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Shadow Game

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Rating: 4.5/5 (211 votes)
Comments (28) | Views (5,771)

KarlShadowGame.pngThe play's the thing. Shakespeare wrote that, and while I am reasonably sure that he was not referring to video games, if he lived today he would be talking about Shadow Game, an eight-level mini-game from wmarsh.

Featuring realtime light and shadow, Shadow Game is an impressive demonstration of how far Flash games have come within the last ten years. When I was first introduced to Flash gaming, Unreal was making waves with its hardware-assisted coloured lights, and real-time light and shadow on the order of Shadow Game was still a pipe dream in John Carmack's head.

The way the game works is thus; after clicking through the disclaimer that the game is unfinished, you're given control of a spinny floaty thing that moves through either the [WASD] or [arrow] keys. Your mission: collect stars in levels strewn with light sources. Your opposition: automatic weaponry that fires on anything it can see, as well as an arsenal of laser beams which can destroy you instantly. Don't let them see you, stay in the shadows, and avoid the beams.

At its heart, Shadow Game is ultimately a proof of concept. Each of the eight levels demonstrates a mechanic that would be at home in a longer puzzle-based sim, but here it functions more as a taster than anything else. The puzzles range from physics-based to stealth to enemy pattern recognition, and although short, each level feels fresh. Ducking in and out of lit areas and outsmarting sentries is surprisingly satisfying, even on a fifth playthrough.

The simulationist nature of the game means that you can depend on the game's physics to stay constant and reward creativity. Each puzzle can be solved through the obvious solutions programmed in by the designer, but also through innovative treatments. For example, one level revolves around stacking boxes to block light sources so you can collect stars. At first, that's what I did, but eventually I found that I could trick the automatic turrets into shooting the light-generating fixtures, moving them out of the way so I could get at their prize. Unfortunately, it ends all too soon.

Shadow Game is unfinished, so once you get past the eighth level and collect all 34 stars, the game is done. There's no ending other than a screen saying "Thanks for Playing" and only limited replayability, focused around finding new ways to solve the same puzzles. But despite that, Shadow Game is a great way to spend a coffee break, and it'll leave you hoping to see the finished game for more light-based puzzles. I know I am.

Play Shadow Game


Well, it's difficult to say too much about an unfinished game, but I certainly see some nice potential here. I found this snippet to be a little too easy, but there is plenty of room for a variety of challenges. Maybe some rooms with mirrors, armed sentries, etc. would give later rooms more edge.

I'm hoping there's some sound coming as well, as I found myself craving something there. All in all, I liked what I saw. Looking forward to the finished product! :)

Anonymous April 21, 2010 5:25 PM

Heh, instead of "trick[ing] the automatic turrets into shooting the light-generating fixtures, moving them out of the way so I could get at their prize." I...

...used the light fixture as a shield, quickly got the star when I was close enough, then hightailed it outta there.


Cool demo. I look forward to seeing more.


Loved it. This is a concept I have been waiting to see for a long time.

StephenM3 April 21, 2010 6:11 PM

Hope you still review the actual thing when this when it's finished, it's already a blast!


Gorgeous. Hope he finishes it!


This is a great little teaser of a game. I can see a lot of potential for some really interesting puzzles: timed and alternating lights, combining different colored light to act as camouflage to light-specific turrets, longer mazes and hidden levels, etc. I hope the author decides to finish it.


I agree it's very good but could use with a lot more levels... Reminds me in a way of N, with its simple, elegant and smooth gameplay. Adding a few more elements, and exploring many more challenges would make this a 5.

Patreon VIP Chiktionary April 21, 2010 9:12 PM

Great puzzler, lovely lighting effects, looking forward to trying the finished product.



wildflower12 April 22, 2010 2:51 AM

Very nice game. Simple yet compelling game play. I can't wait to see more!

Alexander April 22, 2010 4:53 AM

I really enjoyed this. Brief, sure, but well thought out and varied. I too look forward to more.


"Shadow Game is an impressive demonstration of how far Flash games have come within the last ten years."

You gotta be kidding me. It's not that special. A bit of shadow effect, that's all. It's nice, but not in any way a demonstration of how far flash games has come.

Don't hype it more than it deserves please.


More a tech demo than anything else, but surprisingly enjoyable nonetheless.


Very good game. Definitely needs more levels. Maybe some more elements to make it more interesting. Annoyingly excessive running around in the dark is unnecessary please do not add it.

Good game nice concept, keep at it.


Oh also, the controls are good, very fluid, no skippy or delayed movements. If you were to change it for some reason I would ask that when tapping the directions the shadow moves in smaller increments, but not decrease the speed when holding.

Tobberian April 22, 2010 10:51 AM

I liked the Dark level. A few such levels.. and perhaps more levels with just dark parts. :)


Aw man, I wanted more!

ChrisForsyth April 22, 2010 9:00 PM

Gah. Okay, how are you supposed to get the bottem left star in level 5? It's the *only* one keeping me from getting to the final level.


Wow, the kind of stuff flash games can do now!
Really interesting mechanics for each level. Love it :)


Lots of potential for a good game here, but fun as it is so far (short though it may be). And it's pretty easy. Thumbs up, and hope he makes a full game out of it.


Move into the light by the exit on the right. The turret will try to shoot at you, but end up hitting the lit box. Once the lit box is near you, you can push it against the wall and stick a crate next to it so that there's only a narrow lit part above the lit crate, and you should be able to dash through it and get to the star.


While very fun, the game is not in any way technically advanced like the description says.

It is just a basic 2d vector graphics game (like most flash games). The "lighting" is just basic 2d clipping, which is neither complex nor processor intensive and could have been done on hardware from the 1990's. It doesn't require lots of processing power or even a fancy video card. Also, the game doesn't require Flash. You could make this same game using SVG or HTML 5 Canvas and javascript (thus not needing any plugin).

P.S. I considered sending this to Karl in private, but can't find a contact email.

Anonymous April 26, 2010 3:03 PM

Note: This game does no "2D clipping".


The Author


>This game does no "2D clipping".
If you layered the lights on top of each other or cutout shadows from the lights, then that is what I meant -- stuff that almost all flash games do: layering and clipping.

The article was making bold claims that your game was using some advanced lighting that was a pipe dream years ago or that requires a video card. However the actual graphical effect of "lighting" in your game can be done with basic 2d clipping/layering just like every other 2d Flash game in existence and not something that requires a super powerful video card.

BTW. I am not critical of your game; I love it. However, I think this article on JIG is actually very hurtful for the marketing of your game as it blows things way out of proportion.

Don't feel like you need to defend your game's techniques. The game is a great new concept no matter what, and a lot of people will love it for it's affects and simulated light interaction -- as I do. In fact, I think you have a great selling point for this game to make people want to play it. However, the real problem is the way this JIG article drastically distorted the truth. The article built up the game on false info, and as a result, has spurred arguments from people bothered by this. It is the argument that this is all causing that I felt could really hurt the game and make people apathetic towards the game.
To summarize: The game has all it needs to be VERY popular on its own; however, using false info may cause arguing and hurt any excitement the game could have had.
In fact, you may even want to try and dicourage reviewers from putting things out of propotion. The game's premise is great, and I don't want to see it hurt this way - that and it is always right to have accurate info in an article. :)

BTW, I do feel it may help to explain why I said 2d clipping. I know others don't care about the technical.... Perhaps you might want to talk over email or something.

Considering the sample image of the game in this article. Here's how I might do it:
1. You have a purple circle gradient that is the "light". It is not really a "light" but just a basic vector gradient.
2. Some areas are not purple, because the bot and box block the purple circle gradient in the game.
3. Using some form of 2d raycast or raytrace, I find the shape of the shadows and make them vector objects. (If you did this, good job on figuring this part out.)
4. I clip out the shadow area from the purple gradient object.
5. The result is I have a purple "light" that is only present in the right areas. (Shadows are properly dark).
*. The key here is that I used basic 2d clipping and layering to provide the final visual and not some advanced rendering requiring a video card. Now, thinking about it, you may have chosen a different route -- one that doesn't involve vectors or one that uses layering -- its jus that it looks so much like it does and I can even see how to do it using 2d clipping.


The person who post above is NOT the author of "Shadow Game"

I talked to the author. The game does use simple 2d polyons -- nothing resembling games Carmack makes.

On the sad side, he will no longer have time to work on the game anymore... meaning no final version. :(


The person who made this game, sadly passed away last week.

RIP Wayne.

Gone but not forgotten.

howbigis1gb November 16, 2010 7:19 AM


Really? Because his Kongregate profile shows some recent activity.


Sorry for my attitude in posts from April 25, 26 & 29; sorry Karl. :)

Second, here's the author's website: http://marshgames.com/

I haven't dropped him a line recently, but he did post there in December.


^ Scroll Up | Homepage >

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