Avoid! (The Game)


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Rating: 3.8/5 (115 votes)
| Comments (26) | Views (4)

avoidthegame.gifPatrickIt looks simple, like what computers experience when they practice zazen. And it is, my brothers and sisters, it is very simple. Therein lies the beauty of Avoid! (The Game) (I bet that exclamation point was jarring), a compilation of short vignettes by Alex Miller that plays off the theme of avoidance.

You control a dot with the mouse or keyboard, depending on the particular exercise, and try to avoid the solid objects. A blue bar in the lower left corner of the screen represents your progress. When it fills up, you can proceed to the next exercise. Along the rest of bottom of the screen is a red bar that fills when you are intersecting with solid objects. You want to keep the red bar from filling while the blue bar fills, and thats the whole show.

Analysis: As the game states in its early text, avoidance is a basic, almost primal motif for gameplay. It relates to ancient wiring in our reptilian brain stems, fight or flight, escape and survive. Sure, our ancestors weren't running from grey squares and circles moving in a variety of patterns, but the cognitive principle is the same. What results is a game that is as pared-down as a game can be that still holds our attention. As Avoid! accelerates into later levels it starts to grip your attention and you get sucked into the trance of keeping your dot alive. There's also a game design lesson in this: avoidance is a dynamic goal that shows up all over the history of games, though it usually isn't the only mechanic. I suspect Avoid! could serve some illustrative purpose in a game design curriculum, as well as being a relaxing way to pass the time.

Are you motivated by gratuitous exclamations! If so, this is a game you shouldn't avoid!

JayJay - Although Alex's game doesn't offer much in the way of innovations to avoidance games in general, what I was most impressed with was his presentation. From the initial creative approach to a loading screen and the minimalist style of graphics, to the nicely designed practice system and help screens, this game offers a solid production experience even if it offers gameplay that we may have experienced before. Too often we see Flash game developers create a compelling concept that doesn't quite meet its potential due to haste in what I like to call 'packaging'. It's these finer details of a release that can improve the overall impression and perception of quality in a game, and can even make the overall game play experience more enjoyable. When it comes to creating excellence in games, the importance of presentation should not be underestimated. Aspiring Flash game developers could do well by taking a cue or two from Alex Miller.

Play Avoid!

26 Comments

I like the concept of this game, but after about 3 or 4 successful tries the blue dot no longer responds to my mouse. It freezes in one spot. Even starting new games it stays frozen. Weird.

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Are you switching between the mouse and the keyboard? Some levels require mouse, some the keyboard. The keyboard levels won't respond to the mouse. :p

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That really was a well-made game, even if it was a bit slow after a while. Well constructed like a piece of Stickley. ;) Cheers.

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Fun - how many levels are there? I see that they increase in difficulty, but so far it's been a breeze.

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How in the world did this get on JayIsGames? To start with, the game is ridiculously easy. I got to level 15 with less than a third of my life gone. It is also very tedious. You see the same five levels thrown at you over and over again, with the only variation being slightly faster obstacles and longer times in which you have to survive. Yes, in an effort to increase variety, you have to sit and do the same thing for an even LONGER amount of time. Finally, avoidance games are VERY old hat, and have been done much better than this. I would like to point anyone interested in playing a better game to Squares 2, which was reviewed on this site about three and a half years ago.

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Hey now...

"you gotta accentuate the positive. eliminate the negative."

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@Syckls

I think the craftsmanship of the game is what got it reviewed here. Though it is rather easy, and not as varied as I'd like, it is very well put together.

"When it comes to creating excellence in games, the importance of presentation should not be underestimated."

Perhaps it is a plea for more games as well-made? Either way, I think it was worth the showcase. Maybe it will be expanded upon, as a result of the artist seeing these comments.

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Beautifully implemented. I didn't mind that it was easy...the art and music set a very relaxing tone, and it would have been a shame to ruin that with frustrating gameplay. Cutting it down in length might make for a more enjoyable experience though, given the lack of challenge even at high levels. There's only a set amount of time I can enjoy mindless maneuvering before I get bored, no matter how soothing the action is at first.

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Since the damage seems to be based on how long you're in the grey, I found the bubble expansion to be very easy.

If you stay on the far left side, you can avoide the growing bubbles easily. Even if you do get hit, it will be for a tiny sliver of damage.

I found the music and interface very soothing, even though the game could get a bit frantic. Worth playing and learning from.

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Anonymous January 18, 2008 3:31 AM

This is a slowed down version of a British Air Force pilot's computer testing programmes. On the simulator if you can survive for longer than 18 seconds you have the basic escape/evade reactions of a fighter pilot. It's very hardcore compared to this version. Still, this was fun.

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I also think the game isn't quite on par with Jay is games standards. It's unremarkable in every aspect, and altogether feels like something a semi-skilled Flash designer could whip up on his coffee break. It does not offer anything new or inventive. What's probably the worst, it's ridicilously devoid of any challenge at all - I've reached level 17 without even realizing you aren't killed immediately but even have a health bar...

Clean interface and minimalist design do not a good game make. Sorry.

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Alex Miller Author Profile Page January 18, 2008 5:56 AM

@Syckls

Maybe the difficulty doesn't increase at a high enough rate from level to level, but I think if you play farther you'll find it pretty hard. In the 20's it is significantly difficult.

But I designed the game so that I'd have fun playing it, and I have to admit that I'm not that skilled of a game player. In other words, it IS an easy game, and that's what I was going for. Something your little brother could play. :)

@baba44713

Same response to you, baba. I realize it's an easy game. But for people like my dad, or little brother, level 17 is actually hard to get to.

"...[it] feels like something a semi-skilled Flash designer could whip up on his coffee break."

Unfortunately I'm not even a semi-skilled Flash designer, haha. This is the first flash project I've ever done, so I hope you'll cut me some slack. :P

Thanks a lot for the criticism. My next game will be more innovative, I promise. :)

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Heh, sorry for the criticism...

It's just that I think that a good game should either
- be challenging
- be rewarding to the player (e.g. unlockables) or
- introduce a fresh concept

For instance, this miminalistic avoid-type game has a simple but fun twist, and it is just enough to produce an enjoyable and somewhat addicting experience.

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Its a good game, very well made and enjoyable even more because its not too hard. Maybe for people complaining about easiness there could be added Hardcore mode (1/10-th of hp with faster enemies). While I did like the different levels it could of course have even more different stages. How about more shapes (triangles, hexes, etc) or enemies that move in different ways (explode, change directions). Making everything simply faster is not always best way to keep it interesting.

Before playing it I thought mouse+keys combination will never work. Normally I hate games requiring switch between mouse and keboard, it was actually working really well and did make nice change.

In some levels clicking the start button caused losing hp the moment level started, makes me thing that putting the start button in the center of stage would be good idea. Or add slight delay between pressing start and level starting.

I would surely try to fix the press-hold-move mouse outside-cheat that is affecting most mouse-controlled levels. And hide right click which can mess up whole game.

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Alex Miller Author Profile Page January 18, 2008 7:07 AM

@baba

Don't be sorry for the criticism! It really is greatly appreciated. It'll definitely effect my next game effort.

@tonypa

It's cool to have a comment from you, your tile based game tutorial was one of the first lessons I had in flash. Thanks a lot for all the tips, I'll fix the bugs you mentioned ASAP, as well as the cheat on "expansion action".

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Well, the game is good - for about the first 5-6 rounds. After that it keeps getting more and ore boring. I dunno if new types of minigames come after a time, but when I had to do the same thing for like the 10th time I said it was enough.

I think the creator of this game should have been patient enough to get more good minigame ideas to pack in this before releasing this game. What's in this now is very good - but, sadly, also very little.

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I like it. It takes a whole bunch of avoider games and strips them down to their most basic elements. Sure, it starts out easy, but it does indeed get harder around Level 18.

Simplicity, plus a nice difficulty ramp, reminds me of classic arcade games.

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I liked this, but then, avoidance type games are my thing. The music, in particular, and the simplicity, and yes, the gentle learning curve - I hate games that start punishing you for not having reflexes at level three or so - all really worked for me.

I have to say, some of the levels seemed more forgiving than others. Several times on that "stay within the bubble" thing I could *see* that I was in the grey, but no damage was happening. On the other hand, on the falling squares levels there were times when I could've sworn that I hadn't actually touched a box, and yet the red bar was definitely filling up. Is this just my perception, or have other people noticed this?

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I enjoyed this one. There was something about it that compelled me to keep having another go - great first project

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Alex Miller Author Profile Page January 19, 2008 6:46 AM

@Cat - On the "stay in the bubble" level, you have to be completely out of the bubble to take hits. Maybe that wasn't the best way to implement it... but otherwise it was hard to pass those levels. Regarding the falling square issue you mentioned, that shouldn't be happening. Maybe you've found a bug, but I haven't yet seen that yet.

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I don't think I was entirely clear there, sorry. I didn't mean that I was randomly being given damage, it was more some near-misses that I could've sworn actually *were* misses wound up in me taking damage, if you see what I mean? My eyesight isn't the best, to be fair, so it might just be me, lol.

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Y'know, I actually really liked this game. Would I play it over and over? No, mainly because the individual levels aren't quite entertaining enough to warrant replay. It's certainly worth a singly playthrough, though. And for those complaining that the game's too easy, keep at it a little longer...the difficulty begins to increase exponentially around level 20.

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Great game. Level 26 is a nice change of pace. Too bad it was also my downfall.

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yeah i found this game enjoyable as well as a short distraction. died on lvl 26 too. i feel like the jump up in difficulty level on 26 might be a little extreme, especially considering how long the level is. i think i lost more than half my life on that one level.

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So what's the highest level everyone's gotten to so far? I just lost at level 32.

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Great game concept. Would have really been nice to see this game taken a couple more steps forward vs. just making the same 5 concepts repeat over and over again. I realise this game already took an enormous amount of effort to make but it's just so close to being an amazing game. One of the downfalls is no play back value cause im not spending 20 minutes each time to get through levels 1-20. It's a zzz fest.

Beat lvl 26 on 1st try. heh

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