This Wednesday I attended Gamma 3D, a game design event being thrown by Kokoromi and connected to the Montreal International Game Summit. There is serious indie talent at these events; last year’s Gamma 256 featured the much-discussed Passage among others. The theme of this year’s competition was 3D stereoscopy, explained thusly by the organizers:
“It’s very typical of games right now to toss [3D stereoscopy] in as some back-of-the-box bullet point,” says Kokoromi co-founder Heather Kelley. “We wanted to throw it out there as an actual design challenge, and not treat it as some buzzword.”
Adds co-founder Phil Fish, “Right now, Ubisoft is working on a 3D stereoscopic game, and we’re seeing it more in TV and film. So we asked the question: is it worthwhile? Is there anything you can really do with it?”
I had a chance to check out this year’s exhibit with a badass pair of 3D goggles in hand, and was thoroughly impressed and the quality and creativity of the games being exhibited. Here are some of my personal favourites:
Note: these games are all available for free download at the Gamma 3D site.
super HYPERCUBE – Kokoromi/Polytron
Super Hypercube was programmed by my friend Renaud (who writes the excellent blog The Instruction Limit.) The game is an exercise in 3rd grade geometry, challenging you to rotate a randomly generated cube cluster so that it fits through a hole in the wall. I thought the game was a great twist on Tetris block rotation, and it evoked a similar skillset. While Renaud himself was quick to admit that the game could be played without 3D goggles*, the addition of stereoscopy certainly helped by improving the perception of depth. I was also very impressed at the level of visual polish. You can’t tell from the screenshot, but the multiplier indicator is projected from the object you’re manipulating (an idea I’m told was inspired by the holographic menus in Dead Space.) You can read more about the game over at Renaud’s blog.
*In other words: the goggles do nothing!
Paper Moon – Infinite Ammo & Adam Saltsman
Paper Moon is a gorgeous platformer that will doubtlessly (and perhaps unfairly) draw comparisons to Braid. Objects in the foreground and background can be toggled by the player to create platforms, open doors and defeat enemies. The stereoscopy isn’t tacked on; it’s impossible to tell the depth of objects in the game without 3D goggles. While I didn’t notice any particularly interesting puzzles using this mechanic, I think the concept has a lot of potential and I hope the Infinite Ammo gang continue to explore it. It was also casually mentioned to me that the character artwork was created using cardboard cutouts, a process I’d certainly like to hear more about.
The Depths To Which I Sink – Jim McGinley
I’ll admit: at first I couldn’t tell if this was a game or a screensaver. On closer inspection, I would describe the game as fl0w set in a world of polygons. I didn’t actually get my hands on the game so I’m fuzzy on the exact mechanics, but the gist is this: the player-controlled worm can move in the third dimension and can only break the square panes at the same depth. If you’re not convinced you’ll have to see the game in action, it’s much prettier with a pair of 3D goggles.
Many thanks to Kokoromi for putting on such a terrific event, they’re doing more work than most to promote “games as art.” I look forward to next year’s competition and, if I get my act together, I may even try to submit something myself.