GDC 08: Crayon Physics Deluxe hands-on impressions

Firstly, the above video isn’t taken from GDC. It was made by the game’s creator.

Secondly: a year ago, I would have never imagined a game where the player could literally create his own objects and mechanisms simply by drawing them into existence. I would have never imagined that because of this, there would be an almost infinite amount of ways to complete every single level. Heck, even when I found out about it, I never imagined I’d be able to play it.

My imagination is full of crap.

I played Crayon Physics Deluxe. I enjoyed it very much, when I wasn’t lamenting my own stupidity in the field of crayon engineering. I shall post my impressions after the jump.

If you don’t feel like reading them, though, just understand that Crayon Physics Deluxe may be one of the most incredible gameplay experiences ever conceived.

When you play Crayon Physics Deluxe, you feel like God. Many games (most of which have the word “Sim” comprising their first syllable) put you in the shoes of a God, but Crayon Physics Deluxe actually makes you feel like one.

Through simple brush strokes, the player can create objects, bridges, and hinges of any shape and size. The above gameplay video says it all: if you think that looks cool just to watch, you have no idea how cool it feels to play. A quick scribble suddenly becomes a bridge with weight and physics and purpose. A huge block falls exactly as you’d expect it to. Draw a long rectangle and connect it to the background with a small, drawn circle in the corner, and it becomes a swinging pendulum.

There’s so much depth to what you can do with the shapes in the game. At a later demonstration, the creator showed a really easy way to finish a level (just draw a line bridge for the ball to reach the endpoint), then an incredibly complicated and badass way to solve that same level (make a bunch of little rectangles connected together by little circles, which then acts as a chain. Then, draw a bucket for the ball and connect it to one end of the chain. Then, attach a huge block to the other end of the chain. The block falls, pulling the chain and bucket and ball to the level’s end), and that’s what makes the game so incredible: the fun isn’t in just getting to the end as fast as possible, but in using your creativity and the game’s incredible crayon mechanic to create solutions which are unusual, clever, and completely your own.

When I asked the creator for a release date, he got kinda irritated and told me, “I don’t really believe in release dates, or in design documents. What if I want to add something? It’s just silly.”

So, uh, I guess it’ll be out when it’s done. And, if the demo I played was any indicator, it’ll be damn incredible.

Anthony Burch