More fun and frolicking commences at Gamecity in Nottingham and today I was quite looking forward to embarrassing myself at the Venus Patrol Training Facility. First port of call was Proteus by Twisted Tree Games; a virtual world free of puzzles and complex mechanics, but full of simple and beautiful scenery. Proteus is a wonderful example of how games can be created based on a single game concept – and with Proteus it is exploration. You find yourself wandering for hours through meadows and fields watching the seasons change and the occasional frog hop bywhilst wondering – “what’s over that hill?” soon to find yourself losing another hour as your continually ponder and satisfy that thought. But in the Venus Patrol Training Facility they have taken Proteus a step further and added; wait for it... A trampoline! Yes, the very Trampoline I was raving about yesterday. But sadly I didn’t get a chance to play it through today as one of the trampoline's legs was broken. Perhaps the excitement of jumping on around to Proteus was just too much to handle for some leaving me deprived of the only exercise I’m likely to get for a while. Needless to say the staff were racing to fix it ensuring that I do get a slight workout on my return tomorrow.
Another genius design at the Venus Patrol Training Facility is MEGAGIRP; taken from the original game “GIRP” by Bennett Foddy. The basic concept of GIRP is to ascend a wall using the appropriate keys and climb to ultimate success in the best time. But don’t underestimate the simplicity of this game especially when the keys are bound to a giant twister style dance mat. Determined not to be beaten by such a simple design I spent most of my afternoon with spectators laughing at my butt cleavage as I contorted my body just trying to reach the letter T. I would definitely advise you try this game, but for your own dignity – wear a belt.
Both of the games today showed me that design of a game doesn’t have to be complicated. Both Proteus and MEGAGIRP are easy to play and most importantly, outright fun. Triple A games such as your Call of Duty’s and Final Fantasy’s have complex mechanics to keep the player engaged and do it very well, but to be honest Venus Patrol have really nailed fun at its most raw without intricate storylines or even massive marketing budgets. Today I saw both young and old enjoying these games without any criticisms on graphics or the lack of high paced action because they appeal to the core of why we actually play games – for the fun of it. This is something that I will definitely take away from Gamecity this year and ponder on as I work on my own ideas.
Tomorrow I have booked myself and my ten year old daughter onto a Minecraft educational session. The only way I can describe this is like building dens with your mates when you were 12 but in an online and unlimited world. There are still places left later in the week so get yourself onto gamecity.org and book your place and don’t forget to take your kids, parents and friends with you!