Cool Games & Art

Indie game show and tell: Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight is an 2d platformer by Yacht Club Games. After a very successful Kickstarter the game was released on 2014 for all platforms. The game is Mega man like where you complete levels and each with unique bosses and collecting power up. Shovel Knight uses 8-bit pixel art to give a retro feeling. Even though the game has a retro graphical style, the game feels fresh and unique. The main mechanic of Shovel Knight have you jump and uses your shovel to bounce on enemies and other stuffs. Each stage is unique and difficult to some degree the bosses is definitely the highlight. There are 8 knights/bosses, a stage before the final boss and the final boss itself. The bosses is difficult initial but with enough practices, they can be defeated without taking damage. An unique mechanic to this game is that you can destroy the checkpoints in each stages. By destroying these checkpoints you essentially make the game more difficult for yourself. If you destroy all of them in a single stage you have to redo the entire stage when you die. I heard of this game for while and I decided to watch a let’s play of it. The let’s play convinced me to get it on my 3DS. By the time I got the game there were 2 DLC already released for free. Each DLC is a full on campaign, essentially you get 3 games for the price of one. Each DLC features one of the bosses as the main protagonist. Each knight plays differently and have different mechanic to make the game feel fresh. I later found out that the DLC was decided by the fans. Yacht Club Game held a voting poll for which 3 bosses to be the playable for the DLC. This fan interaction is one of the reason as to why I love indie games. Another reason that I love indie game it’s its music. Shovel Knight has a high energy and jumpy 8-bit soundtrack. The main composer of Shovel Knight is Jake Kaufman who is also responsible for the soundtrack of another famous indie game: Shantae. 2 music in the game was composed by the composer of Mega man: Manami Matsumi. I have completed the base game with along with both DLC and their new game plus, as well as some challenge mode. Shovel Knight is definitely one of my best game of all time.

Artwork #4: Alta Customs

Artwork #4: Alta Customs

V3 (Final Version)

You have a starting line that everyone starts off at, and your ultimate goal is to make it to the end of the board with a certain amount of points. Points are either accumulated from actions, stolen from other players, or obtained at the end of the board depending on how quickly you make it there (every turn, the end of the board gives you 1 less point, starting from like 20 points or something). Every turn, you roll 1D6 to move, and land on either a blank space or an action space. The action space can either a) give you an action card that you can use at any time in the game or b) immediately cause you to take a certain action, such as moving forwards/backwards spaces, sending you on a different path, causing ‘conflict’ or ‘benefits’ (point -/+), etc. This is decided by rolling the dice a second time and depending on whether you roll a 1-4 or a 5-6  decides if you draw an immediate action space (b) or an action card (b) .

Some of the actions can be negated or enhanced based on your species, or any action cards you have in your hand that essentially act as equip cards (green card, family members, previous favors you can cash in on). However, the main problem in the game is this: once one person reaches the end of the map, each remaining player has 1 more turn to make it to the end of the map before the ferry departs for the new land, regardless of how many points the player has. You must end the game with at least 20 points to immigrate, and depending on how many points you end up with decides what place you have in society. 20-29: Working Class. 30-35: Middle Class. 36-40: Upper Class.

So the game overall is more so about a few things: 1) how immigration isn’t fair sometimes even if you do all of the right things (the ferry departing without you on it) 2) how selfish or selfless people can be when you all face hardships together (whether you wait to go to the end so that more people can make it, at the expense of guaranteed points, and also whether or not you steal points from people or intentionally sabotage them) and 3) how not everyone has the same path to success (species, differrent actions and how they affect you, etc.)

 

I actually made this model after multiple different variations, each with a whole rules list. The second version I made was very different, and the third one is most similar to the first, but is more straightforward and makes more sense. I will only post the second and third versions as they aren’t as in detail as my first (the original).

Also, Original Board:

Games Final V2

There are going to be resource bars called criminality, happiness, and anger. You must have less than 2 anger, less than 2 criminality, and more than 2 happiness to successfully enter Alta. You start with 2 anger, 0 criminality, and 2 happiness. The ratio of what “day” it is is affected by you criminality (You add your criminality by the day, which determines what action will occur). During the day cycle, Dragonborn and Bobblemen roll D6 while Mansepos and Spectres roll D3, reverse in night cycle, which rotates every 3 turns. After 6 turns, the days cycle. On day 3, all rolls are halved in value, rounding up. Each card has a different choice on them and cause different effects to your different resources, then I had a few cards mapped out. 

Games Final V3 (as well as the cards included)

 

Species:

Mansepos

-Start with 20 points.

-All immediate card effects (or cards against you) are doubled, regardless of negative or positive effects.

Sommiticus

-Start with 15 points.

-Start with a D5 (roll a D6 and subtract 1)

-They can use one action card twice.

Spectres

-Start with 10 points

-All point losses are halved.

Frashers

-Start with 10 points

-Start with a D5 (roll a D6 and subtract 1)

-Passively gain 1 point per turn

Purchasing Store: You can use your points to give you an advantage in the game. Abilities can only be purchased at the beginning of the game.

Dice Plus: Increase your dics roll by 1 permanently. 15 points.

Action Plus: Purchase a random action card. 5 points.

Steal Plus: Gives you a chance to steal points from other players based on a double dice roll. 5 points.

Anti-Steal: Prevents a single player from stealing points from you for that turn.

Action spaces (1-4):
Move forward 1/2/3 spaces (Find money on the ground, find a fellow immigrant from your country, get help from a kind immigration officer)

Move backwards 1/2/3 spaces (Lose money, lose your immigration papers, get caught up at an immigration checkpoint)

Take a side path
Gain 1/2/3 points (do a good deed, do a great deed, do an amazing deed)
Lose 1/2/3 points (do a bad deed, do a worse deed, do a terrible deed)
Take 1 point from every other player (cause distrust amongst all other species)
Give 2 points to the player w/ the least amount of points (help a poor immigrant out)
Give 2 points to the player w/ the most amount of points (get strong-armed by a gang of immigrants)
If you have less than 10 points, gain 2 points (poor man’s luck)
If you have less than 10 points, lose 1 point (poor man’s misery)

If you have less than 10 points, move back 3 spaces (detained simply for being poor)

If you have more than 20 points, give 1 of your points to every other player (sharing the wealth/knowledge)

If you have more than 20 points, lose 5 points (get too greedy)

If you have more than 20 points, move forward 5 spaces (use your status to cut the line)

 

Action cards (5-6):

Take 4 points from a player; give yourself two points and give another player two points (petty thieving scheme)

Move forward either 1, 2, or 3 spaces (read the newspaper, able to predict events)

Send any other player back 3 spaces (plant a false flag on another player)

Move any other player forward 3 spaces (send helpful information to another player)

Obtain a green card (allows you to negate any 1 negative points action against you)

Obtain a yellow card (allows you to negate any 1 movement action you would have to take otherwise)

Obtain a red card (if you are on the same space as another player, you can steal half of their points)

Switch places with another player

Steal 2 points from every player you pass this turn

Push each player that you pass this turn back 1 space

All players with more than 20 points lose 5 points or get pushed back to 20 points, whichever happens first

All players with less than 10 points gain 2 points or get pushed to 10 points, whichever happens first

Landing on a colored space allows you to roll again. This roll determines if you pick from the Action Card pile, or the Action Space pile.

 

I feel that my reason for choosing/creating a piece such as this is to bring awareness to the issue of discrimination against immigration and against immigrants in general in a game-like way. I want it to cause a powerful feeling, like with the man who posted the names of the people who died in the war in the military war game and the feelings those around him felt. I want to invoke a feeling of unfairness in just luck and who you are, things you can do nothing to change. I wanted to do immigration because I am a Muslim, and over the past months, Muslim immigrants have been getting a lot of trouble for either being a Muslim or just having a Muslim name without even being Muslim. Even someone with a long beard would be pulled aside just because they might have some Pakistani features. I modeled different species after different people, like how the Mansepos have a major advantage in which they start with the most points and the fact that every point or space they move/gain is doubled and how the Frashers start with the lowest points and start with a D5 instead of a D6,.

Indie Show & Tell: Orwell

Game:

Orwell is a simulation game where you play as a person working for the government that looks for and investigates national security threats. Aka spying on people in public.  Set in a country called the Nation, you have the ability to spy at people through surveillance cameras, and access to their private information through the government’s database. It’s a game that really makes you question the right to privacy, whether or not this surveillance is ethical.

Gameplay video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gF534eFpR4whttp://

 

What I think:

I think that this piece can be related to many of the game examples discussed in class, as well as the reading about the radical political avant-garde. This game is very relatable to games like September 12th, where it criticises US military actions in the Iraq war by having a very unconventional gameplay, and the mod Quest for Bush, a game that reverses the role typically found in game, where the main enemy is George Bush. I definitely think there is a huge political aspect to the game Orwell. With issues such as privacy and surveillance these days, this game really fits well into these issues. It brings up questions about the ethics of surveillance. I think this is a great and important game that helps us learn, and gets us thinking about what is right and what is wrong.

Indie Show and Tell: Kairo

Kairo is a first-person atmospheric puzzle game, or what many would refer to as a “walking simulator.” All interaction with the world and the puzzles is done through manipulating the player’s position. The only things you can do in the game are walk, run, jump, and look around.

While the game never explicitly gives you a goal, the spaces and puzzles slowly guide you to set the machinery of the world into motion, unlocking new areas. At any time you can go explore the places you have already been; there are no one-way gates blocking you from going back, though there’s not much of a reason to do.

There is no text in the game, save for the menus and a few lines after the credits. All of the story is told through environmental details, visuals, and excellent sound design. The story slowly unfolds as you discover images and sculptures. There are plenty of hidden areas that lead to scenes that also help tell the story, but they are very, very difficult to find. They are only necessary for the secret ending.

The story is told non-linearly and starts in medias res. The story isn’t really about you, it’s about Kairo and what it does and why it exists. Who you are is relatively inconsequential to the plot; anyone could take your place and it would function the same. Because of all these factors, the story can be somewhat difficult to fully make out, though I thought it was clear enough to keep me motivated. Feel free to look up the plot once you finish, the creator of the game has confirmed that several analyses of the game’s plot were correct.

I really like Kairo, but it’s not for everyone. If you like walking simulators, you’ll probably enjoy it. The atmosphere of the game is incredible, with a unique visual style and a haunting soundtrack. If you don’t like games entirely based around atmosphere and exploring empty spaces, there’s not much to do in the game other than think and look at the cool architecture.

Relation to Avant-Garde Videogames : Playing with Technoculture

If I had to put this game on the Radical-Complicit/Political-Formal chart that Schrank uses organize the chapters in his book, I’d place it as Complicit and somewhere between Political and Formal. The game doesn’t really do anything radical, but the gameplay of walking around in Kairo alone leads to deeper meaning when placed in the context of the story that the game tries to tell. Combining these factors leaves me unsure of how to categorize it other than “somewhere in avant-garde.”

This article describes the game rather well: https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/04/23/wot-i-think-kairo/

MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD

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Art Game Show N Tell – Jazzpunk

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1c1JyafNs84A7ZxBso7ahRwYjvDlZXM8ElTFkhEXKTd0/edit?usp=sharing

 

JazzPunk:

Jazzpunk is an adventure video game made by Adult Swim in 2014. The game takes place in a 50s setting, where you play as a spy in a top secret spy agency. You get sent out to abstract and nonsensical missions with pretty much just one object, however, the game makes it so that exploration plays a huge part in the gameplay. There are NPCs, objects that you can interact with placed all over the map in every level, thus really driving players to go check out each one of those objects and interact with them, rather than focusing entirely on the objective. I think this is a great art piece because of the art style, the gameplay and the humor.

Art Game

So why I think JazzPunk is a great art game is because of the art, gameplay and humor. First looking at the humor, the game provides all kinds of jokes and one liners when interacting with NPCs, which really bring the barely animate NPCs alive. The little interactions such as putting food on NPCs so birds can charge at the NPCs, spraying things at NPCs, and blowing smoke from cigerattes into NPCs which really enhance the comedy aspect of this game. These interactions actually remind me of the game Postal, where you get to do all kinds of things in the game world. Furthermore, the game has a some mini games, so games within the game. These aspects in the game really break the conventions of a normal game because it really gives players something new and unexpected in each new level!

Not like most games out there, the art style in this game is truly unique. With its low poly, cartoonish, minimalistic, 50s style design, the game truly stands out in the art direction compared to many of the other indie games out there. The art has a strong relationship to the abstract and comedic aspects of the game, which makes me further admire this game. The art style actually also looks very much like many of the art pieces in the Dada movement of Zurich and Hannover. Very colorful, abstract, and toy-like art pieces, which can be seen in this game too. So I also think this game reflects well on the two movements.

Overall, this is a great art game that reflects on many of the experimental art pieces that were discussed in class. Like Yoko Ono’s Chess set, or the giant joystick controller, by breaking gameplay conventions, this game truly is a unique art piece.

 

Indie Game Show and Tell: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP is a really strange game. I love it. It was a collaboration between musician Jim Guthrie, the game studio Superbrothers, and publisher/developer Capybara Games.

It initially released for iPad on March 24, 2011 with an iPhone version about a month later. A Steam version was released in April 2012, with an Android version later in December. I’d recommend the iPad or Steam version, the small phone screens don’t do it justice.

I’m going to try really, really hard to write this in a way that doesn’t spoil the game, though the nature of the game makes that very hard. It really doesn’t want to fit in a specific genre of game, so the best I can do is say that it’s a 2D adventure/puzzle/rhythm game told in second person. It’s really hard to describe. I recommend going in completely blind, preferably alone and wearing headphones.

Here’s a mostly spoiler-free synopsis: the plot centers around a mysterious book called The Megatome, and follows a character only known as The Scythian trying to complete her “woeful errand.” Saying any more would ruin the game, as slowly piecing together the reasons for your actions is a major part of the game.

The artwork and sound design in this game is amazing. The visuals are a beautiful mix of pixel art and smooth geometric shapes unlike anything I have seen before or since. Jim Guthrie did an amazing job on the sound design. The music is incredible, and it has such an important role that the game has EP in the title. I still listen to the soundtrack regularly, and I was listening to it while writing this blog post!

The art, sound, and gameplay all work together to create an amazing sense of atmosphere that few games have managed to pull off. At times the game is calm and reserved, and at other times it is actively trying to terrify you. It’s an emotional roller coaster from start to finish.

Minor spoilers follow, you have been warned.

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Artwork #4: Rebuild- 1st Iteration

Afterthought

Introduction/Backstory: Country Z has been embroiled in a devastating civil war for many years. However, the two sides have just signed a historic peace treaty. It is time to rebuild. You have been tasked with rebuilding City Z, the capital of the country, to its former glory.

Goal: To rebuild City Z from its ruins.

The concept behind my game is war and its aftermath. Whenever there is talk of war people always seem to forget the destruction that results from it. Which is why I am calling my game Afterthought. People don’t think about it until after it is done. The point of the game is to illustrate to people that it’s far harder to build than destroy.