Rhubber Man, Pulsating Arms of Fury!

Rhub_logo

Punching its way out of Macedonia, Rhubberman is a game about beating things to death with fists of fury!  It has a flair that feels like it should be in an arcade and from what I’ve seen in the promo video on alt ctrl jam, the native controls invented by the developers would make this an arcade game of demanding coordination.  The best part is that the game in itself is not complex.  Don’t let the enemy aliens stop you from sitting and ruminating on your favorite thinkin’ spot!

Shoopy Games was kind enough to let me demo the game in late August, before there was sound.  A month has gone by and it shows in the game itself with sound effects, music and new enemies!  The player takes the role of a ‘Rhubber,’ one of the denizens of the planet Rh’ubba.  These guys look like mutated biker smurfs with four arms and an insatiable desire for fisticuffs.  Their race is one that miners and they never really wanted to do much more than that.  These fuckers make food out of the radioactive minerals of their world, which is how they ended up looking like Goro’s psychotic cousin.  The developer’s put a lot of time into this game’s lore, too, and you can read more about it on their blog!

In their video, the devs show that they made a pretty awesome apparatus to control the game.  Of course, not everyone is awesome enough to be on the early-adopter’s side of the Macedonian Quad-troller (as I am coining the dev’s hardware), so playing this on the PC is a little simpler.  There are 5 buttons: ‘Q’  ‘Z’  ‘,’  ‘p’ and the spacebar.  Hitting Q and P allows you to extend your upper arms while hitting Z and , allow you to extend your lower arms.  Extending your arms is your only real defense against foes, and there are two types.  Fuck you, I’ll tell you about the goddamn spacebar in a minute!

I love the purple beard!

I love the purple beard!

As you stand atop your pillar of tobacco-chewing rumination, these big red and green fuckers fly out of the corners of the screen to munch on you.  To defeat them, you have to time your barrage of blows and pay attention!  The red guys don’t really do much, other than suck.  They’ll fly at you, sometimes three at a time, and be assholes.  The green guys are real bastards, though.  These guys may slow things down a little, but they can deploy shields, getting them in closer for the kill.  That’s ok, though.  Just makes the fist that much more terrible.

Once you have hit enough enemies to fill the meter at the top of the screen, you can hit the spacebar.  This causes your guy to make a crazy face and shoot all four arms out at the same time, getting more kills and taking out more enemies than you should be able to.

This game is one more about timing than speed, and trying to deploy punches too fast will keep you from hitting the next enemy in time until you eventually get eaten.  It’s a good time and worth a few plays!  My understanding is that the developers are working to get this little arcade game up on itch.io soon, but time will tell!  For now, people can check it out on Alt Ctrl Jam!  Vote it up and see if you can save Rh’ubba or just become the next purple meal on a stick!

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Ludum Dare, Indie Dev Explosion!

LD_logo

Although I had a hard time finding anything about it on the Ludum Dare site itself, I have come to understand that the primary Ludum Dare competition occurs more than once a year: the current version being LD48.  Founded in 2002, Ludum is a competition that focuses on rapid game development, and it translates from latin as “The Game Giving”.  Other translators state “Providing patronage to a public duel” is a potential translation, but I don’t see anything but Game Devs here, so we’re going with that first one.

On the Ludum Dare website, it is said that “for many people, it can be difficult to find or make the time to create a game or prototype for yourself.  We’re here to be your excuse.”  And that is awesome, considering it also says they are “keeping things extra indie.”  Honestly, they had me at hello, but extra indie?  Exemplary.  So LD serves as the proverbial grease in the joints of a game developer’s mind, giving them a reason to just create what they can and throw it into the mix, just to see what they can come up with.  This is noteworthy, and it serves to challenge people to make something quickly; this most recent run of the competition taking place August 22nd – 25th.  With only 3 fucking days to create a coherent and playable game, that is one hell of a challenge.  And no one but gamedevs would be crazy enough to select Challenge: Accepted.

Ludum Dare 21

Ludum Dare 21

So what happens when they get more than they expected?  Pictured above you will see the games of LD21, during which Ludum Dare received 599 titles, pictured above.  Now, think about that for a minute.  Each of these games provide experiences that run from a couple minutes all the way up to some clever little 10 minute engagements, depending on how good you are at the game.  Each title is played by the judges and the best ones are selected as the winners.  So who are these judges?  In an interview with the man behind the competition, Mike Kasprzak, he told me just how LD works.

We assign everyone a random subset of all games to judge. If you play a few dozen, a few dozen will play your game. The system is built to reward people that play games with attention by others that play games. As far as scores are concerned, once we have a couple dozen, it’s enough to estimate what the games average score will be. So we deal with the large quantity of games by not playing them all, but by playing some.

So the people judging the games are also people who submitted games, then the community votes up its favorites.  This is a democratic process that would make the ancient Greeks and the Founding Fathers (US) wipe a tear of pride from their eyes. Of course, with every competition, there is a victor.  Competitions reward winners in a variety of ways.  So how does Ludum Dare reward its winners?

Wait... what?!

Wait… what?!

So wait wait wait..  You’re fucking telling me that the winners don’t get more than a hi-five and handshake?!  Yep, that is what the man said.  To give you an idea, some of these Indie Developers willingly commit hours to their games, eschewing sleep as long as possible just to get in the next couple lines of code.  Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying this is unfair. Devs submitting to LD know what they are up against and the rewards, and they do it regardless. And Ludum Dare grants these people a way for their work to be seen and their voices to be heard, which makes it all the more awe-inspiring that, come LD season, Twitter is flooded with bittersweet tweets from dedicated game devs.  What Ludum Dare encourages is nothing short of remarkable.

If I wanted to submit to Ludum Dare, when would I do it?  And how many submissions does Ludum typically get?  Initially, Mr. Kasprzak told me they were getting just more than 100 submissions per event.  Now? Well…

I heard a sound like a thousand shits being shat, and then... silence.

I heard a sound like a thousand shits being shat, and then… silence.

LD_reasons

Of course, there are probably other contributing reasons.

Of course, I suggest that there are more reasons than just the number of events.  Even if the same people were submitting for every event, if there were only 200 people in the first event, that would be 400 altogether.  This year so far there have been about 2500 submissions per event.  There is no expletive I can issues that adequately summarizes this.  I would suggest that the increase of submissions is attributable to the fact that Indie Developers aren’t just on the rise, they are exploding exponentially.  And I don’t mean spontaneously combusting, either, I mean their numbers are increasing at a rate comparable to an epidemic.  Then again, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, and Mr. Kasprzak suggested his thoughts.

LD_easy

Like what? Like Unity 3D or Unity Marketplace or.. Yea, the list goes on like this for some time…

So this is clear evidence that gaming is starting to migrate away from the major industry and into smaller dev shops where real magic can happen.  Away from AAA gaming and publishers, you have independent companies, which can be only a few people or fifty talented artists, which are developing games on their terms incorporating elements that they want.  With no one else looking over their shoulder, they have the freedom and the drive to make the best games they can.  That might slow down individual games; but considering the situation altogether, with so many indiedevs there are games constantly coming out.  And they aren’t just crappy little games, either.  Many of them are just as exciting as major industry games, if not more so.

So what are some games from Ludum Dare?  I have played a few of them myself, and I have to say, they vary from one developer to the next so widely that I cannot comprehend having to choose the best one.  But here are a few of them.

Fuel Runner

by Robot Friend Games

Casual bike ride with radioactive materials on my back

Casual bike ride with radioactive materials on my back

Fuel Runner is a game with a loud color palette and no sound.  You start off planetside as a spacesuit clad bike-rider that jumps from one platform to the next.  Don’t fall too far, or you’ll explode.  Luckily you start from your highest-cleared platform. It is pretty easy, too, at least until you get into space.  Then shit goes nuts.

Falling up.. AAAAAHHHH!!

Falling up.. AAAAAHHHH!!

Once you get outside the atmosphere, the platforms you are on become barriers of instant death that you soar past, floating away into the abyss.  I haven’t made it to the end yet, but I cannot imagine this having a happy ending.  Lots of fun, though!  Lovely art, too!

 

The Static Speaks

by idovingx

This game is more of an interpretive piece.  My young brother likes this band called 65 Days of Static.  I asked him where the weird-ass name comes from, and he responded thusly:

“In the 1960’s the Soviets did this study where they tested the effects of white noise on participants.  Unanimously, people started losing their grip on reality and began hearing and seeing things in the static that wasn’t there.  The conclusion is that, given totally chaos the human brain tries so hard to recognize a pattern, that it starts to create one where there is nothing.”

                                                                                                                                                – Brother Jeremiah on 65 Days of Static

Now, The Static Speaks takes on a creepy aspect that makes me wonder where this is going.  This game takes the form of a first-person adventure game.  It is short and creepy with vaguely depressing titles in a twitchy font.  You wake up from a weird dream, watch static on the TV, a door appears, you die (?) in a bathtub and the house flies apart.  Then it cuts directly to you hovering in space surrounded by tv’s broadcasting static with a weird blob above you.  Select a tv and it’s over.  I ended this, said “WTF?” tried it again, and realized I had done it right.

Watch the tv closely when you play...

Watch the tv closely when you play…

Hip Hop Planet

by SnoutUp

Snout up has shown a love for the use of vector graphics, and has made some downloadable apps, as well.  His Ludum Dare entry is a fun little arcade game featuring a spunky little character that jumps between planets collecting diamonds.  Hit the up button once to jump, twice to jet-pack.  Let and right moves you around a planet and spacebar lets you change the rotation of the planets.  Avoiding obstacles, you have to collect all the diamonds you can!  When you jump to another planet, the background changes to resemble your current planet!  Get your best time, or just beat this challenging little play!  It is a fun and addictive little game that reminds me of some fun times with gaming, down to the sounds it chose.  Add in a jazzy, 16-bit hip hop theme and I would pay some money for this!

On this planet, every week is shark week!

On this planet, every week is shark week!

There are so many talented devs submitting games to this competition, it would be a crime for you not to go there yourself and see what they have to offer!  The timer says there are 19 days left to try them out, so get on over there!  Of course, Ludum Dare doesn’t exactly make a lot of money, and is sustained by the contributions of its supporters!  Please get on over there and make a contribution if you can!  Ludum Dare helps developers to explore creative concepts that they might otherwise never get the chance to explore, so whatever you can contribute would be greatly appreciated by the entire Indie Gaming community. If you can make a contribution, tell them the Crotchety Old Gamer sent you!