But it is just a game…. Variety, Bikes and Dragons

This weekend I finally managed to to my St George impersonation and slay the final Dragon in Skyrim. I have by no means finished the game though, there are many more adventures and places to explore in the game environment. Skyrim is a virtual environment, a huge one. Mountains, rivers, dungeons, castles, towns, heaven and hell. It is populated by all sorts of races and creeds. As a player you really do choose your path, hitting things with swords, axes, or standing back and casting all sorts of spells. All of which level you up as a character. It was a huge undertaking to build this game, its depth and the 100+ hours of interaction make it an epic quest. It becomes what you put into it. Obviously it’s storyline and the experience fits with the medieval sword and sorcery genre. It is Lord of the Rings (In no way associated with the Olympic Rings in case the LCOG brand police are reading this), it is Game of Thrones. (That’s Game, not Games as in Olympic Games etc. ) In case you wonder why I said that read this in the Guardian
Anyway, it has been a deep and enjoyable experience. Very varied within it’s context. Hugely time consuming. That is were I felt I had to bring in the notion of variety. Yes it is just a game, like other forms of entertainment are just books, or just films. It requires a lot to get into and continue it, and unlike many networked games it is a single player experience (generally though that is changing, and the PC version has a Mod kit to build your own pieces).
Just as I was finishing this behemoth of gaming the follow up to Trials HD, called Trials Evolution arrived on Xbox Live. This game cost about £10 as a download, rather than the £45+ of Skyrim. It is “just a motorbike game” Anyone who has played Trials HD, or knows of the old Kickstart game will know it is a fantastic flexible physics puzzler at it’s heart. You control a motorbike, in a side scrolling left to right environment. You balance throttle, brake and leaning forward and backward to try and traverse the terrain as fast as possible. The original was fantastic, infuriating and rewarding in equal measures. This evolution has the same attributes and also some extra variety carried over from the previous game with odd sports challenges. It also has a course constructor. On top of all that it also has head to head online super cross racing. The online experience has a great asynchronous version too. Whilst racing any track you fastest friends times are represented by little social dots (rather than full on ghosts) showing how far behind you are. So playing alone you feel connected.
Where the real surprise is though is that this “it’s just a motorbike game” which stands well enough as it is has an incredibly varied editor. It is not a simple course constructor to just place the odd ramp. No, the things people are creating are 2D top down shooters, FPS games, Table Football(Foosball) and who knows what else will appear. All of these creations are appearing online as part of the games youtube like connection lobby.
In the official trailer you can see some of these pop in, check about 50 seconds in here, almost as a throw away statement!

Giving people tools with which to create, where they can completely turn the original game on its head is very exciting. As with Little Big Planet, Minecraft and alike we are going to see an explosion in ideas. This gets people exploring how to integrate assets, respond to events etc, it is a form of programming and problem solving. It is very exciting!
Makers of the world Go Abberate 🙂

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