Bacon and Games

Month: September 2010

Give Up Robot 2: A Sequel That Doesn’t Suck

Not more than 3 months after the original debuted, Adult Swim and Matt Thorson have released Give Up Robot 2. If you haven’t played the original, you might want to go do so right now. It’s a great game. They both are, actually.

One of the things that these games do really well is keep you playing, dead or alive. In this series, the second you die you’re back on your feet (or wheel) to try again. And when you’re alive, you don’t want to stop. Like many games these days, they’ve left behind the often archaic idea of “lives” carried over from quarter-hungry arcade machines. These games are about rising to the challenge, not about proving you can do so in an allotted number of tries. I like that, limited lives are lame. Alliteration and unlimited lives are awesome.

For the cave-dwellers who haven’t played either game yet, the premise is pretty standard. You play as a robot with a grappling hook who has to make his way through a psychedelic arena of pits, traps and other dangers. The sequel delivers more of the same, with a few new additions such as switches, coins and new kinds of moving platforms and obstacles. And of course the charming Portal-esque computer is back to taunt you along the way. Though still 8bit-ish, the graphics are much cleaner and the robot moves a bit more adeptly; a welcomed improvement. Overall it’s not a huge departure from the original, which is a good thing because Give Up Robot was extraordinarily well received.

I feel like Matt did correctly what we all hoped Nintendo would do after Mario Kart 64… deliver the same basic engine with new levels and some new tricks. Instead Nintendo puked up Double Dash. What the fuck, Nintendo? If you haven’t played Give Up Robot or Give Up Robot 2, find some time at work to shut off and play these. You won’t regret it, unless you suck at games because these both give the concept of “Nintendo Hard” a run for its money. Good luck…

The Making of an HTML5 Game: Biolab Disaster

Biolab Disaster isn’t the most exciting game I’ve ever played, far from it actually, but this isn’t a game review. The game is built entirely in HTML5, which in and of itself isn’t all that exciting either.

What excites me about this game is that Dominic Szablewski (the creator) was nice enough to make a short “behind the scenes” video showing how the game was built. For Flash game programmers in particular, it’s difficult to conceptualize how a game might be programmed without the techniques and tricks we’ve grown so accustomed to. Dominic’s video does a nice job of pulling back the curtain. For those of you using Flixel, his approach should be very familiar (not to mention that the game itself looks like it was built in Flixel… right down to the bouncing particles, the shaking and the familiar “press X or C to start”). Biolab Disaster was actually built using the forthcoming Impact Game Engine.

Dominic has plans to release the source as well as his level editor, but for now you can play the game here. I’ve included his ~8 minute behind the scenes video below. I always enjoy seeing how other people approach their projects, this is the first “sneak peek” I’ve seen on an HTML5 game. Thanks Dominic!

Well That’s Just Peachy, Apple

Apple announced today that they would be lifting their ban on using 3rd party development tools to create apps for their store. It only took about 4 months for Apple to remove the ban, which was enforced in early April of this year. In their official announcement Apple wrote:

We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their input, today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year.

Whether their change of heart is truly due to developer backlash or if it’s a result of legal pressure is unclear. I think it’s important that we focus on the outcome. Developers can go back to building games with the tools they are most comfortable. Apple still holds the key to the kingdom, but they can no longer discriminate simply based on platform of origin.

A fun game that runs well is… a fun game that runs well. Whether an app has been built with Unity, Objective C or Actionscript is immaterial. The onus of writing reliable, efficient code is still on the developer. The patrons of the App Store should be allowed to decide what belongs on the store by voting with their dollars. And now they can.

To Apple, I say thank you.

To the developers, I’ll say this: When you’re cooking up your next app, keep the words of Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm in mind. “…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Make apps that fill a need, innovate or do something better than an existing app. Flooding the store with dress-up games and soundboards just because we can will only leave us with: I told you so.

As an added bonus, Apple also announced that they will finally be publishing their App Store Review Guidelines. Developers now have a clearer picture of whether their app has a shot at getting to see the wizard… before they make the long trek to OZ. TechCrunch put together a decent summary article that points out Apple’s casual tone. To me, Apple sounds like a parent taking a first cautious step with their teenager… “OK, I’m going to let you stay out past curfew just this once, don’t disappoint me.”… Let’s not get grounded again.

And no, I’m not apologizing for the title of this article…

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