Future Unfolding
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Future Unfolding’s team wants to randomly generate hand-designed puzzles

In his recent book Spelunky, Derek Yu writes about the process of designing his 2008 (and 2012 remake) game of the same name, and often refers to the difficulties introduced by the decision to generate levels randomly. He describes trying to make sure that every time a level is generated, it is new, challenging, and solvable: “The game’s first priority,” he says, “is to make sure that there is a path from the entrance to the exit that is traversable without the use of bombs, rope, or other special equipment.” Spelunky generates its levels with templates for rooms and patterns for smaller…

Downwell-LaserBlast
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The tricky brilliance of Downwell’s gunboots

“Shit, this game is hard.” It was the jesting gripe heard ‘round the panel room at the Game Developer’s Conference on Monday, March 14th. A grievance that, surprisingly, came from game developer Ojiro Fumoto himself while playing a live tech demo of an early prototype of his own game: Downwell. Fumoto’s vertigo-inducing roguelike Downwell released late last year to critical acclaim, and soon became the hot topic at everyone’s fingertips. In the aptly named panel, “Polishing the Boots – Designing Downwell Around One Key Mechanic,” Fumoto detailed the many iterations his now infamous “gunboot” mechanic took on through the game’s…

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The story behind Downwell, one of this year’s most delightful surprises

Downwell might be a perfect game title. Not only is it short and pithy, but it serves as a perfect summation for what developer Ojiro Fumoto has created. It’s a game in which a young boy is continuously falling down a well, avoiding enemies and purchasing upgrades along the way. But it’s not a hopeless endeavor. Armed with Gunboots firing from his feet, the boy is able to defend himself during his descent. The result is the type of sweat-inducing adventure that threatens to do water damage to your smartphone or controller, a game whose red and white character models…

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Free fall to your heart’s content in Downwell

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Downwell (PC, Mac)  BY Moppin In most games, falling is essentially akin to certain death. Step an inch over the edge, and the void is there to swallow you up and take some of your health along with it. But in Downwell, falling is the exact opposite of an abyss. It is everything: life, death, and all else in between. In this vertical shoot-em-up, you must find the wherewithal to fight ghoulish monsters and gather resources while you free fall down a seemingly endless well…

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How do you bring the magic of Spelunky to 3D architecture?

Mark Johns is chasing a ghost. This is what he tells me. It’s not quite the truth. The spectral quality of this “ghost” isn’t immateriality; interfacing with it isn’t a problem, Johns has done that thousands of times. The hard bit, and the bit he’s after, is understanding it. The ghost is actually Spelunky: a procedurally generated action-platformer that Johns declares “might be the greatest videogame ever made.” But Johns reaches for metaphor, as he’s the kind of guy to give into the lure of theatrics if given the chance. He lives in the moment. Snatch him a boiler suit and…