As the bustling pedestrians aimlessly wander through their day, indistinguishable from the pigeons among them, one man hopes to bring a little joy to their lives; The Entertainer. Hidden in his satchel is a musical contraption ready to captivate and distill a few drops of joy into passerbys. But the ever-present police have banned music. In a world where hunger is a lurching threat, how long will you be able to keep The Entertainer dancing?
The birth of the internet unlocked a new world of distribution. Tools, ideas, discussion, and training became avaliable in abundance via the internet and everyone began creating and publishing their work. The result is projects like #onegameamonth. A challenge purely designed as a bit of fun; to keep motivation among aspiring developers going. And it’s worked well because #onegameamonth has grown into a colossal library of free games to play.
With this new medium of entertainment avaliable to be created by anyone (and critiqued by anyone) the sheer volumes becomes mind-boggling. The traditional “gate-keepers” are gone. The decade lasting and regimentally established filters that governed creativity are no longer in power. They on the one hand ensured quality content was pushed but on the other hand were so easily bribed by greed. This short-sighted greed and lack of willingness to listen to their consumers is what resulted in their diminishing control over their respective mediums. The argument regarding whether publishers are needed in the games industry rages on across forums and publications. And it’s in this writers opinion that it’s an argument that is best not wandering into unless you are prepared to re-surface in a few hours time gasping for air.
The benefits of removing gate-keepers in entertainment are vast. But one sad point does ring true; diamonds in the rough are even more common. Just as that local talented band of yours never gets discovered, or that indie film you love but can never convince your friends to watch remains below break-even, there are games hidden all over the internet that deserve five minutes of your time but will go no further than a few players.
One said game is The Entertainer. Released a few weeks ago by solo developer MemoryofGod, The Entertainer is short, to the point, and painfully difficult. You control the slightly-obese entertainer who is working in a bustling market square. A flick of the wrist and the monochrome world receives a blast of musical bliss from an organ hidden in his backpack. Any wanderers caught within the near proximity feel the rhythm explode through them and succumb to the harmonies. Dance takes over them. Sometimes they dance so hard they lay the Entertainer’s palm with a coin of appreciation.
But echoing the grey dreary world, the existence of The Entertainer is bleak. Five coins allows the Entertainer to buy bread from the passing merchant. Bread allows the Entertainer to keep back starvation and allows him to see another day. To add to his problems not all in this world are happy to see music explode in people’s souls. Creeping around the scene are the thought-police-esque robots. When they are near enough to recognise the banned melodies they will pursue The Entertainer. Once caught it’s a night in the cell where the likeliness of the Entertainer surviving another day become bleak.
Back on the streets The Entertainer grows tired. His actions become slower and his muscles ache from hunger. Movement becomes impossible. His only hope is to dance where he is, dream for some further coins, and hope the merchant passes within ear shot of the man now on his knees.
The Entertainer is a brutal game. At it’s heart is the untold story of a man trying to share his creative talents against an unforgiving game design that is as poignant to the story as the visuals. Much like the gatekeepers of the entertainment industry who once had a strangle-hold on creativity, The Entertainer’s one goal is to share his passion with others and live to see another day. It’s an apt fit for all aspiring indie game developers and a pleasure for consumers to play.
You can download The Entertainer here.