2013 IGF Finalists: Nuovo

Spaceteam

Teamwork is tough, and using teamwork to pilot spaceship is even more difficult. All those difficult scientific concepts. Spaceteam knows that, and has decided to simplify things for you by turning everything into technobabble! Of course, you still have to be next to your friends to play. The end result is a lot of swearing and yelling, plenty of tension, and a really incredible social game. As mentioned before, I really enjoy local multiplayer games, and Spaceteam takes it to the next level.

Spaceteam requires a group of players to link their iPods (or iPads, iPhones, whatever) together and atempt to pilot a spacecraft. The actual piloting process is driven by prompts players to fiddle knobs to specific settings. Unfortunately, you do not always get prompts for your own knobs and slider, but rather those of your teammates. Thus every game of Spaceteam quickly ends up a jumble of noise and swears as players relay instructions and get angry at their teammates. The actual mechanics of the game are very simple – just press these buttons when told to do so – but this human unreliability makes what could be tedious into something much more entertaining.

This is the most playable, entertaining game in this batch of Nuovo finalists. It uses simple, smart design to bring players together and make them incredibly angry at each other. While the feel of Spaceteam is similar to other games with a strong local multiplayer component, the subject matter and method of play makes it far more experimental than you might expect. Give it a try with three of your friends and see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed. In the game, at least; your friends might be a different story. You can download Spaceteam from the iOS App Store.

Vesper.5

Our lives our defined by rituals. Brush your teeth, take a shower, go to work, eat dinner, watch TV. Sometimes we add to these rituals as we discover new things. Vesper.5 is such an addition, and it aims to bring a sense of meditation and peace to your life through daily ritual. It is easily the strangest and most experimental of all the Nuovo finalists, but what use is the medium of games without some experimentation?

Vesper.5 is set in an abstract, low-fi world where you move a monk towards the right side of the screen. What makes it so intriguing, however, is the restriction: You may only move once a day. This makes even the simplest of choices become intensely meaningful, as the slightest mistake ends your involvement with the game for an entire day. Do you look at that plant? Do you make your way right regardless of anything in your way? Which branch in the path do you take? Regardless of you decision, you must wait 24 hours to continue on your path.

As it takes over a hundred moves to make it through Vesper.5 – if you know exactly what you are doing – playing it becomes a habit. A ritual, where for a few brief minutes you contemplate where to move and what to do as you enjoy the surreal visuals and serene audio. While it seems odd that what is essentially a toy has received so much attention (and a Nuovo nomination), it’s simply something none of us have played before. Sure, some games include things like first wins, but no game outright restricts access to once a day. You can download Vesper.5 from the developer’s site.

We’ve only got one set of games left! Tomorrow we tackle the Grand Prize nominees, and there are a some familiar faces in the bunch.

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