“Infinity Inc.” Review
Playing an unfinished game is bearing witness to a surreal art — cleaving off the meat of what the developer intends, and at the same time understanding the remnants of their mind that exists during it. A bit like that environmental sim, The Beginner’s Guide, and which I wrote twelve thousand words about without giving a score. I had the luxury to do that, back in the day. But as I grew older, learned more about writing, and had to pimp out Google’s results so I could earn myself some… “organic” hits, I realised two things: there is one person who reads every single thing you write, and that’s yourself. And two, nobody except for me is using “environmental sim”.
Before we go any further, donate some money to Infinity Inc’s crowdfund. I don’t want to be the man who killed off an idea while it was still in its infancy. At the same time, the fact this was published at all is enough cause for me to tear it apart. I shouldn’t have to; if it’s good, I’ll have very little complaint about it, which is why I only have two four – star reviews. I originally came into this reviewing business for the purposes of finding good games. I have yet to. Now I’m stuck as the ward for the bad ones — abandon hope, ye who enter here.
Infinity Inc. is a game where you clone yourself to solve puzzles and get through action – packed platforming sequences, or would if the developer put them in. Haven’t I seen this concept somewhere before? Like out of a Newgrounds programmer’s basement? Apparently the solution to having a mediocre product is to have two protagonists; double the fun. I guess. Oh, but it’s not so simple as that! You actually use a gun to clone yourself, which you can shoot at enemies and has limited ammo, which would be the case if they were in this demo. Why have you done this? Why did you release a demo with none of the good stuff in it?
You start off the demo by watching an HD video of the developer begging you for money. It was a nice video, though I was distracted by the realisation this accounted for 90% of the filesize (I’m just speculating). I wish more games were that direct; none of this nonsense with the developer saying, real coy, “HEY!!!! you can USE this VIBEO GAM in ur YöuTübe videos and PAY me!!!!!!!!!!!!1,” despite Let’s Play videos being legally protected speech considered fair use under copyright law, and the developer being condescending by implying we need their permission to play the art they made publicly.
I read a tweet the other day saying “im gonna steal an art reposters car because once they go out into public with it its fair game uwu.” Bad example. A car is a limited resource, and thus is damaging to the party who gets their car stolen. Digital art is infinitely exploitable; posting it costs nothing and brings attention and love to the original artist. You see, that is fair game, because the artist did explicitly post the art on a public forum, a public social network, as opposed to the car which simply occupies a space.
If we could clone cars forever and for free, then there would be no need to steal cars. But we have that capacity for art, which is why it’s generous to copy art and post it everywhere you can, and selfish for the artist to artificially make it scarce. I’m going to give a free tip for the artist who posted this tweet: never treat art as property. It’s a flawed analogy, for when you publish your work to the public, the public owns the work, and not the private property such as your hypothetical car. As Paulo Coelho says: “A person who does not share is not only selfish, but bitter and alone.”
The developer violated one of the fundamentals of the development process with this game, which is to put the gameplay before everything else. The theory of the “game loop,” which is that the player goes through a loop of actions through the entirety of the game and thus the developer is obliged to make that loop as fun, efficient, and hassle – free as possible, is a good benchmark for developers. But it’s limiting; the simple example of Team Fortress 2 has no such loop without really stretching the boundaries, unless the loop is “walk for ten seconds, get blown up, wait ten seconds,” repeat. Loops work fine for simple games that aren’t too simple, like Pac – Man, but falls apart with simpler and more complex games. What’s the loop for Pong? What’s the loop for New Vegas? It gets to the point where trying to construct a loop is just describing what happens in the game.
The loop for this game might be something like “walk, find puzzle, walk some more,” repeat. We discern two things: one, there’s not enough action, and two, game loops are simplistic at their core and ignores anything deeper than surface – level design. Loops actually are good for surface – level stuff, because if your loop ends up containing a majority of walking with absolutely nothing else, you’ll say it’s a boring game. A loop for Minecraft might be “find materials, fight monsters, build structures,” repeat. Even though Minecraft contains a lot of exploration, at least you’re doing stuff while exploring — but the loop doesn’t describe what type of materials, what monsters, and what structures you can build. It’s incredibly simplistic, but from what we can see with Infinity Inc., there’s a problem on this incredibly simplistic level, and it should be fixed on that level.
The developer put a lot of time and care into the graphics and the crowdfunding campaign, which I like. I’m not at all against developers going for good looks, if not particularly inspiring looks like what turnfollow has, because we should all put more care into what we do, as this makes us better artists and gives the fans more to appreciate. What gameplay there is happens to be engaging, even if it’s punctuated by long downtime in a game where the downtime doesn’t account for anything. It’s funny how the screenshots showed off a lot more enemies that what was in the game, being actual humans instead of a few boxes. I say “funny,” but I mean tragic.
Do I expect much from my developers? Nothing more than I expect out of any artist. The demo itself is promising and free of bugs though is clearly unfinished and with overall little stuff to do. My advice to the developer of Infinity Inc. is for the next time they create a crowdfunding campaign: create one small level with everything good in it, and get rid of everything that doesn’t entice the player to buy your finished product. This wouldn’t entice me to buy it. Actually, I wouldn’t buy it anyway. You handcuffed it under a copyright monopoly. Why would I ever buy something that takes away my freedom?
I speculate this is part of a scheme to get the developer out of Turkey, if his Twitter location is correct. You’d be more likely to make money playing blackjack than you would in indie games, unless you’re a soulless panderer whose success is due to appealing to the base emotions of your audience, not naming any names. Undertale. Who wrote that? Anyway, I respect the developer for not making a game that’s, you know, awful. But it’s a bit incomplete and on the whole most of the good feelings I have towards it is because of the fact the demo was made and not because it’s an astounding thing.
I don’t feel animosity towards being harsh to businessmen; if one expects to be paid for a product, it must be an extraordinary product. This contradicts the newest Tom Clancy: Ghost Recon Wildlands, which was universally considered by everyone who wasn’t bribed by the publisher, nor a circus monkey with a keyboard, to be, let’s be real, a bad game. That game was the top seller for March 2017, proving my theory that your product doesn’t have to be good to sell — it just has to look like it was coated in Vaseline while still being barely – functional. I’m not joking; 67% of gamers considers graphics a selling point. Our society is doomed; it’s ruled by babies who enjoy pretty colours and flashing lights over anything of substance. Also, why is price on there? Haven’t they heard of The Pirate Bay? Oh, right. Babies.
But, at the same time, nobody will look on the latest piece of garbage and look at it fondly in twenty years, unless they really are that delusional. The reason Nintendo is so damn beloved is because they made good games for multiple decades, before dropping the ball, releasing the same two or three products every few years, and only being defending by the aforementioned babies who think the Switch was a good purchase we swear on me mum’s life. That’s another factor on the survey: 48% buy based on a continuation of a familiar series, so when Undertale 2 comes up… cha – ching!
Rareware is loved. I mean actually loved, not Nintendo fake – loved. They made good games and pretty much carried the Nintendo 64, before Microsoft castrated them with the purchase they made only because they thought they would get Donkey Kong, which sums up Microsoft’s business decisions perfectly. Banjo – Kazooie, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Donkey Kong Country, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day are legends to this day, thought of fondly as the best of the best, though with a fair bit of nostalgia goggles thanks to the Nintendo 64 being slightly more powerful than a microwave with a monitor attached. You can’t earn that reputation through sales; it’s only through hard work, quality products, and being the best you can possibly be. And if you don’t sell? Well… it’s better to be God, The Devil, and Bob than it is to be Family Guy. Look that first one up; it’s one of the most underrated cartoons ever.
Infinity Inc.? Keep working on it. It’s a far cry from a classic, but at least you’re not garbage. Glory before money, and a legacy before obscurity. Money? It fades. But to be a legend… that lasts a long, long time.