Find your favorite room amid the chaos of The Catacombs of Solaris

A strategy to use when exploring ruins in Dungeons & Dragons is to hug the wall. Have the beefiest party member (preferably a halfling barbarian) lead the way—not necessary, but a warrior knows how to survive. When presented with the option to turn either left or right, pick the latter. Always. The party will always find their way out eventually, even if it takes two hours. With this in mind, I travelled through the ever-changing environment of The Catacombs of Solaris. It’s a “mind-bending” first-person exploration game created by Ian MacLarty in which the goal is to “find your favourite…

Ned Kelly

See through Ned Kelly’s eyes in this videogame

Ned Kelly is prime videogame material. A man who commanded a gang, set-up a hideout in the Australian bush, and donned iconic homemade steel armor in his final showdown with the police. The bushranger and his tale lends itself to being fastened to the hallmarks of any violent, open-world game. In fact, how the translation might occur has already been imagined, spurred on by Matt Sophos, director of Lost Planet 3 (2013), who showed an eagerness for the history, drama, and “gameplay opportunities” of Kelly and his gang. Yet, Ned Kelly has remained strangely absent from videogame canon. There was…


Where painting and videogames collide

If someone refuses to paint, all you need to do to fix that is strap tubes of the stuff to the soles of their shoes and send a couple of angry dobermans after them. Don’t question why you’d ever be so desperate to get someone to paint that you’d resort to this admittedly drastic method. This is how art is made. At least, according to Splattershmup, that is: through peer pressure and, failing that, hostile encouragement. In truth, Splattershmup isn’t as goofy as that (or its title) makes it sound. It’s an honest and successful attempt by Rochester Institute of Technology’s MAGIC…


Videogame generates worlds based on your webcam, horror ensues

We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror. — Marshall McLuhan Ian MacLarty’s Reflections inspired one of those “whoa the future is here” moments in me. I remember years ago, I felt like I was in the goddamn Jetsons the first time I ever Skyped with a person half way across the world. I mean webcams—next you’ll be telling me we can talk to people on our watches, too! But Reflections is less cartoon sci-fi fantasy future, and more nightmarish surrealism made possible by technology. Like a mirror image of our mutated digital souls, Reflections generates a 3D landscape based…


This strange virtual world is a peek inside its designer’s mind

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misrepresented MacLarty’s motivations. It has been revised following a discussion with him. Videogame designer Ian MacLarty recently took part in a game jam, as part of the Freeplay festival in Australia, that was themed upon diversity, multiplicity and culture. It was called, appropriately, the Multiplicity Jam. MacLarty was inspired by the speakers at the festival, who talked about their own cultural identity and the value of diversity, to reflect on his relationship with his connection to Australia, where he has lived for the past decade, as well as his upbringing in South Africa. The result…