The Demo Of The Ball

By John Walker on November 5th, 2010 at 11:35 pm.

It's only a spoiler if you know, silly.

Just over a week back, Jim and I found ourselves recommending you play The Ball. A full-length first-person puzzler, which costs £15. “But £15!” you cried. “That’s enough to get almost one large pizza at Dominos!” You already know you like a large pizza at a price so unbelievably high that it makes your insides clench, but how are you supposed to know if you like The Ball? Well, listen, okay. It’s possible. There’s now a demo. It’s got a few levels, and one of the Survival maps, which seems like a reasonable chunk to whet appetites.

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68 Comments »

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  1. Toby says:

    Perfect!

  2. Flaringo says:

    hurrah, demo! Hope it’s got more than what we got to play in the mod version of The Ball.

    Also, the title made me think of Opeth’s “Demon of the Fall”, has it got anything to do with that? I mean, on one hand it’s painfully obvious, but on the other hand it’s not the reference I would expect to see here. Oh well.

    • PhiIl Cameron says:

      Alas, I think it’s as simple as John thinking ‘The Ball’ and ‘The Demo’ and making the correlation that they both have ‘The’ in them. Or we could pretend he’s into Orchestral Metal! Who knows?

    • Flaringo says:

      Yeah, going back to it now it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Especially considering the word “the” is not in the title of the song.

      Almost, though!

      Here’s the song anyways: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrBrH5PZtcc

      Great song!

  3. SquareWheel says:

    Awesome. I was curious about the game, but now I will know for sure.

  4. Brian Manahan says:

    Does this game have hats?

    • Oak says:

      The ball has a hat but it keeps falling off. Thus the challenge.

  5. ntw says:

    NHS staff get a discount @ Dominos

    B)

  6. Delusibeta says:

    Or, in my case, one and a half Domino’s pizzas. Hurrah for student discounts!

  7. BigJonno says:

    Dammit, now I want Domino’s pizza!

    • Matt says:

      Eww. Why?

    • Falcon says:

      As someone who hails from the city of Chicago this brings a tear to my eye. That we live in a world where the words I want Dominoes can be uttered, it is truly a tragedy.

    • panther says:

      Dominoes is great, and damn you if you say otherwise!

  8. medwards says:

    It’s kind of weird, but for the first time I’m kind of hurt by the price mockery going on here… I’m having some financial troubles lately and spending 15 quid on a game versus on food (even a fail pizza) just wouldn’t make sense. I know its less fun than making fun but it kind of sucks to read that and say ‘I still can’t afford to buy this game.’

    • pupsikaso says:

      You’re weird man. Any time I’m low on cash and want to buy a game, I always thing to myself: “Okay, guess today I just won’t really eat anything” and then I buy the game and the hunger goes away after a little bit of pain.

    • John Peat says:

      For £15 you can eat well for a WEEK – if you have anything else left then you think about games.

      Anyone spending £15 on a pizza knows fuck all about food or budgetting :)

    • Dave says:

      Very true. I’ve told many friends this, but they don’t want to admit it. “Groceries are so expensive it’s cheaper to eat out.” “Pre-packaged meals are so cheap it’s cheaper than making it yourself.”

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Jokes aside, pre-packaged meals are so full of salt they will kill your kidneys faster than just any undernourishment.

    • Urael says:

      My local supermarket does pizzas for £1.50 that are every bit as good as, if not better than, the outrageously expensive, calorie-laden junk pizzas you get from Dominos, or indeed any other pizza delivery outlet you care to name. Stick a couple in the freezer then when you need one, say when friends come round, and they take, what, 15 minutes to cook, tops? Faster than they get delivered, anyway.

      Store bought pizzas = Win, win, win. Surpassed only by the ones you make yourself. :)

      (Tee hee. Captcha = webz)

  9. John Peat says:

    I was in 2 minds about this game and the demo just puts me firmly into the “not really for me” one.

    I didn’t click with the puzzles at all (probably my bad) – the fuse one was particurly jarring tho as I did it a few times and because it didn’t work I assumed I was barking up the wrong tree.

    I also found the need to push the ball around but watch behind me etc. quite disorienting – that and the ‘brownness’ of the world left me feeling a bit nauseous after about 20 mins.

    Not actually a bad game by any means but I can’t help thinking a BIT more polish would have gone a long way – and I’d say the same about Killing Floor too, tbh.

    • Wulf says:

      The brown killed it for me, to be honest. On an aesthetic level, I found none of the screenshots or videos appealing. Did they really have to make it so brown? What’s the idea with that?

      It’s like my crazed shoutings of brown == mass mainstream appeal are actually true or something, but I’m not going to think like that, because then I’ll start taking myself seriously, and I’ll get sucked into some crazy vortex of narcissistic solipsism. Which isn’t really something you’d wish on your most unpleasant neighbour.

      Completely pointless self-deprecation aside though, I really must wonder… why so brown? Why is brown iconised so by the gaming industry? Well, more specifically, browns, greys, sepia colours, and variations thereof, you know the sort of thing I’m talking about. I had the same problem with Shank. If you’re going to put that much effort into animating something, is it that hard to watch a few episodes of Samurai Jack to see how you do it right?

      It’s like everyone is afraid of colours if they aren’t brown, grey, sepia, or some variation thereof, because having colours that aren’t brown, grey, sepia, or some variation thereof would be totally gay. And we can’t have that. No, we can’t have that at all. And we all know how much everyone hates that robot unicorn for being so damn gay.

      Note to developers: COLOURS ARE FUN. That is all.

    • Premium User Badge

      jaheira says:

      @ Wulf
      A muted palette seems far better for conjuring up a scary or intense atmosphere though. Amnesia for example, or better yet Metro 2033 which is immersive, beautiful and totally awesome. The colour scheme in Dragon Age also worked, setting an appropriately gloomy tone.
      Colours work better for something like King’s Bounty – also beautiful.

  10. The Dark One says:

    I think the important different between the pizza and the game is that the profits from The Ball won’t go towards Tom Monaghan’s dream of building a 25-storey-tall cross in Michigan.

    • John Peat says:

      Nor, in fairness, would the pizza as he’s got little to do with Dominos these days?

      Still – any risk of that sort of stupidity should tease you away even if the stodgy and mediocre pizzas overpriced to a farcical degree don’t :)

  11. Spliter says:

    Tested the demo out, my eyes are now bleeding.
    The gameplay is pretty good and the puzzles seem solid, but damnit my eyes hurt from playing it like they never had before (well except dorf fortress before I learned I could increase tile size)

    • DrazharLn says:

      I always thought it was a deliberate ploy by toady to make us feel a little of our poor dwarves’ pain.

      (I played 20 hours of Dwarf Fortress last weekend, I got it on the brain)

  12. pupsikaso says:

    As expected the ball is a real PITA to control. And that demo level! My gosh! You’d think a demo level would show off the best bits of the game, get the player all excited and wanting to play and buy the game. But no, let’s make it the most dreadful bore ever by having lots and lots of long walks with puzzles fit for a 5-year old at the end of each.

    I’ll have to try this survival mode tomorrow, but so far this game is shockingly mediocre.

  13. Matthew says:

    On a side note, the big The Ball ad in the background is totally huge but feels completely in character for the website, and actually adds a bit of flavor. Seems you’re finally getting the kinds of ads this site deserves.

  14. TCM says:

    It’s not the price of the pizza that causes my insides to clench.

  15. Quasar says:

    Having given the demo a fair run, I can safely say that it falls into exactly the same camp as Penumbra: A fun adventure/puzzle game, ruined by fiddly, pointless combat.

    Especially an issue here, because the only way to win fights with any degree of accuracy is to hold the ball in front of you the whole time, and swing it about like a club. The effect of this is actual physical pain in my eyes. Why can’t devs be confident enough to make games without trying to squeeze in combat?

    tl;dr verdict: I’m sure this game is very pretty, but I can’t see it from behind this giant ball I found.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      At least Penumbra was creepy.

      But hey, the guys who made the absolutely amazing Amnesia, so maybe these guys will come up with some gold next, too.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      crap, editting fail.

      Should read “these are the guys who…”

    • thebigJ_A says:

      and THAT should read, “thOse…”

      I’m gonna go to sleep now.

    • Eclipse says:

      nah, the best way to fight is NOT using the ball like a club, but shooting it and making it rolling back to you, going over the mummies that follows you too

    • blargh says:

      There is no best way to use the ball here.

      If the mummies get too close, you’re going to want to use it as a club.
      If they’re still far away, then you just send the ball at them and then call it back.

      Those buggers know how to dodge, too, so sometimes it is just easier to hold on to the ball until they get close.

    • Veeskers says:

      Combat in penumbra was purely optional and not encouraged at all. That still seems to pass people by (good thing they removed it).

  16. Gosh says:

    i thought the ball was just as fun as kicking a ball in front of you sounds like. really wish they would make a multiplayer version in the likes of Qpong if anyone remembers that one.

  17. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Homemade pizzas are the best pizzas. Excepting perhaps those from a -really- good Italian restaurant. That’s all I’ll say on that.

    • Harmen says:

      For a few years it is normal/trendy here to bake nice thin crispy pizza in wood-powered(?) ovens. Did the rest of the world miss out on this trend?

    • DrazharLn says:

      Where’s here? And how do you all afford wood burning ovens?

  18. faelnor says:

    The Ball is pretty much the gaming equivalent of Domino’s Pizza. Slightly overpriced, with nondescript, mediocre toppings and fat and drippy crust.

    Indies usually do more with less, but here the amount of polish and seriousness around a concept that is good but not great are really putting me off :(

  19. Alex Bakke says:

    You have no idea just how much guilt I felt reading that paragraph.

    (I ordered a large pizza from Dominos just last night)

  20. blargh says:

    I don’t know what you’re all on about.

    I actually enjoyed the game. Sure, the first 1 or 2 hours were boring, but once you got past that it really ramped up and showed how great it can be.

    • pupsikaso says:

      Too bad. Just like with any other type of media, if the game doesn’t make any effort to hook you in right away, then players just aren’t going to play it. If the demo shows me that the developers can’t be bothered to convince me that I should buy and play their game, then why should I make an effort to prove myself wrong?

      This is a real surprise coming from an indie studio.

    • blargh says:

      I sort of agree, but not fully. There are plenty of games that don’t hook you right from the get-go, but if you stick with them you find yourself greatly rewarded.
      STALKER was one such game, and what started out as something I loathed for the first couple of hours ended up being one of the most fascinating experiences in gaming I’ve had.
      The same can be said for The Witcher, very slow start with the prologue, had me greatly disappointed after anticipating it so anxiously, but then it got better and better with each chapter and ended up being one of my favorite RPGs to date. My most anticipated game right now is The Witcher 2… nothing else comes close.

      And those are just 2 games that I can mention, there are plenty more. Imagine what I would have missed had I not given them the chance.

      Just saying, don’t expect instant gratification in everything. Yes, they should have paced the game out more evenly especially with it being a short 6-hour experience, but in my opinion, it redeemed itself with what it offered eventually.

    • General George says:

      Different strokes for different folks, pupsikaso!

    • pupsikaso says:

      That sounds very naughty in my head.

  21. sbs says:

    I’ve been waiting for this, thanks for the news.

  22. trillex says:

    I do enjoy my £5 pizzas. So much for zero competition in the grand land of UK-land.

  23. Premium User Badge

    zak canard says:

    Never eaten a Dominos pizza and at that price I never will.

  24. Eclipse says:

    this game is great and quite original, go back to your CoD if you don’t like it. It starts slow but it’s very well made and worth every buck

    • blargh says:

      /Agree.

      Though, it would probably have made a better purchase at $15 instead of $20. Can’t say I regret spending the latter, but it would have held more value had it been slightly cheaper and would probably have had less people stuck on the fence.

    • Wulf says:

      Go back to a mostly brown and grey game if you don’t like mostly brown and grey games.

      Mmmh… Rather illogical there, Captain.

    • Heynes says:

      Because all brown ‘n grey games play alike, yes?

  25. westyfield says:

    Can I wait until Tuesday and buy two copies of The Ball?

  26. Dean says:

    John is spot on with that Dominoes pizza analogy.

    In that I’d never spend £15 on a Dominoes, I’d use one of the millions of buy one, get one free, £5 off, 3 for £20 etc offers that they shove through the door every week. And if for some reason I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t bother.

    In other words: waiting for the Steam sale.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Also, Dominoes Pizza sucks. I decided to try them out again after all their hype about making their Pizza awesome. It sucked big time.

  27. brulleks says:

    Shitty checkpoint system = nothankyouverymuch

    • blargh says:

      The save checkpoints are so well placed that I never felt that I missed a quick save function.

    • Bossman says:

      And even when you die, you never lose any progress because the enemies you killed stay dead and the puzzles you completed stay as completed.

    • brulleks says:

      @blargh

      Hmmm. I was put back a full ten minutes after dying – although that may have just been a problem with the demo.

      @Bossman

      Must admit, i didn’t bother pressing on after that so didn’t realise the enemies don’t respawn or that puzzles stay completed. Have to ask then – why put the player that far back if all you’re going to do is walk for about three minutes to get back to where you were? How can that be considered good game design? Still, better than the usual checkpoint system I guess but is it so difficult to implement quicksave?

      TBH I dind’t see anything much that convinced me I’d want to continue much further with it anyway. It was just… dull.

  28. ScubaMonster says:

    I love Tripwire. I play the hell out of Killing Floor. While this game doesn’t look like something I’d normally play, I’m going to give the demo a shot. Patiently waiting for them to finish the Red Orchestra sequel.

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    • DrazharLn says:

      Spam ^^

      Though it took me a while to realise, I thought they were trying to make a point about the pricing…

  30. fuggles says:

    Has crazy textures issues that almost caused me to seizure on the intro – not a good start. Didn’t enjoy it at all – swap the crappy hammer with the gravity gun from half life and you would improve it by roughly 104%. That and let me pick up the hat at the start ^^.

    How can this be honestly held up alongside portal? The protagonist is sole less and lacks any sort of amusing antagonist, which was the charm from portal (antag, rather than protag).

    • General George says:

      You’re right, fuggles, this game isn’t Portal! Or Half-Life. Well done, soldier!

      As regards the sole-less nature of The Ball’s protagonist… well, Chell didn’t have any soles, either! Not sure what that has to do with the quality of a game, but then again I am over a century old and probably out of touch with today’s gaming public!

    • fuggles says:

      oh yeah, its all about soles – thats why there are so many people selling Ugg boots on this site.

  31. lokimotive says:

    I got bored fairly quickly with the demo, mostly because of the puzzles. The writing, on the other hand, is just hilariously lazy. I suppose that the title should have tipped me off, but the first line is just great: “It looks like the crane broke. It will be a couple of days before we can repair it. Why don’t you go exploring down there?”

    Oh, yeah, THAT seems like a good idea.