By Darren Henderson (DizzyPW), General Manager
Every year GDC next invites gaming press. Every year we go and essentially sit in a college environment focused entirely on the gaming sphere (which if you’re in gaming press and actually enjoy your job, is an awesome experience!). However it’s not often we stumble upon a new upcoming game with some actual potential for the first time at these events. Yet for showing up early and possibly looking overly desperate to get into the Unreal Mixer party, my timeliness was rewarded when I made eye contact with a young game designer with a vision. To Throw Trucks with his Mind using a modified device you may have seen me wear that channels brain waves into cat ear motion.
Now it’s not often someone stops you randomly on the street and asks if you want to play a new video game. If it was I’m sure we’d live in a much happier world. But something about designer Lat Ware screamed Pokemon Trainer NPC that’s going not going to let you leave until you test your skills in battle. In mere moments, as I take it he has plenty of practice doing so, he had whipped out his laptop and head piece with the game fully booted up and ready to test. Well after he thoroughly sanitized the headpiece for me as you can’t be too careful. And as Lat began the first line of dialogue explaining the calm and focused power concentration bars, I launched a full sized military Humvee roughly half the length of a football field, embedding its tires halfway through a steel wall. Who would have imagined my drunken alter-ego was a psionic killing machine? Don’t answer that.
Lat was kind enough to take over the hand-based controls while I continued to hone my skills and concentration. This involved juggling four barrels simultaneously and seeing how high and straight I could toss a cinderblocks into the air. The controls for the most part work akin to a match of Unreal Tournament, but with your central cursor acting as the focus of your mental powers rather than the sights on your gun. This adds a dynamic style of gameplay to the tried and true shooting genre by blocking players from a spray and pray mentality and instead forcing them to focus and throw objects in their surrounding as their new ammunition.
And just like its shooting roots, Lat has already begun testing a capture the flag scenario in which players must grab and steal away with the enemy’s refrigerator before being killed in the line of fire. Believe me when I say this is going to be a nightmare to accomplish without plenty of back-up as just focusing on controlling objects with your thoughts is hard enough. Doing so while dodging enemy projectiles via the mouse and WASD keys is going to be something on par with the focus esport gamers demonstrate.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of Capture the Fridge though comes from the interaction when two opposing players both aim to seize control of the fridge at the same moment. You are thrown into a head-to-head mental battle in which the game tests how quickly you can demonstrate your calm or focus. Success will build your power meter towards the ultimate goal until one player psionically rips the item away from the other, sending a backlash of mental ripples hurling the defeated psychic like a defeated ragdoll. Talk about satisfying gameplay.
In terms of the actual control, it’s quite challenging to explain. The lighter the object, the more effortlessly you can toss it aside. When dealing with massive pieces of metal though, quite a bit of calm and focus are required. But what exactly does that mean? In my testing I found regulating your breathing, keeping your facial expression under control, and keeping your thoughts focused on the task at hand all played into keeping the blue calm meter maxed.
Controlling my focus was an entirely different beast. Imagine forcefully putting yourself in tunnel vision. The only object that can matter to you is the object your cursor is placed on. But it goes beyond that. What is driving you to lift this object? A significant other? Personal pride? Fame? I’d honestly need more testing in this to confirm exactly how you control the focus meter but zeroing in on a single noticeable element of the object such as a logo on a truck seemed to help a lot. Imagining my fiancé cheering me on seemed to push this bar into hyperdrive, resulting in a moment in which I actually lifted the truck I was standing on airborne so fast that it crushed my character on the ceiling, a good 40 meters above the ground.
Those not wanting to test your mental metal against an online audience can rest assured that a single player campaign is also in the machinations of Lat Ware’s mind. Playing as one of a weird cast of characters ranging from a cat riding a robotic cyborg to a nerdy necromancer trying to prove himself, you’ll set out to understand the horrific creature that’s possessed you with this psychic energy. How will you use your powers? And can you truly control them without the demonic possession controlling you? You’ll have to wait for the game’s official launch and find out where your personal destiny takes you.
Remember the name as Throw Trucks with your Mind is more than just an awesome concept. It’s the prototype of a new genre set to change the way we look at mind to machine gaming controls.