My apologies to you if this week's Spotlight on Greenlight experiences a few technical difficulties. The UK has seen some snowfall and it's thrown our country into chaos, bringing transport to a halt and quite possibly causing the internet to freeze up. If this Spotlight seems unusually rigid or feels chilly to the touch, I'd suggest gently heating your web browser for a few minutes, perhaps by microwaving your PC or slipping it into a toaster.
All sorted? Good, then let us proceed.
This is the sort of idea that immediately has me slapping my forehead and crying out "Why didn't I think of that?!" A hop-in, hop-out action game of space combat and starship design? Something that features hundreds of different ship types? Laser battles in asteroid fields? Co-op or free-for-all PvP with up to 50 ships in one fight? Yes. Yes please, if only to stop me asking all these questions, questions which I'm actually asking myself. Enough of that nonsense, I want to shoot things in space and I want to do it as soon as possible.
Let's stick with space for the moment, because I want to show you another take on combat amongst the stars. Galactic Arms Race again involves bouts of intense PvP combat punctuated by ship modding and upgrading, but it offers a more retro take on co-op laser battles. It also does something rather unusual with its weapon types. Rather than just giving you a set of armaments to choose from,it "creates new weapons that elaborate on the ones that have been popular in the past." To be precise, the game uses "a special type of Artificial Neural Network (ANN) that has proven effective at encoding patterns" to help it generate particle behaviours. Wait, what? Well, you can read all about that on the developer's blog.
I'm a man who's more than old enough to remember the original King's Bounty and one thing I don't think I'll ever lose interest in is anything with a medieval of high fantasy theme, though I do appreciate it when the tropes are given a good twist. Legends of Eisenwald is very much singing my tune with its elf-less and rather grim take on the genre, mixing exploration and turn-based battles in the style of the King's Bounty and the Heroes of Might and Magic games. I'm particularly interested in the idea of dynamic, evolving campaigns in a fantasy world and I'm likely to lose entire weekends tinkering with customisable units and nosing my way through great libraries of spells.
Believe it or not (and thankfully enough), BallZ's name is not riffing of DayZ or The War Z and it's nothing at all to do with zombies. It's instead one of those Greenlight projects that is trying something that isn't usually done. BallZ uses your webcam to drag you into the game, much like Kinect does on the Xbox 360, and has you swinging away at empty air as you try to play 21st century Pong in a virtual world. It might not be bristling with features and game modes, nor a revolutionary concept, but this is exactly the sort of thing that Greenlight can bring to us: games where we get to do something different.
So here's another example of that. I wanted to shine this week's spotlight upon In Verbis Virtus because it's also trying something a little bit different, being a game where you call out commands into your microphone to use your magic powers. Now, I could be glib and say that I have plenty of games that already have me shouting at my PC, but this is just looking too finely-crafted for me to make such throwaway comments. A first-person adventure game that sends you up against puzzles and dangerous enemies, In Verbis Virtus wants your spells and, by extension, your voice to be as much of a tool as your mouse or keyboard. Personally, I hope I get to throw defensive spells around by bellowing "YOU SHALL NOT PASS." That would make my evening.