Bouncing Ball Bearings: Sphere

By Adam Smith on June 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm.

Sphere is another in an increasing list of impressive student projects created in Unity. Here, a strong central idea is delivered through the medium of a first-person puzzle game with the most flimsy of narrative trappings. What’s clever here, as in so many of these playgrounds of spatial progression, is the mode of transport. Not portals, not cubes, but the titular sphere, a small, bouncing ball which chimes musically as it goes. Recall it with a click of the left mouse and the trail that it followed after being lobbed is marked on the screen; holding down the right button sends the player travelling along that same trail. Trailer below. Play online or download, for Mac or PC, here.

It’s not the most helpful trailer in the world, although the music is quite lovely and continues to be so in the game itself. In fact, it’s playing in the background as I’m writing this and making me far more contented with life than I’d be if it wasn’t.

Although I haven’t finished what’s available, I’ve been far enough to see that there are some clever obstacles and limitations imposed. I also almost quit in exasperation because I wanted to invert the Y axis. When I hit escape in a huff the option magically appeared on a menu. I am sometimes an impulsive fool.

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12 Comments »

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  1. misterT0AST says:

    Those dotted trajectories and the focus on the ball remind me a bit of Glover. Only less frustrating and more calm.

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    stahlwerk says:

    Eine runde Sache, as ze germans zay, ja?

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    Fitzmogwai says:

    Call Tim Langdell! These damned students can’t be allowed to rip off Bobby Bearing so blatantly. Look! It’s a ball bearing! That’s enough!

  4. Urthman says:

    It’s like someone was using the translocator disc in Unreal Tournament and said, “This is fun. Someone should make a whole game out of this.” Which is a great idea.

    (Is there an Unreal mod that makes a whole game out of using the translocator disc? Surely there is.)

    • LionsPhil says:

      Is it called “using the debug commands in the console to make the bots try to resolve how to translocate all your jump nodes”? Because that was fun.

      This is a seriously neat little mechanic.

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    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    What a charming little mechanic. I always like novel movement mechanics. (Minor aside: One day I will use Unity to make GRAPPLO: The man with the grappling hook arms. TWO grappling hooks must mean double the awesome, right?)

    What other games have interesting movement mechanics?

    Off the top of my head I can think of:

    Tribes
    Portal (obviously)
    The Sentinel
    Q2CTF (I loved the Q2CTF grappling hook)
    Giants (the first two Acts, anyway)

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    Sinomatic says:

    Have to say I really enjoyed playing through that. More of this please.

    Although there was one room where I got unusually stuck, and I’m not sure I did ‘the right thing’ to get through in the end, but since it worked, I’m not going to bother questioning it too much.

    • remi_b says:

      Hi! I’m one of the Game Designer of SPHERE! Thanks for playing it!

      Can you describe the room where you got stuck? (so we can improve the game!)

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        Sinomatic says:

        Hi! I’m fairly sure it comes down to my being daft more than anything.

        It was the room *after* the one where the platforms were sliding in and out sequentially in a sort of upwards staircase (and then the passage you had to get into was underneath them), if that makes sense. The one I got stuck in there was a fence in front of you, followed by a large gap, and the exit was straight ahead beyond the gap, but under an overhang. Compared to previous rooms I just didn’t feel the same sort of ‘working-out process’ that I’d had in the previous rooms.

        Again, likely to be me being really stupid more than the room!

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    beaniepuck says:

    The game is part of Playtime, a challenge organized by a french newspaper. There’s plenty of other projects you guys might want to take a look at: http://playtime.blog.lemonde.fr/ (all in French though..)