Awake Into Dreams: TRIP

By Adam Smith on June 25th, 2012 at 9:06 am.

I could have sworn I’d already mentioned TRIP, which seems like what would happen if gentle, musical exploration game Proteus poured hallucinogenics all over its cereal in the morning and shovelled the whole lot into its mouth using a delicate crystalline spoon carved out of frozen absinthe. ‘ART GAME’, says the trailer in brightly coloured letters that desire to be taller than buildings, before proceeding to show various creatures slowly jiving in luridly lucid landscapes. Maybe I dreamt that I wrote about it or nearly wrote about it but assumed I shouldn’t as it had been a dream rather than a PC game. Or I just misplaced a tag or two. It’s out now, on PC and Mac, priced at £7.29. Launch trailer below, impressions when I’ve formed them.

Maybe a TRIP is a Journey without other people along for the ride and with hallucinations instead of sand?

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47 Comments »

  1. furiannn says:

    Well, they weren’t on too much acid when they thought this one up.

    • jezcentral says:

      Yes, it’s a BIT.TRIPpy.

    • fancynameplease says:

      Why is it always the drugs when things look a little out of the ordinary?
      I think only unimaginative, boring people could honestly believe that one has to be high on something to be creative. No offense.

      • DrGonzo says:

        I assume that one has to be boring and unimaginative to not get high.

        Also, it is called TRIP. Which does rather imply it.

      • sirdavies says:

        it’s just an easy joke ffs, the game is called TRIP and it features odd, colorful environments, what else are people going to comment?

  2. mikmanner says:

    I think this started as a HL2 mod, there wasn’t much to do apart from walk around whacky environments. It felt a bit like walking through a massive art installation.

  3. Paullicino says:

    Man, it’s way too early for this.

  4. Memphis-Ahn says:

    I like Xenon and his internet animations, hoping this game of his is as good.

  5. DickSocrates says:

    What’s the actual game? I assume it’s more than tracking shots of low polygon, non-textured objects going through quickly repeating animation loops.

    • huzzahdave says:

      In the youtube comments he says he was inspired by LSD: the Dream Emulator. I really enjoyed exploring and occasionally being freaked out by the wierd stuff in that game, so I think I’ll give this a go.

  6. Jim Rossignol says:

    This looks fantastic.

    • phlebas says:

      Mm. I was a bit surprised RPS didn’t push the Kickstarter when it was live. It completed anyway, though, so no harm done.

  7. ancienttoaster says:

    I guess only mainstream games are condemned for trailers with jack-all gameplay? This gives me about as clear an idea about the gameplay as a live-action trailer…

    • MuscleHorse says:

      Dare I say it? Some games are more about the experience than the gameplay. From there we end up with that boring discussion of ‘what is a game?’ but it’s fair to say that people who are interested in this (like myself) aren’t interested in any challenge as such, but where the visuals, atmosphere, the feeling can take us.

      • ribobura osserotto says:

        >From there we end up with that boring discussion of ‘what is a game?

        There’s one thing I can tell you about games with certainty though, they’re not theme park rides. So if all that you have to offer me is a bunch of scenes and slideshows with little to no interactivity for the sake of the “experience”, you might as well start making movies instead.

        • MuscleHorse says:

          The most recent example I can think of for this sort of thing is Dear Esther. Is it a game? Yes. Does it involve a challenge or even gameplay? No. But it’s all the stronger for being interactive. It could easily be a short film or a novella but I suspect I wouldn’t enjoy it as much.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            That’s likely because you first played it AS a game and now it’s hard for oyu to imagine it as anything else. Fate of Atlantis could’ve worked as a brilliant Indiana Jones movie, bu I know I would always prefer it as a game, because I already know it as game. I haven’t played Dear Esther myself, but I can tell you about The Stanley Parable, which I believe to be similar. Is it witty and funny? Certainly. Is it a game? Barely. Would it have been better if it was theme park ride or a choose-your-own adventure book? Likely.

          • MuscleHorse says:

            I’m a fan of the Stanley Parable too. I lap these things up. I was reminded of the Radiator series of mods for HL2 by Robert… something (would check but aren’t signed in to my Google database of knowledge) while thinking about this discussion. I disagree that it could have worked as well as a book/film just because I experienced it first as a game. Games have a way of transporting us into a time, place and person like no other medium, even the written word. To be running around the head of a man during his marriage counselling of his crumbling marriage and for it to work so well, so quickly, without the pages of exposition that a novel would require is unique and quite wonderful to games. I’m not about to pack in ‘real’ games in any way. I look forward to Dishonoured, I still play Doom 2 and the myriad of mods that are still produced for it and I am considering playing through the Deus Ex series again – but that doesn’t mean there is no place for this wonderful little genre of more thoughtful experiences.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            >I disagree that it could have worked as well as a book/film just because I experienced it first as a game.

            Well not as a film, but certainly as a play or live performance art. It’s still barely a game though. It’s more like an interactive presentation or slideshow. Kinda like the cinematic action games they made in the 90s, like Night trap, and whatnot.

            >Games have a way of transporting us into a time, place and person like no other medium, even the written word.

            You’re probably right about this, but I get more immersion from gameplay than from any story associated to it. No epic story on a modern AAA RPG could match the immersion of purely gameplay-based games like Nethack or Dwarf Fortress, although at this point, we may be dipping into tastes territory, so I respect that.

            >I’m not about to pack in ‘real’ games in any way. I look forward to Dishonoured, I still play Doom 2 and the myriad of mods that are still produced for it and I am considering playing through the Deus Ex series again – but that doesn’t mean there is no place for this wonderful little genre of more thoughtful experiences.

            I wasn’t really saying there’s no room for meaningful experiences amongst videogames, either. I just think they work all around better if they’re paired with actual gameplay, and there are some very good examples of that. Both Bioshock and System Shock incorporate philosophy wonderfully in their plots. And the Tropico series gives you a tongue-in-cheek and yet, quite realistic reproduction of all the corruption in mid 20th century worldwide politics. Lucasarts LOOM associates musical gameplay with a wonderful philosophical tale on the meaning of life and death and the nature of cosmos. The list goes on indefinitely…

            My point is that these so called “art games” go as far as trading everything that actually makes videogames what they are for purely secondary elements and otherwise subliminal elements, like symbology and meaning.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          I agree with ribobura osserotto more or less on what makes a “game” in the strictest sense. To paraphrase a friend who has the art training to verbalize the idea better than myself, a game at least needs enough rules and structures to form a metanarrative through play. Otherwise it is probably a simulation, a choose-your-story visual novel, or a virtual sculpture garden (none of which are necessarily pejorative, though they can be).

          Were this presented in an art critique, I’d ask: What is the advantage of making the world (apparently) static and non-interactive? It seem like if you fully embraced the potential of interactive play and made it a full-fledged game, it would be much more interesting, would feel like a more fully realized idea. What if I could combine the weird beings in the world and make new ones? What if there were block-person factions I had to deal with? It seems like there are ways to craft an experience that is much more engaging and respectful of game players as curious, active consumers of media.

          As it is, it seems like this is more of a virtual sculpture garden or art installation, or to be less charitable, a half-finished prototype. There are installation artists who have spent decades perfecting their art, sculptors who have done the same. But this project looks like someone threw together a bunch of slightly weird models and bright colors (well designed colors, granted), and thought it was so unique that it would be interesting on its own and there didn’t need to be a game attached. I hate to be so personal, but it feels a little arrogant. Especially knowing how much other projects get panned in game circles for being non-games; what makes this so special that it can avoid the same criticism? Is the art that engaging by itself?

          TLDR: If you want to make a game with no gameplay, you just increased the amount of work you need to do to make it compelling by orders of magnitude. Think carefully if that’s the best thing for your project.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            >To paraphrase a friend who has the conceptual art training to verbalize these ideas better than myself, a game at least needs enough rules and structures to form a metanarrative through play.

            That’s a very nice way to put it actually. In fact I think I’ll start quoting that myself!

            >To me it seem like if you’d fully embraced the potential of interactive play and made it a game, it would be much more interesting. What if I could combine the weird beings in the world and make new ones? What if there were strange block-person factions I had to deal with?

            You just described Eskil Steenberg’s “LOVE”. A game that while featuring somewhat abstract artistic choices, does not focus on them entirely. It’s also seriously based on player interaction. Here’s the official website: http://www.quelsolaar.com/

  8. ribobura osserotto says:

    Why do all games that define themselves as “art games” (as if that wasn’t redundant already) always have the ugliest graphics? Why do people still think you can justify lack of detail through post-modernism?

    • Dilapinated says:

      “My toddler could program that!”

      • ribobura osserotto says:

        That’s a really cute strawman, but as all strawmen it goes way beside the point. It’s not really a matter of programming, since I’m talking about graphics, and the trailer makes it sure you have no idea how the game itself actually works (yet another frequent problem with most “art” games). But to be fair, a child could certainly make 3D models similar to those now that you mention it. Heck, I remember doing stuff way better than that when I was a teen with a pirated copy of Milkshape 3D.

        But detail aside, there’s the matter of style. You can’t simply brand abstract graphics as “art” and call it a day. There’s a reason why Picasso paintings are worth millions and doodles made by kindergarten kids are worth squat. In fact there are several examples of good-looking abstract games posted in RPS before. InMomentum strikes me as a good example:

        http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/05/30/inmomentum-patch-improves-multiplayer-tweaks-lots/

        • Urthman says:

          It’s all pretty subjective, but I find the artwork of inMomentum dull and boring. It doesn’t have the same design flair that the abstract levels of Mirror’s Edge had, it just seems like random boxes.

          I’m not sure I like the artwork here, but it’s definitely not boring.

        • DrGonzo says:

          And Picasso couldn’t draw! bla bla subjectivity and all that. I think this game looks rather cool. It’s weird and outside of THAT I haven’t seen anything like it before really. And that’s part of what I enjoy in games, going to weird places that couldn’t exist in any other format.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            That’s a good point, but I question if Trip is really a place to go to, or something that is only doable via the medium of games. I can imagine seeing effectively the same thing as a paper or plastic animatronic sculpture in a museum, for example. Personally I think that would be a much more interesting project, honestly; the craft and construction would be unique rather than “yep, those are low-poly models”. Further, seeing them at human scale would be much more alienating. Etc.

            To me, in order to be a world that could only exist in a game, there needs to be game logic, rules, player choices that alter and impact the world.

        • uguu says:

          >There’s a reason why Picasso paintings are worth millions and doodles made by kindergarten kids are worth squat.

          lrn2arthistory
          Picasso’s paintings are not worth millions because they are “good”, but because he pioneered an art movement – they were different than the usual stuff being made at the time (see expressionism a la Van Gogh and fauvism a la Matisse). He was inspired by “primitive” art from the Native American and African populations, which had just been discovered around the time he was painting, and that influenced this simplistic style (cubism has nothing to do with geometry, ofc). May I remind you that Picasso’s art made the general public pretty angry at first?

          Do you not think that this person is not also trying to do the same thing? You are taking this game at face value, without knowing that the creator is trying to push video games as an art form and not just entertainment. You say “oh, it’s ugly”, just like what people said to Picasso’s work, to Duchamp’s work, to many, many now famous unconventional artists in history. In a world of brown shooters and angry birds knockoffs, I encourage new game developers to bring some different stuff to the table. So to say that this sucks, and then compare it to Picasso? do you even know what you just did lol

          also lol @ you calling “my toddler can program that!” a strawman and then say “my child could model that!” right after, basically saying exactly what he was mocking you for.

          also, Brise Bonbons, if you would like to fund the MILLIONS of dollars it would take to make a full scale of TRIP with animatronic characters, you are more than welcome to lol

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            >Picasso’s paintings are not worth millions because they are “good”, but because he pioneered an art movement

            Obviously I know that, you nitwit, but like I’ve said in previous posts, there are questions of balance to consider. If you think Picasso’s art is valuable solely due to its historical value, then you’re the one being naive.

            >Do you not think that this person is not also trying to do the same thing? You are taking this game at face value, without knowing that the creator is trying to push video games as an art form and not just entertainment. You say “oh, it’s ugly”, just like what people said to Picasso’s work, to Duchamp’s work, to many, many now famous unconventional artists in history.

            Frankly I don’t. This isn’t the historical panorama of modernism anymore, and besides, there are plenty of games that did what this “game” is trying to do before art-wise. Plenty of them, as a matter of fact, and some with actual gameplay to go along. Also Duchamp’s intention was actually to shock people, as it was with the whole dada movement, so the uglier the better. Cubism was closer to expressionism in terms of conveying emotions, but it did so through both shape and colour. You would have a point if I had said I disliked all abstract games as a whole, but I’ve already mentioned some abstract games I like before.

            >also lol @ you calling “my toddler can program that!” a strawman and then say “my child could model that!” right after, basically saying exactly what he was mocking you for.

            >2012
            >not getting irony

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            “if you would like to fund the MILLIONS of dollars it would take to make a full scale of TRIP with animatronic characters, you are more than welcome to lol”

            To clarify, I don’t think you would be able to realize the entire “world”, but you could fill a room or two. There are plenty of art projects that are expensive, and there are grants, foundations, patrons, and endowments that exist to let artists who prove themselves realize their vision. Obviously you’d have to start small, but that’s usually good for the work anyway.

            Why is this my responsibility, again? It would be much cheaper if everyone painted in Photoshop instead of using oils, too, but I’m not interested in going to a museum to see digital prints of someone’s .PSD files.

            To clarify another point, I think virtual art exhibits and gallery spaces are a very exciting area of exploration. But Trip is positioning itself as a game with almost no game elements, so I’m left judging it based on its own definition. And I don’t think it’s really pushing many boundaries in that respect. The art isn’t even that weird, and it’s not taking advantage of anything that can only be done in game space, i.e. transforming the meshes, subverting physics, structuring interactions in the world with game logic, etc.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            >There are plenty of art projects that are expensive, and there are grants, foundations, patrons, and endowments that exist to let artists who prove themselves realize their vision.

            Not to mention there’s a lot of similar sculpture art made entirely out of scrap, which is a cheap, nearly costless material.

            For me, if a videogame is really striving to be art, it should do its best to convey its message in a set of gameplay mechanics that are both entertaining and meaningful, without looking gimmickry or desperately trying to sound innovative. It’s a matter of reaching a harmonious ensemble, that is, let your gameplay speak for your visuals and let the visuals reflect the sensations the gameplay is trying to tell. I believe artwork should never superseed gameplay in the focus or concept of game, because the latter is merely an addition to make the former seem less abstract. Keep in mind it’s perfectly possible to have game with little to no graphics (roguelikes, text adventures, etc), but it’s impossible to have game with no gameplay.

          • Brise Bonbons says:

            Been thinking about this discussion more, and I will reiterate that I do appreciate the art in Trip (the world graphics are excellent, the character models less exciting, for me), and I am curious to know more about it, which in itself is a good thing.

            Giving the creator the benefit of the doubt, I can see where the intention *might* be to challenge some assumptions about games. Watching the video again, the effect seems to be to create an alien landscape that has a unique, expressive atmosphere. But I’d argue it is not being aggressive enough in challenging conventional aesthetics or game ideas to be comparable to Duchamp or even Picasso. On some level, what I’m seeing here is little different than the static, polygon-filled virtual worlds that were hailed as the future of virtual reality back in the early days of 3D graphics. And I don’t *think* this game is trying to make a historical reference to that, though it could be, I guess.

            Again, I am not trying to decry the project. Were this a critique where I could interact with the creators, I would say “this is very interesting, I’m excited to see more, *but* here are my concerns…” I would point out that removing game elements such as objectives and enemies is pretty old hat, now, and no longer a very powerful gesture in itself. It needs to have some further reason or desired impact on the experience of the player. Based on this trailer and what I’ve read, Trip has huge potential, but needs more work to become a fully fleshed-out game experience, rather than a virtual gallery walk.

            Put another way, I think we’ve advanced enough in thinking about games that simply making an un-game isn’t enough anymore. Putting a player in an interactive world means different things now than it did even a couple years ago, with the increased exposure of simulated worlds such as Dwarf Fortress, the movement of art into online virtual galleries, etc.

            This trailer doesn’t tell me what Trip has to say about any of these things. It seems to be entirely about the strangeness of the graphics, and while the art is excellent (if not exceptional), I just don’t think that’s enough.

            The risk with making art that pushes boundaries is that you’re chasing a moving target. It’s fucking hard work, and too many artists (and observers/viewers/players) don’t respect that.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            I for one believe the art is terrible because despite having a good selection of colours, it distributes them into what I believe to be a very, very messy ensemble. The game’s own official screenshot gallery is a good evidence of this:

            http://www.meltme.be/trip/media/newscreens/

            While the colours seem to follow a specific chromatic scale of softer tones, there doesn’t seem to be a sense of cohesion on how these colours are placed in the game world. The objects follow a similar pattern for me. I believe the wild jagged shapes are not a good match for the current colour selection. All in all while there seems to be a theme here, for me it looks like it was only loosely followed through development. The result is way too unpleasing and chaotic for me to think there was even some further thought put into it.

            As for the game itself, I agree with the previous points. Making a weird game for the sole purpose of being art is neither a new or a good idea, given the failure of previous similar titles, such as Worlds Online or LSD. The best this kind of games manage to achieve, is a weird form of cult status where a few niche players manage to build a sense urban legend about it, and proceed to write psychological horror chronicles based on their game experience.

            Videogames are widely accepted as art nowadays, so having “un-games” trying to do a breakthrough into the artistic potential of videogames doesn’t make much sense anymore, much like how modernism is not as half as meaningful as when it was a reaction against naturalism. Rather I think it’s time for developers who intend to focus on art, to mature beyond that point and try to understand how can one combine the entertainment and immersive aspects of gameplay in an experience that can feel both rewarding and meaningful. Sometimes you don’t really need to try that hard to come with something profound. Meaningful moments in videogames happen when you least expect and, sometimes, even when they’re not intended (the fight against the doppelganger in the original Prince of Persia is a good example). Thing is that even though we live in a time when creating and developing games has never been easier, videogame genres seem to be locked on a stalemate caused by their own differences; on one side you have the so-called generic AAA titles, including FPS, sports games and fantasy action RPGs, on the other you have casual games and pseudo-artsy indie games, the latter with some real potential and sometimes great style, but no actual substance.

            I think we really lack a middle ground where I believe true creativity stems from. Heck, I still remember the time when both kids and adults could fully enjoy games featuring cartoony mascots, so it’s likely we have changed as an audience as well, but nevertheless we should look back at their example, and figure out what they did right.

    • CrookedLittleVein says:

      Surely you have better things to do than populate the comment thread with your negative guff? I bet you voted for Blair.

      You utter swine.

      • ribobura osserotto says:

        “He dislikes the things that I like, so I trust he must be hater and a communist! Good heavens, what happened to the times when you could simply beat away differing opinions from good-for-nothing hippies with a stick?”

        • CrookedLittleVein says:

          You’re a couple of bubbles off centre son.

          • ribobura osserotto says:

            Why, then, good sir, let’s hear your counter thesis!

  9. cloudnein says:

    About as exciting as seeing folks dance in Second Life.

    • ribobura osserotto says:

      2deep4u. It’s subversive boredom, man. It’s like standard boredom, but, with actual meaning you know?

      Ach, nevermind, you just don’t get it.

  10. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Not all trailers have to completely explain every aspect of the game. This one is just showcasing one of the game’s unique selling points. Like, colours, man!

    Let’s hope the rest of the game is just as interesting. :)

    Edit: It says “There are no enemies. There are no objectives. Just you and the world” Let’s hope there’s at least interaction…

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      I dunno, I think a trailer should give a rounded idea of the product being… Trailed. Whatever.

      Maybe I’m just getting tired of every big game having like 10 trailers, one for each enemy and game system.

      In this case, I do like the art. It’s well done. I would be interested in exploring this world, if I had any reason to assume it would react to my presence, or that I could do something in it. I am happy to see games made without enemies and set objectives, but this trailer leaves me thinking Trip is an animated sculpture garden and the player is nothing but a camera with legs.

  11. elfbarf says:

    I think I’ve experienced enough of this “game” from watching the trailer. The video’s description makes it seem as if there isn’t anything to do aside from walking around and looking at things. Personally I’d rather go to the zoo as opposed to spending $11 to see more of this.