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.

PC Gamer
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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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.
Mar 5, 2013
PC Gamer
PCG251.rev_proteus.pic6


Proteus is a peaceful first-person exploration game set on a cheery pixellated island. There are no enemies. You can’t die. You can’t jump, shoot, dodge or pick anything up. Your only objective is to roam, observe and enjoy the evolving soundtrack triggered by your path. You’ll encounter more danger doing a lap of Kew Gardens than exploring Proteus’s serene, procedurally generated world.

"Your only objective is to roam, observe and enjoy the evolving soundtrack."
Once you’ve spawned at sea and wandered ashore, you can start getting a feel for the island’s layout. Every playthrough rearranges a series of geographical elements that you’ll come to recognise, like an abandoned shack, some mysterious ruins, and a strange circle of stone animal carvings that regularly grace the peak of one of Proteus’s easily scaled mountains.

By day, there’s no purpose to your exploration. At night, you’ll discover a delightful way to shift the island to its next phase, which I won’t spoil. The change alters the island’s weather, colour palette and wildlife, and evolves the soundscape.



If you have a decent pair of headphones, plug them in for Proteus. The island responds to your rambling with a deeply satisfying emergent arrangement. The hop and flutter of Proteus’s creatures is accompanied by an electronic riff. The hoot of a digitised clarinet serves as the call of an owl. Flies swarm to the scattered notes of a frenzied cyber-fiddle. Rain falls in cascading chimes. I charged into the midst of every gaggle of monsters and absorbed the resulting wall of sound with childish glee.

"The joy faded in the latter stage - I found myself walking aimlessly, unstimulated and bored."
Proteus captured me completely for the first 20 minutes. I found a weird hopping box creature, and chased it into the sea. I discovered a glittering fallen star that leapt away from my advances. I chased that into the sea as well. Its cheerful chirping fell silent as it vanished beneath the waves, replaced by the calm orchestral hum of the tides and a faint sense of regret. As darkness fell, the sky was suddenly sliced apart by a gleaming meteor shower. With no clear objectives, the joy of discovering the unexpected is the only reason to keep going. That was enough, for a while.

The joy faded in the latter stage of Proteus’s 45-minute arc. The creatures that make the first half feel so busy and interesting become increasingly sparse. I found myself walking aimlessly, unstimulated and bored. Proteus’s bubbling symphony has a disappointing coda, and you may feel shortchanged by its length.



The procedural generation offers a reason to restart, but the island felt deeply familiar in my playthroughs. Players on Proteus’s forums mention a couple of surreal, well-hidden secrets, but my experience each time was largely identical, and I found no deeper meaning or binding narrative to the island’s mysterious landmarks. Proteus is mood music. If you’re looking for a soothing green oasis to return to every now and then, this will do the job nicely.

Expect to pay: $11 / £7
Release: Out now
Developer: Ed Key and David Kanaga
Publisher: Twisted Tree
Multiplayer: No, lol
Link: www.visitproteus.com
PC Gamer
Far Cry 3 Vaas thumb


BAFTA have released the nomination shortlist for the upcoming 2013 round of their Video Game awards. PS3 exclusive Journey tops the nomination leaderboard - it's up for eight categories. But Telltale's The Walking Dead and Ubisoft's Far Cry 3 aren't far behind, receiving nods in seven and six categories respectively. There's also strong indie recognition. Dear Esther is nominated for five awards, Thomas Was Alone for three, and both Proteus and Super Hexagon both receive a mention.

The ceremony takes place on March 5th, and will streamed live on Twitch.tv. Tune in to find out if we live in a world where CoDBlOps2 can be given an award for "Game Innovation".

Full list below:

Action
Borderlands 2
Development Team
Gearbox/2K Games
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Development Team
Treyarch/Activision
Far Cry 3
Dan Hay, Patrick Plourde, Patrik Methe
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Halo 4
Development Team
343 Industries/Microsoft Studios
Hitman: Absolution
Development Team
Io – Interactive/Square-Enix
Mass Effect 3
Development Team
BioWare/EA

Artistic Achievement
Borderlands 2
Development Team
Gearbox/2K Games
Dear Esther
Robert Briscoe
Thechineseroom/thechineseroom
Far Cry 3
Jean Alexis Doyan, Genseki Tanaka, Vincent Jean
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Halo 4
Development Team
343 Industries/Microsoft Studios
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
The Room
Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade
Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games

Audio Achievement
Assassin's Creed III
Mathieu Jeanson
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Beat Sneak Bandit
Simon Flesser, Magnus "Gordon" Gardebäck,
Simogo/Simogo
Dear Esther
Jessica Curry
Thechineseroom/thechineseroom
Far Cry 3
Dan Hay, Tony Gronick, Brian Tyler
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Halo 4
Development Team
343 Industries/Microsoft Studios
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Best Game
Dishonoured
Development Team
Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Far Cry 3
Dan Hay, Patrick Plourde, Patrik Methè
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
FIFA 13
David Rutter, Nick Channon, Aaron McHardy
EA Canada/EA
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Mass Effect 3
Casey Hudson
BioWare/EA
The Walking Dead
Development Team
Telltale Games/Telltale

British Game
Dear Esther
Daniel Pinchbeck, Robert Briscoe, Jessica Curry
Thechineseroom/thechineseroom
Forza Horizon
Development Team
Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios
LEGO: The Lord of the Rings
Development Team
TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Need for Speed Most Wanted
Development Team
Criterion Games/EA
The Room
Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade
Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games
Super Hexagon
Terry Cavanagh, Niamh Houston, Jenn Frank
Terry Cavanagh/Terry Cavanagh

Debut Game
Deadlight
Raul Rubio, Luz Sancho, Oscar Cuesta
Tequila Works/Microsoft Studios
Dear Esther
DanielPinchbeck, Robert Briscoe, Jessica Curry
Thechineseroom/thechineseroom
Forza Horizon
Development Team
Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios
Proteus
Ed Key, David Kanaga
Twisted Tree Games/Twisted Tree Games
The Room
Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade
Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games
The Unfinished Swan
Ian Dallas, Nathan Gary
Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Game Design
Borderlands 2
Development Team
Gearbox/2K Games
Dishonored
Development Team
Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Far Cry 3
Patrick Methè, Jamie Keen
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
The Walking Dead
Development Team
Telltale Games/Telltale
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Development Team
Firaxis/2K Games

Family
Clay Jam
Chris Roem Iain Gilfeather, Michael Movel
Fat Pebble/Zynga
Just Dance 4
Alkis Argyriadis, Matthew Tomkinson, Veronique Halbrey
Ubisoft Paris/Ubisoft
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Jon Burton, Jonathan Smith, John Hodskinson
TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
LEGO the Lord of the Rings
Development Team
TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Minecraft: XBOX 360 Edition
Development Team
Mojang/4J Studios/Microsoft Studios Xbox LIVE Arcade
Skylanders Giants
Paul Reiche, Fred Ford, Scott Krager
Toys For Bob/Activision

Game Innovation
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Development Team
Treyarch/Activision
Fez
Development Team
Polytron Corporation/Microsoft Studios Xbox LIVE Arcade
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Kinect Sesame Street TV
Development Team
Soho Productions/Microsoft Studios
The Unfinished Swan
Ian Dallas, Nathan Gary
Development Team
Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Wonderbook: Books of Spells
Development Team
London Studio/ Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

Mobile & Handheld
Incoboto
Dene Carter
Fluttermind/Fluttermind
LittleBigPlanet (Vita)
Tom O'Connor, Mattias Nygren, Lee Hutchinson
Tarsier Studios/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
New Star Soccer
Simon Read
New Star Games/New Star Games
The Room
Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade
Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games
Super Monsters Ate My Condo
Development Team
Adult Swim Games/Adult Swim Games
The Walking Dead
Development Team
Telltale Games/Telltale

Online - Browser
Amateur Surgeon Hospital
Development Team
Mediatonic/Adult Swim Games
Dick and Dom's HOOPLA!
Adam Clay
Team Cooper/CBBC
Merlin: The Game
Development Team
Bossa Studios/Bossa Studios
Runescape
Development Team
Jagex/Jagex
The Settlers Online
Christopher Schmitz, Guido Schmidt, Rainer Reber
Blue Byte Software/Ubisoft
SongPop
Olivier Michon, Thibaut Crenn, Daouna Jeong
FreshPlanet/FreshPlanet

Online - Multiplayer
Assassin's Creed III
Damien Kieken, Mathieu Granjon, Yann Le Guyader
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Borderlands 2
DevelopmentTeam
Gearbox/2K Games
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Development Team
Treyarch/Activision
Halo 4
Development Team
343 Industries/Microsoft Studios
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Need For Speed Most Wanted
Development Team
Criterion Games/EA

Original Music
Assassin's Creed III
Lorne Balfe
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Diablo III
Development Team
Blizzard Entertainment/ Blizzard Entertainment
Journey
Austin Wintory
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Thomas Was Alone
David Housden
Mike Bithell/Mike Bithell
The Unfinished Swan
Joel Corlitz, Ian Dallas, Peter Scaturro
Giant Sparrow/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
The Walking Dead
Development Team
Telltale Games/Telltale

Performer
Adrian Hough (Haytham) - Assassin's Creed III
Danny Wallace (The Narrator) - Thomas Was Alone
Dave Fennoy (Lee Everett) - The Walking Dead
Melissa Hutchinson (Clementine) - The Walking Dead
Nigel Carrington (The Narrator) - Dear Esther
Nolan North (Nathan Drake) - Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Sports/Fitness
FIFA 13
David Rutter, Nick Channon, Aaron McHardy
EA Canada/EA
F1 2012
Development Team
Codemasters Birmingham/Codemasters Racing
Forza Horizon
Development Team
Playground Games/Turn10 Studios/Microsoft Studios
New Star Soccer
Simon Read
New Star Games/New Star Games
Nike+ Kinect Training
Development Team
Sumo Digital Ltd/Microsoft Studios
Trials Evolution
Development Team
Antti llvessup, Kim Lahti
RedLynx/Microsoft Studios

Story
Dishonoured
Development Team
Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Far Cry 3
Jeffrey Yohalem, Lucien Soulban, Jeffrey Yohalem
Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft
Journey
Development Team
That Game Company/Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Mass Effect 3
Mac Walters
BioWare/EA
Thomas was Alone
Mike Bithell
Mike Bithell/Mike Bithell
The Walking Dead
Development Team
Telltale Games/Telltale

Strategy
Dark Souls: Prepare To Die
Development Team
From Software/Namco Bandai Games
Diablo III
Development Team
Blizzard Entertainment/Blizzard Entertainment
Football Manager 2013
Development Team
Sports Interactive/SEGA
Great Big War Game
David Moss, Steve Venezia, Paul Johnson
Rubicon Development/Rubican Development
Total War Shogun 2: Fall of the Samurai
Development Team
The Creative Assembly/SEGA
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Development Team
Firaxis/2K Games

BAFTA Ones to Watch Award in association with Dare to Be Digital
Pixel Story
Martin Cosens, Thomas McParland, Ashley Hayes, Benhamin Rushton, Luke Harrison
(Loan Wolf Games)
Project Thanatos
Hugh Laird, Andrew Coles, Thomas Laird, Alexandra Shapland, Thomas Kemp
(Raptor Games)
Starcrossed
Kimi Sulopuisto, Vili Viitaniemi, Minttu Meriläinen, Petri Liuska, Andrew MacLean
(Kind of a Big Deal)

Given that they've been recognising games for a few years now, shouldn't BAFTA update their acronym to reflect the fact? BAFTGA, maybe? BAGFTA? Perhaps not.
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