Indie game news, reviews, previews and everything else concerning indie game development.


Explore the Collective Consciousness with Farbs’ Playpen

playpen Rom Check Fail developer Farbs has unleashed on us all the Web-based communal adventure game creation game, Playpen.

The game presents you with a blocky point-and-click adventure interface; as you click around and explore, you will find your choices leading you down increasingly eccentric avenues — until suddenly you hit the edge of the world. Say you click on a path leading to a fountain, but there is no target page to the click. You are then dumped into a simple image editor, where you can paint the scene yourself and designate however many links you like, to however many other pages.

Rather like a wiki, you can also edit existing pages — though in doing so it pays to be polite and cautious, as that’s someone else’s work you’re tweaking. Come to think of it, I guess Playpen would be best described as the Wikipedia of adventure games. Which is to say, imagine Wikipedia as a videogame.

As you’d expect, Farbs has set up a whole community around the project, with discussion boards, edit histories, and user preferences. You’re perfectly free to camp out your own corner of the world, invite your friends, and flesh it out to your heart’s content.

And there you have it. Go on and get creative. Be civil, and don’t get pulled into stupid politics. Pip pip!


FiNCK thrown into the Web

finck As of yesterday, Within a Deep Forest and Knytt designer Nifflas has unleashed his briefly-awaited, user-supported, toss-’em-up FiNCK. As reported earlier, the game’s abrupt announcement and release are due to an impulsive yet inspired development cycle, brought on by affection for the odd man out of the NES Marios.

FiNCK (“Fire Nuclear Crocodile Killer”; yes, it’s nonsense) has the same grab-and-toss mechanics as Super Mario Bros. 2 and a few other gems like Rescue Rangers, and Pastel’s much longer-coming Life+. Perhaps understandably enough, considering the free level editor and Nifflas’ existing fanbase, the game only comes with five (in effect) demonstration levels.

Of course if you want to play your custom levels, that’s four bucks; if you want a copy of the soundtrack, that’s another three. Again, with the development scene around Nifflas’ earlier Knytt Stories, which one might compare to a modern-day ZZT, you can see the reasoning here. I guess time will show how that pricing model works out.

The game is as elegant and simplistic as all of Nifflas’ work, if maybe a bit more rudimentary than usual — deliberately so. The mechanics feel a bit floatier and less refined than in, say, Knytt. The visuals are pared down and a little rougher than they need to be. And again, the levels are barely there, and seem mostly to exist to demonstrate the mechanics for future level editors. And yet the enhancements and additions to the basic Doki Doki ruleset are seamless, and you can tell he’s been thinking about a game like this for years.

Oh, the music is as atmospheric and nifty as ever. Thus the extra soundtrack option.

All in all, FiNCK comes off like a neat little experiment that Nifflas whipped up and then tossed to the community, to see what happens. (The controls are even set up like an NES emulator.) Given the tools and motivation, maybe they can make him the SMB2 sequel he’s always wanted to play.

You can download FiNCK here.