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Reviews-Game on Austin Series- Clockwork, CodeSpells, and ColorThief

In our other post, we reviewed Game On Austin‘s overall experience, and as you probably figured this post is all about the Games. Keep in mind that we didn’t get to try out every game and that this isn’t a hardcore game review. Seeing as how most of these games are still in development; it would be unfair to judge them on technicalities and features that are most likely going to be scrapped and edited 1,000 times over. With all that being said, we WILL point out these Games’ awesome features and what we liked, and what you could expect from your game play experience.
This Review Covers  3 Games and there’s more to come from our coverage of Game On Austin!


Game: Clockwork
Studio: Ignis Studios
Expected Release date: TBA

Courtesy of Ignis Studios
Play as a super-determined dot making its way through the intricacies of ClockWork

A personal favorite of mine from Game on Austin was this artsy-calm-puzzler, ClockWork, by Ignis Studios. Originally dubbed “The Circle Game” by its creators, Clockwork has the player control a very small, very determined dot that makes its way  through a series of minimalistic and imaginative environments. These environments contain interesting interactive objects and obstacles including cogs, cannons, trampolines that all contribute to the game’s calm-yet-complex feel. What I find most appealing of ClockWork is the beautiful art style. The game’s hues, object shadows, and trails are all examples of simple subtleties that accentuate the minimal but highly-conceptualized feel that Clockwork exhibits so effortlessly.

Below is some Game play footage taken at Game on Austin, played by Lauren:

To learn more about ClockWork‘s vision and mission, Digital Bounds interviewed Lauren Ellis, The CEO and Art director of IgnisStudios in an attempt to get into the heart and soul of what Clockwork is all about.

Greg- Clockwork is an interesting game, how would you describe the focus?
Lauren – We focus on simplicity and minimalism, with a bold contrast of the obstacles and the backgrounds. One unique thing about Clockwork’s game play is that you cannot die in the game at all. It isn’t like the typical games where you feel the pressure to survive. Instead, it is more of calm (yet frustrating, for sure!)

Greg – What was the inspiration behind creating Clockwork?

Lauren – The concept of Clockwork was created by our developer, Ryan Harrington, who had the idea and started protoyping on his own. Our goal as a company is to take personal stories of ours and bring the gamer through our struggles and our victories. Ryan had gone through some tough personal things in the past and really wanted to express those struggles through an abstract puzzle game. He presented the idea to us and we fell in love with it from the beginning. 

Greg- What is your main objective in Clockwork, what is it that you want the player to walk away with?

Lauren- We are actually still working through that. Right now, we want Clockwork to be a simplistic metaphor for the struggles in life. Sometimes you get stuck, sometimes you have to go backwards to go forwards. Sometimes things line up, sometimes they don’t and you fail, but you just have to keep pushing forward. You have to make hard decisions, unsure of if it is the right path or not, and live with those decisions. It is very abstract and the challenge lies in being able to accurately portray that to the player.

But, I will say at the end of the game, we want the player reflect on the importance of decisions and feel accomplished for having gone through the game.



UP NEXT: CodeSpells


Game: CodeSpells
Created by:  Really smart people
Expected release date: Beta pre-orders are expected for release in September 2015

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, codespells hit Game On Austin with a terra-morphing vision of players expressing themselves through the environment around them. As an environmental-morpher with similarities in execution as From Dust, CodeSpells takes a more hands-on approach to the genre and implements a multiplayer vision of creating and changing environments with your friends. The more  hands-on approach that I mentioned before differs that of From Dust and Halo because it’s in third person view, and where that’s sort of a downfall for others, I see this as a benefit due to the high amount of environment that you take in as a result.What I liked most about codespells was this memory that I had of playing Halo and “Glitching” with old friends, which sometimes just turned into talking and hanging out while doing wacky stuff with the game environment- and that’s what I think CodeSpells will be able to pull off without a hitch.

Examples of terraforming actions include sling-shooting rocks across the map, displacing water from the seas and oceans,a even creating electrical and fire storms. The thought of doing it all with a friend makes the deal that much sweeter. Another interesting thing about CodeSpells is that it’s created with the thought in mind of teaching kids on how to code programs like Java, so you could actually learn code easily through playing it!

UP NEXT: Color Thief

Game: Color Thief
Studio: Trouble Impact
Expected Release Date: Late 2015

ColorThief, consider this chameleon the bandit

Putting an interesting twist in puzzle games, Color thief is all about getting players to realize the power and potential of color. The game features a chameleon who utilizes and “steals” color from his environment to progress through a series of intricate puzzles that allow him to push on from level to level. Aside from playing a chameleon (because let’s face it chameleons are awesome) Color Thief stands out by executing puzzle games in a way that’s not-so-commonly seen.

We interviewed Cat Musgrove, the art designer for Color Thief about where the inspiration for this unique concept came from

Where did the idea for color thief come from and how has the vision changed since then? 
We initially came up with the color changing idea because of Issam’s background as a graphics engineer. He was throwing around ideas for a game where the gameplay would be directly influenced by the game’s visuals (as opposed to the other way around), and we started talking about color. 

The initial concept was very different – it was more of an isometric, stealth puzzle game where you played as a thief (still a chameleon) sneaking past guards by blending in with various colors. We prototyped it and it was too slow paced for us, so we shifted to more of a 3rd person platformer.

What kind of interaction and environment ideas do you guys scout for and look forward to executing for the game? 

We have a number of goals that we’re aiming for with the game. Primarily, we’re trying to focus in on a single idea and craft the gameplay from there – in this case, the idea that color is equal to energy, and you can move it around. We want the puzzles to be simple, (but not repetitive!) and we want the player to make their own discoveries as opposed to us spelling everything out. 
In regards to the environment, we’re trying to give a sense of the narrative through clues left behind in the world, instead of explicitly telling a story. We’re really looking forward to making a lot more puzzles and seeing where the idea takes us, as well as seeing how we can convey those narrative clues. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, and it’s really exciting.

Below is some game play footage taken from Game On Austin: