Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Notes On Linerider Machinima

If you haven't tried Linerider yet, you're missing a treat in free Flash games. If you have tried Linerider, you'll know that the below represents countless hours of work and the tireless quest to perfect a profoundly useless craft.

One form of purity in this craft is the unity of purpose we associate with great works of visual art, in which every stroke of the digital pen serves an essential function, where every ramp seems to comes just in time and at the impossibly right place. These are my favorite, a dance between sled and line that has all of the drama of dance because we can only judge its shape as it creates that shape in front of us. (Woe to the Linerider artists who screendrag through their entire course before launching us into it; the loss of agency, confusion, and anticipation a viewer feels when watching these films are half the fun.) Another, less graceful use of the medium leaves all strokes intact, creating a narrowing band of evolved intention that provides an interesting window on the development process. An amusing course design is the primary plank of a good Linerider movie, but if the designer sticks to a visual style, there is also a curiously authentic authorial voice that can be felt in this trivial pursuit.

I was also excited to see how this game has progressed since I first played it. In its previous version you had to download it, something I am rarely willing to do, and could only play it on a PC, not a Mac - suffice to say that it was only due to the impassioned chatter of its players that I went through the trouble. Now you can play it online, and you can erase lines, a "feature" that either the first version didn't have or I just never figured out how to use. I really don't have time to mess around with this game, but apparently I do have time to watch videos of "rides" other players create. Keep 'em coming!

UPDATE: Among the many great YouTubed entries to a Linerider contest is this brilliant "Cave Adventure":

Here's one where Linerider is quickly ejected from his sled and the two bounce around independently in a lurching, pinball-style course before mercifully coming to rest.

No comments: