No one is going to call Untame’s sophomore effort a rehash

You haven't played a game like Mushroom 11. We are very confident of this.

The Mushroom 11 team, from left to right: Itay Keren, Julia Keren-Detar, Simon Kono and Kara Kono. (Courtesy photo)
You haven’t played a game like Untame’s sophomore effort, Mushroom 11. We are very confident of this.

In fact, at the most recent IndieCade East panel for video game journalists, the founder of the New York Videogame Critics Circle, Harold Goldberg, specifically called out Mushroom 11 as one he’s looking forward to as a legitimately innovative game for 2015.
On the one hand, it’s a sidescrolling 2D PC adventure game (kind of) with elements of a puzzle game mixed in. You’ve seen that before.
Here’s what you haven’t seen: you’re playing a giant amoeba-ish sort of blob thing and the way you move across the space is by growing, on one side, as you devour the world before you, and burning off parts of yourself from behind.

Screenshot from Mushroom 11, courtesy of Untame

Screenshot from Mushroom 11. (Courtesy of Untame)

“Your only interaction is destruction,” Julia Keren-Detar, the creative lead on the Windsor Terrace-based team behind the game, told us during a phone call this week. “Through destroying things, this blob grows. You are sort of nudging it and sculpting it.”
Keren-Detar told us the game has a fundamental narrative to it, but Untame doesn’t really make a lot of it. They want the player to be able to create their own narrative. She did say, however, that the creature you are moving through space is moving through a post-apocalyptic world. Humans are gone, but what they left behind is easy to see.
“The strongest point that we’ve heard from people is that the mechanic is really, really new,” Keren-Detar said.
A big part of video games is investing yourself in the avatar and seeing it as you. It’s one thing to imagine you are super-fast hedgehog, but pretty different to imagine you are a giant blob. Still, Keren-Detar tells us, in play testing, people do it, and it kind of holds them back.
“Even though it is a blob, humans attach themselves to it,” she said. “They don’t want to cut into it, but they have to.”
Take a look at this video. It shows how the blob chops off parts of itself all the time to keep moving.

Pre-order Mushroom 11
Mushroom 11 will be the company’s second commcercial release. Keren-Detar’s partner in business (and life) is Itay Keren, who founded the company to launch Rope Rescue, a puzzle game where a big bird rescues little birds by working a rope through various obstacles until it attaches to a cage holding baby birds.
The team learned a lot of lessons about design, player interaction and the business of games in running Rope Rescue, which is available on every mobile platform. Rope Rescue is a fairly intense logic puzzler, she explained. “It was basically the traveler’s dilemma.”
Here are a few of the takeaways Keren-Detar highlighted from Untame’s first game:

  • Your hand. The fact that you move things around on mobile with your finger is tricky. So often, in Rope Rescue, you needed to see very small things on the screen, but your hand would be blocking it.
  • The look. The game looks like a mobile casual game, which is the world Keren-Detar and Keren came from. This may have created a different set of expectations for some players than what it delivered, because the logical puzzles are fairly intense and require some serious thinking and focus.
  • Tutorials. Tutorials are more key than they thought, so Rope Rescue taught the team to space the information out in tutorials better. Tutorials have been a big part of Keren-Detar’s work on Mushroom 11.

The Untame team hangs out a lot at the NYU Game Center, which is where their forthcoming game originated from. “The idea for the game came out of a game jam that we did at the NYU Game Center in 2012,” Keren-Detar said. “The theme for the jam was a snake eating its tail.”

Companies: Untame / NYU Game Center
Series: Brooklyn

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