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About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

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'GarageGames' Launches Three New Games

by Rainier on Dec. 13, 2002 @ 10:42 p.m. PST

After graduating from the corporate world of big budget games, Dynamix co-founder Jeff Tunnell and his partners are once again making games. Their company, an independent publisher named GarageGames, is putting the focus of computer gaming back on fun, skill, and innovation with the titles Chain Reaction, Marble Blast and Robot Battle.

Nearly three years ago, Tunnell, and the top technologists from Dynamix, Rick Overman, Tim Gift and Mark Frohnmayer left that company with a vision of helping independent game developers make a living by investing in their own games. Their first step was to focus on developing games and to "even the technology playing field" for small companies by selling the Torque Game Engine, the power behind Tribes 2, for $100. This initiative has grown to become one of the world's largest independent game developer communities.

Today the rest of the vision becomes reality by focusing on publishing games with the launch of the "Play Games" addition to GarageGames. Play Games offers full-version game downloads for sale as well as a host of other features to compliment the resources already available to developers. The newly expanded GarageGames site will bring players of all ages and backgrounds together with developers to meet and share their love of games.

It's all About Making Fun Games

"Giving developers great technology and staying out of their way will result in fun games, and we feel these titles are proof of that vision," says Tunnell. He goes on to say, "GarageGames is turning the traditional publishing model on its head in order to build the kind of publishing company we would want to work with as a developer." For more background on the vision and mission of GarageGames visit their official website.

The first three titles, all nonviolent games for any age or gender, are available for download now.

Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction is a 3D puzzle game where players create and complete innovative contraptions to solve each level. The objective of each contraption is to blast MC Monster onto his landing pad. Players chose from a toy box full of sixty-nine 3D parts such as a basketball, dynamite, wrecking ball, bucket, solar panel, trampoline, or electric motor. Connect them with structural parts like pipes, ropes, boxes, conveyor belts and platforms to create and solve mind-boggling machines.

"Chain Reaction really is a full construction tool kit and puzzle game all in one," comments Chief Creative Officer, Jeff Tunnell, "the fun really happens when your brain starts to have these little "Ah Ha's" as you discover the millions of interactions you can create by combining all the parts. You can imagine and build these fantastic machines and then stage them so others can put them back together and create the Chain Reaction."

Chris Cole the co-designer and lead programmer and level builder comments, "It was great to get back with the original team and re-invent our favorite game, with current 3D technology, our advanced rigid body physics engine and a whole universe of game play that hasn't been explored. We couldn't resist getting to do it for ourselves as independent developers where we can let players be our guide."

Game features include, 360 degree viewing in full 3D playing fields with 8 different locations to chose from in the Builder. Eighteen tutorial levels - illustrating basic game play, camera movement, part movement, special part actions and interactivity. Forty increasingly difficult levels. Open ended design allows for multiple solutions to many levels. Builder mode or the "Reaction Chamber" provides tools to create levels, by deciding which parts to put in the level, which parts to lock down, and, just to make it difficult, which parts to put in as Red Herrings. Puzzles can be easily saved and exchanged with other players via email or the web.

The team included, Jeff Tunnell as project lead and co-designer with Chris Cole, lead programmer and level builder. Kevin Ryan, the original programmer on The Incredible Machine, contributed and the original art director, Brian Hahn completed the core team. Timothy Clarke of Score Music and Joel Streudler worked on sound effects and music, Don Carson, former senior show designer for Disney Imagineering on Mickey's Toon Town, set the look for Chain Reaction. The team was rounded out by evangelist, Jay Moore.

Marble Blast

The first title published using the Torque Game Engine, GarageGames robust 3D game engine based on the Tribes 2 technology, this arcade-style action game provides easy-to-access gameplay suitable for all ages. Set in a cartoon landscape, players race their marbles through moving platforms and dangerous hazards, collecting treasure along the way. A variety of power-ups are available to enhance players' abilities as they race to complete each course in record time.

Marble Blast helps beginning players master the game with a set of progressively more difficult training levels. "We designed the initial levels to gradually introduce the player to the marble control physics and use of the power ups," said Mark Frohnmayer, project lead on Marble Blast. Powerful fans, whirling tornadoes, and land mines are just a few of the dangers players must overcome, as well as pinball-style bumpers, narrow catwalks, and moving pistons.

To get past these obstacles, players can find and use five different ability-enhancing power-ups: Super Speed, Super Jump, Super Bounce, Shock Absorber, and Gyrocopter. Players can even roll up walls and upside down by using the Gravity Modifiers scattered throughout some of the more challenging levels.

Marble Blast will keep players entertained for weeks with seventy-two whimsical and interesting levels. Creative players can also use freely available tools to craft and share their own level designs. This title will be available online at the GarageGames community player site for $14.95.

Robot Battle

Robot Battle is unique because it takes strategy rather than reflexes, accuracy, or timing to succeed. What differentiates one robot from the next is its brain, for which players are responsible. This makes Robot Battle both a challenging game and a fun way to learn programming. The game includes extensive tutorials and help documentation that teach everything from basic programming skills to advanced robot creation. Everyone from computer novices to expert programmers can learn to play.

Player Steven Judge said, "Robot Battle is an endlessly addictive battle of wits. It is a can't quit game in which brains are more important than brawn or reflexes." Steven also added, "My son has learned to program writing robots for Robot Battle."

Player Steve Johnson said, "Robot Battle is the most addictive game I have played since Civ II. If you want something that will make hours turn into seconds, Robot Battle is for you."

Robot Battle 1.4 is a major advance over previous versions. Key features include a built-in easy to learn programming language, cool customizable graphics, team play, inter-robot communication, a simple user interface, and blazing speed with minimal system requirements.

Robot Battle has an active community of players. There are hundreds of existing robots ready for download. Jacques Chester adds, "I've been a Robot Battle player for years, and for me it has been as much about the community as the game. There is a very friendly, cooperative feeling you get - everyone is learning the game and its subtle details together."

Members of the community regularly host public tournaments. These have included everything from traditional one-on-one contests to choreographed dancing robot competitions. Lunkwill Labs and GarageGames also plan to sponsor tournaments.

Bradley Schick the founder of Lunkwill Labs and creator of Robot Battle said, "I am thrilled to be launching the newest version of Robot Battle with GarageGames. This is an exciting release for the Robot Battle community and the first time the game will be widely available to new players."

The demo version of Robot Battle is available for free at the official Robot Battle website. The full version costs $14.95 and is available from GarageGames


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