Get Water! launches tomorrow!

indie, playthroughs

You might remember that, a couple of weeks ago, TAG playtested Decode Global‘s Get Water! at one our our 5a7s. TAG and Hexagram have had the pleasure of hosting Decode Global at Concordia for some time now, and we’re very happy to see how well Get Water! is doing. The project, for example, won the Create UNAOC Award for 2012. Tomorrow, on World Water Day, Get Water! is slated for launch and here’s a little bit about what to expect. I also recommend watching the trailer.

Get_Water_gameplay3

The heroine of Get Water! is Maya, a little girl from India who is pulled out of school to fetch water after the pump breaks in her neighbourhood. As I mentioned during my writeup for the playtest: A few of the dangers that she has to avoid: peacocks, who will scare her into dropping the water, turtles that she might trip over, errant footballs that might knock over her jug, and of course, the very real threat of contaminated water. She is armed with boomerangs and other unlockables that will send her enemies running or improve her ability to get water.

So, when I last played Get Water!, it was on an iPad. I played the current build on my little old iPhone, and I have to say that that switch made a pretty big difference for me. Playing on the iPhone was, for me, a lot more difficult because my drawings had to be much more precise – I found that I was doing the same kind of drawing that I did on the iPad, but not getting the same results (probably because the displacement of a few millimetres matters a lot more on the smaller interface). I also found drawing Maya’s trajectory a lot easier on the iPad because I could draw shorter parts of her path and wait to see what was coming (a technique that didn’t really work on the iPhone’s smaller screen). So, if you have the choice, I’d really recommend getting it for the iPad. Otherwise, I got used to playing on the iPhone after a while.

One of the highlights of the game is that it’s a story-driven endless runner, which is not something that I’ve seen too often. During the playtest, not all of the cut scenes when the player unlocks parts of Maya’s story were implemented yet, so it was with great pleasure that I watched the new cut scenes, which allow the player to get to know Maya and her environment and see how the consumable items in the game were actually born of Maya’s innovative thinking about the world that she lives in – such as finding a new way to get around the turtles after watching her friend cross the water on some rocks, or using the rubber from balloons to block up the holes in her water jug. The scarcity of water has forced Maya out of school, and the game makes it clear that she is an obviously intelligent young woman who deserves an education.

I still love the idea that it is the cumulative effect of the player’s efforts that leads to rewards and changes in the game – an idea that is reinforced by the way that levelling up works in the game by adding up the percentage of progress from each individual run. Everything is just a drop in the bucket, but those drops in the bucket add up! So, as a message for social change, that kind of thinking is definitely appreciated. If we took the same approach to social change that we do to crowdfunding and kickstarting, we’d start to see some definite results come out of those drops in the bucket.

What I enjoyed in this final version was that the player gets to hear Maya’s voice – it’s a small change, but I felt a lot more connected to her because of it. (I’m not completely sure if this was in the play test version or not, just because the room was full of people and the sound may have been turned down – but even if it’s not new, it’s new to me!)

Overall, this is a game with a great message and a fun interface that has, to date, kept me busy for about four hours. Water is a universal need, which makes Get Water! a very relatable game that’s also just a lot of fun to play.

You can visit Decode Global’s website or follow them on Twitter (@decodeglobal). Get Water! launches tomorrow for iOS.

Diver Quest available for play!

adventures in gaming, indie, pixelles

Just a quick post to say that the Pixelles Incubator games are all collected on the Pixelles’ site here: http://pixelles.ca/blog/2013/03/21/play-the-games/

Here’s a link to Diver Quest! You have to download the .zip file and extract it, then play the html file. The download button is on the side.

http://meaikoh.deviantart.com/art/Diver-Quest-Pixelles-Edition-360750207

Did I ever stop playing Wild Arms?

playthroughs

Wildarmscase

Due to various circumstances (mostly my being sick), I’ve missed all of the events that I was planning to write about this week. That being the case, I’ve decided to try something a little new, somewhat inspired by this article (http://henryjenkins.org/2013/03/when-did-you-first-play-the-binding-of-isaac.html) by Adam Liszkiewicz on the Henry Jenkins blog.

Finding a game that I relate to in the same way that Liskiewicz relates to ‘The Binding of Isaac’ is difficult. Games that I’ve had multiple encounters with over time is easy enough – there are games that are just part of the popular zeitgeist, and there are a few of those that I run into all the time: Final Fantasy 7, Super Mario and Worms (in all its various incarnations) come to mind.

The game that fits the bill the best overall is probably Wild Arms. It’s one of the first games that I rented, and one of the games that I have had the most hardware problems with. The first two copies that I ran into froze after the first “act” of the game. There’s a difficult boss battle, followed by the game credits/a cut scene (in this game, the credits are run partway through the game for some reason).

For the uninitiated: Wild Arms is a game with three playable characters who start out with separate story lines and are eventually thrown together by fate and join forces to save the world from some kind of ancient “metal demons” who fought with the inhabitants of Filgaia thousands of years ago. One of them, Rudy Roughknight, has the ability to use ARMs – ancient weapons that are considered taboo. I guess that’s where the title of the game comes from. The other main characters are a princess named Cecilia who has been attending Mage school, and a treasure hunter/gun for hire named Jack.

Why this game stuck with me is probably because of the tools in the game. Collected throughout the first act, the objects are used to solve puzzles and progress the game. One of the tools is a blue wind mouse named Hanpan. Another is a pair of roller-skates, and yet another, a wand that lets the players talk to animals. There’s also a magical teardrop crystal that opens special doors. This creates some space for players to construct their own narratives – the hoodlum who wildly whips through town on his roller-skates until he crashes into something, or the jerk who trails bombs behind him (yet another tool). Sending Hanpan dashing off to places unintended is also fun, even though it never helped me solve any puzzles.

After the first two copies froze, I eventually found a disc to rent. One day, I went back to rent it again and it seems that somebody had just never returned it. Stole the copy of Wild Arms that I had been playing. I began to look for my own copy, but only in the same way that a person will see a movie title and say, “hey, I really should watch that.” I put it on my Christmas list, even. And then, Wild Arms: Alter Code F was announced.

Updated graphics? Updated gameplay? Sounds pretty good, right? But somehow I missed the actual launch, and by the time that I caught up to Alter Code F again, it seemed that nobody had anything really good to say about it.

I forgot about Wild Arms. I resigned myself to never finishing the game, never seeing the end of my Western JRPG adventure. Then, my fiancé gave me a copy for my birthday last year. I found my old memory card, plugged it in and realized… I was basically at the final boss. What?

So, rather than wondering when I first played Wild Arms, the question for me becomes “when did I ever stop playing Wild Arms?” Well, I haven’t yet. I’m still trying to beat a secret monster arena on one of the game’s many islands.

Oh, and, to this day, Michiko Naruke’s “Into the Wilderness” is hands-down my favourite game theme song.