Tildes Pop-Up Game Event: Demo Disc Days
Pop-Up Event: Demo Disc Days
Today we are going to take a trip back to the 90s, when the best way to try out new games was to use a now-antiquated piece of magical circular plastic that you might have gotten along with your subscription to something like PC Gamer, PlayStation Underground, or the Official Sega Dreamcast Magazine.
The demo disc offered gamers a small taste of a variety of different games, letting you try out the beginning levels of lots of different titles in hopes that you'd find ones you like and buy the full games.
One of the most iconic demo discs actually came with the PlayStation console itself, and featured its games laid out in a grid. This is the format we'll be exploring in this pop-up: it's our taste of the 90s, but with the games of today or yesterday or ten years ago.
Community Task: Together, we will create our own modern demo disc by filling in cells in the grid below. To fill in a cell, you must "demo" a game, which consists of:
- playing the beginning of a game,
- that you have never played before,
- for at least 30 minutes.
Choose an unfilled category below, find a game to demo that fits it, and report back here with your thoughts once you've done so! Once you successfully demo a game, it gets put into that slot.
At the end of the pop-up, we will have what may very well be the first demo disc of the 2020s featuring a spread of 42 games across multiple styles and genres!
|Casual||(casual arcade)||(casual rpg)||112 Operator||Tricky Towers||Tanuki Sunset||Lunistice||shapez|
|Colorful||Chippy||(colorful rpg)||(colorful strategy)||Can of Wormholes||You Suck at Parking||(colorful platformer)||Stacklands|
|Story Rich||(story rich arcade)||(story rich rpg)||(story rich strategy)||Strange Horticulture||(story rich racing)||(Reserved)||Lakeburg Legacies|
|Retro||Gunlocked||(retro rpg)||(retro strategy)||Zombie Night Terror||Vecter||(retro platformer)||(retro simulation)|
|Dark||(dark arcade)||(dark rpg)||Ring of Pain||The Room Three||(dark racing)||(dark platformer)||(dark simulation)|
|Great Soundtrack||(great soundtrack arcade)||(great soundtrack rpg)||(great soundtrack strategy)||(great soundtrack puzzle)||(great soundtrack racing)||(great soundtrack platformer)||X4: Foundations|
Additional Info: The styles and genres have been taken from among the list of Steam's most popular tags (with a slight preference for things that give a more 90s feel). You can use Steam's search tool or Steam's library filtering to find games that fit two tags simultaneously.
If you don't use Steam, that's fine too! A game doesn't have to be "officially" tagged to fit its category. If you feel the game fits, then go for it -- no matter what platform you're playing it on. PC games are fine; console games are fine; emulated games are fine; web games are fine; phone games are fine. Any and all games are welcome on our demo disc!
Also, the game does not have to be a modern game -- just new to you. If the game is playable today and can be demoed, then it works for our demo disc!
Finally, it is fine to demo more than one game for the event. In fact, please do! We’ve got a lot of slots to fill!
Uh, what is this exactly?
It's a temporary event aimed at getting members of the Tildes community to individually participate in something built around a common theme or goal.
Check out the previous Pop-Ups for other examples:
Ludonostalgia! for ~games
Feelin' 22 for ~music
Twenty-Twenty Vision for ~movies
There is a game that released recently that I have been interested in trying, so I will see if I can get my hands on the demo for it to fit into the story rich platformer slot.
The game is Kandria and the description for it is:
I have been seeing it a lot recently because I have been on a Lisp kick for the last month or so, it is written in Common Lisp, and the developer has written many articles about their progress on it and game development in general.
An Overview of Kandria's Development with Lisp
EDIT: I got the demo. You have to subscribe to the mailing list and then you'll get a link to the demo after a bit (eight hours in my case).
This game reminds me very much of Iji.
Very cool. The linked paper by the author is pretty neat:
Using a Highly Dynamic Language for Development: Advantages of and lessons learned from using Common Lisp in games
Casual Puzzle: Tricky Towers
Cute game. It's tetris with some curveballs. You have to build your tower up, you can move you tetromino a half block at a time, gravity will wreak havoc with your tower, there are no sidewalls. There are a few modes; in one you have to keep your tower below a line, in one you have to build above a line, and in one you have to build to a specific height within a time limit. You have a small character that is basically a mario-style lakitu, and the graphics are very cute.
Story Rich Simulation: Lakeburg Legacies
It's a Dating Sim + Colony Management game with multi-generation mechanics where the characters can get married, pregnant, and raise those children into adulthood, who then can get married and raise kids of their own, etc.
The art is absolutely gorgeous, the music is great, and it's a really neat concept that is surprisingly well executed. It's a bit linear at first, but after your colony gets properly established your options open up, and things get a lot more interesting. So if you like dating sims, and you like colony management games, this is a really unique blending of the two genres that works quite well.
The game isn't actually out yet though, so all there is to play at present is the demo.
Casual Strategy: 112 Operator
You play as an emergency line operator, routing emergencies on your map to emergency units, fielding some calls, and generally trying to keep the citizens safe in the city you're playing in. Between rounds, you can purchase more units or update the units that you have. This is pretty casual, but has a bit of an edge to it - there's actually a Let's Game It Out where he kills people and uncovers some interesting bugs. Overall, a pretty cute little game.
Retro Puzzle: Zombie Night Terror
Occasionally I find a game that feels like it has been made for me personally. I love the concept of this game, which is that you are controlling a zombie apocalypse, and you need to figure out how to make your zombies get through a series of levels, infecting people as you go. You have a variety of tools at your disposal, and you have to figure out which doors to allow your zombies through, and which stairs to go up and down. It has a real 16-bit Night of the Living Dead vibe, and the music and sound is pretty good.
Casual platformer: Lunistice.
Super fun fast paced 3D platformer. It’s fast paced, focused almost entirely on the platforming mechanics, and altogether enjoyable to play. There’s only three buttons and one of them is basically a brake. It fits the theme pretty well since it’s inspired by 90s platformers. It could also fit under the retro category, or colorful, or great soundtrack!
It looks pretty short but it’s worth the $5 asking price and it’s on sale for $4 right now.
Great Soundtrack Simulation: X4: Foundations
(Hopefully it’s not cheating to pick a game I played only a few hours of before this post)
Trade. Fight. Build. Think.
The X series has always been interesting to me and if you’re a fan of truly open-ended sandboxes and science fiction there’s a lot to like in X4.
The game is set in the future where humanity has discovered other spacefaring species as well as unleashed an existential threat on the galaxy in the form of a rogue AI originally launched as an automated terraforming project.
You’re dropped into an EVE-like fully simulated galactic economy where raw goods need to be upgraded through tiers of components into ships, stations and consumables. Factions will go to war with one another, fight off (or collapse to) Xenon (rogue AI) incursions, and build new stations and defense fleets. Every ship you see in the galaxy is part of this simulation: station managers will create buy and sell orders; traders will ferry goods around; miners will bring in raw materials to stations that consume them; and defense fleets will try and keep it all operational.
Your role in all this is whatever you want it to be. You can fly any ship in the game, from nimble fighters to battleships and carriers. You can hire ships and create fleets, or just keep to yourself. The first hour of gameplay is pretty boring, mostly doing tutorials that will teach you how to fly and a few other concepts. After that you can select one of the predefined starts or make a custom one and set off to explore the galaxy. There's not a lot of hand holding, so you'll need to be comfortable setting your own goals, although there are mission chains and such if you're inclined.
And of course, the music in this game is phenomenal. Here is the (refreshed from X3) score for the upcoming DLC Kingdom's End which will add the aquatic Boron to X4.
That’s totally cheating!
Which is RIGHT in line with a 90s themed event. Well played! 😆
Man, the 90s had the best cheat codes.
Some of the ones burned in my memory.
How could you both leave out the most iconic one!?
Dark Strategy: Ring of Pain
Having recently "completed" Slay the Spire, I was wondering what other dungeon crawler-y, rogue-like card games there are, and I tried out Ring of Pain. It has the same vibe, but it is different enough to be interesting. It is a bit dark, it has some good art, there is some variation to the cards, it feels pretty replayable, there are cards and items to unlock, and daily variations to play. I thought this was a great indie game.
Retro Racing: Vecter
This is a free-to-play endless runner where there's a new procedurally generated track each day, and you can compete on the daily leaderboard. It reminds me a lot of Race the Sun, though a little less polished. I played through one day's map a few times, got a score close to the top 10 for the day, and felt like I'd gotten what I wanted from the game.
Colorful Racing: You Suck at Parking
This is a cute little hidden gem, and I'm going to play it past the event's requisite 30 minutes.
Each level has a number of parking spots that you have to park your car at. You have a time limit in which you have to park your car at the spots. Also, fully stopping your car counts as "parking" it, and you can't re-accelerate, so you have to be precise in where you stop. The controls are tight, the levels are interesting, and the premise is addictive.
The game does have microtransactions, but they seem to be cosmetics only.
Retro Arcade: Gunlocked
This is a scrolling-shooter adaptation of Vampire Survivors-style gameplay, where you don't aim and instead let your auto-firing weapons do the job while you navigate their progression. This one is much more about dodging and positioning than VS. I've yet to have a build really "take off", but I've only played a few rounds of it. The potential is there. I'm going to keep playing this one also.
Colorful Arcade: Chippy
This is a twin-stick boss rush shooter. The gimmick of the game is that you can chip away at the bosses pixel by pixel to get at their weak spots, and you can also cut off parts of them by shooting through appendages. Your score is determined by the speed which you kill the boss, so has some good speedrunning appeal.
Casual Racing: Tanuki Sunset
You play as a Tanuki/Raccoon and skateboard down a very long road, doing tricks and drifting to collect points, and collecting the in-game currency (the name eludes me at the moment) to customize your skateboard and purchase hats, sunglasses, shirts, walkmans (walkmen?) and whatnot to dress up the tanuki. Pretty fun, and had a small story line to go with the maps. Fun retro aesthetic and synthetic and lofi soundtrack.
I gotta say this is a fantastic idea!
Even better if we could reach out to devs to get it pressed legally :)
Casual Simulation: shapez on steam or in browser
This game is a factory builder; you extract resources, process them, and deliver them to upgrade the factory so that you can extra more resources, process them, and deliver them, so you can upgrade the factory... you get it. It's a pretty standard feeling factory game, but the art style is fun, the controls are relatively simple, and the map stretches out a lot so if you want to have an incredibly huge factory, you certainly can. If you like factory games, this one seems to be free in the browser!
shapez is free on the Epic store right now too, for those who don't want to play the browser version but still don't want to pay to play it
Thank you for setting this up - as usual, I enjoyed the pop-up event. I appreciated that this had me combing through my game library to find something that fit for not just the topics, but also was playable on an M1 Macbook. I will probably come back to it over the weekend, but wondered if this might benefit from a "Demo Disc II: Electric Boogaloo" update at some point? I realize that's kind of counter to the pop up event idea, but this one reminded me of the backlog burner, which was probably the best games related event ever done on Tildes, and I think that if it had some time it could get completely filled out?
Thanks for participating (and for your kind words)! I enjoyed looking at all the stuff you tried out. I'm hoping some more people will pop in to fill in some gaps (it's way more fun when it's a group effort!), but if it turns out that nobody else is interested I'll join you and fill some of the boxes myself.
I've been wanting to return to Backlog Burner, I just haven't really formalized a plan to do so at the moment. The "Pop-Up" theme is super loose, so we could definitely fit it into that. If you have any ideas for good timing or structure, let me know! The last one was a bit of a misfire, so I'm not exactly sure what would be ideal for the next one.
Also, I'm 100% on board with and supportive of people running their own Pop Ups or Backlog Burners or whatever they want! I'd love for these "events" to be more of a Tildes post-type that anyone can make, rather than just a something kfwyre always does. If you're wanting to take the reins on running a Backlog Burner yourself, you have my permission and full endorsement!
As is my wont, I will fixate on what is likely the least important details of what you have said.
Alas, I am not an original ideas guy. I don't have any good ideas for pop ups, which is one of the reasons that I at least attempt to participate in them when I can. Maybe I could handle a reboot of the backlog burner?
I understand that the last one didn't go as planned, but things that happened during that one still stick around for me today. I feel like in social media, we often strive for quantity, but sometimes quality is just as important. That Backlog Burner introduced some fun games to me and my son that we still play today, so to me personally it was a wild success, so even though I didn't end up discussing the games that much on Tildes, it had a lasting mark.
I think that's the joy of a smaller site like Tildes; individuals have more of a chance of actually making a mark on other people's lives. You yourself have written things that have resonated deeply with me, inspired me to revisit hobbies that I was falling out of love with, and asked questions that made me think hard about myself. cfabbro has introduced things like Storror - which reminded me that I used to be much more fit, and to take my personal health more seriously, and while I'm never going to be as fit as the Storror lads, I can once again do a pull-up (no mean feat in one's mid forties) - and has also inspired me to practice music more, through our constant discover of shared musical tastes and shared concert attendance. cloud_loud has reinvigorated my love for movies, inspiring me to watch more of the Oscar nominated movies this year than I have in maybe 15 years. Grendel got me picking up a camera again, lou has me thinking about what matters to me in video games, soks_n_sandals introduced me to an amazing pro luthier youtube channel (after coincidentally namedropping me in an article)...
I think that's a long way of saying that one of the key problems with social media is that we don't see the results of what we put out there beyond the metrics of votes and views, but so much of what we do actually touches other people in ways we don't get to know about or appreciate, so we feel like something has misfired or flopped, but because it brought some form of happiness to the world it absolutely didn't misfire at all.
Well, I'm officially updating my assessment from "misfire" to "direct hit" on account of this feedback. ❤️
Yeah, this is something I try to be conscious of but often lose sight of. Tildes specifically is a privacy-minded site, so I have to remind myself that I won't always necessarily "see" participation. It reminds me in a small way of the issues that privacy-forward software devs run into when they lack telemetry for their users, so they legitimately don't have insights into what's working or what's not. Even outside of the privacy angle, there's also the idea that some users will have great experiences but won't necessarily want to type them up and share them, for whatever reason.
Also I hope you don't think I'm pressuring you to take on the Backlog Burner or anything. I just always want to make it clear to anyone here who will listen that anything I do for Tildes (Pop-Ups, Timasomo, etc.) is meant to be sort of "community owned". Nobody will be stepping on my toes if they want to run or iterate on these, and I'd welcome others taking them and running with them! I actually think it's healthy for the community if I'm not the one doing them all the time. There are a ton of benefits to not having them be dependent on a single individual.
I'm going to brainstorm some ideas for a new Backlog Burner and, especially, look at the game release calendar to make sure I'm aiming for a lull and not, you know, May 12th or June 6th.
Oh, and congrats on the pull-up! That's definitely impressive. 💪
Colorful Simulation: Stacklands
Very similar to Cultist Simulator but much cuter, and slightly less complex.
The basic premise is that you're managing a village plagued by evil portals that appear every so often, spawning monsters that attack your villagers. Your villagers are cards that you can move around the table, and stack on top of other cards to trigger effects after a certain amount of time. Some effects combine the cards underneath to create new cards, and some spawn a certain amount of other cards before the original card is depleted. E.g. You can place a villager onto an apple tree card to repeatedly spawn apples, wood, or sticks, and you can put that villager onto a stack of wood and sticks to create a club for them to defend themselves from the monsters. And you can also sell excess cards to buy various packs that refresh your stock of cards, attain totally new cards, or teach you new cards combinations.
The game slowly progresses as you find new cards, learn new combos, and build better equipment for your village and villagers. And as your villagers get more powerful you can go deeper into the portal, and explore other event cards you randomly find, which unlocks even more stuff.
For the Colorful Puzzle box, I think Can of Wormholes as recommended by @Protected fits. The game started out more story driven than I expected. Still stuck at the beginning levels though.
I reached, uh, wormship? 6 yesterday. The game mechanics are getting wild. Currently have 4 unsolved levels from previous areas that I just don't know enough to solve yet.
Gosh I hope this won't turn into Stephen's Sausage level of difficulty later on (well I'd love it, but also hate it). The main mechanics definitely seems well explored so far, just the simple forward and backward movements could already lead to so many variations due to a worm being a multiple cells long character.
@Protected, if you want me to include the game in the event, let me know!
Oh, go ahead. I read this as mundane_and_naive started it themself thus fulfilling the requirements. Honestly if it's up to me I could probably fill up most of the table on my own but I understand you're supposed to not have played the game beforehand?
Yep, I started playing thanks to your recommendation and I couldn't have written a better description myself so I just linked to yours :p Game is definitely colorful though, not just literally but also in terms of mechanics and wacky character behaviors (I've got to the parts where you have to cutting yourself and eating others to solve puzzle, and the idea of a can moving around by having worms for legs which is just fun to see).
You had it right. I misread it! (Sorry @mundane_and_naive)
And the spirit of the event is to try out games you haven’t played before, so ideally it’s stuff that’s new to you.
Story Rich Puzzle: Strange Horticulture
A Lovecraftian, occult, mystery, exploration, puzzle game with an interesting story, and supposedly multiple endings (although I haven't even gotten to one of them yet after 5 hours of playing).
The premise is that you inherited Strange Horticulture, an herbalist store, after your uncle dies. Customers show up with various ailments or problems, and either request specific plants, or even just give vague descriptions of them, or their problems that need solving. You then need to identify the proper plant to give them from your current stock by inspecting them and referencing your "Book of Plants" (amusingly, written by Wilfrid Voynich).
Identifying the plants can actually be quite tough since the descriptions and reference drawings in the book are often vague, and if you give the customer the incorrect item you gain "Rising Dread". If you acquire enough Rising Dread in a day, you lose your mind and have to complete increasingly difficult puzzles to regain your sanity in order to try again. After you have successfully identified a plant you can put a label on it though, so you don't have to keep identifying the same plants up over and over again. And once the day is over the Rising Dread resets.
In order to acquire more plants, you're given a clue every night in your dreams, and you will also receive the occasional coded letter or mysterious device. Solve them and you will find new plants at the locations being revealed by them which you visit via your map.
I won't spoil the story, but it's intriguing, the characters are interesting, and it even seems to be somewhat branching since when certain characters show up at your store to request plants, you're sometimes given the option to give them a totally different plant. And if you read the description of the other plants in your book, you can see what effect that might have on the person, and plot.
Very engrossing, very mysterious, very dark (lots of mysterious deaths), but also surprisingly relaxing. There is no timer to worry about, so you can take all the time you need to solve the puzzles. And there is even a kitty you can pet in your store who gives off a pleasant purring sound! :)
Dark Puzzle: The Room Three
I had already played the first two The Room games years ago, which were great, but I finally decided to give the third a try. And I'm really glad I did, since the third one took it to a whole new level. All three are dark, incredibly atmospheric, escape room, puzzle games, however the third was significantly longer, has a more fleshed out story, and even has multiple endings.
For comparison, the first two only took me 2 hours each to complete, but the third took me 6 hours to finish, and 2 more hours to find all the endings. And while the first two were pretty linear, the third felt more open, a bit like as if Myst had been inspired by HP Lovecraft combined with Clive Barker's Hellraiser. Despite that description, it's not actually a horror game though. In fact, it's actually quite relaxing, albeit creepy. So if you're not a fan of horror games or movies, don't worry, this doesn't have any gore, jump scares, or even any mildly scary moments.
I highly, highly recommend giving it a try if you like puzzle games. And don't worry if you haven't played the previous games, since the story is pretty self-contained. Although, the first two are definitely still worth playing, and the 2nd and 4th are currently on sale for 33% off, so you can get the whole series for only $20. I haven't actually played the fourth yet either, but I just bought and downloaded it, and intend to jump straight into it immediately after I hit "post comment". :P
p.s. Thanks again for coming up with and running these events, @kfwyre. I've discovered a number of new games because of it, and also managed to get through some of the backlog of games I've been meaning to play. ;)
Thanks for the kind words, cfabbro!
I actually played through The Room Three back in February! I enjoyed it, but I did have to follow a guide for the true ending.
Also, I hope you enjoy 4. I loved it. Probably my favorite game in the series, although I haven't played the VR entry yet.
I actually wrote notes, and took a bunch of screenshots while playing the game, and thanks to that was able to quickly remember/identify most of the interactable looking objects I noticed while playing that didn't get used during the main story. So I had a pretty decent idea of where I had to look to start finding the alternative ending stuff. If I hadn't done that it probably would have taken me a lot longer than two hours to get all the alternative endings. But even having done that I still got completely stuck in a few spots (e.g. the bloody grandfather clock puzzle!), and had to look up hints too, so you're not alone in needing some outside help at the end. :P