terça-feira, 10 de maio de 2022

STENA!

Prepare your smartphone! Today is the grand premiere of my new game: STENA was launched in the Google Play (and soon will be launched in App Store)! Check the trailer below and download for free, now!



I discussed a little bit of the game’s gaming design process (errors, prototyping, wireframes etc.) in this post. But, in this one, I want to talk about the creative process, or, in other words: where did the idea for this game come from?

The year was 2016. I was living in Bratislava (capital of Slovakia) and writing my doctorate thesis in a partnership with Paneurópska Vysoká Škola. In my free time, one of my favorite things was to walk and visit pubs in the old town (or “Staré Mesto” in Slovak language). One day I was in my favorite pub, Zbrojnoš, watching an ice hockey game on TV. One important detail: I’m not a sports fan, but ice hockey is a national passion in Slovakia, so I decided to understand the game better (I even went to Ondrej Nepela Arena to watch the Králi team from my university play).



Trying to discover the mysteries behind ice hockey, two things caught my attention: how difficult it is to put the puck inside the goal and the possibility to skate freely in the whole space (including behind the goal). So, I had an idea: a PONG game with ice hockey rules. Well, that was the starting idea, but the final product is very different. One day I started to sketch some wireframes and created this very first version: a game for two players with rotating paddles where the goal is to hit the center of the opponent's engine.



Well, too complicated. I started to simplify the idea. I started to think about one-player experience, mobile media experience, fast games, and minimal design. So, the rounded space appeared in front of me. I drew a circular arena with different kinds of risks and obstacles. The final touch: the game must be punitive and hard in a way that only games like DARK SOULS can be. =)



I showed more detailed wireframes to my friend Jakub and asked him: “is there any Slovak word that represents, at the same time, the idea of wall, protection and shield?”. He answered: “Yes! STENA is the word”.

So, this is a detail from the creative process of my new game! Always pay attention to small details around you. Always keep a notebook with you. Game ideas are always around, ready to be materialized.

#GoGamers

segunda-feira, 18 de abril de 2022

Using “telepathy” as a game design component

In this post, I’ll talk about two of my favorite tabletop games: THE MIND and WAVELENGTH. The first one was designed by Wolfgang Warsch, the second was created by the same author in partnership with Alex Hague and Justin Vickers. Both titles are very casual and excellent party games - the big feature of both is the telepathic component.



Sounds strange at first moment, but that’s the point of these games. In THE MIND, players have cards with numbers in hand. The gaming objective is to "read” the mind of the other players, organizing cards from the lowest number to the highest. No mimic, no talking allowed, just feeling the energy in the air. It’s a cooperative game that uses only cards with numbers. The video below presents a better notion and a good explaining of the rules:



WAVELENGTH is my latest acquisition to my ludic archive. This one is played in two teams and it’ a competitive game. A player from one team must withdraw a card with two opposites (cold/hot, good actor/bad actor, heavy/light etc.). He looks at the card, rolls a circular device with number marks, checks where the numbers are, closes the device’s screen and shows the card to his team. People must position a pointer more to the left or more to the right trying to enter a telepathic wavelength with the other player. In the video below we can check the simple rules for this game:



In my point of view, these examples are very interesting to understand some game designing processes. Telepathy isn’t a gaming mechanic. In fact it is more like a kind of mutant power. But, with the right set of rules, good components, a bit of creativity and a logical sequence, this can be converted into a true feature for a game.

This is the kind of game that I search today for my collection and research: elegant components with fast rules and a high level of replayability.

#GoGamers

terça-feira, 8 de março de 2022

About my affinity with short games

Sekiro, Red Dead Redemption, Bloodborne, The Last of Us, Detroit: Become Human – there are few examples of games with extensive gameplay that I really appreciate in my life. By “games with extensive gameplay” I mean games with 50 or more hours of playing. But there’s another feature with this kind: it’s very difficult to have any feeling of progress if you have little time a day to experience them. It’s a fact: games like Bloodborne, GTA, Dark Souls etc. require a special dedication; you can advance in the narrative with a minimum of 2 hours of gameplay. Maps are giant, bosses have a not so obvious learning curve, your character needs to achieve special powers with side quests and so on.



For me, there is a paradoxical relationship in this case: I love “games with extensive gameplay”, but – in my daily life – it’s more and more difficult to fit a game like this. It’s not only about work, but I like to watch series/movies, read books, and play board games – so, today I don’t have the time I need for these games.

Because of this, in the last five years I started to search for short games. Games with fast narratives, few levels, or more casual games that allow you to play for a small time every day. One important observation: I’m not talking about acquiring a game only because it has fast play; I'm very judicious in this kind of search.

The last title I played that fits this kind of game was A SHORT HIKE (even in the name of the game we have a hint of how fast it is). It’s a lovely narrative in which you take on the role of a small bird trying to reach the top of a mountain. It’s a very compact scenario full of other characters, each one with a unique mission. Graphics are colorful, minimalistic, and very adequate for the game's proposal. I played the whole game in two days (in two hours more or less) and I had great gameplay, narrative and puzzle action experience.



I’m not abandoning the big games (I’m also preparing myself for Elden Ring soon), but – today – I created a special affinity with short games to fit them into my routine of work and entertainment. And the most important: to always play something new to discuss in my game designing classes.

#GoGamers

quinta-feira, 3 de fevereiro de 2022

Interview with Martin Wallace

Another excellent video content. An interview with the game designer Martin Wallace; famous for board games like Age of Steam, Brass, Toledo, Automobile, A Study in Emerald, and many others.

This is a master class about analogical game design! Enjoy:



#GoGamers

quarta-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2021

My list with the 10 best games I played in 2021!

This year I played around 42 new digital games (most part of them were indie games). It's difficult to select only 10, but I tried. Below, a list with my favorites from 2021:

• Mundaun

The best game I played this year. Mundaun is an immersive deep into a lovingly hand-pencilled horror tale set in a dark, secluded valley of the Swiss Alps. I walked the scenario two times in a row. Everything is perfect in this game: ambience, soundtrack, enemies. If you are a fan of horror games, this one is for you.



• Little Nightmares 2

The first part is awesome and the second is much more incredible. Little Nightmares 2 is an oniric travel inside a disturbed mind with a glorious plot twist in the end. Graphics are insane!



• Curse of the dead gods

Walk, kill enemies, return, do it all over again. A good title for roguelike fans with an Incan theme in the background. The game is a little unbalanced, but fun is guaranteed.



• Linelight

Well, I'm a big fan of abstract games. Linelight is a game created only with lines, points, and dots of light. Puzzles have an interest progression with the gameplay and the soundtrack is very relaxing. Beautiful with simplicity.



• Heal

A game about an old man with dementia. You must solve enigmas from the past of his memories to discover a love narrative fulfilled with pain and sadness. I loved the dark art and the somber atmosphere in the 2D scenario.



• Dead Cells

Little bit old, but excellent. I played this year for the first time. Classic roguelike game with an interesting medieval/high-tech ambience.



• Death Crown

Strange visual. Bizarre ambience. Death Crown, in a first view, looks like an old PC game from the 80s, but there's great mechanics inside the gameplay. A true indie game.



• Kholat

Based in The Dyatlov Pass incident. The incident was an event in which nine Russian hikers died in the northern Ural Mountains between 1 and 2 February 1959, in uncertain circumstances. The experienced trekking group from the Ural Polytechnical Institute, led by Igor Dyatlov, had established a camp on the eastern slopes of Kholat Syakhl. During the night, something caused them to cut their way out of their tent and flee the campsite while inadequately dressed for the heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures. The game explores supernatural forces and puts you as an investigator on the scenario.



• Children of Morta

RPG, roguelike, awesome pixel art, and a very unique narrative. Go get your copy now!



• Hook

One of the most interesting minimal puzzles games I played in my life. The studio created a great gameplay using lines and dots with very clever solutions. Very relaxing game, by the way.



Wow! What a list! I want to play all of them again.

#GoGamers

sábado, 6 de novembro de 2021

Indie game of the month: STILSTAND

I’m always searching for strange indie games and, yesterday, I found this small treasure: STILSTAND. Well, in fact it’s not a game per se; it’s a kind of a dark, whimsical, and absurd interactive comic created by artist Ida Hartmann, exploring the despair and loneliness of a young woman living alone through a long summer in Copenhagen. You can check the trailer below:



The plot is simple, but the narrative is immersive and full of current issues from contemporary society. Amid the desire for isolation, there’s still a hope that one day, things will change for the main character. To reach this, she will receive some help from a bizarre shadow monster that lives in her apartment.

STILSTAND is a personal and hand-drawn tale about the high expectations and the fragile limbo of feeling stuck in life. It is a whimsical and absurd portrayal of anxiety, loneliness, and despair, and brings the player along on an adventure into the emotional landscape of a lost soul.

Stilstand

As I mentioned, it’s more a visual novel with a comic book layout structure. Most of the time you only click on the screen to move forward the dialogues/situations. Sometimes, there are few small puzzles very easy to decipher – but this is not the core of the game. STILSTAND is one experience to enjoy slowly and think about the crazy times we are living in.

Thirty-seven years ago, when I got my first video game (Atari), games were only about monsters, shootings, car racings, puzzles etc. Little Vince, at that time, never thought that, one day, he would play games with themes like depression, suicide, dementia etc. As I always say: games are media and part of contemporary culture. Games are mediums of expression and powerful platforms to send serious messages, too.

Thanks to the indie gaming industry for bringing us an exotic experience like this one. Not only an experience of entertainment, but a product that brings us to reflect about some common problems around us.



Platforms: iOS, PlayStation 4, Android, Microsoft Windows, macOS, Nintendo Switch, Macintosh operating systems 

 #GoGamers