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Make Something Surreal With VA DA

Hylics is a surreal and beautiful game, a gentle JRPG built of clay, stop-motion photography, drawn animation, and… you know, I’m not even sure. It’s silly and funny and occasionally gruesome (your plasticine head disintegrating when you die is astonishing), and sounds like no other game I’ve played. We showed it at this year’s Mild Rumpus and I happily sat for hours watching puzzled people play on a big screen.

Anyway! Sorry. I was just making up for that fact that we’ve barely mentioned Hylics before, and leading into what this post is actually about: VA DA [official site], a fun weird free animation doodad by Hylics chap Mason Lindroth.

VA DA is a bit like the animation packages I played with in ‘edutainment’ software as a wee sprog. You can drop animated sprites into a scene, change their colour, resize them, change the background, play some music, and all that. Though I don’t remember those old programs having phantasmal dogs, giant drumming hands, twisting clay figures, or startled filmcapped faces. VA DA has an eclectic collection of actors, and you don’t have much control over them. VA DA and I made this together:

It’s sort of a collaboration, see. You can tell VA DA to add an element, but it’ll randomly add what it wants to. You can change its colour, but VA DA will pick the colour. Heaven help you if you want to move an element somewhere specific, as the move tool sends it wandering in a random direction while tippy-toey guitar plays (every tool makes nice noises, of course). It’s quite charming! Try to force VA DA to create something specific and you’ll end up frustrated, but let it play about and see where you end up and you might have a delightful time.

Here, you can play VA DA in your browser. Lindroth created it for last month’s Ludum Dare 35 game jam, which had the theme ‘Shapeshift’.

Do also check out Hylics! It’s on Steam for £1.99/$2.99 and Itch too. Look and listen:

Ta to Kill Screen for pointing VA DA out.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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