|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, OS X, Ouya|
Thralled is a platform puzzle video game about an 18th-century runaway slave and her baby escaping the Portuguese slave trade. The game began as a senior project in the USC Interactive Media & Games Division and later became an Ouya exclusive after being discovered by Kellee Santiago.
Platform games, or platformers, are a video game genre and subgenre of action game. In a platformer the player controlled character must jump and climb between suspended platforms while avoiding obstacles. Environments often feature uneven terrain of varying height that must be traversed. The player often has some control over the height and distance of jumps to avoid letting their character fall to their death or miss necessary jumps. The most common unifying element of games of this genre is the jump button, but now there are other alternatives like swiping a touchscreen. Other acrobatic maneuvers may factor into the gameplay as well, such as swinging from objects such as vines or grappling hooks, as in Ristar or Bionic Commando, or bouncing from springboards or trampolines, as in Alpha Waves. These mechanics, even in the context of other genres, are commonly called platforming, a verbification of platform. Games where jumping is automated completely, such as 3D games in The Legend of Zelda series, fall outside of the genre.
The University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts's Interactive Media & Games Division first accepted M.F.A. students in 2002. The division currently offers both undergraduate (B.A.) and graduate (M.F.A.) programs in interactive media and game design. The programs include courses in game design, development, audio, animation, and user research as well as experimental work in gestural and immersive interfaces, transmedia design, and interactive cinema.
The Ouya, stylized as OUYA, is an Android-based microconsole developed by Ouya Inc. Julie Uhrman founded the project in 2012, bringing in designer Yves Béhar to collaborate on its design and Muffi Ghadiali as VP of Product Management to put together the engineering team. Development was funded via Kickstarter, raising $8.5 million and becoming the website's ninth-highest earning project in its history at the time.
Thralled is a side-scrolling platform and puzzle gamewhere the player-character is a runaway slave mother escaping the Portuguese slave trade with her baby. The runaway slave, Isaura, escapes from a sugarcane plantation in 18th-century Brazil to find her missing child. She travels through Congo jungles and "colonial New World", and confronts the pains of losing her child and own past. While pursuing freedom and in fear of being caught and returned, she completes puzzles that include moving carts and cutting rope-bridges while temporarily relinquishing the baby. When the baby is placed down to move objects and cross chasms, a dark apparition version of the main character appears and approaches to take the baby. Settings include the plantation, a slave ship, and a castle that stores slaves for trade. The game has no dialogue, so Isaura expresses herself through movement. The game is played through a sole action button which either comforts the baby or interacts with the environment.
Thralled debuted in mid 2013.It started as a student project by creative director Miguel Oliveira and his peers at the University of Southern California Interactive Media & Games Division — Oliveira's senior thesis. He and animator Tiffanie Mang continued the project after their graduation and planned an iOS release. When Ouya developer relations head Kellee Santiago saw the game, she approached the developers about a deal: funding in exchange for exclusivity. They agreed, and the agreement funded the new development company. The game was shown at the March 2014 Game Developers Conference's Ouya booth and in the June 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo's IndieCade section. Early feedback said that the game was too difficult, which hurt the level of "tension" upon trying again.
iOS is a mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. exclusively for its hardware. It is the operating system that presently powers many of the company's mobile devices, including the iPhone, and iPod Touch; it also powered the iPad prior to the introduction of iPadOS in 2019. It is the second most popular mobile operating system globally after Android.
Platform evangelism is the application of technology evangelism to a multi-sided platform. It seeks to accelerate the growth of a platform's commercial ecosystem of complementary goods, created by independent developers, as a means to the end of maximizing the platform's market share.
Kellee Santiago is a Venezuelan American video game designer and producer. She is the co-founder and former president of thatgamecompany. Santiago was born in Caracas, Venezuela and was raised in Richmond, Virginia, where she played video games from a young age and was encouraged by her software engineer father to experiment with computers. While attending New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, she became active in experimental theater, and intended to pursue it after earning a master's degree in the Interactive Media Program of the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. While there, however, she became involved in video game design, and produced Cloud, a game developed by Jenova Chen and a student team. Its success sparked her and Chen to found thatgamecompany upon graduating, and she became the president.
The mother and child element was chosen to "universalize" the horrors of slavery—that the latter could be made easier to understand through the former.The conceit was also a way to not focus on the violence of the era, which Oliveira said he could not accurately or comfortably depict. Thralled is also partially to humanize the tens of millions in modern slavery worldwide. Oliveira has said that he thought the video game medium was young and should be pushed further, as well as that the interactive medium has endless possibilities for self-expression of "intimacy", for broaching hard topics, and for empathizing with victims. He felt that most games focus on "primitive", animal feelings—"aggressiveness and competitiveness"—and was interested in empathetic and humanizing games that focus on "love and caring". The idea of the shadow figure that pursues the unaccompanied baby descends from a Congolese idea of the dead's world as parallel and reverse to ours, as viewable through reflections in bodies of water and mirrors. The developers also integrated their research on period Congolese and Brazilian culture into the game.
It is expected for release in 2016.The developers have no plans to release on other platforms and have not said whether the game is a timed exclusive, though Polygon reported that it was one.
Pre-release reception praised the game's artwork and concept. 's Colin Campbell called the game "emotionally challenging" when citing the baby's cries and Isaura's conspicuous fears. He noted that its gameplay and Ouya exclusivity were likely weak spots. The "chilling experience" made Kotaku's Evan Narcisse cry. He said the game made him consider the lengths to which he would go for his own daughter's betterment. Director of antislavery organization Walk Free Debra Rosen praised the game for its role in raising awareness about modern slavery.Polygon
Polygon is an American video game website that publishes news, culture, reviews, and videos. At its October 2012 launch as Vox Media's third property, Polygon sought to distinguish itself from competitors by focusing on the stories of the people behind the games instead of the games themselves. They also produced long-form magazine-style feature articles, invested in video content, and chose to let their review scores be updated as the game changed.
The Indie Fund is an organization created by several independent game developers to help fund budding indie video game development. The Indie Fund was created in early 2010, its purpose aimed "to encourage the next generation of game developers" by providing them funding for development of these games without the terms that would normally be associated with publication agreements.
The Coalition is a Canadian video game developer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a subsidiary of Xbox Game Studios. The Coalition is best known for developing games in the Gears of War series after the franchise's acquisition by Xbox Game Studios from Epic Games.
Quadrilateral Cowboy is a first-person puzzle-adventure video game by independent developer Blendo Games. The game was released on July 25, 2016 for Microsoft Windows, and on October 1, 2016 for macOS and Linux.
Philippe Poisson, better known as Phil Fish, is a French-Canadian former indie game designer best known for his work on the 2012 platform game Fez. He was born and raised in Quebec, where his experiences with Nintendo games in his youth would later influence his game design. He studied game design at the Montreal National Animation and Design Centre, and worked at Ubisoft and Artificial Mind and Movement before starting Polytron in 2008.
The Xbox One is an eighth-generation home video game console that was developed by Microsoft. Announced in May 2013, it is the successor to Xbox 360 and the third console in the Xbox brand. It was first released in North America, parts of Europe, Australia, and South America in November 2013, and in Japan, China, and other European countries in September 2014. It is the first Xbox game console to be released in China, specifically in the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone. Microsoft marketed the device as an "all-in-one entertainment system", hence the name 'Xbox One'. The Xbox One mainly competes against Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's Wii U and Switch.
MOJO, stylized as M.O.J.O., is an Android-based video game microconsole manufactured by Mad Catz.
A microconsole is a type of video game console. Many of the devices that the term has been used to describe are low-cost Android-based devices that are designed to connect to televisions and play video games downloaded from an application store, such as Google Play.
Green Throttle Games is a video game and video game peripheral developer.
Below is an action-adventure game developed and published by Capybara Games. It was initially to be published by Microsoft Studios for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One but later was published by the developer Capybara Games. The game was announced during Microsoft's E3 2013 press event, and was indefinitely delayed in mid-2016 when Capybara pivoted to polish the game instead of rushing it out. It was released on December 14, 2018.
TowerFall is an action indie video game created by Matt Thorson through their company Matt Makes Games. In the game, players control up to four archers in a battle royale. It was released on the Ouya microconsole in June 2013 and was later ported to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Linux, OS X, and Windows as TowerFall Ascension.
Monument Valley is an indie puzzle game developed and published by Ustwo Games. The player leads the princess Ida through mazes of optical illusions and impossible objects while manipulating the world around her to reach various platforms. Monument Valley was developed over ten months beginning in early 2013 based on concept drawings by company artist Ken Wong. Its visual style was inspired by Japanese prints, minimalist sculpture, and indie games Windosill, Fez, and Sword & Sworcery, and was compared by critics to M. C. Escher drawings and Echochrome. The art was designed such that each frame would be worthy of public display. After a closed beta test, it was released for iOS on April 3, 2014, and was later ported to Android and Windows Phone. The game received generally favorable reviews. Critics praised its art and sound design, but noted its lack of difficulty and short length. It won a 2014 Apple Design Award, was named Apple's best iPad game of 2014, and sold over two million copies by January 2015; by May 2016, sales of the game exceeded 26 million.
That Dragon, Cancer is a video game created by Ryan and Amy Green, Josh Larson, and a small team under the name Numinous Games. The autobiographical game is based on the Greens' experience of raising their son Joel, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer at twelve months old, and though only given a short time to live, continued to survive for four more years before eventually succumbing to the cancer in March 2014. The game is designed to have the player experience the low and high moments of this period in the style of a point-and-click adventure game, using the medium's interactivity and immersion to relate the tale in ways that a film cannot. It was initially developed to relate Ryan and Amy's personal experience with Joel when they were uncertain of his health, but following his death, they reworked much of the game to memorialize and personalize their time and interactions with Joel for the player. Alongside the game, a documentary, Thank You for Playing, documenting both the last few years of Joel's life and the development of the game, was aired in 2016.
Secrets of Rætikon is an action-adventure open world video game developed and published by Broken Rules. The player controls a bird and must explore the environment of Rætikon to find its secrets. Game elements include animals with specific behaviors and ancient puzzles. Development began in 2011 and the game was formally announced in July 2013 and followed by alpha and Steam Early Access releases. Secrets of Rætikon was released on April 17, 2014 for Windows, OS X, and Linux platforms. It received mixed reviews from reviewers, who praised its artwork and movement physics, but criticized its inconsistency, lack of cohesion, and technical issues.
Pushmo World, known as Pullblox World in Europe and as Hikuosu World in Japan, is a puzzle game developed by Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo for the Wii U video game console. The game is a sequel to Pushmo and Crashmo, and was released worldwide on June 19, 2014.
Asher Vollmer is an American indie video game developer and creator of Puzzlejuice and Threes. He created the 2012 iOS game Puzzlejuice while a student at USC Interactive Media & Games Division. The game began his collaboration with Greg Wohlwend. The pair's next release, the 2014 iOS puzzle game Threes, received what review aggregator Metacritic described as "universal acclaim", including perfect scores from Eurogamer and TouchArcade, and the title of Apple Inc.'s iPhone game of the year. The game was later ported to multiple platforms. Polygon included Vollmer in their "50 admirable gaming people" of the year for his work on Threes. Among other projects, Vollmer subsequently worked on Close Castles, a real-time strategy game later put on hiatus, and Royals, a simulation game for OS X and Windows.
The high-profile and protracted five-year development of the video game Fez led to its status as an "underdog darling of the indie game scene". The 2012 puzzle platform game built around rotating between four 2D views of a 3D space was developed by indie developer Polytron Corporation and published by Polytron, Trapdoor, and Microsoft Studios. Over the course of the game's development, Fez designer and Polytron founder Phil Fish received celebrity status for his outspoken public persona and prominence in the 2012 documentary Indie Game: The Movie, which followed the game's final stages of development and Polytron's related legal issues. The game was released to critical acclaim as an Xbox Live Arcade timed exclusive, and was later ported to other platforms. It had sold one million copies by the end of 2013.
Night Light Interactive, LLC is an American video game company founded in 2012 and based in North Hills, California that has developed the video game Whispering Willows.
P.T. is a first-person psychological horror video game developed by Kojima Productions, under the pseudonym "7780s Studio", and published by Konami. The game was directed and designed by Hideo Kojima, in collaboration with film director Guillermo del Toro.