GIMME INDIE GAME: WORLD OF GOO, HENRY HATSWORTH DEVS DEBUT NEW GAMES AT EXPERIMENTAL GAMEPLAY PROJECT


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7.7.2009

Brandon Boyer

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Back in the hazy days of my stint at Edge Online — before indie gaming had truly become a movement, certainly one fought over by console manufacturers, a time when Cave Story was still just a twinkle in Pixel’s eye — there was only one place I knew I could trust to feed me reliably worthwhile new games: Carnegie Mellon’s Experimental Gameplay Project.

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It was there that the dual Kyles (co-founders Gabler and Gray, of World of Goo and Henry Hatsworth renown, respectively) and their classmates laid the rapid prototyping foundation that would influence the indie scene at large (notably Petri Purho, who credits the technique for spawning his Crayon Physics).

Now, with Gabler still spinning up for 2D Boy’s sophomore effort, and Gray recently departing EA for indie work, the two have relaunched the site and will be serving new, monthly seven-day challenges, with the first three games of the debut challenge just premiered.

The first, seen at top, is Gray’s Frobot: Fueled by Dancing: a Robotron/Smash TV-esque keyboard/mouse-controlled shooter in which the titular ‘bot is tasked with conquering salarymen with the power of funk, morphing them instantly into a series of ‘solid-gold dancers’, with a nicely unfolding power-up structure.

The second, above right, is Proto Shooter, an entirely mouse controlled classic 8-bit pixel shooter from EGP newcomer and World of Goo Wii programmer Allan Blomquist, and finally, below, is Gabler’s Egg Worm Generator.

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Technically not at all a game (and apparently salvaged from a failed attempt at a Karl Sims-inspired evolutionary shooter), Egg Worm is a generative Darwinian simulation in which creatures are given one minute to live and crawl to the right toward a green pixel. Any creature that doesn’t make it is scrapped, any survivors breed their traits further and slowly grow more adept at walking rightward, a transformation surprisingly compelling to observe over time, for as entirely uninteractive as it is.

Purho and Shalin Shodan — another former EGP co-founder and participant and later Spore API developer — are listed as additional eventual participants in forthcoming challenges: watch the new EGP space for more information, and don’t miss the archives for original EGP works, including the towering roots of World of Goo.

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