January 31, 2009

Corpse Craft – Arcade-puzzle game, absolutely lovely made

Yesterday I discovered a very lovely game. It is “Corpse Craft” and although the game is about killing, it is very very cartoony and sweet. The style is oriented on vintage horror, like Edgar Ellen Poe or the game Alone in the Dark, but in a plain illustrated hand-drawn style. With extreme charming details. Just have a look at this detail:

Corpse Craft Detail
Detail: You against your enemy, zoomed x 2

Even the gameplay is somehow inventive, but foremost addictive. It features a combination of various game-genres and mixes them together into a whole gaming experience. The most basic gameplay is in an arcade-puzzle-style with game-mechanics, you should be familiar with. But… you do not solve the puzzle all the time just for the fun itself, but in order to fill up your energy-portions. If you have enough of them, you can send zombies into the arena, because your primary goal is to defeat your enemy. This is where also a strategic component comes into play. As the levels progress, you are able to collect points on a meta-layer and exchange them into special items. The games uses the “Whirled“-API to manage the transaction, that is relative new, I think, it’s in beta-phase. You can even play against others with the integrated multiplayer mode.

Corpse Craft Screenshot.

Nevertheless, just try out this game. And be sure… you will be entertained! Play it on Kongregate or Whirled.

January 29, 2009

Fünfzig Videospieltode

Das schönste am Zocken ist das Gewinnen. Ob man nun eine Kampagne schafft, die Voraussetzungen zum Levelaufstieg erfüllt oder einen befriedigenden Abspann sieht. Doch der Weg dahin ist beschwerlich und mehr als einmal ärgert man sich über das virtuellen Ableben — insbesondere, wenn das letzte Abspeichern eine %$#+”* halbe Stunde zurückliegt. Knurr.

Vimeo-User DasMatze hat eine hübsche Auflistung von 50 Toden der jüngeren Computerspielgeschichte kompiliert und erinnert uns damit an all die unzähligen Momente der Demütigung, der Wut und der Resignation. Danke, Matze!


January 28, 2009

SF IV costumes and spoiler-phobia

I'm a subscriber to this blog called Costume GET!, which "discusses the finer points of videogame character costumes."

The latest hint on Street Fighter IV's alternate costumes is enticing, but at the same time, I'm afraid to look at them as it would take away much fun of getting a fresh look - or is it just me?

Can anybody tell me (maybe by watching the video) if the shown costumes are exhausive? And/or how the system works - I'm assuming that there're only complete outfits, not a dress/ item system as seen on the other recent 3D fighters.

In general: having a FAQ to tell you what rewards await and, more importantly, what their sometimes invisible unlock conditions are, is one thing, but isn't seeing them, especially the costumes which have no gameplay influence, spoiling the point of them? What do you think?

Btw, a small shameless plug: it was a pleasant surprise to discover Velvet Assassin on Costume GET! as I was commissioned by Replay Studios last year to work on the main character (the base/nude complete model plus the night dress and the full-leather outfit). Note that I only created the assets but not the renderings, and that I own nothing of those or any other part of the IP and production.

January 27, 2009

We Twitter – I Twat?

In case you haven't noticed, I jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. My colleague Yu-Chung Chen joined me.

You can follow my twat under krystman

You can follow Yu-Chung's twat under wanzai

We are working on seting up both our twitter streams as a badge in the sidebar. So far setting up two twitter badges only results in them getting confused with each other. Does anybody have a solution?

So far I like it! Already had some "AHA!"-Moments. I see myself getting used to it. It fills a void I wasn't aware of yet. I just wish more people I know personally would use it. *sigh*

Exciting things coming up soon: A Braid Game Design Review and some updates on my progress with Illicinated. Oh yeah, and it seems like I might appear on a Podcast this Weekend. Stay tuned!

January 23, 2009


Space geekout time! I've got a cardboard Orrery for Christmas and I finished it recently. Here it is:

Orrery - Establishing Shot

Although it looks awesome, I'm not entirely blown away by the result. If you are interested in some thoughts on information design, modelmaking and astronomy - read on:

At a first glance, the features of the Orrery are pretty awesome. It has 3 planets and the Moon, a descent size and a LED Sun. Besides the Orbits of all bodies the rotation of the Earth is simulated and even it's goddamn axial tilt! The planets and the Moon are in scale to each other (the size of the sun and the distances obviously not). That's quite an achievement for an Orrery and even more impressive if you consider that it a cardboard model. The price (30eur) is a lot for just cardboard but quite cheap for an Orrery with these features. Orreries are a bit of a niche product, as you can imagine.

However, I can't shake the feeling that I have a piece of a non-digital Dancing Bearware. It is a term from Alan Cooper's "The Inmates are Running the Asylum". Cooper criticizes certain technology by comparing it to a dancing bear. We are not amazed because the dance is good, we are amazed that the bear is dancing at all.

Similarly, that's the what the cardboard Orrery is about. So it is very imprecise. For example, the solstice shifts by at least a week after revolving the Orrery by merely one year. Re-adjusting the solstice is a major pain in the ass because you have to remove the tight rubber transmission which in turn puts a lot of stress on the fragile structure and creates a lot wear.

Speaking of fragile structure - the Orrery is made of cardboard and it feels like it. It is shaking and vibrating. The glue cracks and it makes cardboard-y noises. It is tilting and bending under the weight and the tension from the rubber cords. I mean check this out:

Orrery - Sideview

You can clearly see how the disk of the earth/moon system bends under the tension of the rubber belts. The whole ecliptic disc is also bent because of the extra weight on the right side. And this is the better position. It looks even worse when the earth is on the other side.

Which brings me to the Bearware. The whole idea of an Orrery is to demonstrate the precision of our astronomical knowledge about the solar system. Having an Orrery so imprecise and fragile defeats the whole purpose.

The bearwareiness of the permeates everything about it. The most jaw dropping thing is that the building instructions are ALL WRITTEN OUT. I haven't seen that one before. There are only very few, very obscure schematics. The rest is just 14 A4 pages of raw text.

Orrery - Building Instructions

Haven't they heard of Lego or Ikea? Having a written instruction was a great reminder of what makes visual explanations so valuable in the first place: the information can be accessed at an individual pace, depth and oder. It is also very redundant and safe. Skip over an important sentence here and you are screwed. You are also doomed to follow the instructions exactly as they are described which is tedious. For example, you can't just easily check which parts you will need for the next few steps in advance, prepare them and put away the parts template to concentrate on the assembly. Instead, you need to follow what they write which involves constant switching between removing parts from the template and assembling them.

And don't forget how having visual instructions would allow to distribute the product internationally which TOTALLY makes sense if the whole model fits into a A4 envelope for easy shipment. It's baffling how they gave up that tremendous opportunity.

And I love it how they remind you need to check if parts are perpendicular to each other but don't mention what to do when they aren't. I tell you why. Because YOU ARE FUCKING SCREWED if you want to undo a mistake when gluing cardboard together. That's why MAYBE it wasn't such a great idea to make things out of cardboard in the first place, huh?

And also they have tips like using oil to reduce friction on some places and using alcohol to increase friction on others to fine-tune the precision. Screw that! I might have gone even that extra mile but disassembling the cardboard Orrery increases the wear. Already the assembly used up some of the cardboard tubes so much that I fear they might fail anytime and make that thing useless. And I can't stop thinking that it I wouldn't have to mess around with it if it was made of wood and metal like it SHOULD BE!

All the while, you can clearly see that there was somebody quite smart who thought it all out. It is an ingenious idea - using belts instead of gears and coming up with far out solutions to make it all fit into the A4 format. Some of the details even depend on magnets. It is just amazing that the very same person didn't see that cardboard defeats the purpose of the project... or at least didn't realize how bad written instruction are.

I could even go on how the LED sun has faults so gray splotches appear on it's surface. Or how I thought I have lost the Venus and didn't receive any answer from the manufacturer when I asked about getting spare parts. But I think I'm just about done venting.

I've spent A LOT of time on this one and compared to that, the result is not quite satisfactory. It feels like I could have invested that same time more efficiently in:

It works, but it doesn't work well enough to use it frequently. I guess it looks good but why that the hassle with functionality if it was only about aesthetics?

Orrery - In the Dark

The slightly redeeming part is that yes - it looks cool, especially if in the dark if you turn on the Sun. I've made some more photos. Check out the corresponding Flickr Album.

If you want to give it a try yourself in spite what I wrote, check out Judging from the Website those guys are heavily into doing astronomy with cardboard.

January 22, 2009

City Rain and Feist – IGF 2009 Student Finalists

The finalists for the Independent Games Festival student awards have been announced. There are also two contributions from Germany: Where is my heart and Zeit2. But my attention fell to this two games, that look fresh and interesting:

City Rain

This is some kind of Sim City meets Tetris meets hints and thoughts on sustainable city-development. Go to the website.


Dark, moody and with a dense atmosphere and astounding graphics - this is what Feist is about. It is a mixture of platformer and adventure. Go to the website.

Frequon Invaders: Experimental gameplay with complex math

Frequon Invaders 2.0 Ingame

Well, Frequon Invaders is different. It is something, that would not come out of a normal game-designers head without going through deep fundamentals of complex math. It is experimental gameplay in the deep sense of meaning of the term “experimental”. And it seems, that the game popped out of the head of a mathematician. So, how is the gameplay like?

You are your”self”, represented by a circle, controlled by mouse. Your aim is to catch “Frequons” on a psychedelic colored playfield. But… you can’t see them. There are several visual clues that will help you finding the “Frequons”. The game makes use of Fourier Analysis and complex patterns and derive the gameplay from it. The display shows your”self” and any launched Frequons in this Fourier Domain, where they become wave patterns. If you do not understand anything, than it’s pretty fine. Me was too.

Now, what you actually have to do in the game, looks like this: Move around your cursor with the mouse, while the psychedelic color pattern changes. The “Frequons” are hiding, but you come close to them, if the “pits” in the background-patters get larger (or lesser) and darker. You will search for places, where the pattern gets more simple. If you are near them, they show up until you hit them.. and the Frequon disappears. Some Freqons are also moving arcoss the playfield and in later levels the patterns are getting more weired, while up to four Freqons at the same time appear on screen. The pattern in the background is always a calculation of the Fourier field, the Frequons and your self. Once again: this is the first game, that plays on the 2 dimensional Fourier Space!

via Auntiepixelante

January 21, 2009

World of Goo: Spielesoundtrack kostenlos im Netz

Screenshot: World of Goo

Das von 1000ff mehrfach gepriesene Indiegame “World of Goo” besitzt einen Soundtrack. Dieses 23 Tracks umfassende Werk kann nun kostenlos und legal im MP3-Format heruntergeladen werden und ich kenne mindestens einen Videospielsoundtracksammler, der sich darüber freuen wird.

Weil der Server gerade knickeknacke-ausgelastet ist, laden smarte Mädels und Jungs den World of Goo-Soundtrack per BitTorrent herunter.

[via kotaku]

Wechselwirkende Massen: Strange Attractors 1 + 2

Schon mal was von “One Switch Games” gehört?
Ok, ich auch nicht. Ist aber ganz einfach: Mit “One Switch Games” bezeichnet man Spiele, die ausschließlich mit einer Taste gesteuert werden. Sozusagen das Gegenteil von WASD-Shootern, bei denen man zehn Tasten und zwei Eingabegeräte kontrollieren muss. Sehr Raucherkompatibel.

Diese unelegante Einleitung ist nötig, wenn man Strange Attractors verstehen will. Im 2006 erschienenen ersten Teil des Indiegames besteht die Steuerung der Spielkugel, die man durch ein Tor am oberen Ende des Levels manövrieren muss, lediglich aus einer Taste, mit der die Schwerkraft kontrolliert wird.

Taste an = Schwerkraft
Taste aus = keine Schwerkraft

Das hört sich weitaus unspektakulärer und langweiliger an als es ist. Ich jedenfalls konnte von Strange Attractors 1 nicht genug bekommen. 50 Level + Bonusrunden + äußerst merkwürdige Zwischen- und Endgegner bietet der kostenlose erste Teil aus dem Hause Ominous Development.

Mit Strange Attractors 2 haben die Entwickler aus einem interessanten Prototypen einen “klasse Zock” (wie Frank sagen würde) mit ansehnlicher Tron-Optik und psychedelisch-futuristischen Elektroklängen gezaubert:

Im Gegensatz zum Vorgänger bietet Strange Attractors 2 nicht nur deutlich mehr Spielumfang (28 mehrteilige “Zonen”, verteilt auf zehn farblich unterschiedliche Welten) und labyrinthische Levelarchitektur, die einen spätestens in der fünften Welt zum Wahnsinn treibt (”Komm ich da jetzt her oder muss ich da hin?”), sondern auch eine zweite Spieltaste, mit der die sog. Anti-Gravitation aktiviert wird. Dank dieser “Abstoßkraft” ist die Spielkugel wesentlich präziser zu kontrollieren und der Faktor Zufall spielt nur noch eine untergeordnete Rolle.
Wer SA2 trotzdem nur mit einer Taste spielen möchte kann die Anti-Gravitation in den Optionen ausschalten; die Level werden dann entsprechend angepasst.

Gerade mal zehn US-Dollar wollen die Entwickler für die Vollversion von SA2 haben. Die kostenlose Demo ist satte 50 MB groß und spätestens nach zehn Minuten durchgespielt.

Alle Downloads und Demos gibt’s bei Ominous Development

January 16, 2009

Bo Marley vs. disrupt album

finally out fe real: our long lost classic dub epic! Incl a new surprise and alltime fave deepness.

Solo Banton – Talk To Me 7″

the second cut in our rocking Maffi-7″ series is probably THE Jahtari killah tune of them all sop far. Be quick!

fresh (and limited) disrupt 7″

two new robo-skanking disrupt bombs – Berzerk Dub / Echobombing – on a strictly limited 7″. Coming with an awesome sleeve by Jimmy Cauty!

January 15, 2009

Xbox 360 Impressions: 1 Month After

What I hate about Xbox 360

It is now one month since I've bought my Xbox. I was quite surprised when I realized that. During just that one month, a lot of things happened. I bought, tried and even finished quite a lot of new games. Looking back, I'm generally happy with the purchase. The games have mostly a great quality and the on-line features are excellent.

But there is one problem that taints the whole Xbox experience. While I do enjoy the product, I have that uneasy feeling that Microsoft is constantly fucking me up the ass. Pretty much every tiny feature about the Xbox has to be explicitly purchased. I already whined about the 80€ wi-fi adapter - not only is it a feature I'd expect to be built-in, it is also insultingly expensive. Now I also had to pay for a battery and a cable to connect my controller to the console so it actually charges that battery - both things that are already supplied with the PS3. Then - of course - they come in these insanely frustrating packages which make me feel as if Microsoft wants to actively hurt me. As if they were giving me candies with nails in it.

But there is a new catch I've discovered. I found out that I have my Xbox for one month because my free one month Xbox Live Gold membership just ran out. So until now, I didn't actually have a clear idea what the difference between the expensive "Xbox Live Gold" membership and the free "Xbox Live Silver" was. There was yet another feature list I couldn't be bother to go through. I knew I would find out eventually and I did now: you basically can't play games on-line with the "Silver" one. ALL multiplayer features of ALL games are switched off when you downgrade to "Silver". Again, this is just like the wi-fi adapter: it is not only something I would expect to be free, upgrading to Gold is also insanely expensive. You pay somewhere between 5 and 7 euro per month! I pay less for my cell phone, for god's sake! And I already paid over 200€ for the system, 80€ for the wi-fi and 60€ for the game!

It's bad enough that they came up with that cut-throat system, they even don't have the courtesy to honestly communicate that. Fist, they use misleading names: there is nothing "Silver" about the Xbox Live Silver. Silver is basically NOTHING. They point out things like that you can buy Arcade games, but since you have to PAY Microsoft Points for that, it is no privilege. And don't you just love how in the Wikipedia Article "Multiplayer Gaming" appears on the 6th place of the feature list? Since there is something called Xbox Live Silver, you don't expect to have that kind of a feature missing at all. So even when you read "online-play", you misinterpret it as something more advanced because you already take the basic multiplayer for granted. It's like you are buying a new car and considering adding some extras and the list goes like "golden curb feelers", "extra size cup holder" and oh, "an engine" - you don't think that the basic car is missing an engine, you think the engine listed is more powerful or economic or something. If they were honest, there would be no Silver bullshit and the gold one would be actually called "Xbox Live Multiplayer" to make sure there is no confusion.

Well, I'm done venting. I got myself another 3 month card but I haven't used it yet. At this point, I'm weary of doing so because as soon as the card is activated, I would feel compelled to play on-line just so I get my money's worth. Even though I do enjoy the Product, I don't feel any love coming from Microsoft and I do wonder if it wouldn't have been less frustrating to grab a PS3 instead. I guess it's too late to change now.

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