The first game I played at IndieCade was a movement game called “Perfect Woman”, which had me (as well as other gamers) contorting ourselves into the most random positions, for not only everyone’s amusement, but also as the main reason to complete the game.
It was unlike anything I’d ever played before, and for something so random and out there, it made me wonder more about Perfect Woman as a whole. Shortly afterwards, I contacted the game creators, Peter Lu, and Lea Schoenfelder, both of whom work on the game from UCLA’s Game Lab, and they were awesome enough to grant me an interview:
Jacqueline Cottrell (JC): Why the name, “Perfect Woman”? Where did the title stem from, and do you believe it could instill a bit of upset at what it means to be a “Perfect woman”?
Lea Schoenfelder (LS): The title “Perfect Woman” existed from the beginning. Our game is about perfectness and about what it means to be perfect as a woman. It depicts different roles a woman can be perfect in: For example her job, her role as a friend, her role as a wife, a mother, a citizen etc. Of course the title is ironic and maybe misleading at first sight. But this is on purpose. Instead of telling people what defines a “perfect woman” (society seems to be doing this already) the game asks the question if it is desirable to be perfect at all.
Peter Lu (PL): The more I think about it, “Perfect Woman” is somehow the “perfect” name for the game. The game has so many possible branches and therefore so many interpretations of “Perfect Woman” that the experience really is about the player’s choices and not individual characters that Lea created. In practice, most older players understand the irony and most younger players come out with a very positive experience.
JC: Where do you hope to see the game in a couple of years?
LS: Right now Perfect Woman can be seen at different festivals and exhibitions. It was just shown at IndieCade in Los Angeles. UntilOctober 29th it can be played at the German House at NYU and at the end of November at the SPIELSALON in Kassel/Germany. Right now the game works good in a festival context. It works well as well for players who can just jump in without even needing a controller, as for people just standing around the player and watching people dance. But we hope to publish the game on xBox next year. Only then it will be possible for everybody to play it at home in their living rooms.
And since you are talking about the future years: Who knows, maybe there will even be a game called “Perfect Man”.
JC: On what platform is Perfect Woman being released?
PL: We’re really committed to getting the game available on the Xbox One early next year.
JC: Who are your target audiences?
LS: When people play the game, especially younger women seem to really enjoy the dancing part of it as well as the setting and topic of the game. We tested it on really different people, women and men of all ages, players and non-players alike. The interface is intuitive enough so that everybody – even my parents who never ever play – get it really quickly. Especially women are good in coordinating the dancing moves and ideally they should be old enough to get the underneath message of the game.
JC: What makes you believe your game stands out from all others at IndieCade?
PL: Perfect Woman has a very straight forward interface the content is very approachable. I feel these factors really drew in the less gaming oriented crowd especially older adults and younger children who would normally not play many of the games at Indiecade. The people more familiar with the context really appreciated the underlying criticism of the game and the way we approached it. We were also blocking the majority of the single walk way through the show floor so it was hard to not notice our game (I do feel pretty bad about this)
JC: How did you, Lea and Peter, come together in creating this game? What was the basis/inspiration for it?
LS: Peter and I met at UCLA game lab during my residency in Fall 2012. I had the basic idea of a woman that had to deform herself in front of the Kinect in order to be perfect in all aspects of her life. Isn’t it the same as in real life: Having a great career, being a perfect mother and still having enough time for self-fulfilling hobbies is almost not possible.
I don’t really know why Peter agreed to work with me because he had done a game for the Kinect before and originally didn’t want to do anything for it again. But we came together and I’m really happy about that! Peter does all the programming and big parts of the game design. He has a great talent in translating a humanistic statement into game mechanics.
PL: I still don’t know why I agreed to work on this totally ridiculous idea especially after working with the kinect. I’ve fully embraced the Kinect for all it’s features and faults now and it seems to be returning some of my feelings .
JC: What makes Perfect Woman more unique than any other game I’ve ever played?
LS: Ha, I guess every good game has it’s one thing to be unique in. Perfect Woman has a very distinctive spirit that shows off in the art style, the narrative as well as in the mechanics. I often describe those games as “author games”. We didn’t make many compromises with the game at all. The game design process began with our basic idea about how difficult it is for women nowadays to fulfill all requirement society has against us. This idea already included Kinect. So we didn’t say “hey, let’s do something for Kinect because it’s cool!”, but our topic really required the Kinect to show the deformation of a perfect woman.
Our game is fun and beyond that it makes players think about the question, do I even want to be perfect?. We hope it is a step into the direction of grown up computer games, which are discussed so much these days.
PL: Lea’s art style really has a way of giving life to her ideas. She is a true auteur of games. But this is not what makes our game unique. Thanks to critics like Anita Sarkeesia, Anna Anthropy and many others, people are becoming much more aware of gender issues in gaming. This awareness has only begun to manifest in the medium itself though. Right now, there are few games that address this issue and even fewer that are “good”. The truth is, if a game is going to make an impact on gaming as a whole it needs to be something people want to play. I hope the novel yet intuitive gameplay and Lea’s delightful artwork will make Perfect Woman such a game. Having said that, “Perfect Woman” does not address gender issues so much as it addresses human issues. But I think its existence is a step towards equal gender representation in games.
The joke here is that we wont make “Perfect Man” because that game has already been made. It’s not a very good joke because I think if we made “Perfect Man”, the game would still be very interesting and unique.
Towerfall is clearly one of the best games available on what some consider to be the disappointing hackable console, OUYA. Dubbed as the machine’s “killer app” by founder and CEO Julie Uhrman, the game will be making its way to PC soon with a host of new features and content. Now what that says about the OUYA — I’m not sure — but it clearly wont be able to lean on this epic 2D, multiplayer, arrow tossing exclusive for too much longer.
Scroll down for our exclusive interview with creator Matt Thorson and more details on what will be coming to the PC version.
During Capcom’s panel at the recent 2013 EVO event, the company announced some new content coming in the way of: Ultra Street Fighter IV. The DLC pack will add new character and stages as well as implement gameplay changes and balancing based significantly on fan feedback.
Capcom’s senior product manager Matt Dahlgren told the Jace Hall Show that the gameplay re-balancing has a lot to do with making less popular characters more usable for serious players and “the balance feedback process for Ultra Street Fighter IV has been more open than any other fighting game in Capcom history.”
Scroll down to check out the Ultra Street Fighter IV reveal trailer and some screenshots of the soon to be added characters. Continue reading “Capcom’s Matt Dahlgren Talks How Gamer Feedback Molded Ultra Street Fighter IV” »
From the Arcade Hall to the Smithsonian, Santer and his partner in crime Johnathan Drake have set out to tell gaming’s story in a big way. They’re aiming to open at the Arclight Documentary Film Festival, and they need your help to bring the film to the world. Continue reading “If There Was One Movie To Capture The Amazingness of Gaming Culture, This Might Be The One” »
When Square announced Deus Ex: The Fall as a mobile title, like many gamers, we were more than a little disappointed not to see a full blown console sequel to Human Revolution. But now that we have had some time to see more of the game it looks as though we are looking at a pretty solid and thorough Deus Ex title here — even if it is a mobile entry.
Even though Eidos is bringing us a new iOS DX game it doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t working on another console title does it? So why not be excited about a new entry in the series? Deus Ex executive game director Jean-Francois Dugas tells us that “As a developer, we believe all platforms present opportunities and if you create the right content, we believe we can have success…it does not mean other platforms or future plans are affected. Watch this space ” Continue reading “Deus Ex Executive Producer Talks New Mobile Title, THE FALL” »
“The true mission of the violin is to imitate the accents of the human voice, a noble mission that has earned for the violin the glory of being called the king of instruments” - Charles-Auguste de Beriot
There are some who believe that the violin is the most difficult instrument to play; move your finger a centimeter off the mark and you’re playing an entirely different note. Bend your elbow too much (or not enough) and the bow will slide off the strings and give nails on a chalkboard a run for its money.
But it’s more than the degree of difficulty that draws people to the violin: the violin continues to be a literal bridge between music and so many art forms that inspire our decisions and provide us an escape.
In the video game community, the violin has added longevity and helped us to re-imagine our favorite gaming moments. Taylor Davis (YouTube: ViolinTay) has channeled her passion and love for video games into the violin, to the tune of 23 million views and 160,000 subscribers.
I found out in our my INTERVIEW with Taylor that she started playing the violin in elementary school and assumed it would just be something to keep in her life as an escape or hobby as she pursued a possible business career. But the ability to connect video games with the violin has allowed her to become a full-time musician, a person who doesn’t always need a controller to enjoy gaming.
Naturally I had a number of questions to ask her — here’s our EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Taylor Davis: Continue reading “How Taylor Davis’ Violin Is Capturing The Gaming World” »
Believe it or not, EA’s iconic Madden franchise will turn 25 this year, commemorated in the “2014″ version of the game being dubbed Madden 25. But the NCAA Football franchise continues to be a staple all of its own, becoming more than a primer for the Madden Franchise and delivering a unique experience that only the college game can encapsulate. EA’s NCAA football franchise was technically founded in 1994, although it adopted its current “NCAA Football” moniker in 1998 (originally it was “Bill Walsh Football” until it was in the grasp of EA Tiburon).
This week, fans received a look at the presentation of the game, which includes 500 new sequences running in between plays, chatter from players on the defensive side of the ball to help you feel like you’re even more involved in the game (if it’s in the game…), and a half-time show to make you feel even more like a rock-star.
Fans also got a look at the revamped gameplay of NCAA Football 2014 earlier this month, one that utilizes the same Infinity 2 Engine that Madden 13 broke in last year. With an increasing number of NFL fans starting to peak in on Saturday football and networks like ESPN/ABC recently spending over $5 billion to broadcast games, the pressure is on EA and gameplay designer Larry Richart to deliver a game that matches the rise of college football’s popularity. Continue reading “EA Sports Is Taking Some Huge Steps Forward With NCAA Football 2014” »
Hitman: Absolution released in November 2012 ending a 6 year hiatus for Agent 47. Last seen in 2006′s Blood Money, Absolution brought 47 back along with some new tricks and the incredible new online Contracts mode.
The team at IO knew they wanted to make a game that could appeal to a broader market while still maintaining that hardcore experience for long-time fans of the series. “The big challenge was how to achieve a broader appeal without compromising the core of the game. We knew we needed something special to please the hard core fans, and the purist mode and contracts mode were two important components to its success,” game director Tore Blystad explains in our exclusive interview below.
Warframe is a third-person sci-fi shooter from the developers responsible for The Darkness 2 and the upcoming Star Trek game, Digital Extremes.
Having garnered over 1 million users in its first two weeks of open beta, Digital Extremes is successfully bringing a AAA game experience to the free-to-play market. Warframe’s exciting “Space Ninja” combat has definitely captured the attention of gamers, “I honestly thought we’d have a big peak and it would tail off more aggressively but we’ve managed to work our way into the top ten on steam and still hit new concurrency peaks every week,” creative director Steve Sinclair tells us.
Pulse is a unique first person adventure game where players will take on the role of a blind protagonist and will have to make use of a sort of echolocation game mechanic in order to reveal the environment around them.
Originally prototyped as a final project for the Vancouver Film School’s game design program, developer Team Pixel Pi has taken to Kickstarter in order to fund the full production of the game. Made up of 5 core members: Michael Cooper, Lala Fuchs, Maxwell Hannaman, Richard Harrison and Leanne Roed, Pixel Pi won a Unity Award last year for Best Student Project and is also nominated in the Student Showcase for the Independent Games Festival Awards.
“Pulse is a first person survival game that takes place in an unseen world revealed only by sound.”
Bloom: Memories is an isometric action adventure/RPG with a deep focus on meaningful story telling, a rich art style and unique story driven game mechanics. Getting down to the wire on its Kickstarter campaign with 9 days to go now, Bloom: Memories is being developed by Los Angeles based Studio Fawn.
Project lead and artist Dani Landers tells us “the three biggest influences on the design of the game are the original ”Legend of Zelda” and the philosophies behind Journey, with the art of Guild Wars. An action RPG game compared to the gameplay in Zelda mixed with what Landers describes as — “philosophies behind Journey” — ok, you have our attention.
Set in a beautiful and imaginative game world, Bloom: Memories follows the story of a mother and daughter and the bond between them. The title’s stand out features are rooted in its story driven mechanics, as deep down as the combat system and the unique “Linked Heart Mechanic,” something Landers tells us more about in our exclusive interview below. Continue reading “Zelda’s Deep Story-Driven Game Mechanics Meets Journey Inspired ARPG, BLOOM: MEMORIES” »
Recently we reported on the announcement of DuckTales Remastered, the HD remake of the beloved DuckTales NES title. The remastered version is set to bring the same amazing experience the original did with a host of new upgrades and content.
The original DuckTales game is such a memorable experience for a lot of us with its iconic music and non linear gameplay, something Capcom producer Rey Jimenez ensures us developer WayForward takes very seriously. Jimenez tells us “WayForward is using the NES version as the blueprint for all of the level layouts…most of what you’re going to see will be true to those old maps.” He continued by saying that Remastered hosts a bunch of new features that “were done to enhance” what Capcom and WayForward feel “the original dev team intended…”
DuckTales Remastered will feature HD 3D backgrounds and hand drawn sprites as well as a new hub area that will allow players to “take Scrooge for a dive and swim into his vault of money,” says Jimenez. Money collected in the game can be spent on unlockables in the all new gallery as well. Continue reading “Capcom Producer Rey Jimenez Talks New Final Level, Hub Area and Staying True To The Original With DUCKTALES REMASTERED” »
Flowstorm is a 2.5D racing and aerial combat game from two person development team Neat Corporation. An evolved version of old school Thrust clone games, Flowstorm is a “brutally unforgiving” experience that demands player skill “rather than your character virtually becoming better through gaining skills or increasing your level,” one half of the dev team Joachim Holmér tells us.
For those that don’t know, the Thrust clone genre started back with Lunar Lander and Asteroids in 1979 and is centered around a player controlled ship with full directional acceleration that is affected by gravity — you know the ones — a more recent example being PS1′s Gravitation.
Creative director Justin Novelline tells us the game “could be compared in aesthetic to something like Final Fantasy 7″ with gameplay reminiscent of titles like Super Mario World, Super Meat Boy and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.”
Like its name, Bleak is set in a dark, industrial setting on a planet referred to as “The Pinnacle.” Players will go through 70+ levels across a vast and rich game world that “celebrates heavy lore and character driven story-telling.”
The world of Pinnacle is inhabited by several different races each with their own agenda, belief systems and language, something that effects the gameplay significantly. How each race communicates “varies immensely” said Novelline, “We’re excited for Pinnacle to reflect this in a bold way.”
We have some gameplay footage and some screens below along with our exclusive interview.
Players will take control of three different characters: Bleak the Sourcer, Sky the Sylvan and Bug the Beardstaff, and like the various NPCs and enemies in the game, their race, beliefs and language will play large role in how each character can interact with the world. Each of the three playable characters are unique in combat as well with their special abilities, something we get into more detail about in our exclusive developer interview below.
Another interesting feature in Bleak is its two tired approach to the game’s overall design. When players enter a town or city of some kind, the game’s perspective transitions from a sidescrolling action-platformer to a “top-down adventure game to provide the player with a more immersive relationship with the world and its characters. This is two beautiful games in one.”
JHS: What is “Bleak” all about and what sets it apart?
Justin Novelline: “BLEAK” is a dark fantasy platformer that celebrates heavy lore and character driven story-telling. It features unique governments, religions, races, territories, alphabets, ecosystems and a host of compelling characters who you travel along side your journey.
JHS: If you had to, what existing games would you compare to Bleak?
JN: “BLEAK” could be compared in aesthetic to something like Final Fantasy 7, it has dark mechanized steampunk elements. In gameplay it’s closest relatives are a mash up between Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
JHS: Can you elaborate a little bit on the story and setting of Bleak? What is The Pinnacle?
JN: “Pinnacle” (Or more formally “The Pinnacle”) is the attempt at the perfect society (that always works). It’s a planet where the accidental discovery of a new precious metal called “Core” has sent an otherwise simple and peaceful race of people known as “Sourcer’s” into a greed fueled tail spin. In addition to Sourcer’s there are six other races who have watched as their once beautiful home has rotted beneath thanks to greedy Sourcer’s building factories to process and refine core on a massive scale.
JHS: What kinds of influences, games or otherwise, inspired the team at Tenwall to create Bleak? What other games are you guys playing right now around the office?
JN: We’re heavily influenced by story-driven games like Chrono Trigger, Deus Ex, Skyrim, Dark Souls and Bioshock/Bioshock Infinite. Anything where the player is invited to get lost in a games world and lore is really cool and exciting to us.
JHS: Bleak has “3 Playable Characters Each With Their Own Special Abilities.” Can you tell us more about the game’s combat system and how each of the playable characters differ?
JN: In-game you will have the opportunity to play as Bleak the Sourcer, Sky the Sylvan and Bug the Beardstaff. Each character has their own personality, belief system, temperament and of course abilities. The combat system is primarily player vs. environment as their are few offensive abilities. We thought this reinforced how incredibly lethal Pinnacle was and how small and relatively insignificant the protagonists are.
As for specific mechanics:
Bleak: Abilities: Sprints. Power Slams and has the ability to construct helpful machinery.
Sky: Glide jumps. Swings from branches. She can use her flute to commune with the red, summoning spike like brambles and vines to do her bidding.
Bug: Small. Agile. Capable of triple jumping and crawling through small spaces. Can ride an assortment of mounts including the powerful Gorumph.
There will be specific levels that can only be beaten a certain way with a certain character, this not only adds a level of completionism to our game, but also helps in connecting the characters species to the world.
JHS: “Each race in the world of Pinnacle has been fleshed out to such an extent that even their languages are based on unique alphabet glyphs. These will appear throughout the game on signage and in tomes (if you’re lucky enough to find one).” What happens if you do find one? How do these “languages” integrate into the gameplay?
JN: The alphabets will be sprinkled throughout Pinnacle whether it be on “warning signs” or in history books. Your ability to understand them depends on how much of the “Key to the World” (Our game’s Rosetta Stone) you have uncovered. It’s just another level of detail to help the players sense of immersion, because like here on Earth, when you have thousands of miles of terra firma inhabited by different nationalities (never mind different races) how they communicate varies immensely. We’re excited for Pinnacle to reflect this in a bold way.
JHS: Pictured to the right “is a diagram detailing the various belief systems that occur throughout Pinnacle.” Can you tell us more about the belief system in the game?
JN: There are eight different belief systems in game. Each one caters to different races and geographic ideologies. Seeing as there are no cell phones or internet on Pinnacle, communication is far more limited. It was important to us to look at what a Sourcer on Wither might believe versus say an Ero on Glimmer.
Belief systems also effect how NPC’s will react to you. For example, one belief system centered around “The Marauder’s Bay” is called “The Gray”. Followers of The Gray way of life only respect who has the sharper sword. They will attack anyone they think they’re capable of robbing on sight in favor of a brutal and anarchistic life style. If you run across anyone wearing the Gray emblem, good luck.
JHS: How does Mount and Airship Travel work and why is it used?
JN: Both mount and airship travel are carefully correlated to the game’s lore.
Mount’s will be accessible only when there is a good relationship between the player character and the “mount”, which they will be permitted to ride on a case by case basis to aid them in tricky situations. One example of this is that Bug is a Beardstaff. The Beardstaff’s have cultivated a respect and understanding with the “Gorumph’s”, gorilla like creatures with enormous mouths. If the player, playing as Bug comes across an idle Gorumph, they can climb into their mouths and steer them like a wrecking ball through the level. Other playable characters will simply be ignored.
As for Airships, you get to take control of these core powered floating processing plants after meeting the surly Sourcer Pilot “Zep”. His vehicle isn’t much to look at it, but it’ll get you from A to B… or will it?
JHS: There are so many independent games on the radar these days especially with the rising popularity of crowd funding. What does it take, in your opinion, to make an indie game that really stands out from all the others?
JN: Passion and conviction. Believing vehemently in BLEAK and his adventure. This isn’t so much about a game accompanied by a story as it is about a story and universe you get to experience through a game.
JHS: Can you tell the Jace Hall readers something secret about the game we might not already know from the pre release material and Kickstarter?
JN: Some of BLEAK’s most exciting twists are right under everyone’s noses.
Thanks for the questions!
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is said to be the definitive version of the game. Although many of us are disappointed that Eidos Montreal didn’t announce a new game in the Deus Ex series, the Director’s Cut is poised to be more than just some cash grab Wii U port.
At first it seemed as though Nintendo was grasping at straws trying to get some hardcore games over to its new and, to some, struggling platform. As more information is revealed about the Director’s Cut, we can clearly see that Eidos is not only adding new features and game mechanics to the experience but also altering it to better meet fan expectation.
Shovel Knight is a 2D love letter to the 8 bit era of gaming that has been receiving a lot of attention lately after its strong showing at PAX. Now well past its goal on Kickstarter, Shovel Knight is a “a sweeping classic action adventure game” heavily inspired by games like Mega Man, Castlevania and Dark Souls.
[UPDATE: Yacht Club Games has announced that Manami Matsumae who composed classic songs for Mega Man (Cut Man and Elec Man Themes among others) and U.N Squadron will be writing two tracks for Shovel knight along side Jake "Virt" Kaufman who is working on the rest of the games score.]
Shovel Knight is being developed by Yacht Club Games, a team comprised of Sean Velasco and a “crew” of devs from WayForward who have previous experience working on projects like “Contra 4, A Boy and His Blob, Thor: God of Thunder, Mighty Milky Way, BloodRayne Betrayal, and most recently, Double Dragon Neon.”
The game was recently announced to be making its way to both the Nintendo Wii U and the 3DS as well as PC.
Humans Must Answer is a 2D space shmup that is poised to reinvigorate the genre while attracting new players to it. With its open beta available, the dev team at Sumom Games is already noticing players that don’t normally gravitate towards these kinds of experiences enjoying the game.
How is Humans Must Answer doing this?
The game manages the delicate balance of offering an experience hardcore shmup fans will appreciate while allowing enough of a unique approach to the genre that new players are interested as well.
With its slick, “eye-popping” graphics and over the top explosions, on the surface HMA is what every shmup fan wants. But when you peel back the layers here, there a number of advanced weapon systems like “Support Weapons” and deployable turrets as well as non-linear gameplay and tactical boss battles. Continue reading “Sumom Games To Reinvigorate 2D Space Shmups With HUMANS MUST ANSWER (Now in Open Beta)” »
Larian Studios has recently taken to Kickstarter to fund the latest entry in the Divinity series, Original Sin. The game will feature classic turn based combat, non-linear campaign, co-op and an extremely interesting “disagreement” mechanic built right into the game’s dialogue system.
Divinity: Original Sin is an isometric RPG that brings to the table much of what fans of the genre will expect as well as taking the experience to a new level with the game’s unique elemental system and “very reactive/interactive environment.”
Mongrel is a new deeply customizable fighting game for iOS in development by two man team, Blake Whitworth and Stephan Messier. The two just recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Unreal Engine powered mobile fighter.
Mongrel is set in a fascinating alternate version of human evolution where “Animals have evolved into humanoid hybrids.”
You are a Mongrel–low on the caste system, you are a lesser hybrid and a slave. You must fight your way through perilous battles with other mongrels and giant beasts alike. “To quickly gain status in a harsh and brutal world, they are given the opportunity to fight for their freedom in the mongrel arenas,” artistic lead Stephan Messier told us.