Indiecade still offers a pleasant respite from the wall of rippling human flesh and heat that is the rest of the E3 living room. The loose confederation of independent developers often produces fascinating and bizarre gaming experiences outside of the big studio system.
TendAR is the most compelling example of this lot this year. It is simply a fish that feeds on human emotions through augmented reality. I can not really explain why it's one thing, but that's it. It's a video game, so accept it and move on.
The application is produced by Tender Claws, a small Los Angeles studio best known for Virtual Virtual Reality, a title of Oculus that boasts of its "main features":
- 50+ unique virtual virtual realities.
- An artichoke screams at you
TendAR fits comfortably into this absurd framework, although the title has more in common with virtual pets like Tamagotchi and the cult hit Dreamcast, Seaman . There is also a little Douglas Adams wrapped up in there, in that your guppy feeds on the human emotions detected by face detection.
The application is designed for two players, both standing on the same phone, simulating different emotions at the prompt of a talking talkative fish. If you fail to give him what he wants, your fish will suffer. I tried the game and my guppy died almost immediately. Apparently, my ability to approximate sadness is sorely lacking. Tell my therapist, am I right?
The app will come out this year for Android.