Is this the most random game design?
Swing to win in the wonderfully wacky Verticow.
How far can you fling a roast chicken? Verticow is the game posing all the big philosophical questions. It’s not just roasted chooks that you chuck around – in this wacky game there are loads of random items – a cow, a banana, some guy with his shirt off and more.
The idea is to get your item to fly as far as possible by helping it swing around and around, building up momentum like a gymnast on the parallel bars. When you think you've got a good propulsion lined up, it's time to let your plant pot, gazelle or bicycle soar. You get extra points for rotation and landing upright.
Verticow is the latest game from Philipp Stollenmayer, otherwise known as Kamibox. He's the indie creator who specialises in small but perfectly-formed indie games, whose previous work includes Zip–Zap, Okay…? and Pancake – The Game. This new game has a very different look to his previous releases, however.
Everything you see in the game is a publicly-released image scanned from the world-famous British Library’s vast collection. The library's archive is colossal, the largest in the world in fact; over 150 million items are recorded and stored, including books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers, magazines, maps, stamps, prints and drawings from across the globe, the oldest dating back to 2000 BC.
Having stumbled across the British Library’s Flickr account one day, Stollenmayer was inspired by the strange mix of art styles. He investigated further and found over a million publicly available assets. Perfect for my new game, he thought.
“These images were so randomly thrown together that it completely changed their intention,” explains Stollenmayer. “Super-detailed plant studies beside ragged faces and ads for flat-irons… I wanted to catch that clumsily comical atmosphere in this game.”
Stollenmayer also happens to be a gymnast when he’s not making games; he used his experiences on the high bar to get the swinging protagonists feeling weighty and real. Even if it’s a cow or a chicken.
There’s more historical artwork coming to Verticow soon, says Stollenmayer. “I designed the game in a way which makes it easy for me to add new characters and scenes,” he adds. “I want to wait and see how people play the game, and react to that with the next update.”
We can't wait for more. Verticow is one of those simple but compelling high-score games that has the power to destroy productivity at work, ease the pain of any commute or fill any idle moment with a burst of weird, satisfying play.