If you missed the opening of Offworld’s oft-blogged Giant Robot/Attract Mode exhibit Game Over/Continue? (though, judging by the overwhelming turnout, not many of you did), you may have missed your chance for some time to play the four collaborative ‘artxgame‘ games created for the show.
While the games were up and running on opening night — and continually swamped, even if you could move through the thick of the crowd to get to them — they’ve subsequently left the scene for the time being (though the rest of the art remains).
So, for the rest of you then, a quick recap of what the four artist/indie dev teams (Hellen Jo/Derek Yu, Saelee Oh/Anna Anthropy, Souther Salazar/Petri Purho, and Deth P. Sun/Jonatan “Cactus” Soderstrom) produced.
The best part of all four contributions that went undermentioned in the run-up to the exhibition is that all four games are by definition meant for crowd-scene social play: every one of the games is multiplayer (and therefore their screenshots a bit less compelling than the actual experience) whether competitive, co-op, or somewhere in between.
The only game of the four with an actual name, Anthropy and Oh’s Octopounce is that above “in-between” multiplayer experience, a four-player game where each octopus needs the cooperation of another to propel themselves away from the ocean floor to reach and collect passing fish.
The play here is much more frantic than you’d expect from Oh’s placid scenery (and has resulted in one of my favorite photos of GDC featuring Everyday Shooter creator Jonathan Mak getting wicked into the action): the octopi move fast and loose and are equipped with just a single jump rather than being able to swim freely, and a smart announcement scroller at the bottom of the screen describes the ongoing action (or calls out for more players).
My favorite part, though, might be the extremely subtle use of Oh’s art at random points during the game: see if you can spot the ghostly image of a female swimmer making its way into the frame in the screenshot above.
Probably the most.. reinterpreted of the bunch, Cactus and Sun’s contribution features all the signature parts of Sun’s art (that is to say, yes, there are anthropomorphic black cats) but pulled apart and worked into Cactus’s own trademark procedurally animated sections (see: his playable IGF slides on creating character animation in less than four hours).
The gameplay is a dual collector/shooter: each player is trying to maneuver in between falling objects (Sun’s tree stumps, tables, houses, beds) and maintain a stock of passing collectible black bunnies, while simultaneously knocking down each other’s number. The screenshot above? Player two losing.
Another strictly competitive game (and in a style, having done Crayon Physics, not entirely outside Purho’s range), Salazar and Purho’s untitled contribution is a simple story of two birds competing over the same nut, which has to be delivered to each bird’s personal “goalie” squirrel.
Mechanically probably the simplest of the four, but by the same token, likely also the most instantly pick up and play accessible (especially for more drunken show-goers), and the it manages to nail just the right amount of “stickiness” to ensure good back and forth competitive mid-flight nut-stealing.
Finally, Jo and Yu’s contribution may have been the game that most obviously carried through the style (and the life) of the artist, in which Jo herself and illustrator Calvin Wong go on a vaguely River City Ransom-esque journey through one of her watercolor landscapes, pausing only to take on the fully nude dudes above, all set to a perfectly fractured thrash-y soundtrack.
Most bizarrely (and endearingly), each character can don one of the masks/costumes ala the Kali costume seen above (with more examples on Yu’s blog), or use them as a weapon by throwing them at the enemies (and then subsequently wear the enemy itself as a mask).
All in all the games were by far the highlight (and the most successfully crowded attraction) of the opening night, and the perfect kick-off to what we hope will become a regular series of art and game dev crossovers.