Tag Archives: GameTap

“Girl Without Hands” Review

Hun King

Hun Warrior King

Steven Wong over at Big Download has written another positive Grimm review. In the review Steven says:

We were also very pleased to find Grimm taking stronger liberties with the story, changing it from a deranged story about fate into a revenge tale. Justifications are provided to help fill in some of the glaring plot holes and leaps of logic. In the end, the daughter gains retribution against her father. It’s not a happy ending, but it’s certainly a satisfying one. As an added bonus, Grimm’s intervention transforms everything into a dark, bloody and truly wicked world. Characters are portrayed with boxy marionettes, but it’s still great to see their heads on pikes while blood rains down.

American McGee’s Grimm is headed in a good direction with its episode-by-episode gameplay adjustments. Even with the added difficulty, the entire game can still be completed in less than thirty minutes.

What I appreciate about Steven’s reviews is that he’s clearly someone who enjoys the game as it was designed and isn’t down on it for not being something different. This is directly opposite the approach of eternally put-upon reviewer Jimmy Thang over at IGN, who approaches weekly reviews of Grimm in hopes that between episodes the engine, genre, play style, graphics, and general “hard-coreness” of the game have been completely overhauled and/or replaced.

He’s yet to realize this is akin to looking for a goat in a bicycle shop.

This contrast in response is one I’m seeing in players and reviewers alike. And I’ve thought about it quite a bit. I think about it because we designed Grimm’s presentation and mechanics to be gradually evolved over the course of episode releases. Listening to user response and feedback is critical to informing the decisions we make about how the game evolves.

Feedback of the “this is great, I love it” sort is nice, but as useless as the “the graphics engine is still the same” type. Neither is quantifiable, objective, or realistic enough for us to utilize in developing future episodes. Still, Jimmy’s approach to review and final judgment suggest a reader should skip a particular episode until it reaches a certain acceptability level in terms of platform gaming, graphics engine sophistication, and power-up distribution. He ignores the fact that the game is a FREE invitation for the audience to be involved in the feedback loop and evolution of the game.

Ultimately, this rigid application of static critique to a medium that is dynamic – interactive! – indicates a lack of awareness about the innovations in our industry, its products, and its audience.

Then again, some people are fond of goats. Bleat.

Grimm Episode 5 – “Girl Without Hands”

Grimm Episode 5 - No Hands

Next-Gen Grimm Visuals

Grimm episodes just keep coming. Welcome to Episode 5, “The Girl Without Hands”. Based on a twisted tale of fatherly betrayal, Satanic tom foolery, and a good amount of hand choppery (is that a word?), “No Hands” as we like to call it here at Spicy Horse, is a fun romp in the world of Grimm. This episode features some more challenging platform gaming – as requested – as well as some new game play twists based on environmental “challenges”. Check it out on GameTap!

While you’re over at GameTap, be sure to check out the Grimm Forum. We’re talking about the game, the episodes, and the things we like/dis-like about both. Good place to voice your thoughts on how to evolve upcoming episodes. Same is true of the forums on this site, which you can check out here.

All in all another great week for Grimm. The reviews continue to be positive. The discussions continue to be lively. And here in Shanghai we continue to evolve the game based on the feedback we’re receiving.

Next week, Episode 6, “Godfather Death”. This is a really cool episode you don’t want to miss. Check back here for the latest news, and check my YouTube channel for the trailer soon.

Grimm Episode 4 – “Puss in Boots”

Cat Giant

Puss No Boots

Another week, another episode of Grimm! This time around Grimm visits the well-known tale of “Puss in Boots” – to ridicule the idea that an intelligent, talking cat would be selfless servant to a bumbling imbecile.

Check out the trailer on YouTube. Then head over to GameTap to check out the latest episode for FREE (during the first 24 hours after launch). (Why do I sometimes feel like a car salesman? Sigh.)

During the week since we released Episode 3, Grimm garnered further praise from reviewers and players alike. Maximum PC gave a 7 score on a combined review of the first two episodes, saying:

To begin each episode, Grimm narrates a puppet show version of a fairy tale as it has traditionally been told. The snarky commentary grants these sequences undeniable charm, which is further enhanced by the simple character models and animation. The pastel colors and blocky figures make the game look like a storybook illustration come to life.

Great review! Although they incorrectly state the game is rated “M” and warn against exposing kids to it. Actually, it’s a Teen rating, so a little exposure might not completely warp your children.

The “target audience” question is one I’ve seen a few times now. I guess the fact the question exists says something about our product positioning (or lack thereof). And I’ll be the first to admit the “aim” is quite wide. I think that’s partly a result of the core mechanic: We’re working with “children’s tales”, but striving to make them darker. Things start off looking “Disney” and end up looking Manson Family. So the target audience depends entirely on which side of the tale you’re looking at.

Another way of stating it: Each episode starts as “E” but the game goal is to convert everything to “M”.

Makes me wonder if Grimm could be used as an instructional video for ESRB reviewers. “See this flower? This is E. Now see how the flower converts into a child’s skull with blood shooting from th eye sockets? That’s M.”

Ultimately, the narrative goal of all this “transforming things to dark” is to resuscitate fairy tales once breaming with bloody, nasty, scary, LIFE. Somewhere during the Disney-facation of children’s entertainment society decided that “protected children” grew up to be to better, healthier adults. Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Personally, I’m inclined to believe our mental “defenses” work best when inoculated through exposure and adaption. Same way our immune system functions. Children exposed to the dirty, gritty, caterpillar eating, dog poo playing, window licking reality of the world develop better and stronger immune systems compared to tykes raised “in a bubble”. We don’t live in a bubble – so we have a hard time living in the real world when raised in one – works whether we’re talking about mental, physical, or “other” aspects of our being.

I say, “Let your children eat caterpillars! And let them play Grimm!”

Just don’t blame me if they take to running around peeing on everything.

Grimm Episode 3 – “Fishwife”

Fish Wife - Platform Madness

“Platform Madness from the Fisherman!”

After a whole entire WEEK of waiting, Episode 3 is here at last! Amazing how that works, isn’t it? And, best of all, many new game play elements are featured in this episode. See how that works? Ask and you shall receive! “The Fisherman and his Wife” features power-ups, more challenging platform gameplay, and some pretty wicked dark transformations. It’s also one of my favorite “Grimm” tales so far – everyone gets what they deserve in the end!

Best of all, this Episode, like all the others, is FREE TO PLAY for the first 24 HOURS! So head over to GameTap and get it while it’s fresh! If you happen to miss the 24 hour free play window, you can always purchase the episode in stand-alone form, either from GameTap or other digital download portals.

Check out the Fisherman and his Wife Episode Page.
For those of you unable to access GameTap, you can buy Grimm episodes via alternate digital download site, such as TryGames.com Again, Grimm IS coming to other digital download site soon. Just a few more days!

Finally, a question for all the hardcore gamers and hardcore writers: Do you realize Grimm is a casual game? Despite the fact it was developed with UE3, it isn’t targeted at people who’ve been waiting for the next “Gears of War” or “Halo”. When you state it’s “nothing more” than an interactive story, I think, “well, yeah?” Our design focus was: #1 Narrative, #2 Art, #3 Gameplay. And that’s not to say gameplay is last – just not #1 (the “focus list” goes beyond #3).

Maybe that sounds “wrong” or at least odd? Well, maybe everything about Grimm is a little different or odd. That’s part of the point. Certain elements of the game are purposefully experimental. And the beauty of episodic is that we can listen to feedback and implement it in upcoming episodes. If you want to be critical of the game, go right ahead. But imagine for once that your criticism could be constructive. The game is still evolving. It isn’t locked in a box. You didn’t buy it off a shelf. And for the most part, you didn’t buy it at all. You have 24 hours to play it for FREE, comment on it, and maybe even make it better!

Do yourself and other gamers a favor: contribute something. It’s harder than destroying something – especially when you call yourself “destructoid”. And if destroying is all you’re about, and the act of destroying stuff IN Grimm isn’t appealing to you, then go back to fragging space aliens. We still have 20 episodes of innovating, experimenting, and evolving to do. I wouldn’t want you to wear yourself out – remember this is episodic, this is something different.

Grimm – Episode 2 – Red Riding Hood

Giant Thimble

“Thumbs up!”

Has it already been a week since we launched Grimm Episode 1?! Man, time flies when you’re releasing weekly episodic content. The response to the first episode has been overwhelmingly positive, with an expected dash of “what the hell is this” criticism tossed in for good measure. All in all a very successful launch of the weirdly innovative little product known as Grimm.

The team here at Spicy Horse has continued to crank on production for upcoming episodes. And now we’re able to start thinking about feedback from YOU, the audience. So, here’s a bunch of random stuff we’re hearing and thinking about:

1. LOTS of confusion over the distribution/pay structure for episodes. Frankly, I think the press outlets are mostly to blame for this. Note how IGN’s Jimmy Thang bungles it when he states, “The first episode of this new adventure series is free on GameTap, but its sequels will not be free.” Wrong. I’ve yet to see more than a handful of reviewers who correctly communicate the model. I don’t know if that’s because they aren’t being fed the right info, or if because the model is so mind-numbingly innovative it causes brain failure. Anyway, the model is this: Episode 1 is TOTALLY FREE FOREVER EVERYWHERE (not just on GameTap). Consider it the Grimm demo. Future episodes are free for 24 HOURS after their initial release on GameTap. Then they become available for a variety of pay methods (subscription to GameTap, single episode purchase, alternate distribution streams, etc). As for how we’re going to repair the “instructions” related to this aspect of their product’s design… only repeated communication of the facts will do the trick. I’d ask that industry press outlets try to help us reinforce the true nature of the distribution model.

2. The game is too EASY, SHORT, CASUAL. The only issue I have with this statement is the “too” – as it creates a subjective opinion. The truth is, the game is designed as a “casual game”. Sure, we used the Unreal 3 engine to develop it, so call it a “next gen casual game” if it makes you feel better. Anyway, the whole point of episodic is to evolve the episodes based on user feedback. So here’s what we’re going to do about “too casual” – in future episodes you’ll see more use of power-ups, areas tuned for more challenging “transformation game play”, and more emphasis on classic platform game mechanics. But try to keep in mind: If you don’t like simple, casual, short games – you might not like Grimm. He won’t like you either. No hard feelings.

3. Much love of the Grimm transformation process, art style, story elements, etc. And some suggestions for improving these aspects of the game and/or linking them more tightly together. We hear you and want you to know: changes should be expected. You’ll see gradual improvements to many aspects of the game art, story, and mechanic over upcoming releases.

If you have thoughts on improving the game or criticism, please post it here in the comments, or head over to the forum on am.com or forum on gt.com to discuss with others. We look forward to your feedback!

OH! And most importantly – Episode 2 is OUT NOW and available for free during the first 24 hours! Go check it out on GameTap. This week: Red Riding Hood

Episode listing update:

A Boy Learns What Fear Is AVAILABLE NOW!
Little Red Riding Hood AVAILABLE NOW
The Fisherman and His Wife Coming August 14
Puss In Boots Coming August 21
The Girl Without Hands Coming August 28
Godfather Death Coming September 4
The Devil and His Three Golden Hairs Coming September 11
Beauty and the Beast Coming September 18

Grimm Episode 1 – Goes Live

Grimm,

“Look ma, No Hands!”

Well, the day we’ve all been waiting for is finally here: Grimm Episode 1 has launched on GameTap!

For me and the team here at Spicy Horse this is a momentous occasion. Everything we’ve worked for and built since starting the studio has gone into the Grimm project – and Episode 1 is the first of many offerings to an audience we hope will enjoy the game as much as we enjoyed making it.

And so far the response has been great:
Ars Technica says Grimm is “simultaneously goofy, child-like, and completely twisted.”
GamePlasma says “Grimm is an excellent example of a great episodic platform game.”
GamesRadar says “Dirtying the pseudo puppet show world is devilishly satisfying…”

I’ve noticed there’s more than a little confusion about the free/episodic nature of the game, which is a shame because, in addition to the fact Grimm’s a lot of fun, the distribution model is quite awesome. So, let’s clear it up once and for all:

  • First, Episode 1 is FREE now, FREE forever. You can access it using a FREE GameTap account. Free, forever, fun.
  • Next, future Episodes will be FREE for 24 hours – again, using a FREE GameTap account. After 24 hours, you’ll need a paid subscription to GameTap and/or you can purchase a single download of an Episode.
  • Finally, there will be alternate digital distribution channels in the near future. More on that before the next episode.
  • Now, I hope that clears things up. Stayed tuned for more cool new regarding Grimm. And be sure to head over to GameTap next week so you can tune in for “Little Red Riding Hood”. Remember, it’s FREE during the first 24 hours!

    Here’s an episode listing for the first 8 episodes:

    A Boy Learns What Fear Is AVAILABLE NOW!
    Little Red Riding Hood Coming August 7
    The Fisherman and His Wife Coming August 14
    Puss In Boots Coming August 21
    The Girl Without Hands Coming August 28
    Godfather Death Coming September 4
    The Devil and His Three Golden Hairs Coming September 11
    Beauty and the Beast Coming September 18

    Enjoy!