Builder: The Game

If you are not yet aware of it, a couple of months ago I released a little puzzle platformer called Builder. I had a couple of goals with this game. The first is that I had been researching RSD Game-Maker, a 20-year-old DOS-based development environment (see my earlier post about cly5m), and I wondered if the old tools would support a relevant, contemporary game. As it turns out — maybe!

My other goal ties into the weirdness of the old engine. I have long been fascinated with glitches, and the odd mechanical and expressive qualities that they bring to a game. I figured this was a chance for me to explore the deliberate aspects of both of those qualities. You can play the surface game, and it’s fine — but until you start to pick away at the scenery, you’re only getting a part of the picture.

I won’t say that Builder is the most profound or involving game on the planet, but I’m pleased with it. You can download it for PC or Mac (which I have not tested; I have been told is a little slow), and you can make it work in Linux. There are more screenshots here.

Also, here‘s a play-through by Ken Taylor of the webcomic (tsuduku…). I suggest, if you plan on finishing the game, that you not watch past the first video.

From Shooter to Shooter: The Rise of cly5m

Seiklus was a turning point for the indie scene. Even if you’ve never played it, you’ve played something influenced by cly5m’s game. Seiklus was one of the first “exploration platformers,” a nonviolent genre that could be compared to a side-scrolling Myst, and now a distinct piece of the indie style guide. A small man, nearly a stick figure, travels a flat-colored world, collecting pointless trinkets and the occasional control upgrade, to find his way back home again. There is no death, and no aggression; Seiklus is all about the journey, and the player’s relationship with the game world.

Seiklus comes off as a very personal game. Although the controls amount to little more than walking and jumping, and the presentation is nearly as minimalist, the experience feels emotionally rich. Its level geometry and sequencing trade epiphanies for careful observation and experimentation, and the sound design creates a distinct and whimsical atmosphere.

The stripped-down expression of Seiklus has helped to legitimize canned game creation systems, leading Mark Overmars’ Game Maker to become the respected behemoth it is now, and lending the indie scene an entry-level spine. There have been tributes and parodies. It’s just an important game.

For all its influence, Seiklus is kind of a one-off. For a while cly5m and Robert Lupinek teased the Internet with Velella, a sort of spiritual successor involving dream flight. Otherwise, the last eight years have passed pretty quietly. The previous eight, though – that’s a different story.
Continue reading