Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Do We Make Games?

Looking at the title, there's a chance you might think this post is an answer to the question. It is instead a breakdown of the question, or at least... an overview of the question.

Why do we make games? Today in my economics class, my teacher told me about Seth Priebatsch, a Princeton dropout who is using games to, from what I've seen and heard, promote companies/advertise (with "check-ins and challenges" at locations. They also have the Patriots logo on the bottom of their site. As a Bears fan this is a major deterrent.)
My initial feeling when I heard about this service was "This is what's wrong with games today! People just use it make money! Blargh!" But when I thought about it, haven't games pretty much always been used for profit? In terms of mainstream games, that is. Pac-Man was not designed to change lives and inspire, it was designed to fatten the pockets of the designers. And why not? Aren't games a good way to cash in? People want to play the games and are willing to cough up the dough needed to play them. (Note: I'm not saying money is the sole motivation for these organizations, but it would be a mistake to not include it as one of them)

So at this moment in time, I can't blame this Seth guy. Hell, I'm sure this won't be the last I hear of him. And it's wrong to assume he's just doing it for the money; he's spoken on using games for educational purposes, something I support.

Let's look at the indie gaming scene. We make games for little to no profit (for the most part), and a lot of the games are free to play, with developers making money from either advertising or donations. Clearly, while it's easy to say that games are made for money, the indie scene really disproves that theory. Sure, there's money on the XBLA, and the indie developers that make it big probably put food on the table. But the point is, there are people who make games for reasons other than dead presidents.

Why do I make games? Right now, I'm making games so I have something to look forward to in my day, something to make me feel good. Finishing a game, for me at least, is the best feeling in the world. It's not easy to finish a game! Even if a game is completely unsuccessful, and not even close to being profitable, I get reinforcement just by finishing. At the same time, it would be wrong to say that I don't care about profit, or that I don't want to make money for my games. That would just serve as further reinforcement, and would even help me get this site noticed more, and would help our games become better (potentially).

But big, mainstream teams change everything; personal goals turn into team goals that are based off of company goals. Maybe games are being held back because of this; or maybe it keeps things balanced, organized, and on task; efficient.

But that's not what your English teacher cares about. We need things that move us, things that inspire us, things that teach us lessons, things we can relate to, things we can feel, something real. Ever seen a really good movie, or read a really good book? After watching some of my favorite movies, I can't drive or do anything. It's like I've been overcome by the power of the movie... there's clearly no way to quantify this power, but I can go back in my mind and tell which movies left me feeling this way. Your mileage may vary, but I've never felt the same way as I feel after watching a fantastic movie when I play a videogame.

The industry is still relatively young, although that might be heard to grasp because of it is rapidly growing (in terms of a market/industry) and changing. Indies make games because we want to critique society, or because we are heartbroken and we want to feed off that, or maybe we make them to relieve stress. Mainstream companies want their games to be fun, they want to entertain, and of course sell. Motivation is part of the major divide that exists between mainstream devs and indie devs, and sets the tone for the different styles of the games in both sides of the divide.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Well, well, well folks. Abscure has taken a small step for many developers world wide but a massive step for Abscure...kind.
I've recently got into the beta of a new Flash game creator called Stencyl, made for it's ease of use and fast results.
And the result is? Another game of course!
Check out GAMMACART for racing action! It's got sixteen different tracks, and better yet, it's in space!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Propel demo!

In the last post, Ethan wrote about our upcoming games. One of them being a stylish arcadey remake of The Fall Game, called Propel. We've rushed development a little and have presented the game almost complete, with all of its original 25 levels. In future there will be unlockables and a level editor with nifty features like level storing and locking, and coming with a few new extra levels.
But for now, we have the unfinished version which you can download from here.
Have fun!

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's Next for Abscure?

It has been a while since you’ve seen a post on the blog, and for that, I apologize. But that’s just what happens when you’re busy at work; and we have been working hard on new content that you’re sure to love. This post will quickly summarize two games in words, and then you'll get what you really want- screenshots!

The World Within

In the post below, you can see that we have been working on this first project for a while now. It is about a man who goes on an adventure to discover a balance between his professional life and his social life (or lack thereof). This platformer will allow players to travel through a variety of worlds, meeting a quirky collection of characters. Here's a few screenshots:


This game looks like no other game here on Abscure. However, it is in fact a new and improved version of The Fall Game (currently available on our Games page). This revamped project does not only give the graphics a touch-up, but it adds many new levels, and more (you'll have to wait to see what we mean by "more"). On to the screenshots:

Thanks for reading (or just looking at screenshots, it's fine by me.) You will see these two projects out sometime, hopefully sooner rather than later. Oh, I almost forgot! Abscure recently made itself a Twitter page, so be sure to follow us! Look to the sidebar for more information.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Project!

Just messing around at the moment.
Uses a similar engine to Ruined, and is made for a similar competition.
Look out for it in the next 3 months!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ruined: Looking Back Part 1

This is the first entry in a series of reflections on our most recent project, Ruined. Think of it as the team looking in the mirror… and then taking a picture, and showing it to everyone on the Internet.

Today, we will focus on a perhaps controversial trait of the platformer… Difficulty.


The world we find in Ruined is one full of peril and mystique, and the protagonist Alec finds himself in a dire situation. Fixing his ship will require a trip scaling the entire area, and successfully taking care of both environmental dangers and malicious beasts. This task does not sound like it could be easily accomplished, and the game itself follows suit with the harshness of the situation.

If you have played Ruined and played it for even a little amount of time, it's safe to say that you probably faced difficulty of some sort. Playing it the whole way through, however, is something only an extremely skilled player can accomplish.

Does this serve as an extreme turnoff to the novice player, or does it re-establish ideas that go back to the early days of the art of video games? It's possible that both of these are true.

This boss is among the hardest points of the game.

First, let's consider Ruined's audience. The game is directed towards indie gamers, of course, and a lot of these players have been challenged with games much more difficult than Ruined. It is also directed towards those who have enjoyed other Metroidvania style games, a genre synonymous with an unforgiving fury of platforming hell.

Let's look at Pac-Man, an immortal entity which remains a recognized force in culture decades after its original release. The game has been played by gamers of all kinds of experience, and cherished by many. It is addicting not because of a simplicity and ease of victory, yet due to the long intervals of time between wins, and the unlikeliness of completing a board. People would continuously pop quarters into the machine because they either succeeded with their last quarter, or more likely, feel they could greatly improve with the next play.

The hermit helps you, but brute strength is not enough to survive.

In conclusion, the difficulty is justified, yet perhaps the game is just a little too hard. Pac-Man constantly rewards players, keeping them focused. Ruined, however, spits out challenge after challenge, rarely rewarding players for their accomplishments, beyond giving them another, harder one. However, completing a difficult task in general gives a person reinforcement, and succeeding in Ruined can create quite the sense of accomplishment for a person. Ruined follows in the footsteps of its predecessors, delivering an extremely difficult adventure for its players.

Thanks for reading the first installment of this series. Remember that this is a reflection from a developer of the game, not an outside reviewer. This is meant to serve as a way to notice mistakes and self-evaluate, is posted on the blog in order to receive further feedback from those who have played the game.

Note: Ethan is a spriter and game designer for Abscure.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Website!

It hasn't been that long since our last update, but it was a tad flimsy. We didn't have proper support for a blog and we were just editing raw HTML for the updates, it wasn't too nice to look at either.
That's why we have this website. All of the extra stuff has been stripped away and what's left is what Abscure is all about: Games. Some of the more unpolished games of the lot have been taken down, as well as all of the unfinished ones... so the list is a little small right now.
Desert theme you say? It's all about Abscure's latest game, Ruined, a collaboration between me and Ethan. It's a difficult exploration platformer that takes elements from games like Metroid, which can never be a bad thing.
So go to the games page and check it out! It was submitted for Yoyogames' Competition05, and if you're feeling generous, give it a rating to help it's chances in the judging process (which may already be over... you can never know because Yoyogames is slow on this sort of thing).
Look forward to a few in depth posts on the mechanics and design of Ruined!