By Graham Smith on January 10th, 2014 at 10:00 am.
I like to think of full disclosure as a kind of challenge. Did you know that I never learned how to ride a bike? The trousers I’m wearing right now have a hole right on the bum. I have a cut on my thumb and I don’t know where it came from. Permutation Racer is made by a graphical wizard called Tom Betts who works for Big Robot, the company founded by Jim to make games like Sir, You Are Being Hunted. It’s a free, procedurally generated racing prototype, and there’s a video and a download link below. I haven’t brushed my teeth yet today.
The game jams together chunks of geometry to form an infinite canyon which stretches out in front of you. You steer a floating vehicle between pillars, through caves and around ravines, while jumping to dodge obstacles and collect stars to fill your boost meter. There’s a little bit of pressure, in that you’re constantly trying to hit the next checkpoint to extend your time limit, but the ambient music and polygonal world whirling past makes it a meditative experience. There’s this fluttering feeling in my right eardrum at the moment, and I looked up what causes that once but I’ve forgotten.
It’s probably unfair to call Tom Betts “my boss’s friend”, joke or not. Tom is the gentleman programmer responsible for a whole bunch of very cool procedural experiments, amongst other programming and graphics projects I probably don’t understand. I saw him give a talk once. My headphones are yellow.
This also seems an appropriate time to link to things Jim has written about racing games. Here he is on futuristic racers like Wipeout for The Escapist in 2007. And here’s him talking about his projected future for the genre on RPS:
The future of racing games is, therefore, a non-linear race across an entire planet, with some scripted on-foot action sequences, which tell the story of a heart-breaking existential romance between a car and its driver, produced with user-generated terrain, where you manage a party full of racing experts, a team assembled via careful negotiation, some of whom are aliens you can have sex with in your trailer. I call this game NEED FOR THE SKID-MARKED ONE: THE ULTIMATE ORIGIN OF RACECRAFT, or perhaps we might throw in enemy Nazi drivers and call it THE MASTER RACE. Either way it will be out Q1 2017. I can’t wait.
You can download Permutation Racer over at the Big Robot site. I fried some mushrooms for lunch today.