Terry Cavanagh's indie hit VVVVVV was an instant success, melding a Commodore 64 look and feel to a difficult but forgiving platformer whose only controls are move left, move right, and reverse gravity. The second edition of the game expanded from Windows and OSX to Linux, and added a level editor which could be used to make and export custom maps. Today, Cavanagh has announced VVVVVV: Make and Play Edition, which contains only the level editor and the ability to play custom levels, and which can now be downloaded for free for Windows, OSX, and Linux.
For about three years, the A.V. Club ran Sawbuck Gamer, a regular column reviewing the week's most notable free and cheap games across all platforms, from web games to handhelds to console downloadables. It's a treasure trove of content, especially since more literary sister site The Gameological Society took the helm, and it's publicized great desktop projects like the luscious platformer Frogatto (previously), feature-rich Super Mario Bros. X (previously), the evocative faux-web Digital: A Love Story (previously), interactive fiction gem Rover's Day Off, and the hyperkinetic RunMan: Race Around the World (previously). But if you're in the mood for something more immediate, why not start with a list of all the original column's free A-rated online titles? [more inside]
Here is Dungeon Squad! A simple, free role-playing game intended for younger players (but enjoyable by older ones), with lots of dice rolling and action. Here's a couple of adventures for it, here's an expansion, and here's a more complex version. Here's the expansion Adventure Squad, in three PDFs: Core - Abilities - D&D 3E Classes. Here's yet another expansion. [more inside]
You are in a warm, dark, comfortable place. This has been your place since you became aware that you are alive. It's almost time to enter a different world now. In 1986, Activision published a roleplaying computer game called Alter Ego. Unlike the action and fantasy titles that ruled the day, this game simulated the course of a single ordinary life. Beginning at birth, players navigated a series of vignettes: learning to crawl, reacting to strangers, getting a first haircut. The outcome of each scenario subtly influenced one's path, and with every choice players slowly progressed through infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. Graphically minimalist -- one's lifestream is represented by simple icons, and the scenarios are all text -- the game was nevertheless engaging, describing the world in a playful, good-natured tone tinged by darkness and melancholy. And it had quite a pedigree; developer and psychology PhD Peter Favaro interviewed hundreds of people on their most memorable life experiences to generate the game's 1,200 pages of material. Unfortunately for Dr. Favaro, the game didn't sell very well. But it lives on through the web -- PlayAlterEgo.com offers a full copy of the game free to play in your browser, and the same port is available as a $5 app for iPhone and Android. More: Port discussion group - Wishlist - Vintage review - Original game manual (text or scans)
Graphic Adventures is a 500 page book about the classic adventure games. It's available through Amazon and Lulu, but is also free to download and read. [more inside]
Nevertheless, many of the gamers I encounter report the same experience of feeling as if they have engaged in some kind of transgression. There’s often a sense of guilt that comes with tales of gaming exploits, as if games were a vice or a character flaw, a symptom of one kind or another. [...] So my cards are on the table: I’m going to offer some alternative, positive descriptions. This analysis will show how video games have inspired artists, transformed rags into riches, given purpose to empty lives, and entertained bored people on a Sunday afternoon. We’ll see how games turned young people into heroes and how gaming has enabled the realization of previously unimaginable ambitions. We’ll see how games can make us better people, how they dissolve the horrors of boredom—and how they can function as propaganda for a wide range of worthy and unworthy causes.This Gaming Life by Jim Rossignol (of Rock, Paper, Shotgun) is a book about gaming, gamers, and how they affect each other - available in full and for free under a Creative Commons licence.
Trigger Happier "Trigger Happy is a book about the aesthetics of videogames — what they share with cinema, the history of painting, or literature; and what makes them different, in terms of form, psychology and semiotics. It’s offered under a CC license, for a limited time only. I’m not sure how limited that time will be, so grab it while it’s hot." [drm-free pdf]
2007 Independent Games Festival Finalists. Most have downloadable demo and full versions (on the PC, anyway). Share and enjoy.