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Mark Healey’s Beta Picks

Oooooh!Christmas sometime in the eighties, I unwrapped a Commodore 64, it was meant as a present for the family, but I knew this baby was mine. My Step dad had bought it on Hire Purchase, maybe because he felt guilty about giving away our Binatone (I think it was a binatone) video game console in a game of cards – I only got a chance to play that a couple of times, but that was enough to get my imagination fired up.
A commodore 64 was a different league though – I’d heard rumours that you could create your own games on it – making your own pictures move on the T.V! – this was magic, and I had to have some of that action.
Turn it on, and it would boldly claim ‘READY’.
Oh YEAH!
A mate of my step dad helped me type in my first program, it went something like this;

10 PRINT “HOW ARE YOU?”
20 INPUT A$
30 IF A$ = “GOOD” THEN PRINT “I’M HAPPY THAT YOU ARE GOOD”
40 if A$ = “ROUGH” THEN PRINT “WHAT DID YOU GET UP TO LAST NIGHT THEN”

Pretty simple, but I was instantly hooked, I needed more information…

Oooooh!For My Birthday, I received a book and tape combo ‘Start programming with Gortek and the Microchips”, and quickly devoured the knowledge held within, before long I had made my first game – a text based adventure which I called ‘Agrophobia’ – it had three locations to visit, and involved doing very crude & rude things to escape your house – I managed to sell two copys(for £1.50 each)to some school mates, complete with photo copied cassette inlay, I was proud of myself, I felt empowered somehow, a magical kind of feeling.

I was very disappointed when I bought my first console (A SNES) – sure, Super Mario was possibly one of the best games I’ve played, it’s certainly one of the only games I’ve ever played through to the end – but where’s the message that says ‘READY’ when I turn it on – where was Gortek and his friends? How on Earth does one go about making stuff for this beast?

Fast forward 25 years, and here I am with a bunch of mates running a games company. I’m not entirely sure what reasons they have for doing what they do, but I have a single mission in my heart,  fuelled by the nostalgia of that magical feeling I had all those years ago – to make it as easy as possible for anyone to create the many varied experiences that come under the phrase ‘Video Games’.

When I see what people are creating with LBP2, my heart is filled with Joy – the creativity and inventiveness that is shining through really reminds me of those early home computer days – people constantly pushing the boundaries of what one might think is possible with a limited piece of technology – an era that gave birth to the monster that is the games industry today, who knows what todays LBP creators will give birth to in the future!
Here are just a few examples of beta creations that have brought a smile to my face. I’m off for a cup of tea with Gortek now, see you later.
Marcos.

Danse Macabre

Danse Macabre

by IceMaiden

5 stars

A Musical Movie. Danse Macabre composed by Saint Saens. Inspired by the artwork of Jan Piankowski. Music created by Khalith_ http://beta.lbp.me/v/5vnp

Not a game, more a short piece of animation – I love the atmosphere they’ve managed to create, the music sounds great (nice use of the music sequencer) it all feels like some magical shadow puppet theatre – the shapes used to make the silhouettes are all very pleasing too – great art style – this feels like the title sequence to a Tim Burton film or something, loved it.

Grid Shooter

Grid Shooter

by Ayneh

5 stars

Fast arcade action with tons of enemies! Can you beat the highscore? Left stick to move, X to shoot. http://beta.lbp.me/v/x-kw

This really tickles my nostalgia sensors, reminded me of something Jeff Minter might have made back in the 80’s. (Jeff Minter was a kind of video game rock star for me back then – he was famous (and still is in some circles) for bringing psychodelia to compter games – a sort of pixelly Pink Floyd . Something I love about a lot of early video games (robotron is a good example) is the Zen like state you can get into when playing them - they’re so mental that you don’t have time to think about your next move, you just have to feel your way, let your reactions do their stuff, no monkey brain thoughts getting in the way

sackFlower [LBP2]

sackFlower [LBP2]

by RaphaeI

5 stars

Again, a tribute to the Jenova Chen and TGC game, Flower. Tilt to soar over the field and gather flowers as the environment changes. You proceed automatically. Play to the end (4 min.) or quit with L3 to save your score. SP only. Relax and enjoy. http://beta.lbp.me/v/186g

How on earth this was achieved I do not know, something to do with the ’50 layer bug’ I expect – the thing I like about this is it reminds me how back on the c64, every now and then , someone would discover an accidental ‘BUG’ in the hardware , which enabled people to do things that were once thought impossible. Maybe life is like that.

The Lost (DEMO)

The Lost (DEMO)

by standby250

5 stars

Detective Game I'm making based on Heavy Rain. This level includes only the prologue - tell me what you think! http://beta.lbp.me/v/1b4j

This is a very slick piece of work, I love the title screen with wibbly writing, and the atmosphere in the game is fantastic – building an interface on top of sackboys standard controls is really nice, and the transistions from room to room make the thing feel very special. I Hope this creator makes this into something bigger – definatly a talented guy (or Gal?). I discovered this one on youtube, and the thing I love most is the commentary – there are some classic moments in there, really made me laugh out loud.


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