out was BATHOS by Johan Peitz, mostly because it looked like a SCUMM title, and those experiences always pull at my heartstrings. Seriously, there’s a Maniac Mansion vibe here. I’m super pleased to announce that the very first Ludum Dare title I’ve tried…is a winner! Well, in my book. I’m sure Notch’s entry is stellar too, but I haven’t attempted it yet, considering I barely understand Minecraft still, and I’ve been playing that for several weeks now. Anyways…

In BATHOS, the player wakes up in a supervised prison cell, naturally wanting to escape. The door is locked, but he quickly discovers many keys in his tiny, depressing cell room. Surely one of them will work on the door. And that’s it. Find the right key and get out of there. It sounds simple, but it took me about fifteen minutes on my lunch break to figure out, and the solution is delightful, obvious, turning this little indie bit of Flash wizardry into something truly charming. The graphics are clean and unobtrusive, and the game controls smoothly. There’s only so much our pixelated hero can do, but it all works. Picking up keys that don’t work and flinging them under your bed never felt so good.

One of the definitions for bathos is “an anticlimax,” and yes, Johan Peitz’s take on solitude, yearning, and escape most certainly is that. However, it might be the first time something so ludicrous has made me smile.

You can play BATHOS in your web browser by clicking this very sentence. Or, if you’re looking to download it for Windows/OSX/Linux, go here…just don’t read any of the comments below otherwise you’ll spoil a perfectly genuine gaming experience. And remember, this was created in under 48 hours. To me, that’s mighty impressive–and gives me hope that maybe one day I could make a videogame, too.

Breaking news: I bought the farm

…and by that I mean I removed the FarmVille app from my Facebook profile and no longer have to click, click, click until every crop has been harvested, every animal has been tended to, and every job has been done. It’s quite a relief actually, but truth be told…I was never a good farmer to begin with.

I signed up for FarmVille like countless others did sometime last year, curious to its appeal. I quickly found myself plowing some land and planting my first seeds. The crops grow in real time, meaning eight hours means eight actual hours. So once you plant your crops, you basically have to wait to get more money to plant more crops. Yup, it’s a cycle, and the cycle certainly can be addicting if you’re into that sort of work/reward process. While you wait, your avatar can decorate your farm with an assortment of farm-like and unfarm-like items, ranging from barns to hot air balloons to themed statues. You can also visit your neighbors (i.e., Facebook friends) and check out their farms, fertilizing their crops and feeding their chickens. But other than that, you must wait. And this will be how you play FarmVille for the first few weeks. It’s not until you level up considerably and get a decent chunk of change can you really design your farm to your heart’s content and focus on the crops you most enjoy growing.

But then the game plateaus. For me, this was around level 25.

At this point, FarmVille tried too hard to cater to every kind of gamer, casual and not. It threw in collections and ribbons (basically Achievements) and co-op gameplay and pet owning and headshots and tea-bagging and so on. The game also basically made it really hard to play without interacting constantly with neighbors and posting BS to your Facebook’s wall. In all of my 33 levels of farm powers, I might have posted a total of four items publicly; my sister made me do it. It’s not fun to do, and I feel annoying even just thinking about it. Sorry, Facebookers.

And so, just recently, I realized I hadn’t logged into my farm for a few days. My crops surely had withered away. My trees were most certainly all full of fruit, all ripe for the picking. I can see all my animals, all of them stuck forever in place, waiting for me to collect their feathers, calm them down, or gather up ice cubes. It seemed like too much for me, and I was not ultimately happy with the layout of my farm, feeling stuck; that said, I was also too lazy to start anew, and so my next option was to cut loose, set them free, and find something else worth clicking about on.

The app was removed in a matter of seconds, no bells and whistles, no hoops to jump through. Surprisingly easy.

I’ve always been curious about the Harvest Moon games, and I might have to try one of them out soon. Farming simulation can be fun, but for me…I need a little more direction than just plant, harvest, plant, harvest, plant, harvest, and plant, harvest.