Posts Tagged ‘Time Donkey’:
Let’s face it; there’s nothing you want more in the whole world than Time Donkey Wallpapers. So here they are, courtesy of your jovial Uncle Blurst.
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The Day of Donkey is upon us! (Head to our Facebook page for the rest of the story).
Our latest 8-week game, Time Donkey, is now available. BAM!
And, holy crap, this is our 9th game released on Blurst. Woah.
How does a donkey earning minimum wage find himself trapped in the very fabric of time itself, doomed to relive the same 30 seconds again and again? We’ll be posting the Story of the Time Donkey, one image per day, to our Facebook account.
Head on over there–you should become a fan anyway–and check out the story! We’ll keep posting them up until launch day on Tuesday. It’s a thrilling adventure!
This is what happens when you have amazing people help you with your amazing projects. One Mr. Cory Robinson, a local game artist, good personal friend of ours, and all-around-super-talented-guy helped us out with some illustration work. In order to make the Time Donkey menu scene come to life I needed some promotional nonsense (product photos, discount alerts, beverage list) to surround the functional menu elements (game logo, the “play game” button, the “change username” button) and Cory delivered. While it ended up completely appropriate in the context of the title scene you don’t see it very well when it’s all said and done so here it is in detail.
Keep in mind that when I tasked him with this my instructions were very vague; crappy fast food menu with ridiculous products on it. He reached into the swirling neon vortex of his brain and created all of these products and their names, going off of Flashbang’s “Num Nums Raptor Taco” inside joke from back in the day and nothing else. When we looked at it for the first time we all cried from the laughter, and also from Matthew hitting us with a car antenna. Enjoy!
The gentle Time Donkey surveys his native environment. Perhaps he is scouting for food, or looking for a mate. Or maybe he is trapped in time itself, inadvertently cycling through the same 30 seconds, doomed to a nightmare of clones and tacos.
Find out for yourself when Time Donkey launches here at Blurst.com on September 1st. The countdown continues!
To people, time is linear.
Memory allows us to revisit and relive the past, to learn lessons from it, and to develop different attitudes and ways of behaving in the world based on those lessons. But memory is an imperfect recording, heavily influenced by emotion. Two people can remember the same party as being wonderful (it was the night I met my future wife) or awful (it was the night I walked in on my wife with another man.) Objectively, the details are the same. The party happened at a certain place, at a certain time, and included specific people. But there is no way to separate emotion from memory. All memory is inherently subjective. The arrow of time cannot be reversed. But what if it could?
It is tantalizing to imagine what the world would be like if time were malleable. This is the essence of time manipulation in video games. One of the appealing things about video games is that they allow expression of our desire to exercise control over time. A game allows us to escape the way we perceive time by rewinding and replaying, collaborating with past sevles, or simply hitting the reset button.
I’ve been thinking a lot about time manipulation in games lately because our next game, Time Donkey, features rewind/replay mechanics. Here are some thoughts on the design of other time manipulation games I’ve been playing. For reference, of course :).
Cursor * 10
Cursor Times Ten distills the essence of multiplicity. The interface is a cursor. The only novel idea in play is the recording and playback of in-game actions. Everything you do is recorded. By careful planning you can collaborate with all your previous selves to achieve objectives more efficiently. What’s most interesting is comparing your memory of what you did before to a perfect, objective one. I feel as though I moved my cursor over as quickly as I could, clicked the stairs, and then went on to click the button as many times as I could as quickly as I could. But the replay shows that I over-corrected my initial mouse movement, clicked the wrong thing twice, and only managed to click the button ten times before being forcibly restarted.
What Cursor*10 really nails is the sense of upward progression. There is a secondary goal of scoring, but what feels compelling is clever application of multiple replays to optimize tasks. Once you’ve revealed the box hiding the staircase, you can quickly and easily find it next time, allowing the replay after that to reach further and further up the floors. This sense of building intent across multiple plays, and interacting with your own previous actions feels fresh and interesting.
DefeatMe is decribed in comments as “Cursor*10’s evil twin.” This is an accurate statement. In Cursor*10, you replay the same small slice of time over and over again, layering recorded replays one on top of the other. In DefeatMe, your replays are mirrored opposite, and become an increasingly wily and difficult opponent. Every shot you took at an enemy comes back at you, and every move you made to avoid a shot becomes a clever dodge in the next round. Each dodge is predictable if you plan carefully, and you can anticipate where it will end up and send a shot there before the ship arrives. This makes for a satisfying, cerebral experience (though this is currently hampered slightly by having to reload the page to start a fresh game.)
One weird decision in this prototype is bullet spray randomization. Your ship starts by firing one bullet at a time, directly forward. As you progress through each stage, however, the pattern can change. Sometimes you spray three bullets. Sometimes you have no direct forward shot. Presumably, this is to solve the problem of fatigue. If your ship only ever fires one bullet and directly forward, it’s too easy to predict where each shot is going to go and the play gets stale. I’m not sure changing the bullet spray is the right answer. The problem is that it feels arbitrary. It might feel more satisfying and strategic if there were collectable powerups in the level that changed the bullet spray pattern or upgraded it. Certainly, as the levels progress and there are more and more replay ships to destroy, I’d choose to then upgrade my weapons.
Regardless, this is a lovely little experiment by crafty indie shmupomancer Kenta Cho, one which I’d love to see him expand on. I wonder what it would be like with varied level terrain, powerups, or with the addition of patterned enemies independent of or spawned by the player.
As in: ”Hey this code is unoptimized and barely works. Ahhh….Future Me problem! Present me will eat cheesecake instead.”
“Man, I probably shouldn’t have eaten all the cheesecake…ah well, I’m sure Future Me will figure something out.”
Chronotron is neat, but I disagree with one of its self-implied design constraints. As in Cursor*10 and DefeatMe, your actions are recorded as you play. To start a new replay, the current robot must be returned to the door from whence it game. I don’t like having to return each replay robot to the door. It is a fundamental constraint to the levels as they’ve been constructed in Chronotron, but I can’t help but think the game would be more enjoyable if it flowed forward. I like thinking about how to use multiple replays to activate switches, weigh down scales, or launch off of seesaws. Just let me do that!
Having to then solve all the annoying paradoxes that occur when one robot prevents another from getting back to the door feels tedious. If there were a second exit door, or various portals throughout the level I could enter to start a new replay, and the puzzles would remain in tact sans tedium. Fixing paradoxes just feels like sweeping up after the clever bits. However, the ability to interact with oneself across time – and the many clever physics-y applications they found – makes Chronotron worth playing and enjoying.
Braid is pure experimental game design. Johnathan set out to explore time manipulation because he was unsatisfied with the limited, tepid, unsatisfying application it had found in games like Blinx and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. He asked the question ‘what would happen if the player could rewind time as much they wanted, as far back as they wanted, any time they wanted?’ Layering limitless rewind on a familiar feeling 2d platformer yielded unique and interesting gameplay. He then explored the mechanic more thoroughly through a world structure that modified limitless rewind with additional constructs like a ring that creates a bubble of slow time and an arbitrary rule linking the flow of time to left or right movement. The results were revolutionary.
This is the finest game about the nature of time as it is perceived by humans, and one of the finest pieces of work in any medium on that subject. There are ideas in Braid that are best expressed interactively. The concepts can be explained linearly, but are better expressed through interaction.
Coming Soon: “The Misadventures of PB Winterbottom”
A quick parting note; add this game to your List of Future Me Things . It’s being created by our friends The Odd Gentlemen, and has the potential to outdo Braid in terms of thoroughness.
Winterbottom will explore replays as help and hinderence, play with the arrow of time, distort space and time in even more ways than Braid. Seek it out!
It’s a pleasure to formally announce that Time Donkey is the next Blurst game! As most of you know, it started out as a small prototype Steve made a couple months back. His initial vision was far more cartoon inspired than it was realistically inspired, which struck a personal chord with me as my natural preferences for game aesthetics are along these lines. Steve ended up taking care of (what I perceive to be) the natural first step and established the influences. He told me wants it to resemble both Wind Waker on the Gamecube and a personal project I had worked on previously. We also ended up having a useful conversation about the vibrant and stylized platformers of recent years, i.e. Jak And Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Prince Of Persia, etc.
In order to clearly communicate how I thought it should look to the rest of the team, I formally narrowed it down to three specific influences: Windwaker on Gamecube, Zack And Wiki on Wii, and Lost Winds on WiiWare.
Zack And Wiki on Wii is a great product to look at right now not only because it’s modern, but it’s a great example of how to super-saturate everything and still look really neat. The plant life is particularly inspiring because it’s abundant, charming, and stands out on top of the ground it’s all buried in. The only thing working against Zack And Wiki is that the overall spectrum of color is so varied that it can get quite over stimulating. Not always, but enough so that I found it distracting. In any case, it’s a great looking product that helped me calibrate our color usage.
Lost Winds on WiiWare is a fantastic looking 3d sidescroller in the vein of Zack And Wiki. It’s another very useful example of a modern platformer covered in sexy. Generally speaking, I found the Lost Winds palette a little more digestable than Zack And Wiki’s. The color spectrum (per area) is a much closer together but the game still manages to be vibrant. Ultimately, Lost Winds helped me further calibrate our color usage and on top of that, helped me calibrate our amount of textural detail; Lost Winds has a little bit more texture detail than we want.
Wind Waker on GameCube. Ahhh, sweet sweet Wind Waker. As far as I’m concerned, one of the most successful attempts at making a game look like a traditional piece of cartoon animation, plus a whole lot more. The thing that has always stuck out to me the most about Wind Waker is its inherent harmony. Nothing really fights with each other and nothing is so saturated it pressurizes your eyeballs. Both the HUD and the characters are distinguishable from the environment without looking out of place. It’s still more saturated than most games, but its range of saturation is small enough to keep everything held together. I find it particularly interesting that no individual object has a ton of contrast and does not contain more than 2 or 3 major color values. At the end of the day I feel this is the primary distinguishing attribute of the Wind Waker’s aesthetic, which is probably why it achieves the harmony it does. It’s much easier to make a modest handful of colors look good next to each other than it is to make, I dunno, the 600 colors on screen in most games. ;)
Furthermore, we’ve been using a dedicated concept artist on this project. He’s a local artist named Justin Messner who’s been spending a couple days a week with us creating the kind of really cool images we don’t normally have the time to create ourselves. So far it’s worked out really great and his imagery has been helpful and inspiring. Here’s one of his pieces!
That’s all for now; we’ll start offloading more art as things become more developed. So far everything is coming together really well and I think we’ve got something more refined than anything you’ve seen from us before…
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