There’s a new Humble Bundle, wouldn’t you believe it. And blimey, it’s a good-un. I’m not in charge of deciding what’s best, but this looks to me like one of the best bundles I’ve ever seen. Just look at this list: Amnesia, Limbo, Sword & Sworcery, Bastion, and Psychonauts. Seriously. And it has an absolutely brilliant video to promote it.
Even by Humble Bundle standards, the Humble Bundle V contains some fantastic-ass games. Lookit that! Wow. They're all so great, in fact, that I'd be surprised if you haven't played pretty much all of them.
But still: Pay whatever you want for the terrifying and amazing Amnesia: Dark Descent, the hilarious and wildly creative Psychonauts, the dark and clever Limbo, and the lovely and incredibly soundtracked Sworcery, with freakin' Bastion thrown in as a bonus if you beat the average bid.
If you don't own even two of those games, this is a bargain… this is like, a great games all-star jam or something. The trailer above does a pretty good job of summing it up.
Perhaps best of all, all of the games come with their soundtracks, each of which is fantastic and two of which made last year's Best Game Music of 2011.
So: You probably have these games. Heck, you may play them regularly. But on the off chance that you don't, here's your chance go catch 'em all.
The Humble Indie Bundle V [Official Page]
If you've been suffering indie game bundle fatigue, now that a new one launches almost every week, the latest Humble Bundle should perk you right back up. The 'pay what you want' Humble Indie Bundle V packs Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Limbo, Psychonauts, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, plus, if you pay more than the average price, you get Bastion too.
Head on over to Humble Bundle to slap down whatever you fancy paying, dividing it up as you please between the developers, charities, and organizer. As ever, the games come for PC, Mac and Linux, and are available as DRM-free direct downloads with bonus Steam keys. Oh, and you get their soundtracks too.
Now, sadly the customary Humble Bundle rapping is absent from HIB V's trailer, but maybe the Bastion narrator and Tim Schafer will make up for that:
Tim Schafer wants more video games to make you laugh. The legendary designer behind Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle thinks comedy is necessary and not enough games are doing it right. Or even trying.
Speaking to some two hundred people at the NYU Game Center Thursday night, Schafer shared his thoughts on the current state of the gaming industry, discussing the nature of adventure games, his personal favorite titles, and that one important tool that many developers fail to use: humor.
If you go and ask a game development team why they're not making funny games, the Psychonauts creator said, half-joking, they'd say it's because nobody's made one that sold very much. "Comedy's really scary," he said. But it's also really necessary.
"If the game is not funny, you're missing something," Schafer said, telling the crowd how he used comedy as a tool to solve problems in The Secret of Monkey Island. While working as a programmer/writer for developer Lucasfilm, Schafer was tasked with writing the scene where protagonist Guybrush Threepwood and Governor Elaine Marley meet on the beach and fall in love. In five lines.
"You can't write a serious scene that has a pirate and a governor fall in love in five lines," Schafer said. "Humor is a tool to cover up the fact that this is not a solvable problem."
So he wrote the scene as if it were a joke, peppering the dialogue with terms like "honey pumpkin" and "plunder bunny." Without that humor, it wouldn't have worked. But by playing it up to absurd proportions, Schafer was able to throw logic under the rug and leave players laughing instead of scratching their heads.
Schafer, who has made headlines recently for his monumentally successful bout with crowdfunding site Kickstarter, didn't give any specifics on his new $3.4 million point-and-click adventure game, though he did assure the crowd that it will be in 2D (because it's cheaper). He promised that it would be true to the nature of adventure games, as nostalgic Kickstarter backers might demand. But it will also have new ideas, he added—because "people like to be surprised."
And—like all of Schafer-helmed studio Double Fine's projects—the upcoming crowdfunded adventure game will aim to be funny.
"If you don't have anything funny to say about a situation, the player will realize something's fake," Schafer said, bringing up the oft-cited pot-smashing of Zelda games, in which you can destroy and steal from peoples' homes with reckless abandon. When those townspeople don't react, the illusion is broken. Suddenly you realize that you're playing a video game.
Maybe that's why Schafer has fallen in love with what he calls "wacky Japanese games"—titles like Katamari Damacy, LocoRoco, and Okami. Even when they're melodramatic, those types of games still never seem to take themselves too seriously. And they're atmospheric, Schafer points out. They're packed with emotions.
"Those things that the King of All Cosmos says are just so crazy," Schafer said, referring to the planet-sized Katamari character.
Last year, Schafer and his team developed a prototype for a narrative-heavy game that was quite literally driven by emotions. Instead of using verbs or commands to solve puzzles in the Kinect-controlled adventure game, players would use gestures to manipulate characters' feelings, forcing them into emotions like fear, anger, and love. The publisher backed out after the final prototype, so we'll probably never see that game, Schafer said.
One fan asked Schafer what he thought of the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy. Though the designer said he hasn't paid much attention for fear of spoilers—he still hasn't even beaten Mass Effect 2—he mused that he "always winds up defending the author" in situations like this.
"Games aren't made by an autonomous robot," Schafer said, "they're made by people. And those people have a point of view on the world and that's interesting. Connecting with those people is what makes art art for me."
Another crowd member asked if Schafer was worried about that sort of fan pressure now that he has 87,139 backers to worry about. Does the thought of living up to all of those expectations stress him out?
"It's not that stressful to get a whole bunch of money all of a sudden," Schafter said. "It's kind of relaxing."