Student Gaming That Changed the World - That Indie Column


Posted March 20, 2012 - By Rob Manuel

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All this week, we here at G4 University want to help you to become the game maker you’ve always dreamed of becoming. If there’s one lesson that keeps coming up over and over again, it’s play games. We play to learn and to build our love of gaming. So for this week’s Indie Column, I want to talk about student games.

Don’t think for a second that you’re going to roll into your freshman class and churn out another Modern Warfare. That takes time, knowledge, and a whole lot of money. You actually live in an amazing time to become the next great gaming developer. Schools like DigiPen readily allow you to check out many of the big student projects that others before you have created. We all start somewhere, and this is your big break.

You’ve heard me talk about Nitronic Rush, Way, and Crayon Physics before. All of these games started out as just a project for class only to become big successes. Let’s look at some of the big games made by students that made a huge impact on gaming.

Narbacular Drop

Narbacular Drop/Tag: The Power of Paint

We’re starting out with two games that should be familiar to you even if you’ve never heard of them before – Narbacular Drop and Tag: The Power of Paint. This first student project pits you against a room full of some rather nasty things with only two portals, one with orange eyes and one with blue eyes that connect, to protect you. Since you have no knees – don’t ask me why – you require the portals to move around as well as get out of trouble. As the story goes, the team behind Narbacular Drop meet someone from Valve in the parking lot right after their presentation and well… we’ll get to that part in a bit.

Tag: The Power of Paint puts the power in your hand to paint the world and change the way you interact with it. Painting a surface green causes you to bounce around while a red surface caused the player to run quickly across. (See it yet?) Gameplay combined visuals along with the mechanics. Puzzles required you to paint before you act. Oddly enough, the same company who picked up the team from the first game took this team as well to help work on their sequel.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Narbacular Drop went on to make a similar game called Portal while Tag helped with the new paint mechanics in the second game, Portal 2.


Indie Games: Cloud »

As you imagine by the name alone, Cloud lets you play with those fluffy white things in the sky. You play as a boy dreaming in his hospital room of flying through the sky. Up in the wild blue yonder, you get to meet clouds; white ones that follow you, gray ones that sit around until a white ones comes by, and black clouds that combine with white ones to make rain. Through each of the stages, you fly around, leading clouds to form shapes in the sky or to rain on the little island below.

No time limit. No need to rush through such a beautiful world. Cloud lets gamers explore and play in their environment. Their first game turned out to be a boon for the small team that still works in Santa Monica, not far from their USC alma mater. Of course, you know them better for such games as Flower and Journey. Thatgamecompany have never forgotten their student roots. You’ll often find the team at indie conferences lecturing or helping out other students looking to become the next big thing.

Okay… Time For Things You Should Know About

You Should Support: Auditorium 2: Duet

Shift music the same way you would shift a stream. Auditorium brought you some rather clever gameplay along with some amazing music. The sequel looks to do the same, but with an added multiplayer element that looks like it could really change how you view the game. For just thirty bucks, you get two copies of the games as well as frequent updates about development.

You Should Buy: Waveform

Simple yet complex. Relaxing as it is maddening. Waveform puts you to the test when you move through space to collect orbs and avoid whatever else comes your way. As the player, you control the wave that your little ship rides on. Moving around the mouse adjust the intensity and length of the waves. And that’s all you need. As each orb comes across the screen, you need to hit you mark to get the points. Do well and the game speeds up. Miss a couple and you’ll slowly make your way through the universe. Cool ideas with great execution, Waveform for those looking to relax and for a little challenge.

You Should Play: Pomme

Similar to the card game Apples to Apples, Pomme provides players an assortment of pictures and animated gifs found throughout the internet. Sometimes you get a picture of an arm waving, a ticket, or just a boy in a bad wig. You need to pick the best random picture that fits another random picture chosen for you. Another player acts as the judge to say which picture fits. If he picks your pic, you get a point. The game tracks your score even when you jump in and out of games.

Student Gaming That Changed the World - That Indie Column


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