Proteus

In his review of Yooka-Laylee, Tom opens by saying, “The hardest enemy I had to fight in Yooka-Laylee was its camera.” I’m not trying to say he’s wrong—the camera is godawful for a game about precision platforming—but what if inconsistent and frustrating camera control could be used in a game’s favor?

Ideal 3D cameras are either automated through predetermined triggers and angles by the developers and left entirely out of the player’s control, or they feel invisible, controlled by a mouse or joystick with a subtle, fluid acceleration and collision cues that prevent the camera from butting up too close against surfaces or turn the intersecting geometry invisible.

In Oikospiel, one of the most surreal, surprising games I’ve ever played, the 3D camera is a goddamn mess, but that’s the point. 

As outlined in this great piece on Paste, Oikospiel is a smart, satirical critique of the game industry’s labor practices, which will no doubt resonate with those stuck beneath the thumb of big companies that romanticise crunch and distract from unhealthy policies with catered lunches and nap rooms. The premise is a bit hard to parse at first: it’s a game about several generations of dogs developing a videogame opera based on the novel Tristram Shandy while Donkey Koch, their producer, directs and reinforces their tireless work with rambling, empty rhetoric. 

"He" refers to Donkey Koch

Further, every visual component of the game is put together using Unity store assets. Developer David Kanaga even pointed out that one scene is actually mirrored in one of the worst PC games of all time. It’s a sprawling work, accompanied by a website where you can wave your mouse to generate wind to create income to buy the game with, a 56-page operatic libretto, and a disorienting, glitchy soundtrack that goes as far as remixing Celine Dion’s iconic ‘My Heart Will Go On’. 

It’s wild, genius stuff and you should play it right away.

But even for those unfamiliar with the game industry, Oikospiel still works as a psychedelic videogame culture mashup. It’s a game about games that toys with the common constructions of ambitious 3D games, and the camera is the most sickening and playful of them all.

Losing control 

In the first moments of the game, moving the mouse rotates the camera around a scene, slowly zooming out as the opening credits roll. Moving it too quickly generates wind, washing the credits away for a few seconds.

Right away, any input from the player compromises the experience, blotting out key information for the sake of authoring what angle you see the cheap model of a man looking at a computer from. Like at a theatrical performance, if you were to spend most of the time looking around at the rafters and the rich folks in the special seats, you’d miss important narrative beats. Who’s to blame if you don’t like the opera after it’s finished, the performers or yourself? If Yooka-Laylee’s camera is frustrating, do you blame the developers or the inexperienced viewer?

Shortly after, the player takes control of a rabbit, which quickly gets eaten by a fox, and then trades places with some snakes, or eels, maybe?—and so on. Moving the mouse to rotate the camera spins it around quickly, and because the directional WASD controls don’t adapt to which way the camera is facing, controlling the character is a damn nightmare. Your only goal is to move down a road, a pretty straightforward path, but with any attempt to inspect the environment the camera spins wildly, clipping through the environment and exposing the paper thin facade all videogames are: geometry suspended in a void between a massive square patches of sky. You did this, it’s your fault.

But if you know that it’s better to not fight the camera, it’s possible to run through the game without getting sick. In making a deliberately frustrating camera to control, Kanaga draws attention to how a player’s experience with a game is formed by their knowledge and practice with certain systems. Should we expect more inclusive refinement or let complex, troubling systems slide? Dark Souls says yes. Meanwhile, I hear Tom Marks still wakes up in a cold sweat thinking about Yooka-Laylee’s camera.

Oikospiel is clearly self-aware, so if the camera’s purpose isn’t ease of use, then its purpose is defined by how it behaves and what it shows rather than what we expect it to do based on a camera’s typical purpose in other 3D games. Where in Yooka-Laylee the purpose is to make navigation and observation easier, in Oikospiel the camera is meant to be a pain to control and clip through walls. It’s encouraging you to think about what makes a good camera and a bad camera and the effect either can have on the illusion developers work so hard to maintain. The camera may not be fun to use, but it’s fun to think about—once the spins stop, at least.

Proteus - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

Proteus

I meant to post my Springtime walk through the lands of Proteus [official site] yesterday because of the vernal equinox, but then I got sidetracked by behind-the-scenes Rezzed stuff. Instead, let’s celebrate Spring+ today. Which is definitely a thing. … [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.>

It’s a challenge to effectively portray the peculiar emotional effect of playing Proteus [official site]. Perhaps the flagship entry in the RPS-celebrated ‘walking simulator’ genre, it’s a pixel painting of seasonal wonder.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Hannah Nicklin)

This is article 5 of 6, adapted from my Psychogeography of Games series for London s Videobrains. If you enjoy this, please consider backing me on Patreon, where there ll be a zine of these texts coming out in the New Year, plus an exciting new project announced soon(ish).>

In the months running up to the walk, Ed has sent me the occasional email, each time with new ideas for route near where he lives (and grew up) in Cumbria. The night before, we spread an OS map out on the table and he points out wild swimming spots, walks he went on with his parents, places not explored yet. Jack, a black and white cat, sits on top and bats at Ed s finger each time he places it down. In the end we decide on Borrow Beck, in Borrowdale. The walk doesn t look far on the map.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Philippa Warr)

I was going to write about the plantlife in Proteus [official site] or something along those lines but then I went back and… it didn’t feel like quite what I wanted to express today. Mostly I’ve gone back to just thinking about how lovely the game is, even when you strip out the movement and sound. Obviously it would be better with both but here are the screenshots from my season cycle in Proteus today. It felt like a microholiday so I guess this is my microholiday album, if you’d like to take a look. Autumn and winter are by far my favourite seasons. Spring and summer are lovely, but autumn is magical and I’d totally forgotten about the aurora.

… [visit site to read more]

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Otherworldly walking sim Proteus [official site] is very much an RPS favourite: a dreamy, good-natured, no-pressure place many of us retreat to when the shooting and the jumping and the icon-collecting gets too much. Half the reason for Proteus’ joyfully calming effect is David Kanaga’s prettily ambient soundtrack, and how perfectly it fits the evocative, wooly-edged art. In PANORAMICAL, which occupies a place between game and music tool, Kanaga’s compositions move front and centre. … [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer
Purgateus


Paradise/Hiversaires/Oquonie developer Devine Lu Linvega is modding Ed Key's Proteus, words which probably shouldn't feel as strange to type as they actually do. Inspired by Ian Snyder, the developer/musician is overhauling Proteus' colour scheme, reducing the palette to a collection of stark, muted shades, while adding new sprites, and crafting a new interactive soundtrack. Stick around for a trailer for Purgateus, and a link to that elegiac soundtrack.



In Devine Lu Linvega's own words, Purgateus' world "behaves just like Proteus, but looks and sounds different. In some strange ways, this is a video game remix". The mod will be made available on Brandon Boyer's terrific Venus Patrol soon, and if it's inspired you to mod Proteus yourself, you can grab the base game here.

As with the original Proteus, you'll make a unique version of Purgateus' soundtrack while you play by simply exploring its world, but Lu Linvega has recorded one of the possible arrangements and put it on Bandcamp here.

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Community Announcements - Ed Key
Hi!
From now until just under 21 hours time (until 11am PST 17 May 2014) Proteus is available as part of the 24-hour re-issue of Humble Indie Bundle 8. Go here to grab it: https://www.humblebundle.com/

We've also just uploaded patch 1.2.1 which is mostly a stability fix for OSX (but required a deceptively large amount of work, porting to SDL2)

Any problems, let me know at ed@visitproteus.com or @edclef on twitter.

cheers
Ed

(Never tried posting an announcement before - hope it shows up!)
PC Gamer
humblebundle8


Summer has always been a bit of a lull when it comes to video game releases. It’s the time of year where we hear more about the upcoming fall releases rather than actually, you know, playing games. Luckily, we have the Humble Indie Bundle 8 to keep boredom, UV rays, and those treacherous, shark-filled oceans at bay.

The Humble Indie Bundle traditionally features recent indie darlings for the low, low price of “whatever the hell you want”, and this year is no exception. No matter what you pay, you’ll get access to Little Inferno, Awesomenauts, Capsized, Thomas Was Alone, Dear Esther and their soundtracks (and Steam keys if throw in a dollar or more). Linux users should be happy to know that the Linux versions of these games are also debuting with the bundle.

Forking over more than the average purchase price (a modest $5.72 as of this writing) will net you Hotline Miami and Proteus plus its soundtrack. Yes, you might be saving up for the pricey GTX 780 that your annoying friend already has, but maybe you could skip eating today?

Like always, you can choose where your money goes, rationing out which developers and charities get your hard-earned bitcoins. You have a full two weeks to decide who gets what while stocking up on harpoons for the inevitable shark invasion.
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