Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kudos on your Gibbage

There are other blogs out there. Blogs with news about kittens dying horrible deaths, blogs with news about kittens being horribly born; I have witnessed this, it's not a pretty sight and it only means that the books I read as a kid have lied to me. Even blogs with news about kittens being raised from the dead for sacrifice. They're out there.

There are also other blogs by games developers looking to chronicle their efforts for historical purposes. Armies of bearded net archaeologists drinking lots of tea might want to know why The Mysterious Sofa Man never got a worldwide release, and how to beat level four where the fat man attempts to sit on you.

One such blog is Dan Marshall's effort, Gibbage. I implore you to read it for a multitude of reasons. It's funny, for a start, and it's actually well written. Presumably because Dan knows how to do that sort of thing without tripping over his own convoluted metaphors. Another reason is the game itself, er, Gibbage.

Gibbage. I was a bit frightened when I first heard about the game. I don't know what Gibbage means so I looked it up in a dictionary. Imagine the horror when I found out that a "gib" is a castrated male cat. I had had enough of blogs about kittens that are sexually active, the last thing I needed was one where Tiddles is without his winky.

Thankfully, it also appears to mean something else, along the lines of horrible desmemberment of spikey haired, cartoon people, which was much more pleasing to my ear after having to put up with a Pokemon obsessed little sister.

Gibbage is, at its heart, a two player single screen action game, the aim of which is almost certain death. You bound around the level, chase your opponent and attempt to produce a kaleidoscopic image of limbs, blood, eyballs and tattered clothing. Also, there's something about collecting power cubes and returning them to base in order to win, like a platform capture-the-flag, but I was too busy dying horribly because I thought that was fun.

If I was playing with a friend, I'd possibly have tried to kill him instead. Six quid to kill as many friends as you like, even top professionals cannot match that price. If you like Worms, you'd like Gibbage.

Another such blog is Cliffski's. Cliff's actually got loads of games under his belt, like Democracy, in which you become the elected head of state of a real-world nation and attempt to please everyone at the same time (and fail), and Starship Tycoon 2 where you run a fleet of interstellar transport spaceships. Which is clearly better than a theme park, yet people keep buying theme park games. I believe the two games should really be merged into Capitalist Space Pig-Dog-Monkey 3 With Added Elections, but perhaps its good that Cliff doesn't listen to me. Also, there should be talking quaggas.

His latest game, which isn't finished yet but actually exists (unlike... um... moving on) is Kudos, which he cleverly attempts to describe as "a life sim that's not like The Sims but more like Animal Crossing which I have not played".

I'm sold, at any rate, because Animal Crossing is excellent and The Sims was just boring. In Kudos, you live life - go out drinking with your buddies, make more friends, get a job, realise you hate the people you work with, get a girlfriend, find out that the girlfriend hates all your friends but loves your work colleagues... and so on until an anthropomorphic duck tells you he's a hammer whilst looking whistfully at a phallic constellation in the sky.

Ideally. That's easily the best bit about Animal Crossing.

What I like about both Kudos and Gibbage is that they are indicative of the independent developer's range, variety and imagination, with which the major publishing houses can rarely compete. It reminds me of the early 8-bit days when the hobbyists were at the forefront, when every new game that wasn't a direct clone of an arcade hit was delivering something new.

That's how I see the indie scene, that's where the passion can be. Guys like Dan Marshall and Cliff Harris making games they believe in, and the quality can often shine through into the finished product. It doesn't stop with those two. There's Si Read, creator of New Star Soccer 3, pretty much the only game out there where you get to live the life of a footballer since the days of Gremlin's Footballer of the Year. There's Introversion making games like Darwinia, or the forthcoming Defcon which allows you to attempt a bit of Global Thermonuclear War without the help of WOPR, and has the genius touch of "office mode" so you can finally nuke the guy from accounts and the boss will be none the wiser. Games built by guys and girls
who've thought, "You know what I'd love to play?" and then gone and fucking built it.

You can only be urged to support them if you like their games. Help them make more.

And help me as well, my blog needs traffic.

1 comment:

dan marshall said...

Thanks for this, I appreciate it. You're officially an Official "Friend of Gibbage", which is the highest honour you can acheive. Probably.

d