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App description: Erik is a platformer game where you have to collect all of the coins in each level. The artwork is based of minimalist painters of the 20th century. Erik's cool aesthetic look gives you the sense you are apart of the painting. The gameplay feels like you are interacting with a painting.

Mammoth's comments:
http://youtu.be/r9ZmUOKg9Ak

Erik Lite

Erik



Great news everybody! Erik just got released on the app store. Erik is a simple and fun platformer game with minimalist art. The idea is that you have to collect all of the coins in each level. There are 40 levels in this entire game.

Ive always wanted to make a platformer game with minimalist art in it. In art circles minimalism means less. You have a small number of possibilities and resources and you have to make the best of it. In this case the art is colored squares and black lines. It is very simple yet very pleasing to the eye. If you take a look at the main screen you can see it is really easy to look at. There is something about the simplicity of squares and colors that makes the project looks great.

I wanted to explore the concept of less is more in terms of game mechanics. How could I do something really simple and have it stand out? For example, in the game most of the backgrounds have jagged edges while the interactive pieces have square edges. This is something that is really simple to do and it works. Contrast in art is very easy to do and if done correctly can be really powerful. Coins, gravity switches, end of level doors, ski lifts and even the character himself are all round. Even the buttons on which you press to control the game are round. While most of the static objects like platforms and spikes are square. At first glance this dosnt seem like much but in the beta process Erik was originally a square, in fact all of the art had no round edges. It didnt look very good and it was lacking something. I had the idea to make the interactive objects round and the chemistry of visuals fit much better.

I originally wanted to have the background as completely white in order to have a really simple feel. But for some reason it didnt work. I have been to art galleries and have seen 20 foot paintings with a lot of white. But when white is projected on the screen it looked way to amateurish. I guess the answer would be that light is actually hitting the painting and that makes it more pleasing to look at. I opted to have the background be similar to the foreground solid blocks with the exception of it being about 50% transparent. I think this does tie the levels together fairly well.

The music is also minimalist as well. Minimalism takes the musical idea and it slowly changes that idea through out the song. If you really pay attention to the music you can hear the subtle differences however, if you do not pay attention then when you do notice the music, the music is in a completely different spot. I love writing minimalist music for games. It gives a wow moment to the player. Because most of the time the player is focused on the game play and not the music. When the music gets more intense the player will notice it for a second and then be amazed that the music is conceptually in a different spot even though compositionally the music took small steps to progress.

The musics instrumentation is fairly sparse. There is only a cello and a violin. I added a double bass for a low note because I thought it was nessissary. I felt that it would give the player a wow moment.

Erik was hard to draw. I probably drew 10 versions before I came up with the one in the game. At the beginning there was actually no beret. I felt he was missing something and I felt that since I was making an artistic game why not put a beret on him.

Another thing about Erik that I wanted to do differently is have a lack of direction. This is usually the biggest mistake for any game designer but I wanted the experience to be close to walking into a museum and looking at art. Usually you are not given too much backstory on what you are seeing. I wanted the levels to feel the same way. By trial and error the player will find the rules of the game fairly easy. The only direction I felt I had to give is right at the beginning. The ladders I felt were too hard to figure out. And you are only playing the game for 10 seconds. I didnt want to frustrate the player. So in the first level is the only time the player gets direction. After that its an adventure to discover the rules of the game.

Lastly the controls for Erik are similar yet different. The single most important part to a video game is controls. If your controls are bad then your game is bad. It doesnt matter what else you have in the game. I find that people are now using touch screens for controllers. I am used to the classic physical controllers. It was hard to get used to the controls in Erik, simply because I am not used to those kind of controls. When I tested it with a couple of people they commented on the controls but got used to it quite quickly. I think most people are not used to the touch controls now. But later they will be. If you want a game with interesting controls try shift. Its unique and innovative.

Upon its release it was featured in 252 of the itunes stores.

Have a nice day
Mammoth Interactive
06-17-2011, 10:54 AM
#2
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 4,443
A fascinating essay; I mean that. You are quite obviously enamored with Mondrian, and rightly so, as he was immensely talented. I personally wouldn't classify his work or his philosophy as a Minimalism. I'm assuming you do, and that's fine, an argument could be made that his work later "influenced" true minimalists. Even so, I tried Erik Lite and your interpretation of his work is clearly not minimalist.

The whole presentation is very busy, in my opinion. The background competes with the foreground and layering the two cheapens the whole notion of Minimalism. If you had Mondrian play the section with the "mini-Mondrian" blocks, I'm sure he would be apalled. The player character is quite obviously representational and whether he "looks better with a hat", it has to be considered like everything else. This is simply in reference to the visuals, but other areas suffer, as well.

The visual representation of the controls may or may not be minimalist, but the application and usage of them is not. Again, in the mini-Mondrian section, there is an upper block that cannot be reached easily, using the basic controls. One must inch their way up the edge, from a jump below, which is non-standard. Perhaps with a minimalist approach, the character wouldn't jump at all?

While I understand the desire, and sometimes necessity, of acquiring capital, the most glaring error in your vision of Minimalism is the inclusion of advertisements. Even if you or anyone else disagree with every single thing I've said, you would have to conceed that whatever is being displayed there is decidely not minimalist. Just the thought of it would send a minimalist running and screaming in the other direction (which is also decidedly not minimalist ). It even flies in the face of the precepts outlined by Mondrian's own artistic movement, De Stijl.

Again, I love your passion in writing about the topic, but I feel like your product does not fulfill the promise and follow through on those ideals. I could have simply kept my mouth shut about it, but if it were me, I would want the critique. If it were me, I would strip down the visuals completely and focus on what Minimalism means in this new medium of the video game. That's where the true innovation will come, because Mondrian didn't have them; they weren't even invented yet. Even more obvious minimalists, like Frank Stella, may have had access to them, but didn't explore them as a medium. Although, I bet they loved Pong!

Good luck.

Now Playing: Vietnam '65 | .Decluster | BP2Black | Monster Hunter Freedom Unite | Banner Saga | Ultimate General Gettysburg | Papers, Please | SmartGo Kifu | Crowntakers | Brogue | FTL

Last edited by djflippy; 06-17-2011 at 01:31 PM.

06-17-2011, 03:28 PM
#3
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 5
Hi Thanks for the reply and trying out my game. I did try having a lot less on the screen but it looked too bare. I have another game with VERY sparse graphics coming up. Its almost done and when it is Ill post here.

The simpler the graphics the more of an atari feel it has to it which is something that I was not going for. I felt that I had to add more detail because the average gamer would probably but unsatisfied if I had made it less than what it is.

Thanks again for your comment Ill keep your opinions in mind for my next games!
06-17-2011, 07:08 PM
#4
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 4,443
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mammoth View Post
Hi Thanks for the reply and trying out my game. I did try having a lot less on the screen but it looked too bare. I have another game with VERY sparse graphics coming up. Its almost done and when it is Ill post here.

The simpler the graphics the more of an atari feel it has to it which is something that I was not going for. I felt that I had to add more detail because the average gamer would probably but unsatisfied if I had made it less than what it is.

Thanks again for your comment Ill keep your opinions in mind for my next games!
You may very well be right about what the average gamer wants.

Thanks for the pleasant reply, because upon re-reading my original post I discovered that I sound like a total douche! Wasn't my intent. I distinctly remember wanting to help you out by offering opinions, but it doesn't read like that at all.

Note to self: Never write game comments when you just woke up, lol. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with Brilliant Idea that is sure to change the world and then when you wake up and read it, you think, "WTF was I thinking?". That's kinda how I feel.

You new title sounds kewl.

Cheers.

Now Playing: Vietnam '65 | .Decluster | BP2Black | Monster Hunter Freedom Unite | Banner Saga | Ultimate General Gettysburg | Papers, Please | SmartGo Kifu | Crowntakers | Brogue | FTL
06-18-2011, 08:29 AM
#5
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by djflippy View Post
You may very well be right about what the average gamer wants.

Thanks for the pleasant reply, because upon re-reading my original post I discovered that I sound like a total douche! Wasn't my intent. I distinctly remember wanting to help you out by offering opinions, but it doesn't read like that at all.

Note to self: Never write game comments when you just woke up, lol. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with Brilliant Idea that is sure to change the world and then when you wake up and read it, you think, "WTF was I thinking?". That's kinda how I feel.

You new title sounds kewl.

Cheers.
Don't worry about it, I like constructive criticism so it's okay
06-18-2011, 08:39 AM
#6





Trailer:

Teaser Trailer:

06-18-2011, 02:29 PM
#7
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 5
Hi there,

Thanks for posting this
06-21-2011, 09:23 AM
#8
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 5
Great news! Erik lite for ipad is in the N&N section!

http://mammothinteractive.net/?p=197