Weekend Download №23


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Weekend Download

JohnBWhen a problem good game comes along.
You must whip download it.
Before the cream keyboard sits out too long.
You must whip use it.
When something's going wrong.
You must whip download every game and play it.
Whip Play it good.

mysteryinlondon.jpgMystery in London (Windows/Mac, 95MB, demo)- Similar to the Travelogue series of games, Mystery in London is a hidden object game that feeds you gorgeously detailed scenes of old London with a side of mystery and a scoop of factoids for dessert. The idea is similar to most item hunting games and has you searching for a list of objects in a series of crowded scenes. A 360-degree panoramic interface can be switched to a still-screen grid for easy navigation, but you'll still have a tough time with the game's rather obscure clues. Fortunately the story is intriguing and has you following the legend of Jack the Ripper in a quest to uncover the true identity behind the killer.

sammaxmoai.jpgSam & Max 202: Moai Better Blues (Windows, 95MB, demo) - The Sam & Max adventure saga continues with more unbelievably entertaining episodic installments. While romping through the tropics our hat-wearing pal and his little furry companion sign up to stop an erupting volcano. Did we mention Jimmy Hoffa is here? As a diaper-wearing baby? This new season shows no signs of losing any of the humor and magic that made the first season such a success.

pingus.jpgPingus (Windows/Linux, ~12MB, free) - An open source clone of Lemmings, Pingus replaces the green-haired purple guys with equally cute penguins and a host of coypcat abilities. Teach the little dudes to dig, float, build and tunnel their way to the exit safely, and use the included editor to make your own puzzles. Lemmings clones have been done again and again, but this one preserves the nostalgia extraordinarily well while freshening things up a bit.

Midnight MansionMidnight Mansion (Mac, ~22MB, demo) - Mac users rejoice and relive the classic platforming days of Dark Castle with Midnight Mansion from ActionSoft. Explore eight huge mansions spanning 750 rooms, each filled with traps, puzzles, and secrets, as you search for legendary treasure. Ride on conveyor belts, avoid zapper beams, and dodge monsters as you collect keys that give you access to new areas. Three difficulty settings and a level editor extend the replay value of this little gem from here to Translyvania. And back. Twice.

battleshipsforever.jpgBattleships Forever (Windows, 12MB, free)- A slick space-themed tactical strategy/action game inspired by the shooter Warning Forever. Move ships, defend space stations and attack enemies with a simple mouse-driven interface. The game is still in beta but is very playable and includes a single player campaign with a number of scenarios as well as a sandbox mode where you can import and design custom ships. The visual style is just stunning and each mission carries an air of authentic sci-fi drama. The game is also a finalist in this year's IGF for the Design Innovation Award.

passage.gifPassage (Windows/Mac/Linux, <1MB, free)- Artistic expression is becoming more common in video games, and the Passage is a fine example of using the medium to explore greater issues. The heavily pixelated, 100x16 game takes just five minutes to play and puts you in control of a character that ages as the journey goes by. Every element is packed with possible meaning, and as you move through the screens you explore what may be interpreted as the passage of life. It simply must be experienced to be understood, and even then the discussions (listed at the bottom of the game's homepage) are remarkably insightful and varied.

Large Animal Discount SurveyLarge Animal 50% Discount Survey - Large Animal would like to offer you a 50% discount on any one of their games for simply filling out a short online survey about your use of, and preferences for, casual and online games. The survey only takes a few minutes, and your honest answers can help them focus on building the types of games and experiences you prefer. So take the survey and get a game for half price. Snapshot Adventures is an excellent recommendation for a game to choose, and it's even a finalist in this year's IGF for the Design Innovation Award.

30 Comments

Passage in concept reminds me of a squidi game.
#23 to be exact

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Passage is utterly beautiful.

I have never come across a game that could move me in those ways.

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I LOVE you guys! Thanks for having Mac games this week. Not that I have time...I have writing to do for school and class prep and work this afternoon....but I DON'T CARE!! haha

Time to play!

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some points

#1 I do not like passage

#2 I dislike squidi even more, he is a strange little dislikable whiner.

#3 therefore I must defend the honor of passage

The comment by Ghede here is exactly why that squidii chap needs a serious reality adjustment

Let's not muddy Jason's achievement by bringing up that awful name. please.

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Ooh, I like Passage, too...although I need to read what the designer wrote about it. I've played it twice, once

straight through, getting married, "passing" through life with my companion. There are fewer places two can go together, but it's more interesting to see what you can accomplish.

The second time

I didn't get married but wandered along by myself. It was easier to "get rich"--my final "score" was higher, but my little fellow seemed really intent on wealth. Look at me, anthropomorphizing!

Very cool. I saw on one of the other forums that the designer is only 30. Not that I'm a lot older, but it's still pretty deep. I wonder what else you can do.

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And now, everyone, its Devo! (line through Devo) JohnB!

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Tons of good links this week...and you now have 'Whip It' firmly planted in my head. :)

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Thanks for including some freeware games this week.

Passage is interesting, I saw it on other sites a couple of weeks ago and couldn't bring myself to download it. But it's worth the download and it's a rewarding experience.

So is Battleships Forever. I am 2/3 through, and I had a lot of fun. Players may want to know that ships are not carried over from one level to the next. There were some error messages recently, but they could be ignored. The messages also told me that the game was made with Game Maker, which I can hardly believe, because this game is so refined while so many other people (including myself) seem to quickly rig together a little game with two or three levels, but without any depth and innovation, and then abandon it before it gets anywhere. Good to see that some determined developers use Game Maker, too. I would appreciate it if you sent up another note when this game leaves the beta stage, JohnB.

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Tenkuchima Author Profile Page January 12, 2008 6:06 PM

batlleships forever looks like fun but everytime i try to play the game locks up before it even starts

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@ Tenkuchima: Did you check the system requirements (they're all the way down on the developer's website linked above)?

I completed the final level of the career mode about an hour ago and I really loved it. Lots of not-too-easy enemies to smash in the course of fine light shows, some good friends who come along to help you... a fitting ending. I wonder if there is a different ending if...

...you managed to destroy the final boss' ship before he blows up the space station, or before you hyperjump out of the sector? My combination of a Cronus battleship and two Synopes (and two Zelus) proved a satisfyingly deadly combination with all the other ships in the level, but they didn't manage to bring down the boss before we jumped out... On the other hand, are you supposed to jump out because there are two further levels in the making?

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any tips for the "graveyard" level on the battleships forever campaign? If I grab the one ship that makes defense platforms and the other one that projects a shield, I can last until the transport arrives, but end up getting owned by the one escort ship with the deflectors.

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@ juvenal/Graveyard:

I had to restart that level a couple of times, too. I chose a Cronus (I hope that's its name... its description says "toughest ship in the fleet") and boarded another one, along with the ships that have the highest number of hitpoints left. When the alien battleship arrives, move away from it... all of your ships should be faster than it. Destroy the two smaller enemies first, then close in on the battleship, but keep moving. Split up your army and have Major Hong (who shouldn't be in the line of fire anyway) and another ship attack from the rear to take out the shield projectors. Once they're destroyed, the battleship is not that difficult to dismantle. You need to be fast, though, because the enemy calls in reinforcements when the transport is half a screen away from the bottom.

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Ah yes, and one more thing...

...when I wrote "keep moving" and "move away from it", always move with your fire arcs towards the enemy, of course.

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When a good time game turns around.
You must whip play it.
You will never live it down.
Unless you whip download it.
No one gets their way.
Until they whip play it.

I couldn't help myself. D:

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Avast! reports sign of "Win32: Trojan-gen {Other}" found in the BFFullInstallerv85.exe files from both the official and mirror download. The zipped file seems fine.


[Edit: Because your virus detector reported it's in the "other" category, that's pretty general. Just because a virus program claims there is a trojan, doesn't mean there actually is one. It means that something about the program fits a particular pattern. We've seen false positives reported before for Multimedia Fusion games, and I'll bet Game Maker .exe files are prone to them, too. I find it difficult to believe that an official release of a game has a virus. Not impossible, but I'll bet it's more likely to be a false positive. -Jay]

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It may be interesting to know that apart from the sandbox mode and the career mode, there are four scenarios in "Battleships Forever" that put the player and his/her selection of ships through a series of challenges with increasing difficulty. One example is the "Leviathan scenario", in which your task is to destroy a gigantic alien space station as quickly as possible, another one is "Raid", in which you attack alien trade routes and destroy transport vessels and their escorts. Lots of fun even if you've completed the main scenario.

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Ya, I suspected a false positive as well, but couldn't be sure since the install file was too large to upload to virustotal.com (>10MB). The fact that the scanner doesn't report problems with the unzipped files does seem to point the finger at the installer software.

I suppose it's reassuring that this is a known issue. Maybe someone who's not lazy like me would bother to let the author know about this?

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I don't get Passages. I tried to...I just don't. and I'm not just speeding through it, I'm looking around, it's just...idunno. You're walking. Doesn't seem that deep to me.

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Jacob, you might want to look at some of the discussions people have already had about Passage. The one at Joystiq is interesting, because a lot of people are really hostile towards it. Some people are moved by it, some people think those people are only "claiming" to be moved by it. It's gotten a range of complex reactions.

I think in general people who are a little older can relate to Passage better, because it's about mortality and experiencing life to the fullest, things that most people don't start seriously thinking about until they're at least out of school. Some people will never think about those things at all.

I didn't find Passage deeply moving, but it did affect me. There's not a lot of details in it, but the details that are there are pretty interesting. The way having a wife makes each second happier but keeps you from exploring your surroundings fully, the way the future seems blurry in the beginning and the past seems blurry at the end. The way you can't even see what things will look like if you move up or down until you make the decision to go.

There's a lot there, but like anything intended as art, not everybody is going to relate to it, especially not at an emotional level.

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I was blown away by "Passage". I'm sure the meaning contained in that game will go above many people's heads. Nevertheless, "Passage" represents to me the crossover of games from simple entertainment to an art form. The thing that makes this game art is the fact that it conveys meaning, and it can illicit emotion. Moreover, the emotion it raises in us is a product of the game's design--i.e. it is not an accident. The beauty of games as art is that the art is the result of interaction. Other art forms are passive. I've just been reading a very good article on this subject, and I think there are possibilities for many other types of artistic games.

I'm also very pleased that a game can stir such deep meaning while being so minimalist in construction. Its a very good example of how you can do great things without requiring high-end graphics and sound.

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Ok, I'm someone in the center of the discussion this time. I find passage a nice game/piece of art. It has nice design and good idea behind it. But it's not deep, it's a fairly simple plot, and I don't think designer has any deep intentions. I like it very much, but I won't go and pick up every detail in the game to reflect it on real-life. Just a little experience for everyone, then like it or like it not. A matter of taste, just like what happens in other artforms.

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I think the very thing that makes "Passage" art is the fact that people can get as much out of it as they want. Its like a painting or a piece of music. To some people these things look and sound nice, but contain no deep meaning. But to people who use these artifacts as tools to reflect on their own lives, they become quite deep and meaningful.

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Yep, that's the same as how a silly popsong can become ones anthem for life. No problem with that, but it all depends on timimg, association and other circumstances at the moment of listening to the song for the very first time or listining to the song at a important day in your life. The 'deepness' comes with the association then, not especially with the core-hitting of the song. These songs are often very plain, and multiple interpretable, so everyone can relate to it in some way.
When my father would have passed away today, and I stumbled upon this game thereafter, yeah I'm sure it would feel different.
But he didn't fortunately.

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strangelystrange Author Profile Page January 14, 2008 5:19 PM

I agree with wouter. It's not that the game is "art", even though it certainly tries it's best to be. It's that the game is simple enough and is called art by enough people that people automatically connect certain elements that would seem meaningless (ex: the screen fading in at the front and back) as meaningful and therefore have an emotional response to it in such a way as it deeply affects them. That being said, I don't think this "game" can be called a game at all, unless something like those artistic pages where you click the screen and it changes can be called a game. However, this IS Jayisgames, and the definition of a game is being changed all the time. All in all, I was slightly disappointed by Passage. I was expecting it to be something powerful and deep that could affect any person, not just specific people. I suppose however, that if this is indeed art, art sometimes goes in different strokes. Indeed, Passage is not for everyone, but for those that "get" it, it will, judging by the comments, be an incredible experience that will deeply move you.

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About what strangelystrange said:
Art becomes art through the act of somebody declaring it art. Just think of Marcel Duchamp's readymades. One characteristic of art is also the openness to a deeper interpretation, which is definitely also a characteristic of "Passage" (Wouter makes a valid point of course when he says that not everybody does automatically find a deeper meaning in the game. As in any piece of art, the interpretation isn't forced on you, you can do it or leave it alone).

Still, "Passage" is also a game by definition because there are certain goals and you can reach a score (as opposed to web-toys, in which playing itself is the only reward, which is what strangelystrange must have meant by "those artistic pages where you click the screen and it changes").

In the end, however, I expected more of "Passage" than treasure-hunting. I think this feature makes the game a bit trivial.

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strangelystrange - I'm not sure I understand what you mean by:

> "However, this IS Jayisgames, and the definition of a game is being changed all the time."

???

If I insert the word "challenged" instead of "changed" then I agree wholeheartedly.

Just who is responsible for changing the definition of a game?

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I've been reading a very good article on this very topic. Actually, its more of an online book. Chapter one is called "What is a game?" The whole article is worth reading. Although it was written in 1982, I think many of the points it makes are still relevant today. The author draws a distinction between games, simulations, puzzles, and toys. He identifies what he believes are crucial elements that makes a game "a game" rather than a puzzle, simulation, or toy. If you take his definition seriously, then Passage is not a game. Neither are lots of things that we call "games".

Here's the link to chapter one:
www.vancouver.wsu.edu/fac/peabody/game-book/Chapter1.html

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Can anyone help with installing Passage from source in Ubuntu? I have extracted it and clicked on the "runtoBuild" icon, but I found nothing that can be played with after doing so.

It may be a noob question, but your help may just give as much insight towards your life as the game.

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To install in Ubuntu first install 'simple DirectMedia Layer development'. Go to System > Synaptic and search for it. It will be 'libsdl1.2-dev'

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mtheminja Author Profile Page April 4, 2008 3:11 PM

Jay, it might be a good time to put up a review for Battleships Forever. The custom ship maker has reached its essentially complete form, and it's really amazing what you can do with it. The link dump friday on it focused on the campaign, which is like 3% as neat as making your own ships. For example, I'm working on an organic space station that flails its arms at you ;). This game REALLY deserves a full review, and it's better than anything I've ever seen or bought before...

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