What Lies Below

Category: Game Development, Gaming

I just love the look of some of the games coming out at the moment. A few weeks back I wrote about Monument Valley, shortly after I was introduced to Below, two games that utilize a flattened approach, art directed so perfectly that they become beautiful artworks in their own rights.

But Below is not only being tipped at as winner because of it’s aesthetic, it’s approach to gameplay has also got the community waiting in anticipation. Below is  an adventure game enjoyed from an overhead perspective through a tilt shift lens. The hero of Below is an extremely tiny warrior who explores the depths of a remote island. The game is about discovery, discovery of the island, discovery of the warriors task and discovery of how to operate and navigate. Below doesn’t give a single prompt on your task, the direction or the purpose of your adventure which separates it drastically from many directive games on the market. This is about exploration and learning. On top of that, the game includes permanent death. Wounded by an enemy? No matter the size of the wound, you better tend to it quickly as any loss of blood will eventually lead to your death. Once this occurs (your death I mean) you can return to the island but in a reincarnate state. Your previous body is still there… somewhere on the island. Time doesn’t restart in this game, it continues with your previous body lying where you took your last breath. Any benefits you may have collected in your previous life’s journey are still with your dead body, your new one just has to find it to regain the beneficial supplies. That task may be easier said than done as you, a tiny warrior, search through this vast, changeable landscape. The premise is a strangely exciting one and hints to the unique way that Below’s gameplay has been designed.

The vastness of the island is one of my other favourite aspects of the game. A giant landscape with a tiny warrior placed inconspicuously amongst it all. The idea that the main protagonist is ant sized is just brilliant and adds to the sense of impending doom that awaits in the depths of the island.

Below has been developed by Capy Games and is one the most anticipated games of 2014. A game that punishes recklessness and positions you in rigorous combat, all while being housed in a thoughtfully designed environment. Watch the preview above (the soundtrack is great), and click here to watch an interview with Nathan Vella, President of Capy Games, on the recently released gameplay demo.

I don’t think Below’s release date has been finalised as of writing this article, but it’s due soon… so keep it on your radar!

Logan Bradley

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Chase zombies with Google’s Project Tango

Category: Game Development, Gaming, Interactive

The best way to test and explore some new technologies is through games. This time we look at Google’s Project Tango and how it’s utilized in the context of gaming.

In short, Project Tango gives mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion. Tango capable mobile devices contain customized hardware and software designed to track the full-range 3D motion of the device, while simultaneously creating a map of the environment. These special sensors process a wealth of data that updates position and orientation in real-time, creating a 3D model of the space around you.

There is plenty of ways this technology can be utilised. NASA for example is already testing it to map space stations in zero gravity conditions. But hey, how much more fun it is to use real-time sensory mapping to chase down and kill hoards of zombies?!

That’s exactly what you do with the Google Tango based game Zombie Gunship Reality. This new Android game from Limbic Software turns your Android device into a huge gunship. Moving around with the device you track down armies of zombies and basically shoot them to pieces from the air. If you check out the video above, it looks like loads of fun and you are getting a good exercise at the same time!

Google Tango is exploring new frontiers here and I am excited to see how they use the lessons they learn from gaming as they take this technology to the next level.

Kyle Glass

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Bachelor Software Engineering (Game Programming)
Bachelor of Creative Technologies (Game Art)

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NewSchool of Architecture + Design

San Diego, California
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Bachelor of Arts in Game Art
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The Mountain — simulation game where you are a mountain

Category: Game Development, Gaming

Do you remember the movie ‘Her’ when Joaquin Phoenix played a holographic motion-sensor operated video game with an adorably foul-mouthed snowball / alien child character? It was certainly one of the highlights in the film so I have embedded a recap of the scene (warning, explicit language — but cute).

Well, the visual artist David OReilly — who created the concept and animation for the game in the film — is releasing his first indie game called ‘Mountain’.

It is a mountain simulator built on the Unity engine. What. The. Heck. — you ask? It is actually a quite clever concept. The game starts off with a couple of intimate questions trying to dig into your psyche. Answering the questions you are eventually drawing up a mountain that is a reflection of you at that moment. Then the mountain will come to life, running in the background on your computer. Changing, evolving. You’ll see the change of weather, things grow and die as time moves ahead. You’ll witness nature expressing itself, yourself. There are no control functions in this game, but there is a rich soundscape, weather simulation and 50 hours of ‘gameplay’ that ‘has an ending’.

Intrigued? I am!! Fortunately don’t have to wait too long as ‘Mountain’ will be released on the 21st of June for around $1. It’ll run on PC, Mac and iOS.

Kyle Glass
Images / video: Annapurna Pictures, http://www.davidoreilly.com/

 

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Bachelor Software Engineering (Game Programming)
Bachelor of Creative Technologies (Game Art)

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NewSchool of Architecture + Design

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Mortal Kombat X trailer — blood and bones

Category: 3D Animation, Game Development, Gaming, Interactive

Fire, ice, x-ray closeups of rupturing organs and breaking bones in the brand new trailer for the 10th Mortal Kombat game coming next year. This brutally cool trailer brings you Sub-Zero and Scorpion fighting to the death and I can see it causing a lot of excitement in the gaming scene. The game will be coming to the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC in 2015.

The new instalment of the iconic cross-generational title is promising a cinematic experience and an all new gameplay with an online component. Check out this beautifully rendered trailer, but be aware — it’s not for the faint-hearted.

Kyle Glass

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Bachelor Software Engineering (Game Programming)
Bachelor of Creative Technologies (Game Art)
Bachelor of Art and Design (3D Animation and Visual Effects)

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Firewatch. One to Keep Your Eye On

Category: Game Development, Gaming

Here’s a little something to get excited about for 2015. Firewatch is one game in development that already is getting a serious amount of attention. Created by new studio Campo Santo, this game is anything but a humble first offering. Behind the studio you’ll find industry legends from The Walking Dead, Mark of the Ninja, The Cave and Gone Home. That talent is rounded off with the excellent concept art from artist and designer Olly Moss.

Firewatch is set in the Wyoming wilderness in 1989, just after the devastating real-life fires that swept the region. You play Henry who has left the his messy life for a quiet version as the parks guard. Residing alone in the watch tower with his only human contact being his boss via walkie talkie, Henry, and the game are centred in solitude… and also intrigue. Noticing smoke Henry is enticed from the safety of the tower to venture and discover and get lost. The world that’s been by created by Moss for this game is unbelievably beautiful. Each frame looks like an artwork on it’s own which is always a great sign. That paired with a storyline and gameplay that include a lot of human elements and interpersonal skills means that this will be a winner. And, although the premise sounds simple, you know that there’ll be more as Henry begins to question what he is really doing there, and what has brought him to such a place. Before you know it the narrative has opened up to bigger things yet to be revealed.

Firewatch is due for release in 2015. In the meantime you can follow the progress here and download your very own wallpaper here.

Logan Bradley

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Media Design School

Premium Design Academy in Auckland, New Zealand
http://www.mediadesignschool.com/

Relevant Courses:

Bachelor Software Engineering (Game Programming)
Bachelor of Creative Technologies (Game Art)

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NewSchool of Architecture + Design

San Diego, California
http://www.newschoolarch.edu/

Relevant Courses:

Bachelor of Arts in Game Art
Bachelor of Science in Game Programming

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