Indie Queue

Indie Queue
To Hell With Gravity

Nathan Meunier | 21 Jun 2009 13:00
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Once you make the big leap, the objective is to rack up a high score by hugging the sides of buildings, crashing through colorful score plates and avoiding a messy demise before you pull your chute's ripcord and glide safely to the landing zone. Since merely jumping and falling has the potential to wear thin, Lambe and his team are incorporating some unconventional ways to boost your score.

"Real-life BASE jumpers try to avoid birdstrikes, but the game encourages you to head-butt poultry wherever possible. Striking a bird with enough velocity will cause it to explode into a flurry of smaller birds that hate the concept of who you are," says Lambe. In addition to earning "hugs" for getting dangerously close to a structure and "kisses" for every second you stay there, you'll eventually be able to boost your score with specific gestures. "We're currently working on something where you can give your fans a thumbs-up and flip off protesters who decry your sport as dangerous bunk. If you hit the gesture just right, the spectators will topple off their balconies and fall with you (albeit without wingsuits). As they hit the ground, they break open, and are reborn as American Giant Hybrid sunflowers."

Curiously, you're rewarded for completing challenges during a successful run with human teeth that can be spent on unlocking extra content. Gloves that allow the aforementioned gestures and espresso shots that dilate time will be included among other items you'll be able to purchase with your fine collection of pearly whites (presumably culled from a medley of other people). Items and abilities you pick up later in the game will make revisiting earlier levels rewarding.

"For example, we've prototyped a grappling hook item. If that makes its way into the game - most likely after a player has unlocked everything else - it'll be possible to re-play a level called 'Samuel Clemens,' hook a floating sculpture of Mark Twain, and find treasure buried in his moustache." Lambe says. "Fans and protesters are an example of a goal that's visible initially - you see them in earlier levels, but to interact with them, you have to unlock the neon-yellow "Flip-It!" glove, and revisit those levels."

The developers are currently exploring a number of different play modes for Aaaaa!. Challenge maps will feature courses peppered with winding rings, colored scoring plates to break, and other obstacles not typically found in the general, freeform levels. A "Procedural Paaaaain!" mode, featuring levels where you'll fall infinitely through an algorithmically generated course gaining points until you crash, is also in the works. "Dan's rooting for "Birder Death Kill" mode, where angry crows try to murder you, and you must fight them off," adds Lambe.

Expect to find the team's sense of humor, perhaps in alarming quantities, popping up at regular intervals in the final game when it launches digitally on PC later this year. If that goes well, Aaaaa! could very well wind up on other game consoles, says Lambe. "We'll gather gamers and non-gamers together, feed them a lot of wine, and have them play a version of the game that recognizes Wii Remotes in order to find out if the experience translates over to the Wii properly." They'll do the same for the Xbox 360, he adds, only testers will be plied with ample quantities of Young's Double Chocolate Stout.

Nathan Meunier is a freelance writer, a regular contributor at The Escapist, and a die-hard indie gaming enthusiast. You can read more of his work at http://nathanmeunier.wordpress.com.

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