Monday, February 15, 2010

Gaming for Nomads Part 1: How Do You Do?

By Annie Wright

Ah, the daunting task of the first post. Not THE first post, of course, but MINE. So, hello. I do not doubt that astute readers have probably gleaned by now that the majority of the Gamer Melodico crew is based out of San Francisco. Now, I adore the Bay Area, and it is home to many fine development houses and events. The weather is awfully close to perfect and the architecture is glorious. However, I happen to live elsewhere.

More specifically, I currently reside in Seattle, which is ALSO a phenomenal place to be for gaming. We have PAX, Valve, Pink Gorilla (even though we all know it's really Godzilla), and you know, certain multinational computer technology corporations which shall not, at this point, be mentioned in specific. Game developers and startups are a dime a dozen, and every other barista is an armchair programmer. In short, it is an exceptional location for recreational technology enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, I am not there right now. I'm temporarily visiting family in fabulous Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University, "Breaking Away", and John "Cougar" Mellencamp. And though I intend to write about all of the superb Seattle-related things I mentioned a few sentences ago, I cannot do them justice without being present. Instead of these things (about which I solemnly promise to write at a later time), I bring you "Gaming For Nomads", a comprehensive guide to travel-friendly gaming and portability in a series of installments. For those times when we are away from home and can't have our favorite chair, headset, giant flatscreen and those spork-glove thingies that make it so you don't have to put down the controller to eat, but we also can't be content just sitting around watching Lifetime TV in a hotel room, or watching grandma play video bridge.

I thought that I would start out with an oft-overlooked, yet highly accessible medium: The humble online game. There are many reasons that people put their games online for free. Most of these reasons involve looking for feedback and potentially a job, which means that there are a plethora of very polished, playable games just waiting for us to find them, play them and eventually get written up at work for taking too long of a lunch because of them.

One such game is One Button Bob.

One Button Bob is a charming, old school side-scroller with a catchy theme song to boot. As one might expect from the name, the mechanism by which the game advances involves only one button (left mouse if you're on a PC, and if you're on a mac, I will go ahead and assume you are smart enough to know which button to hit). The catch is that the one button does something different with each screen. You may find that the button allows you to shoot a boomerang, jump, advance one step at a time, or run like crazy until you hit the button again, at which point you will screech to a halt.

Unless you're one of those unimaginative types who MUST have cutting edge graphics at all times, Bob is a pretty satisfying time-killer. Obviously, it is not intended to be an epic quest, but one could probably spend a good half-hour or so discovering all the different ways that Bob can move through his environment, defend himself and subsequently die. And as far as dying goes, count on doing this many, many times before you figure things out. Luckily, my experience thus far leads me to believe that there is no life limit.

Either that, or Bob's indiscernible yet clearly present Eastern worldview has transcended the source code confines of his universe...

Well, it's been swell, but I gotta go steer Bob out of a lava pit. Stay tuned for more nomadic adventures!


Kirk Hamilton said...

A) One Button Bob is so hot. I like the level where you have to press the mouse like superfast to make him run across the collapsing bridge. And the soundtrack is indeed amazing.

B) They should make a game out of Breaking Away. Dennis Quaid could reprise his role as Mike and there would be quarry-diving and leg-shaving minigames.

Basically, I just want to cruise an in-game version of Kirkwood.

Anonymous said...

And there could be a point system for taking out pedestrians- 10 for frat boys, 5 for vapid college girls, and you lose points if you mow down a fellow Cutter...