Goodness: I Really Want To Play Zineth

By Nathan Grayson on May 24th, 2012 at 10:00 am.

Dystopic overtones blah blah blah whatever. This is actually a game about saying 'wheeeeeeee' a lot.
“What is love?” I sometimes ask myself while sipping priceless wine from a priceless chalice made of reasonably priced recyclable goods and chuckling condescendingly at the metaphysical works of Plato and Aristotle. Of course, I already know the answer: Slavish devotion to someone’s most specific desires without any compromise whatsoever. Ergo, by that utterly flawless logic, developer Arcane Kids loves me. Its debut, a two-month student project that goes by the name Zineth, looks like a mix between Jet Set Radio‘s rocket-powered rollerblading, Crackdown‘s Death-provoking acrobatics, and Antichamber‘s off-kilter sense of style. So basically, everything I’ve ever cared about. Obviously, such a short development period means the end result will probably be pretty simple, but I can’t help but like what I’m seeing here. Jet grind past the break to check it out for yourself.

Speaking with Indie Game Magazine, Arcane Kids explained that there’s also a plot helping people readjust to real life after the world’s been ravaged by a dystopic, maniacally ubiquitous, er, cell phone game. It all sounds pretty heavy handed, but hey, the cell phone game’s playable. So that’s kind of neat.

As of now, Zineth doesn’t even have a website, but it’s apparently undergoing some final pre-release control tweaks, so it should be out soon. Which is nice, because – as I’ve uncovered during my Ruminations – true love should neither be patient nor understanding.

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67 Comments »

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  1. Finbikkifin says:

    I’m not sure I understand. Understand the concept of love, that is. I should probably just stop playing games.

    • somini says:

      Love is free…

      • Finbikkifin says:

        Sounds a bit tame, eh?

        (I just found my old xbox, two giant controllers and a copy of JSRF, this weekend is going to be sweet)

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      tikey says:

      Love is making a shot to the knee.

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        Love is making the shot to the knee’s of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech Sniper-Rifle with a Tri-Lite scope.

        Love is knowing your target, putting them in your targeting reticule, and achieving your purpose- against statistically long odds.

    • Vagrant says:

      To understand the concept of love, you’ve got to fly like a butterfly.

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      lasikbear says:

      You’ll just need extra sugar, extra salt, extra oil and MSG.

      Its my 30th birthday.

  2. Squire says:

    Looks good, reminds me of Lylat Wars a bit too. Also, a trailer for a game with unusual yet fitting music, hurray.

  3. Breadline says:

    For some reason this just reminds me of how much I liked Sonic Adventure 2.

  4. roryok says:

    reminds me of this one time I had a really bad fever

  5. Nighthood says:

    What is love?

    Baby, don’t hurt me.

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      TheApologist says:

      Don’t hurt me…no more

      • TsunamiWombat says:

        Oh, I don’t know why you’re not there
        I give you my love, but you don’t care
        So what is right and what is wrong
        Gimme a sign

        • Bweahns says:

          Wow what a co-incidence. I seriously had Haddaway playing when I noticed this article. I also received guff from my mate on teamspeak when I hit my push to talk and he could hear it.

          Let it not be said that Haddaway is a not a good man.

  6. kallo says:

    like your flying in a Moebius painting:P

  7. ribobura osserotto says:

    Hold on, why would you want to play a game that looks like a modern Sonic the Hedgehog game if it had artwork designed by an autistic child?

    Goddamn graphic hipsters, I swear. Learn the difference between good cell-shading and lazy-pretending-to-be-artsy graphics.

    • Jorum says:

      Because it looks like it may capture the joys of movement and control, and is visually interesting
      (and thereby reminding us that games are a medium in which it’s just as easy to make the weird and fantastical as it is to make the realistic)
      Something that I am all for given the woeful lack of imagination and vision most games present us with.

      But maybe you’re right and we should just stick to the false dichotomy of gritty realism or WOW cartoonism.

      • ribobura osserotto says:

        That’s a very nice strawman argument, if I ever saw one. I don’t remember implying that we should either play games with realistic graphics, or full-on comic cartoon style. You are the one who brought up this dichotomy, while I merely posited that the game looks ugly as hell, from a more or less objective point of view, and is trying to pass ugliness as a “original graphic style” so you “artistic” kids will eat it all like if it was the best thing ever concocted by the hands of a man. It is much like how chinese toys usually come wrapped in bright packages so that kids will buy ‘em, no matter how shoddy their quality is. I mean, just look at those sand textures; look at how horrible most of the colour combinations are in every structure or building. It looks like they picked their palette from 5 year old’s colouring book.

        There are 1000 different ways to keep your graphics minimalistic and good-looking at the same time. Look at art style on Eskil Steenberg’s LOVE for instance. Fairly simple, and heavily-stylized but nevertheless, quite pleasing to look at; very well picked pastel tones put together with a blurry graphics filter, so it appears similar to a van gogh painting. Or look at Nitronic Rush, yet another stylized game which just looks fantastic.

        Learn that trying to be artistic, imaginative, minimalistic, or attempting to convey a “feel” isn’t an excuse to make your game look bad and lazy, which is what Zineth looks like. And given that apparently gameplay isn’t that much original either, i.e, it’s freakin’ Sonic Adventure with bad graphics, I really don’t see why one should pick this, over, well, anything!

    • BigJonno says:

      I’ve known some autistic kids who had a good deal of artistic talent. Just saying.

    • Terragot says:

      besides, the graphics look very functional here, for example:

      the trails from the skates remain in play even after time rewind – a good visual artefact to show the user their previous error.

      the colour contrast clearly sections away danger, game elements and environment – look to Quake 3 on a professional level, or how Warsow fixed the problem of needing to play without textures rendered.

      the character design visually explains the slow fall speed, it has a slight wing-span and even expands the limbs when in flight.

      again readability, I can see which textures are rough sand terrain and which are smooth solid flats. This is achieved without even using any normal mapping, that’s impressive.

      So it’s not hipster laziness, it’s the results of a really long and analytical process called game development. Hipsters don’t generally make games, useless 10 second comments wry with the sentiment ‘I’m above this art style – if you’ll even call it that – grade condescension are more in-line with useless hipster trash.

      • ribobura osserotto says:

        I could make a game entirely out of stick figure graphics that could be perfectly functional and readable. Paint all the obstacles red, all safe zones green, with a whole white background, so my black character would be perfectly distinguishable. Would it look good however? No. Neither this does.

        Readability and aesthetics are not a mutual excuse for the lack of each other, which is why you can have games that may have stunning artwork, yet are not always enjoyable to look at. In this case I don’t think readability is even that good. Just look at the screenshot posted; bright blue with dark red contrast tires your eyes immensely if flicked at high speeds, much like it’s bound to happen in this game. In fact it’s the kind of stuff that easily triggers epileptic seizures.

        How’s that for a 10 second comment? Just so you learn it’s not really matter of trying to discredit an art style as of being too lowly for someone. It is a matter of being able to distinguish between good food and turd on a plate, and to distinguish between a valid argument and a childish ad hominem.

        And hipsters do make video games by the way (heck, take a look at Phil Fish!). Often bad ones, with cheap graphics trying to pass on as “retro” and “artistic” and weird gimmicky mechanics, frequently applied to add a twist to a otherwise overdone genre, such as the 2D platformer. These also tend to be hastily programmed in such tools like Game Maker, but hey who needs compatibility and performance these days right? Somehow we have taken the bad habit of calling most of these games “indie”, even though this could be considered an insult to real hard-working indie developers who put effort in every aspect of their games. Not me though. I think these guys, these “art gamers” as they sometimes like to be known, deserve a whole category of their own. Hipster games: where the philosophy and message underneath it becomes more important than the quality of gameplay and graphics.

    • Hendar23 says:

      My friend, if you don’t want to play a game that looks like a modern Sonic the Hedgehog game if it had artwork designed by an autistic child, then I would respectfully suggest you are visiting the wrong website.

      IGN, perhaps?

      • ribobura osserotto says:

        Since when playing games have anything to do with reading news sites? I humbly suggest you to get a new brain, my good man, as yours clearly appears to be faulty.

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      maninahat says:

      I’m inclined to see it your way (if not as vociferously).

      I like stylish graphics and colourful settings, but I like some familiarity as well. I could get bored very quickly of these vibrant, yet generic looking graphics. Its like an endless gallery of Jackson Pollock paintings.

    • misterT0AST says:

      I don’t like that kind of abstract graphics either, but there’s no way to tell whether the developers are “lazy” or they just like that kind of graphics for their game.
      And it is plausible that a lot of people wouldn’t actually mind those simple graphics.

      So don’t go around judging things you can’t even be sure of, like other people’s intentions.

      • ribobura osserotto says:

        Yes you can, over the simple fact that the graphics are undeniably ugly, and the developers are trying to pass it as a style of its own, much like Notch justifies Minecraft still having butt-ugly programmer graphics, with the whole “retro-looks” thing.

        What really makes the difference here is that the “style” is what the devs are using to get attention in articles such as this one. Not the gameplay or the mechanics, since they have been done pretty much in every Sonic game since the early 2000’s. It’s a pure case of style over substance, only there isn’t any style either, but rather a fake attempt at it. And this is what annoys me. Is that these people take the easy, exploitative way to achieve quick success, and the sheer fact that most people can’t see through this, literally praising everything that looks cell-shaded and abstract. So anyone can pretty much pass every kind of crap-looking game as “stylized”, “retro-innovative” or whatever other buzz words you can think of, as long as you texture it with primary colours, and apply a nice coat of exaggerated shaders to finish it off, much like how kids who make bad photoshop montages randomly insert a bunch of lens flares on the image to make it look cool.

        • Brun says:

          To be fair to Notch, Minecraft’s blockyness is a technical (not an artistic) limitation. Minecraft is voxel-based, which necessitates the use of “blocks” to construct assets.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            How do you explain all high-res texture mods for Minecraft then? Because there are a lot of them you know.

          • Brun says:

            I always assumed the textures were intentionally low-res to make them “blocky”, thus fitting into the “block” theme of the game.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            Only they look ugly and outdated. I wasn’t arguing over the fact that everything looks cubic in Minecraft. That’s perfectly acceptable, given the voxel-based mechanics, like you said. It’s how the game was made. The programmer graphics here are the textures. They look bad and there was absolutely no effort made to improve them, even though Minecraft made millions of dollars to Mojang and even though plenty of modders realeased their own texture packs that look way as better than the default ones regardless of the natural blockiness of the game. Then again, Mojangbarely improved gameplay either, so their current priorities pretty much consist on shitting on their own fanbase, which will likely interpret it as a god-given rain of stinky chocolate sauce.

          • Brun says:

            My point was that the textures were low-res to create a “cubic” look to the textures themselves. Which is, indeed, a stylistic choice. But a valid one, I think.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            They weren’t. They were created that way because Notch isn’t a graphic artist and couldn’t do it in any other way when he started development on Minecraft, by the time he was a sole developer. Which is why we call those “programmer graphics”. They are meant to be a temporary placeholders until you can get someone else to improve them.

            So yeah, this is perfectly acceptable if you really can’t do any better. But given that they are selling Minecraft as a full-blown, FINISHED product, and have to nerve to justify and promote the original programmer graphics as a “style choice”, one really has to be beyond gullible to pass this situation as acceptable.

            Again, allow me to rediect you to this wonderful Minecraft 1.0 review. It explains the whole situation in detail, and how every Minecraft player should get the head out of his ass:

        • David Shute says:

          I think it’s beautiful. I guess that makes me a hipster. I guess I’ll have to buy some skinny jeans and a flat cap in the morning.

          Or, y’know, maybe aesthetics are subjective? No, that can’t be right.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            It doesn’t make you a hipster, but hey, a lot of people have bad taste and like crap art. That, however, doesn’t necessarily make said art good, when it comes to certain objective aesthetic principles, such as line and colour balance, and their respective consequences on the presentation of the work as a whole.

            Yet some people just can’t seem to understand why Mona Lisa is worth more than a drawing their kids just pasted on the refrigerator’s door.

          • David Shute says:

            I thought I had a pretty well developed aesthetic sense, but clearly I was wrong. I’m lucky to have you to tell me what I should think.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            There’s a difference between “telling others what to think”, which is often met with well justified objections, and “point out when they’re clearly wrong about something, and supply it with valid reasons”. The lack of logic arguments to counter my positions kinda hinges evidence on the second, so far.

          • David Shute says:

            Hey, no need to be mean, I’m agreeing with you. I’m burning my paintbrushes as I speak. Seems like I’ll have to find a new job though – is there much money in spurious internet arguments?

          • David Shute says:

            Ok that was snide, but it’s hard not to read “but hey, a lot of people have bad taste and like crap art.” as a personal attack. I really didn’t want to get into a tiresome debate about the nature of art on a videogame forum, but I’ll bite just this once…

            There’s no such thing as “objective aesthetic principles” – that’s just a cowardly way of rephrasing “what I think art should be.” Your argument is simply that you don’t like certain art styles, and want to insult everyone who does, disingenuously couched in a smug, bullish pseudo-intellectualism.

            You are not the arbiter of aesthetic acceptability. People are going to like things that are different from the things you like, and that doesn’t make either of you wrong. You’re just going to have to learn to deal with that.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            >There’s no such thing as “objective aesthetic principles” – that’s just a cowardly way of rephrasing “what I think art should be.

            And that’s just a cowardly way of excusing poor standards with good ol’ post-modernism. There’s a reason why we have those you know? So other people don’t get eyesores everytime they go to an art exhibit. Of course these things are not solid rules, but theres this inherent sense of balance on what looks good, and what makes you puke. If you don’t believe me, allow me show you some examples. I already explained on previous posts how bad the red & bright blue contrast is, given that it may actually have serious consequences on the viewers disposition, and if you look again at the same screenshot, posted on this same article, you can also notice a few other bad things, such as the poor quality of the sand textures and how the shaders over them look like oil spots when seen at a distance (you can see that with more detail at 0:04 and at 0:43 in the video. In fact you can actually see the shaders clipping horribly in a series of triagles at 1:00). All of this added to the extreme brightness of most colours, and the apparent speed of gameplay is a short route to give you a bad case of nausea, if you’re a sensitive person. Keep in mind video games are not a static medium, which is why you should avoid an excess of brightness. This why games like REZ and Nitronic Rush feature a black background, as too compensate for the constant overflow of neon effects popping on screen.

            But here, let me show you some more examples. Starting on 0:20 you can see how the variety of colours often affects readability when sliding through structures. It’s actually hard to distinguish your character when he passes through a bright blue patch or some other similar tone. The constant flicking of colours adds to this problem and saturates the screen. If you look at 0:32, when he’s sliding sideways you see that the green sky combined with the blue and magenta structure actually easily distorts your sense of direction for a moment, because all colours are equally bright, so there’s really no way to tell what is actually part of the structure. The game also features a lot outlines that are equally bold; when these are crowded together, they make the screen seem disorganized and messy ensemble.

            Now let’s compare all this to a game that actually features similar scenarios: ThatGameCompanies’ Journey. Journey also takes place on a desert with a greenish sky too, only its palette choice is specifically made so it wont hurt your eyesight, despite the contrasts between the cream sand and the soft green sky. This selection of simple soft pastel tones make the game very easy to read and does not wear your eyesight at all, even when picking up speed during sand-slide sequences, and despite a few often strong lighting reflections. Zineth, on the other hand mixes an unorthodox amount bright colours and throws radical changes of perspective to the formula, often having your character moving sideways and upside down, at great speed. This is enough to completely shatter you sense orientation, which, in turn, will have serious consequences on the gameplay experience.

            Learn that art styles aside, there are consequences for your artistic choices, especially when dealing with a dynamic and interactive medium like video games. Not every gameplay model goes well with every art style, especially when your art “style” is a bunch of bright colours placed randomly on an abstract scenario.

            But don’t feel bad for liking a piece of bad art. It’s not really an insult to your integrity, because no one has perfect standards, and it’s perfectly acceptable to like a few pieces of bad art. I’ll be the first to admit that one of my favourite strategy games is Warlords II, and I actually learned to appreciate its graphics for their charm, despite how bad an overly-simplistic they look. Difference is it was the 80s, and SSI, like a lot of smaller companies didn’t have enough money to hire a plethora of graphic artists. Another difference is that the game focused on pratical gameplay above everything else, instead of trying to sell you its graphic style as something “artistic”.

          • remote says:

            @ribobura osserotto Jesus christ, shut up. You moron.

          • Phasma Felis says:

            Holy shit guys, I thought I liked Minecraft, but an angry man on the internet just told me I was wrong! brb uninstalling

    • yourgrandma says:

      Completely agree. I’m also sick of the extremely low resolution pixel art we get out of indie shovel ware. No excuse for it other then lazyness.

    • Solrax says:

      I like it, and want to play it! But then I loved Rez too…

    • tasogareken says:

      I like the part where you completely ignored the fact that it was a 2-month student venture.

      Even for a professional product, those graphics are above place holder quality. Couple that with the fact that most student teams don’t have a dedicated artist, and this is damn impressive. The fluidity of movement, the contrast of player against environment, the expansiveness and coherence of the level design, ALL of them are fantastic. But no, you keep insulting the graphics, saying it’s a “graphic hipster” choice.

      So yeah, congrats on insulting a student project.

      • ribobura osserotto says:

        >I like the part where you completely ignored the fact that it was a 2-month student venture. Even for a professional product, those graphics are above place holder quality. Couple that with the fact that most student teams don’t have a dedicated artist, and this is damn impressive.

        The fact that they made it in two months does not make it look pretty, unless you now judge games graphics by their “inner beauty”. Placeholder graphics are perfectly acceptable on student games, I agree, unless you’re trying to sell them as the game’s main feature in a case of style over substance, like these guys clearly are. You don’t to need be a talented artist to make graphics that look minimally pleasing, you just need common sense. They seem to lack both. And hey, I like some games with ugly graphics. Octodad was very entertaining, and the 3D models was actually quite decent, although the textures were a bit more on the ugly side. They were still serviceable and did not caused an eyesore, nevertheless. Besides, they weren’t selling the game based on is art style, but rather on the entertaining value of gameplay.

        >The fluidity of movement, the contrast of player against environment, the expansiveness and coherence of the level design,

        You shouldn’t use big words if you don’t know their actual meaning. First of all the fluidity of movement is more of a programming feature than an artistic one. Second, the player character shares the same colours with a lot of level assets, so it’s actually difficult to see where he is sometimes (check 0:24 and 0:32 in the video). Thirdly, level design isn’t coherent at all. It’s an erratic ensemble of bright colours and ugly shaders randomly spreaded on abstract shapes. There’s no sense of balance or familiarity whatsoever.

        So yeah, congrats on lacking critical spirit, and giving people credit they don’t deserve.

        • shizamon says:

          Good lord you’re a douche.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            For what? Explaining my point of point of view and justifying it with facts? That’s called arguing my friend.

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    blind_boy_grunt says:

    “Hold on, why would you want to play a game that looks like a modern Sonic the Hedgehog game if it had artwork designed by an autistic child?”
    that’s why

  9. NetsukeMonkey says:

    The sand reminded me of my ZX Spectrum – I have no idea why (although I’m just thinking that maybe it’s the shade of yellow used)

    • Neurotic says:

      It reminded me of my Commodore 64, because whenever we had sand graphics, they would invariably be yellow or orange with lots and lots of dots to give it a ‘sandy’ look. Perhaps the dots did it for you too? :D

  10. Muzman says:

    Inmomentum is pretty much like this once you get good at it, only minus time rewind.
    And nobody liked that. So keep the wows in check (goes for anything though really)

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    Hanban says:

    The graphics put my brain in some weird cozy nostalgia vat. Just looking at the trailer makes me feel like a child again.

  12. Jake Albano says:

    Looks as though it could be interesting. Texture pop-in in the trailer was a bit distracting though.

  13. frightlever says:

    Whoa. Going back to bed until these mushrooms wear off.

  14. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    Stop linking to JSRF and calling it JSR.

  15. deadly.by.design says:

    The suppose the world does need more games inspired by acid trips.

  16. Sisco says:

    My eyes just exploded into the back of my brain. And I think I like it.

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    tomeoftom says:

    UUUUNNNNNGGGGH I want this so badly.

  18. Urthman says:

    It’s like they heard some of us talk about how we value game-play over graphics and then said, “Oh yeah? What about THESE graphics?”

    “I’ll bet you can’t bear to play something that looks THIS eye-searingly terrible, even if the game play is exactly the kind of high-speed acrobatics you’re always wishing more games had.”

  19. Ernesto says:

    Reminds me of AAAAaaaaaaaAAaaaAAAaAaaAa!!!! That unpronounceable base jumping game. You know what I mean.

  20. BigTimeOwen says:

    Is it just me or, from that screenshot, does it look like it was inspired by a glitchy video card?

  21. vivlo says:

    that looks uncredibly overwhelming. Also, long time since i heard such good videogame music.

  22. Phasma Felis says:

    Could someone tell me what the 360 gamepad controls are supposed to be, so I can set up my disgusting, unholy non-Microsoft gamepad to match?