The Games Of Christmas ’10: Day 11

By RPS on December 11th, 2010 at 12:30 pm.

ELEVENTY!

POWER. Everybody wants it, but no man should have so much of it. Just ask Kanye West. On the eleventieth day of Christmas, RPS thinks fondly back to our pursuit of it, at great expense to our foes.

GO GO MAGIC ELEVEN!

Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit’s: Plain Sight!

Quinns: No game has ever made me feel as pretty as Plain Sight does. Prettiness in games- it’s not really done, is it? We’re all about the boot-stomp and the big numbers, the bloodstained victory, the conversation and the demolition. If we encounter some pretty, it’s usually from unintentionally catching a day-night cycle’s sunrise. It’s an accident.

Plain Sight is no accident. Plain Sight’s thing, if you’re unaware, is robot deathmatch with katanas, but gravity is weak like a kitten and only pulls you towards the nearest flat surface. If you jump more than half way towards a ceiling, you finish your jump falling upwards towards it and landing on your feet, whereupon it becomes the floor. If you jump lightly off a platform that’s floating in space, you’ll land on the other side. Jump harder, and you’ll end up orbiting that platform. In Plain Sight, these zero-G acrobatics aren’t just encouraged, they’re unavoidable. With the neon streamer your robot leaves behind, you couldn’t be ugly in Plain Sight if you wanted to. But oh my goodness, you can be pretty. You can be exquisite.

You can end a duel where yourself and another robot are unintentionally tying your trails in a great two-tone knot by leaping off the level as hard as you can. All that blocking and dodging and attacking will abruptly dissolve into a long, gentle curve that’ll take you all the way around the level to a completely different location where it’ll probably be all skittish backflips and nervous lunges again. But any time you want another cut of peace, you just leap.

My favourite level in Plain Sight is a Capture The Flag map with two opposing castle, where the flag is actually kept on the moon that floats above each fortress. You climb the enemy castle all the way to the highest parapet, then perform a desperate leap of faith up towards the moon. Usually it’ll only just catch you in its gravity, causing a stomach-turning twist as you seemingly get pulled up into space before your robot glides around and around to land on the moon. Finally you grab the flag and look up at your otherworldly reward. From here you can see the whole level, both castles and all the battles happening between them, but now it’s your ceiling and everything’s happening upside-down. It’s utterly awe-inspiring. Plain Sight’s loaded with this stuff. One level is two giant floating cassette tapes with their tape spooled out to create two looping, curving pathways for you to leap between or around.

A game like Plain Sight makes you realise what games can do, or, more accurately, what they’re not doing. Games can model anything we can imagine, anything at all, and each year sees the release of HOW many games involving men with guns? Why isn’t low-gravity robot ninja suicide deathmatch a genre already? C’mon, developers. Pick it up.

Alec: Yeah, it’s that “why not?” ethos I was banging on about in regard to Recettear yesterday, this time painted in glorious abstract violence. Robots + swords + drunken gravity: why not?

There’s a satisfyingly organic quality to Plain Sight, which makes it far harder to understand through words than through play. Despite the easy attention-grabbing of robot/sword thing, it’s not at all dependent on a high concept. Rather, there’s a palpable sense of happy developers mashing a mixed pile of intriguing interactions mashed together and just seeing what manner of Frankenstein results. The result is a beautiful beast.

That pic’n'mix why not? DNA means this perhaps doesn’t suit intensive, grimly methodical play (something which slightly soured Plain Sight to me when I was reviewing it in a hurry for somewhere else). As I discovered upon returning to in on my own basis, it positively sings when treated as something to drop in and out of. Plain Sight’s idiom is ten minutes of sculpted madness, being guaranteed a breathless series of tiny adrenaline highs no matter what the outcome.

It’s built upon nearly-moments. Every single clash with an opponent is a pounding rush of near-victory or near-defeat, happening so quickly that it’s impossible not to have a dozen What Ifs? spasm across the canals of your brain in a split second – and always resulting in the clear, staunch conviction that in the next fight, your superiority will be without question. The freewheeling, zero-G strangeness of the maps only endorses that sentiment: this science-bending neon place is my playground. How dare anyone else seek to contradict that?

, .

43 Comments »

  1. Armyofnone says:

    So… you’re saying I should buy this game, then.

    • Popish Frenzy says:

      You should, if only to play with friends/rps. The public servers are pretty much dead in between steam sales. Was on offer a few weeks ago but as part of an indie bundle so dont think many gave it a look in, hopefully it’ll have its own thing this christmas. +1 for an rps game.

    • boldoran says:

      In the spirit of christmas I can offer the next person that writes their email or steam name down below a free gift of this game.

      As said above the idea and the look of the game are lovely. Still I feel the execution could have been better and there are not many people playing it anymore.

    • PodX140 says:

      PLEASE DON’T BE TOO LATE!

      Free stuff is always good!

      puma_1337

      And now I come across as a jackass. -_- I much appreciate the offer, if the game has already been given.

    • Boldoran says:

      I sent you an invitation on Steam. Accept it and the game shall be yours.

  2. Dood says:

    Fun little game. Unfortunately nobody seems to be playing it anymore. I guess we need to get some RPS people together for a few matches from time to time.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      It’s quite the decent game. However, like many decent games that rely entirely on multiple players being available to play at any given time, it suffers from not having quite enough of a fanbase to have other players available at all times, regardless of the quality of the game itself. Such is the catch-22 of indie multiplayer games.

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      RPS was discussing a game server, and what game to have.
      It should be this. Its number 11 for this year, its good, pretty, fun, doesnt get enough love, and maybe if there is a constant server, even if its just once a week, games will be played on it.

    • Nesetalis says:

      I just found this game yesterday, I love it.. but yes.. not enough people playing ;.; want more victims to my sexy sexy ninja!

  3. ChaK_ says:

    I want steam sales.

    That’s be the real games of christmass

  4. Premium User Badge

    Norskov says:

    I bought it in a sale, but haven’t played it much. It looks like a great game though. We should really try to get a RPS game together..

  5. Kdansky says:

    It’s great fun. I am in favour of a RPS game of the day, where we all go and play some game together that is not played much. PS is one of those that should come up on a regular base.

  6. Moni says:

    I got it the other week in the Steam sales.

    My short experience of it so far has been: Five minutes orbiting a platform, becoming very ill and having to lie down for the rest of the day.

  7. strange headache says:

    I dunno, the game was fun the first few hours but quickly started to get stale. Also it’s a little bit too frantic, and most of the time, you don’t really get what’s going on or what’s happening to you. The same kind of feeling you get after your eleventh beer.

  8. ShowMeTheMonkey says:

    Sorry to burst a bubble but this game has been dead for a long, long time…. I loved it a lot, but all of a sudden no servers, no players at all. They need to drop the price massively, but Beatnik games seem to have abandoned it. I would jump on a RPS game though!

  9. Altemore says:

    Surely, mirror’s edge and the like are games entirely centered around beauty in the german-fitness-instructor/nazi-eugenics-doctor “TRIM ZEH FAT OFF ZOSE ZIDES”-kind of way? Like a game about being an eight-year old forced to master ballet at the behest of your perfectionist parents, your reward being the cold embrace of a mother who sees you as a prize-winning steed, not a child? Man, that would rule

  10. Wizlah says:

    I’m looking forward to comparing this advent calendar to last year’s one. I’d forgotten about all the cool little things that happened this year, which in some ways are a better fit to my busy parent lifestyle. We’ll see when we get to the end, but it really feels like this year indie devs got a chance to shine, whilst the big boys did the same ol’ thing with varying degrees of success.

    This sounded brilliant when it came out, and if a group of RPS reader were going to start doing it semi-regularly, I might be up for it.

    Shame if all the servers have disappeared, mind.

  11. Severian says:

    God, I found this game frustrating. Quite beautiful, as has been mentioned, and deserving of attention to be sure – but demanding of a certain skill level that I was not dedicated enough to develop. Also, repetition. Also, vertigo. My wife can’t even watch me play FPS’s, she gets nauseated, and Plain Sight made me understand how she feels.

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    We will do a weekend of this soon.

  13. Auspex says:

    Wow there really isn’t a single person playing this. What a (very real) shame. The bots are terrible too. I wonder if this is kind of a problem with games journalism as well in that something that shone very brightly very briefly (when people actually played it) end up getting a disproportionate amount of praise as games journos mostly only play something at the height of its popularity (or with other journos).

    An RPS Plain Sight day evening is a splendid idea though.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      And how would they get players if not though media attention? Besides, praising a game like this, even if not successful, might put the idea in the minds of major developers who do have the marketing money to throw at such an idea.

  14. lostrootpass says:

    Bought it on sale a while back and have played it at LAN parties with a dozen other people. It is seriously great fun.

    Unfortunately, the public servers are nearly always dead. Still, even if you find one person to play it with and fill the map with a few bots, it’s excellent. Totally worth the £6.99 or however much it costs these days.

  15. jeremypeel says:

    I drop in and out of this with my younger brother from time to time; it’s perfectly suited for 20 mins after we get tired of being killed by kobolds in Baldur’s Gate.

    I think it’s success might have something to do with the amount of time the devs spent polishing it after the core concept was secured. I think Spy Party and Monaco might benefit from the same mindset. I really hope so.

  16. Beatnik Games says:

    :D

    Thanks RPS ! Made our christmas…

  17. Preciousgollum says:

    I have had absolutely no luck in getting this game to run. I barely ever have problems with games running but this sucker just won’t work. It crashes when trying to run any aspect of the actual game (menus are fine).

    System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.
    at PlainSight.UILayer.UnloadTextures()
    at PlainSight.GameplayScreen.UnloadContent(Boolean hardExit)
    at BeatEngine.ScreenSystem.ScreenManager.UnloadContent()
    at Microsoft.Xna.Framework.DrawableGameComponent.Dispose(Boolean disposing)
    at Microsoft.Xna.Framework.GameComponent.Dispose()
    at Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Game.Dispose(Boolean disposing)
    at Microsoft.Xna.Framework.Game.Dispose()
    at PlainSight.Program.Main(String[] args)

    Now, I actually know what some of that means (it means that an instance of a class is not being initialised) but, given that I have no access to the source code, this information does not help me. The forums suggest to update XNA components but they have been updated as much as possible except if I built a time machine to go to the future.

    I am pretty sure that an update is botching this game given that I can uninstall it in full from a previous state and yet after updating, if I attempt to uninstall, it leaves most of the files in the folder and they can only be uninstalled by special tools because they won’t allow the OS to do so.

    I was hoping I could download the most updated version from the site (since they could have botched the update) but the client on their site is outdated.

    I no longer have any idea what is going on…

  18. Starky says:

    DO NOT BUY THIS GAME unless it is very, very cheap [like a couple of quid], or you like playing against really crappy bots…

    It’s clearly been abandoned by the Devs, no one plays it, there are major issues with it running for many people.

    It’s a shame as it is a good little game, but even at a fiver I would not recommend it to anyone.

    • Sobric says:

      Hmmm, I’ve not had any problems and at least one Dev seems to be reading this very article here.

      Also, it’s hardly Developer abandonment if there are no players on the servers is it?

  19. noodlecake says:

    Gah! I bought it, played for a few hours and just repeatedly got killed without getting chance to really do anything. I suck at online fast paced games… :( Give me CivRev on Xbox360 any day of the week. The only game I’ve ever actually managed to win at online.

  20. rocketman71 says:

    Wow, Plain Sight, I am pleasantly surprised to see it in the list!.

    Yeah, it’s a very good game, but… it barely has people playing online anymore, and you NEED to play with your friends and/or people with more or less the same level of play than yours. Otherwise, you’ll go online, and the 2 or 3 people that have played this to death will completely and utterly rape you. And I mean RAPE. You will die and die and die until you leave the server tired of just dying and going into other people’s enormous explosions.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next game from this dev. I really liked this one.

  21. Vinraith says:

    I bought this one for $2 off Gamersgate ages ago, I’ve literally never been able to get it to run.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Scandalon says:

    I really wonder if this would have been better being a Unity/Flash/HTML5ofthefuture in-browser type thing. Get it on kongregate/newgrounds, pop in to play on your lunchbreak…

  23. Premium User Badge

    DarkNoghri says:

    Finally got around to playing this last weekend at a local lan party with a few other folks. It was quite fun, hilarious, and they were all better than I was. Though I still blame that on my laptop more than anything else.

  24. preciousgollum says:

    I have found the problem. Basically, if you have downloaded an older version than 1.2.0.2 then the 1.2 update doesn’t work correctly. The client on the official website is outdated so this will run into problems. I am able to run a ‘cracked’ (I have paid for this game and am logging in using a serialised account that I paid for) version absolutely fine because it is the latest version.

    If anyone from Beatnick Games is reading this again then I would please ask the team to include the most updated version of the game on their website and provide access to the latest client for Digital Distribution retailers (I think that Steam is supposed to be fine however there is no facility to activate my serial on the service). I would also provide the advice of thoroughy checking patching methods and use examples outdated clients for testing before releasing such updates.

    To summarise, I can only run this game using a pre-compiled client rather than through updates. It is currently difficult to obtain said client. I believe that this is the most likely cause for a lacking user-base.

    P.S: If anybody is having the problems that I have explained in the previous post then, and I advise discretion, search for the 1.2.0.2 client to download. The preferred option is obviously for beatnick games to fully resolve this issue.

    • Robin says:

      That’s really helpful, thanks for looking into that. We’ll look into fixing the issue on monday. The steam version of the game is the most tested because 99.9% of our sales come from that platform.

      Anyone having issues with their version from an alternative digital distribution platforms please email me on support@beatnikgames.co.uk with their serial number. I’ll send them a Steam Key

  25. Tunips says:

    Serious Sam had mad gravity nonsense. It was glorious.
    It was bitterly disappointing to realise – half way into the second game – that the HD remakes lack that feature completely.

  26. Alkaseizure Megadonkey says:

    Considering that RPS is generally anti-Lists (a position I agree with!), it’s interesting to see these series of posts. Just because you spread it out over a couple weeks and do it in reverse order, a list it still does make.

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    ffordesoon says:

    “Plain Sight’s thing, if you’re unaware, is robot deathmatch with katanas…”

    WAIT WHAT WHY DO I NOT OWN THIS GAME