Tag Archives: mac

Double Fine uses Kickstarter to fund a new point-and-click adventure game

When I went to bed last night, I had no idea that Double Fine’s Tim Schafer had announced a new Kickstarter project, one asking for donations totaling $400,000 to fund and film the process of making a new “old school” graphic adventure game. When I got to work this morning and started clicking around the Interwebz while my emails downloaded I saw that this lofty goal–well, $400,000 is a lot of money in my mind–had already been met. Geez. Take that, rollercoasters that go from zero to sixty mph in three seconds. Without warning, two conflicting feelings hit me at once: rejoice and disappointment. Let me explain.

First, the rejoice. Good for them! Way to go, Double Fine! Way to go, adventure game fans everywhere! It’s always exhilarating to see a Kickstarter goal met so quickly, with passion and desire fueling every contribution. In his Kickstarter commercial, Schafer points out that if he were to go to a traditional publisher with the idea of putting out a new adventure game, he’d just get laughed at. And that’s probably true. The genre is certainly not dead, but it’s not as mainstream as first-person shooters or big budget epic RPG romps. By using Kickstarter, Double Fine can create a game for fans, funded by fans. That sounds pretty fantastic.

Second, the disappointment. I kind of feel like I went to bed and, unknowingly, in the next room over, a great ol’ happening party was happening. There was cake and spiked punch and board games and laughter and Queen’s greatest hits were playing in a constant loop and everyone was excited and so happy to be there. It was the type of party that would be talked about for days after. I missed all the action though. The party was a success, and I played no part in it. I could have and would have, but I was sleeping. I guess I’m just bummed that I didn’t get to be a part of making it happen, and am rather left to simply contribute a little more to the pile. I’m sure that sounds really stupid, but it’s how I feel.

There’s 33 days left to go for the Kickstarter, with extra funds being put towards making the game and documentary as strong as possible, as well as for porting it to other platforms, such as Mac and iOS. I might still donate for the $15 amount, likening it as a pre-order now that it’s clear that it will all come to fruition–or I might not. The game will get made, and Double Fine is tentatively shooting for an October 2012 release, wherein I could just wait and pick it up on Steam then if it looks like a grand time. Which it probably will, seeing who is behind it. I mean, I think people liked Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, and Grim Fandango, and I know for certain that I enjoyed Costume Quest, as well as the core game ideas behind Brutal Legend and Stacking.

A lot of Kickstarters that I’m aware of are more for indie projects, so it was a little odd to see a known company like Double Fine using it to help get a game made. But to each their own, I guess. We are living in the future, after all. 2012 and flying cars and meals in pills. That said, where are the Kickstarters for Suikoden VI? Or Primal II? Or Jak 4? Well?

Humble Indie Bundle is back to it with the Humble Voxatron Debut

I didn’t expect to purchase the latest and greatest from Humble Indie Bundle–which, when announced on Halloween, was simply Voxatron Alpha–but then they went and threw in two more games, specifically Blocks That Matter and The Binding of Isaac, both of which I’ve seen in action thanks to GiantBomb‘s Quick Looks and found appealing. To get all three games, you have to pay above the average price, which at the time of purchase, was $4.75. My lunch at Panera Bread earlier this week was double that (turkey artichoke panini and broccoli and cheese soup for the curious). Included in the purchase are two soundtracks, as well as the promise of further updates for Voxatron Alpha, a game not fully complete yet, hence the alpha-ism.

It’s all good either way because I’m pleased to announce that all three games run–and run amazingly–on my Mac. My Macbook’s torrid history of trouble playing newer games has been steadily documented here on Grinding Down. Knowing that, I continue to try, and as each game loaded up, I held my breath with worry. Would it load at all or just quit to the desktop? How unbearable would the lag be? So many questions, none that would ultimately be answered. Every game loaded without a hitch, and plays very smoothly. This warmed my gaming heart and fingers immediately.

Of the three, the one I played the most of after installations were done was Blocks That Matter, a cute puzzle-platformer that has some elements of Minecraft to it. You control a tiny drillbot and are trying to rescue your creators by navigating through each level to a magical portal at the end. The trick is in figuring out how to use the blocks you collect to build new platforms. The other two titles, Voxatron Alpha and The Binding of Isaac, are interesting, if very chaotic. A lot of runnin’ and gunnin’ if you know what that means. Maybe I just need to get used to the controls more. Both require fast response skills, and sometimes that’s harder to do–at least for me–with a mouse and keyboard than a gamepad. We’ll see if I can get any better at ’em both.

If past bundles are any indication, there’s the strong possibility of Jeffrey Rosen adding more games to this bundle before it closes for good. Since I’ve already bought in, hopefully that means I’ll get further perks for free, such as soundtracks, additional gamey games, and pivotal updates, which is always nice. If anything, these bundles are just a great way to show support for indie game development, something I’m growing increasingly aware and curious of, and whether or not I love every game I buy, I still like to be involved.

Bouncing around the cosmos with Osmos

I think it’s safe to assume that I’m going to be talking about many of the indie games I’ve recently added to my collection over the last week or so. It started with just five darlings from Humble Indie Bundle 3, but that list quickly expanded as bonus games were added to the collection, including everything from a former bundle, one that I missed out on when it released in December 2010. Let’s just make things simple and list ’em all, okay? Okay, good. Glad to hear you’re a fan of lists, too. Ka-ka-kaboom:

  • And Yet It Moves
  • Atom Zombie Smasher
  • Braid
  • Cogs
  • Cortex Command
  • Crayon Physics Deluxe
  • Hammerfight
  • Machinarium
  • Minecraft (free for a limited time)
  • Osmos
  • Revenge of the Titans
  • Steel Storm
  • VVVVVV

Yes, I put them in alphabetical order. You wanna make something of it?

Anyways…thirteen games. Probably half don’t work on my crappy Macbook. I dunno. I haven’t spent too long trying to see. I do know that Atom Zombie Smasher, Cogs, and Crayon Physics Deluxe definitely don’t work. Will have to try others later. I really really really hope Braid plays as it’s something I’ve been interested in for a long while, having heard it’s a great puzzler and a great story.

One game that does work on Mac OS 10.5.8–and plays extremely well–is Osmos. It’s an ambient strategy game set in outer space, giving the player control of a tiny mote which is trying to grow bigger by absorbing larger motes. You do this by bouncing/pushing the mote across the galaxy; however, moving the mote makes it lose some of its shape, getting smaller and smaller, making each click vital to its very survival. You better be hoping you’re moving towards another mote you can absorb, otherwise it’s best to just restart the level. As Isaac Newton would say, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This actually leads to a surprising amount of strategy.

Oftentimes, strategy can equal stress. You plan and plan and plan–and then everything goes wrong, leading to last-minute decisions to save your skin or keep things together. I didn’t really find that to be the case with Osmos though. It’s actually quite hard to plan ahead; the level starts, you see a mote nearby, try to click over to it, and then watch as it is absorbed by an enemy mote, turning it red, turning it deadly. You have two options: try to click away or just charge head-on, meeting death, which is the quickest way to restart the level. Other levels require you to be big enough to absorb a specific mote or chase down this one mote that is constantly avoiding you. Can get quite challenging, but even after failing like seven times in a row, I was having fun, learning, and just enjoying the all-around chill vibe the game’s soundtrack evokes.

I especially like zooming out using the mouse-wheel. Really gives off a great sense of size and wonder, and strengthens the idea that we’re all just tiny motes in a vastness, desperate to get bigger, hungry to get big.

Have only done the first few levels, having gotten to the point where I can decide my mote’s path. Looking forward to more Osmos, especially after chatty titles like Bastion, horrible vehicle sequences in Half-Life 2, or simply pure boredom on my Nintendo 3DS.

Totally died five times while reviewing Minecraft’s first hour of gameplay

At long last, my dear readers…at long last! I’ve mentioned here at Grinding Down and more than occasionally tweeted about the Minecraft review I’ve been working on over the last few days. Well, it is now done and posted and ready for your consumption. Head on over to The First Hour to see how I spent sixty minutes in the blocky world of Minecraft!

That about does it for this post. Short and sweet.

NOTE: The images in the review are from my own gaming experience, and those are my drawings on top. I like how they came out. Hopefully you do too.

Free-roaming and not knowing what to do in Minecraft

About a week or so ago, I openly mused on my Twitter profile about how I both wanted to give Minecraft a try and at the same time…did not. The former desire comes from the fact that Minecraft-related things are everywhere across the Internet; can’t go to YouTube without seeing some video about how this person and that person faithfully recreated Middle-earth or Mass Effect‘s The Citadel or all of Westeros. Can’t visit any kind of videogame-related blog without seeing a post or two or three devoted to why this beta game is greater than fully completed titles. Crazy things like that. The game’s infecting my brainspace, and I love its trixel art style, which helps it stand out as, yes, indie, but also something different. The latter desire…well, I guess you could say I was a bit worried about getting addicted to it, hard.

Magically, the peeps behind Humble Indie Bundle 3 were listening in, and have now included a free Minecraft acceptance coupon for as long as the bundle is running. No, wait. The bundle ends in five days. So that’s not correct. Customers that bought the bundle can play Minecraft for free up to…August 14, 2011. Ten more days. Now I have no excuse but to give the game a try and see if it’s for me, if it’s something I’d like, if it’s something worth devoting time and wrist cramps to on my crappy Macbook or if it’s better to wait for the Xbox 360 version.

All of those questions will be answered. I’m currently writing up a special first-hour review of Minecraft for, well, The First Hour naturally. And by special, I mean special. Just y’all wait and see…

In the meantime, I’ll continue to roam aimlessly, punch trees and grass and pumpkins, and die every time the sun goes down. That’s been my experience so far, but who knows–it might all just click randomly. Do I really have to build my own fort?

The Humble Indie Bundle 3 is ready for your buying

There’s a new Humble Indie Bundle available, and as usual, it’s a “pay what you want, get whatever you want” kind of thing. The five games that come packaged in this third bundle are And Yet It Moves, Cogs, Crayon Physics Deluxe, Hammerfight, and VVVVVV–five titles I’ve never heard of before, but am willing to try simply because these bundles now have a solid history of packaging great unknowns together for super cheap. They take indie leaps of faith to a whole new level.

I quickly dropped some monetary beans on the package when I got home from work last night, downloading my Mac files and then trying to load up each game to make sure they all worked; last time, none of the games from the Humble Frozenbyte Bundle ended up working on my now extremely out-of-date Mac 10.5.8 OS. Sadly, I could only get one game to run, and that was And Yet It Moves, a quirky platformer with a nifty shtick; turning the world with the arrow keys affects how your dude moves around it, as well as helps solve puzzles. It’s got a great ripped paper look to it, and I’m looking forward to playing more when I’m not currently sweating bullets in a tiny, cramped attic apartment. Disappointed, but not yet done. I decided to utilize the Steam key that came with the HIB3 and see if that would help me. It did…for one game! I can now play VVVVVV, but only by opening through Steam; otherwise, the game crashes from the get-go.

I guess two out of five isn’t bad for what I paid.

I’m naturally hoping to either set up my oldish PC when Tara and I move into Grimmauld Place next month…or purchase a fairly inexpensive Windows laptop some point down the line. Not just for games, mind you, but I think I’m getting a little tired of the roadblocks my Mac constantly hits.

Regardless, I’m always happy to support such a cause like the Humble Indie Bundle, even if all the games don’t end up working for my Mac. I will get to play them eventually, thanks to their DRM free stance. Don’t let this deter you, especially if you got a working PC. It’s a great deal you don’t want to miss, and you have about 13 more days left to not miss it. Please tell me how Crayon Physics Deluxe is.

30 Days of Gaming, #23 – Game with the best graphics or art style

Gameplay always trumps graphics for me, but there are the occasional videogames where the graphics or art style simply just can’t be ignored. It almost gets in the way of whatever you’re trying to get character X to do, and you have to give in, take a hit, sit back and gaze upon the sweat and tears of artists and designers and visionaries alike.

In this generation of gaming, high-res graphics are pushing the boundaries of real and unreal, bringing in unbelievable lighting, textures, and movement. Those cars in the latest Gran Turismo games might as well be plucked right off some heavily raced and televised track; those plants and jungle bushes in Uncharted are covered in bugs, and you know it; those faces in L.A. Noire are true faces, skinned off their respective actors by sick-minded men like Dr. Hannibal Lector and tossed into the game to give you a realism unlike any you’ve previously seen. There’s a new level of game graphics, as well as a new horde of gamers demanding they get better and better. That’s cool and all, but I’m a firm believer that we’ve reached the peak–or a few feet from it–and that this is as good as it gets, which is fine because realistic graphics are not the be-all, end-all, and you just have to look at the indie gaming scene to see what can be done with less…or more creativity.

Games like Limbo, PixelJunk Shooter, Bit.Trip Void, and The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom all stand tall with stellar gameplay and a look to match it. Would Limbo have been as haunting as it was if you could actually read the little boy’s expressions? Most likely no. Would those quirky pie puzzles feel as quirky if it wasn’t for that silent films-esque presentation? But enough about those titles. Let’s get wet.

I think Aquaria has a fantastic look to it, nailing a world we honestly don’t know too much about and only get to glimpse sparingly through documentaries or movies or fascinating photos. Like in Finding Nemo, the scenes set underwater in the wild ocean where life is all colors and bubbles were a sight to behold. It’s so foreign and strange under the water, and yet it can be equally calming and uplifting, just floating in the blue, weightless, full of wonder. There are two men behind Aquaria, Derek Yu and Alec Holowka, and Yu was the lead artist. His work gives Aquaria a hand-drawn, storybook style, complimenting the 2D exploration gameplay. It looks gorgeous in screenshots, and then doubly in action. Loneliness is an important theme and feeling in the game; one certainly feels all by their lonesome when swimming gently through open waters or the kelp forest. Items are more detailed in the foreground, but blurry shadows and outlines of other structures in the background give off a great sense of scale. And brain coral never looked so brainy.

I do vow to return to Aquaria and Naija’s troubles someday, maybe a day when my Mac isn’t on the verge of breaking. At least for one more look at beauty in motion.