Four Neat Previews from GDC's Experimental Gameplay Workshop

Puzzles, dimensions, visual novels, oh my!

For the most part, many of the games featured here have been in development for a while. But their appearance at this year's Game Developers Conference does two things: it's basically free advertisement, and developers can share meaningful feedback on the industry as a whole. This year, the Experimental Gameplay Workshop shows off current trends in the gaming business that (I certainly hope) indicate a growth of industry.

MIEGAKURE

Marc ten Bosch

 Miegakure is a stunningly peaceful headache. Designed as a platformer that's manipulated through four dimensions (where the fourth dimension is time, kinda), this puzzle game is incredibly hard to wrap your head around (unless you're a fancy-pants philosopher or something). Since I'm still pretty baffled by the concept, I'll let the game's creator explain it much more eloquently than I can.

For example, if there is a wall in the shape of a circle around an object in 2D, it is essentially closed-off, since to reach it one would have to leave the 2D plane. It is also impossible for an outsider to know what is inside. 

But us 3D beings can see the object from above, and also simply lift it off the ground to move it outside, essentially teleporting it. Now by analogy a four-dimensional being could perform many similar miracles to us living in only three-dimensions. This game allows you to perform these "miracles."

MUSHROOM 11

Itay Keren

Mushroom 11 is an oddly endearing evolution/physics game where your goal is to progress your pixely mushroom through a dangerous, lava-ridden terrain all costs. The mushroom itself alludes heavily to Conway's Game of Life, constantly evolving pieces of itself over time. It works like other line-drawing games, where you use your touch input to push the mushroom forward. The great thing about Mushroom 11 seems to be the ability to manipulate the mushroom itself by slicing through it. The creature's 'consciousness' occupies the larger (or most advanced) of however many pieces it's been split into. The design of Mushroom 11 is just as stunning as its gameplay, set in a strange industrial grunge world. 

 

VERSU

Linden Lab

As a writer, out of all of the other games on this list, I'm definitely the most excited about Versu. A visual novel by Linden Lab, Versu probably isn't going to win any game awards anytime soon, but it does exist in a very strange, important niche of gaming: it's raising a bar. As explained in the trailer, Versu exists to study the way NPCs exist and react in a character's world. Changes in dialogue and story occur not only based on choices that you make as a player, but in reaction to how NPCs decide to handle those choices. If you can expect anything from Versu, it should serve as an influence on the rest of the video game company. It quite clearly makes the point that game technology has nowhere near reached the apex of good storytelling, while simultaneously demanding more from competitors. 

SOUNDOGER 

Michael Molinari

Whenever anyone previews or releases a new music/rhythm-based game, I get really inexplicably excited. Soundoger is essentially the bastard child of Beat Hazard and Pulse, but with one big upgrade: the entire field is rendered based on the music of the game, which leads me to believe that you can play a level built entirely upon the BPM of your own music (dubstep fans rejoice). The goal of the game is to last as long as possible while avoiding no-touch particles that populate around the playing field. If the game can indeed accept music input from users, Soundodger could easily become the premier rhythm game on the market. 

Published Apr. 2nd 2013

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