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Thread: Standing Up For Spiders
23-04-2012, 12:03 AM #1
Standing Up For Spiders
So having finished Botanicula but a minute ago it strikes me that spiders get a raw deal in games.
it's perhaps unsuprising. They're the most common creature that seems to result in people being unable to play games (or at least be jumpy playing them!) because of their phobia. Indeed I can't remember hearing that mentioned of any other creature.
So whether it's Botanicula or Limbo's evil slow moving creepy, skinny legged bastards, an RPG dungeon infested with webs or irritating bastards like those randomly hopping dickheads in Spelunky spiders are a mainstay feature of many a game.
I kind of felt a bit sorry for them for having such a bad rep and had a quick google search to see if they've been featured in games in a positive light. Here's the first 8 (how convenient!) relevant results that I found with some mini summations.
Spider Attack - In which you play as spider collecting flies and avoiding lasers. Typically lasers are the least of an arachnid's worries! Low production values and the incessant accompaniment of a terrible version of Black Betty jabbering on in the background. 2 legs out of 8.
Mighty Spider - In which you play as a spider collecting flies (I sense a recurring theme) in a platform world. Watch out for praying mantises, lobster scorpion hybrids (?) and marvel at your magic web, which appears to be able to stick to air! Chirpy music and the spider looks happy. Despite iffy controls I played for at leas a minute more than I anticipated! Superhero creating potential 67%.
Arachnophilia - In which you play as "an unspecified species of spider" (how lazy!) collecting . . .well you get the picture. It contains some handy facts including that spiders "eat pests, so they aren't all bad." Take that gaming! No this time the bastards are bees and stage beetles, which run a good line in wrecking your web. I tried to build my web following natures bludprints but alas it just ended up looking a mess which is probably why it was decimated by beetles. I spotted one of the achievements was to eat a bat (!) which I fear would have undone all the game's good work in making you emphasise with the spider given all the cute bat pictures posted here recently! Tenacious like Robert Bruce's spider.
Rainbow Spider - The cartoon human.spider hybrid on the title screen is a rather disturbing start but rainbows are mentioned so I'll make like Incy Wincy and soldier on. Apparantly journeying through a magical world means one of those endless going through randomised world game but alas it lacks the style of the likes of Canabalt. Filling your "rainbow bar" gives you "rainbow webs" which seems to have the effect of making more coins appear to increase your score. That's right folks, we're collecting coins not flies. I guess that's something? Right? Oh no wiat you didn't get that far did you? Because quite rightly you saw the title screen and thought bugger this for a game of soldiers. More bleak widow than black widow.
Jumping Spider - Another spider eschewing the more traditional fly in favour of shiny coins. The title horrible undersells it. It should be called "John Walker could not love this game enough as it doesn't have double jumps, it doesn't have quadruple jumps, it has infinity jumps." Clearly the developers didn't realise just how snappy that title was and stuck with the rather boring but apt "Jumping Spider." Which fits the game actually as infinity jump makes it so pathetically easy as to be completely pointless. The song in the background is inane too but at least it isn't Black Betty again. Approximately as good as this spider joke I found on google because I was starting to struggle with spider related wrap ups: "How do you spot a modern spider? He doesn't have a web; he has a website." Groan.
Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars - A game for Adult Swim by Anna Anthropy. Another game bucking the trend of fly catching this one instead sees you using your Martian laser webbing (see, spiders USE lasers, not avoid them!) to capture revolting slaves on a pacman style grid. Perhaps not as glorious silly as the title suggests, but I didn't play to the end so may be missing out on some inspired lunacy. Quite good fun. Superior B movie cred to Arachnophobia.
Super Spider - In which you play a robot insect shooting the shit out of other insects because, yup, spiders are bastards! Featuring an inexplicable baffling control scheme that seemingly require 8 fingers on each hand this is a shocking game. Clicking on that link is as masochistic as a male black widow visiting a brothel.
Little Spider - Finally we have Little Spider. Apparantly he's lost the ability to make webs but can instead make platforms to aid him in travel (guess it makes a change from swinging as well as a change from eating flies). Fortunately he can collect webs, many of which he unlocks by collecting stars. Clearly he's on a bit of a home security blitz after seeing what damage Arachnophilia's stage beetles caused. Stars seems a bit excessive though. Bog standard flash stuff, way too easy and i don't know why anyone would pay for extra levels. The spider is cute though. "He's come to a sticky end, Don't think he will ever mend, Never more will he crawl 'round, He's embedded in the ground." (bonus flies to first one getting the reference!).
So to sum up spider's can be heroes to mixed success and quite often they end up fufilling an anti-hero role. Clearly the gaming community must do more to help these put upon creatures. Seeing as people are the only bigger bastards in gaming than spiders perhaps a game where they avoid the clutches of someone trying to wash them down the sink or trap them under a galss could create some much needed empathy! Or perhaps the games in this thread just show that they should revel in their creepiness and villainy. I'll leave it to you to decide.
Last edited by Lambchops; 23-04-2012 at 12:07 AM.
23-04-2012, 12:09 AM #2
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Your dedication to providing fair journalistic content for these unjustly persecuted creatures should earn you some sort of major award. Remember people, if you're anti-spider you're pro-fly, so when those little buggers buzz round my face and land on my food I'm blaming you personally.
23-04-2012, 12:12 AM #3
The only spider I ever tolerated was the one from claymation show Trap Door, and even that was touch and go for a while.
23-04-2012, 12:29 AM #4
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After reading that I've had an idea for a game. I do this a lot.
Incy Wincy Spider
It's a 2d platformer, and Mr Incy Wincy has to climb to the top of the spout.
Now the rain is going to come down (in the first level) and try to wash Incy out.
Not going to happen, because Incy has a trick up his sleeve. He can slow down time and dodge the drops. In this mode he can also catch one in his mouth to spit at the ones he's unable to dodge. Can spiders spit?
Each level has a different theme and Incy has a different skill.
Spoiler: In level 2 Incy has to get to the end of the level by swinging/slowing down time and making his own platforms/webs.
Any game developers here tonight?
23-04-2012, 12:50 AM #5
23-04-2012, 12:54 AM #6
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23-04-2012, 07:16 AM #7
Well, I always say that spiders and exploding barrels are the only constant in gaming. Ever seen a game without either of those? It was probably terrible. Deus Ex was a great game because it had both, despite being set in the future. That's dedication.
On the heroic spider front, we have Puzzle Quest, in which you can tame not only regular giant spiders to use as mounts but also fire-breathing giant spiders. Now we could discuss whether the very existence of those creatures proves that evil has won a long time ago but I'm simply too busy breathing fire upon my enemies while cackling like a madman.Old hat! A Steam curator page focusing on Immersive Sims WIP
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23-04-2012, 07:28 AM #8
Two years ago, an utterly brilliant boardgame by the name of Dominant Species showed up on the boardgaming-market.
I have been playing Arachnids (one of the playable species) ever since.
23-04-2012, 07:29 PM #9
23-04-2012, 08:09 PM #10
Whenever I see a spider, my body goes slightly numb with fear.
23-04-2012, 08:26 PM #11
I am freaked about jelly fish in real life but in games I have non of the associated fear.
The topic reminded me of this mind.
“Have you ever wondered why normal adults living in urban environments like Manhattan are liable to be terrified of snakes and spiders, while being quite blasé about dangers like cars and cigarettes?” David Livingstone Smith asks in The Most Dangerous Animal: Human Nature and the Origins of War.
His answer agrees with Barbara Erenreich's: “[H]uman beings are haunted by the ghosts of predators past” -- which is to argue that we evolved in environments where it paid to be aware of animal predators, but not the technology that we would invent millennia later. And so, as Smith writes, high-grossing movies like Jaws, Alien, Predator, and Jurassic Park “arouse primal emotions within us. We respond to these films because they resonate with ancient fears of being hunted and eaten.”I'm failing to writing a blog, specifically about playing games the wrong way
23-04-2012, 08:44 PM #12
I think I hate centipedes more. Even the common house centipede. It may often be seen darting across floors with very great speed, occasionally stopping suddenly and remaining absolutely motionless, presently to resume its rapid movements, often darting directly at inmates of the house, particularly women, evidently with a desire to conceal itself beneath their dresses, and thus creating much consternation.
23-04-2012, 08:48 PM #13
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23-04-2012, 10:11 PM #14
24-04-2012, 12:00 AM #15
Excellent post, thank you. If there's ever a nearly-universal bad image in gaming of something I really like, you'll be the one I call to put it right.
In the meantime, "Spiders are the good guys" sounds like a Ludum Dare-style challenge theme to me.
Edit: I got the "embedded in the ground" reference, but only through the magic of Google. :/ It's Boris the Spider by The Who.
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24-04-2012, 04:00 AM #16
Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor is a pretty charming iThing game where you play a spider exploring an abandoned mansion. You catch bugs by pouncing on them or building webs. Makes great use of the touch-screen as an interface.
24-04-2012, 04:08 AM #17
I hate spiders with every atom of my body, but here you go:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadly_Creatures is a Wii game where:
"Deadly Creatures allows players to play as a young male unspecified scorpion and an adult female tarantula and engage in brutal combat against other arachnids, insects, rats, and reptiles."
How in god's name does anyone bothered to asses the sex of the in-game models is totally beyond me. BRRRRR!
24-04-2012, 08:02 AM #18
It was Neverwinter Nights 2, I believe, where you meet a giant spider (I'm talking bigger than a horse here) and, on seeing it scratch a message in the dust on the floor, are given the option to spare it, unlike most giant creatures you meet.
The word it scraped in the ground was 'friend'. Awww!
And you can bring it back to your keep where it will eventually knit some fancy spidersilk duds for you, and, presumably, keep the place free from giant flies.
Another RPG with spider-befriending was a top-down party-based dungeon crawler with an old-school vibe. Champions of the Silver Chalice, or at least <compound noun> of the <shiny colour> <symbolic tableware>.
24-04-2012, 08:10 AM #19
That spider in NWN2 (Kestril?) was one of the better things in the game! Most RPGs should feature unlikely pets or weird friendly animals of some kind. It's just so... "Awww!" indeed!
I'm quite OK with spiders, but not these buggers. Wikipedia sez they rarely sting < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scutige...on_with_humans >, and their stings are "generally no worse than bee stings, with its venom causing redness and mild to severe swelling.". In my book, and I've been the recipient of one of those stings some 10 years ago, that's pretty annoying compared to most house spiders, flies, or even mosquitoeseses.
24-04-2012, 09:36 AM #20
And of course there's always Avernum's rather lovely and misunderstood Giant Intelligent Friendly Spiders who do not kill people because they are cute, and hardly ever nibble at them either.