Admire The View: Vectorpark’s Windosill

By John Walker on April 29th, 2009 at 11:42 am.

Stop fixing them!

Vectorpark (Patrick Smith), creator of 2007’s wonderful Feed The Head, offers a gorgeous new downloadable Flash game: Windosill. It’s the gentle tale of a small toy car, quietly trundling its way through a series of screens, each requiring exploration and interaction to discover a small white cube that will unlock the next room. This begins in what might well the shelves of a child’s bedroom, but very quickly enters the amorphous reality that makes Smith’s games so distinctive.

Windosill is certainly more coherent and intuitive than Feed The Head. The latter is a sublime and surreal experience, where abandoning reason leads you toward change. Windowsill is more reminiscent of 2005’s Park, but with a much more straightforward sense of progression. It’s closer to puzzle solving, but still requires a dream-like logic to understand.

Clicking on objects in the world has them display their behaviour, and when revealed you can begin to apply it practically. So, for instance, you might see a blob-shaped tower with a ball on a stalk coming out of the top. Tug the stalk to ring a bell and a bird’s head appears from a window. There’s a cloud near the tower, so click on that to create rain. The rain makes a puddle, which if splashed in enough will reveal a worm. Give the worm to the bird (making sure to fight with it a bit, stretching the worm out as the bird pulls back, showing off the physics really nicely) and the bird will reappear with the cube in his beak.

The birdy friend.

The real joy is in the details. Move your car back and forth, and the bird will follow it around the screen with his head, tugging the entire tower along with it. Once it has the cube in its beak, the bird will follow your cursor, his huge black eyes conveying a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm. There for just one screen, it bubbles with character. There’s so many other lovely moments to share, but the pleasure is in discovering them for yourself.

Many familiar character and shapes from previous Vectorpark games appear. For instance, there’s a cute reference to Feed The Head in the opening screen with a collection of jointed legs and a bouncing ball – something that will make sense to anyone who’s seen the astonishing keepy-uppy in my favourite moment of FTH.

Feed The Head gets pretty damned weird.

The quality is constantly stunning, Smith seeming to be a stage ahead of others with his neat, detailed Flash creations. The tangibility of everything, the sense of weight and gravity, elasticity and rigidity, makes the creation so much more satisfying to play with. It’s enormously cute, and in this case surprisingly simple.

Smith has chosen to make Windosill the first game he’s charging for. The first half is free to download, the second half quickly opened up with a Paypal/Google Checkout payment of $3 (£2.10). For such a low price, it’s pretty hard not to want to throw money at the guy for his beautiful creations, despite the game’s brevity.

The starting area has so much to play with.

Windosill is adorable – it’s more toy than game, and delightfully so. While I think Feed The Head is a more remarkable experience, it’s certainly less coherent, and while Park is more intricate, it’s also much less playful. However, check them all out, along the mobile balancing game, Levers (talking of which, can anyone get past the god head bit?).

Big thanks to both Eric Dixon and Lisa Evans for linking this to us.

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31 Comments »

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  1. MacBeth says:

    Really is beautifully done – we make rubbish (in comparison) Flash games for kids at work and this knocks them into the proverbial cocked hat.

    PS: Yay a linking credit for me (the not-Lisa-Evans one). If only there was some kind of Blue Peter style RPS badge that came with it. Still, the knowledge that I have fed the hive mind will sustain me.

  2. MonkeyMonster says:

    Poured some more nutrient broth into the brain canisters…

  3. Gap Gen says:

    I… I think I won Feed the Head.

  4. Tunips says:

    It doesn’t download for me. I press the button, am asked where I want the file to go, and then nothing happens. Anyone got a direct download link?

  5. Lh'owon says:

    Are you sure it hasn’t downloaded? It didn’t show anything visibly download for me either, but after selecting where to save it to the .exe appeared there after a few seconds.

    Wonderful game though the first half was disappointingly short (though in the sense that it was so brilliant I just wanted to keep playing).

  6. El Stevo says:

    I’m stuck on the third room :(

  7. Tunips says:

    @Lh’owon: Hey, look at that, it did. Completely bypasses all reasonable expectations of behaviour. It is fitting.

  8. Psychopomp says:

    Tunips, check the area you downloaded it too, it’ll be there.
    I thought the same thing, went to my desktop and it was just waiting there,
    Quite lovely, by the way.

  9. Lewis says:

    This is just beautiful. Disappointed by its extreme brevity, but loved every second.

  10. Induced says:

    played trial, bought, finished, loved.

  11. Valentin Galea says:

    These will be the best 3$ you will ever spend!:)

  12. Mrs. Lovefist McManburger says:

    Oh, wow! Incredibly lovely! ♥

  13. kobzon the grumblin' baboon says:

    Niiice. Made me once again think why, say, an hour-long game is perceived as short, compared to an hour-long cartoon. Surely it’s not just the habit. Cartoons are a passive entertainment, but they require more attention. Games have some limited interactivity and the player’s mind is not entirely hypnotised by the constant information flow. In this way, games have more in common with work than entertainment. This is the “Valve” way of game design: bugger the player then show him some shiny new location and a bit of a story. The gameplay is boring and the whole affair sucks (…)

    So, one of the the reasons why I don’t like overly short games is that games put you in a sort of a work cycle. You learn the basics and apply them, only the “work” is actually the “game”. Premature ending in a game is like getting sacked all of a sudden.

    Designers, work on the evolution of gameplay over the course of the game, and don’t forget to give a hint when the end is near!

  14. Lewis says:

    I wonder if there’s something that magically triggers in our brains when we play something that is being charged for, no matter how low that amount is. For not much more than two quid, it’s hardly worth considering whether you paid for it or not. And if this were absolutely free, I almost certainly wouldn’t complain about the length – except because I genuinely wanted it to continue.

    But charging at all seemed to flip a switch in my brain that said “it’s okay to feel hard done by if it’s really short.” Which is a bit silly, since I happily paid a fiver for The Graveyard, which lasts a couple of minutes. I don’t know why this is different. Hmm…

    I’m still happy I bought it and would encourage others to do the same.

  15. noggin says:

    it’s just totally delightful

  16. Alexx Kay says:

    Bother. I also am stuck on the third screen. (Green polygons on stalks.)

  17. Tei says:

    hummm… interesting thing

  18. not the rob with a pony says:

    Thanks for flagging this one up RPS. It is lovely.

  19. Max says:

    It’s so very pretty. The physics are quite excellent as well.

  20. not the rob with a pony says:

    Oh wow, the bit with the three monsters. That was amazing. If anyone is thinking of spending $3 on this and they enjoyed the demo, there is no question. The full thing is wonderful.

  21. Phil says:

    “I wonder if there’s something that magically triggers in our brains when we play something that is being charged for”

    Yes, there is. See this article for a few examples: http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/the-power-of-free.htm

  22. Voice of the Majority says:

    Beautiful and inventive. The second half is well worth the money. Besides what’s three bucks for us europeans…more like two bucks.

  23. Obdicut says:

    Anyone on the third room:

    The mouse pointer really is acting like a physical grabby hand. So the way that you push and pull matters. A sharp jerk is different than a steady pull.

    Hope that’s not too spoileriffic.

  24. elisa says:

    hello!
    i am from germany, but i have brought windstill for 3 $. and i can’t know the answer at the game. can you send me the answer? (lösung auf deutsch),please?

    • Fried again says:

      Elisa, what do you mean by the ‘answer’?
      Do you mean the solution or end of game?
      Or do you mean the registration key?

      Sorry I don’t speak Deutsch

      Barrie

  25. Connor says:

    I really enjoy your games and would love to see windosill made into a version that can be purchased on the App Store for the Ipod Touch and Iphone. It’s a huge market there and I think you would make a killing, judging on the other popular apps :)

  26. noggin says:

    I just noticed that the free version of Windosill is now available online – no download required!

  27. Fried again says:

    Beautiful game, nice physics, great design and a bit haunting, like a weird dream.

    I got to the spiral ramp with the truck on it, going up the ramp to the top where the ramp unfolds and it all goes black – Q. is that the end of the game??

  28. cocoyam says:

    I remember happening upon Vectorpark when looking up some detail of physics. Levers was addicting, and that led me to the rest of Smith’s works. Kudos.
    No, I could not get past the God head. Despite trying for quite a while. :(

  29. JR says:

    there just aren’t enough hooks for the god head part! wtf?!?

  30. Cat says:

    JR, probably you left something in the water too long and it sunk. (Yeah, they can do that!) Also…consider alternate placement of that snowman hat ;] (I’m suggesting it doesn’t have to take up a hook…does that help? It can rest on something else…) So, then you should have enough hooks.