Retro Gadgets: toy toy

These days I have been dedicating more time than I was waiting for Retro Gadgets, a gadget creation station signed by the Italian team Evil Licorice. It is that, a gadget creation station: a virtual table in which to work designing and assembling little machines of all kinds, retro gadgets to which to take shape, color and utility by placing plates, buttons, levers, sliders, screens, lights, lights, speakers; programming them, too, to do what you want to do, to give them life and create, even digitally, from rhythms of rhythms or video game consolidates to Tamagotchis as simple or complex as your time, patience and knowledge of Lua allows you.


The idea occurred to him, they explain themselves, Marco Pancake; He and Luca Marched were friends with childhood, but life led them on different paths and ended up founding two studies, Licorice and Studio Evil. Marco told Luca Retro Gadgets; In love equally of this unusual concept, they decided to combine efforts and create this game/toy using the name Evil Licorice.

Today it is put on sale, for the moment only for Windows and through Steam, the first version of Retro Gadgets, which comes out in advance access and hoping to attract a community that expires this sandbox, which leads to the limit the possibilities of this toy.

Retro Gadgets, I know, it may not be immediately attractive; It is the type of game that has no instruction manual but documentation. In Retro Gadgets, you start putting together the housing and plates that will be the skin and guts of your gadget; Then, you are placing the components you need to make your idea move: a CPU here, a speaker there, buttons, crossheads, sticks, a screen, several screens! Holding the basic pieces offered in the plate drawer you can give your pot that you want, so realistic, ergonomic, small, large or deranged as you feel like it, making a VM or the command of a console or one of those recorders of joke store that records a few seconds and reproduce them back but distorted, comically serious or acute.

This part of Retro Gadgets is the most immediate and accessible, because it is the easiest, of course, but also because it is a very satisfactory process. A nearby reference could be Steed Force Hobby Studio, the gland modeling playful that comes in Last Call BBS, where the same act of cutting pieces of the blister and carefully apply the paint was pleasant and relaxing. Something similar happens here: manipulating the game interface, opening and closing drawers to take pieces or exploring your creations, is stimulating, how it looks and sounds but also because it is a surprisingly clean experience, never overwhelming despite its more appearance or Less baroque. It is the least optimal processes that give the most personality to the game: place each piece in its by hand place; Take the work table welder, moving the mouse cursor there and then returning it to the site that interests us, instead of activating a simple function of union of pieces using a hotkey; Draw and print stickers and place them with some clicks, instead of drawing and blurring on the plastic. Other things, however, are made easily: the airbrush with which you paint is very agile and versatile, and it allows you to even paint the components, for example to change the color of buttons or sticks without heating your head a lot. The balance is very well achieved: it is heavy and slow where it needs it but knows how to be agile and light when it has to be.

Then you open your device, place a CPU and start the other part.

When you have to make your gadgets behave how you want the thing. Here, Retro Gadgets becomes an open tool in which, using Lua, you can write the code you need to make your device work; that becomes a consolidated with Pong or a calculator or a peccadillo that reproduces sounds.

At this point, the game is to write code. I don’t know how to write code; It is an impediment that I like to see as an opportunity to try to learn, or to seek fun to experience with how little I spoke and go caught of the documentation and miserably copy of the sample gadgets that are already made. The study itself seems to see retro gadgets to a large extent as a pleasant environment in which to learn the fundamentals of programming, although they are aware of one of the main problems that I have encountered in my sessions with this early access version: the Lack of help in-game to guide the experience.

Again, it is something that developers know that it is missing, and that they plan to include as advanced access; But I wanted to talk about it in this advance, in case my experience as a curious person, without real experience writing code but wanting to try to do things, could be interesting for some1. In a game like Retro Gadgets, I have the feeling that a good tutorial could be something like the campaign for a player; Each phase of a guide that integrates external documentation in the game can be thought in terms of Level Design, combining exposure of the rules of the game (the functions and properties of each component, for example) with more open sections but in which it is sought A concrete result. You can limit the number of available parts or put as a requirement the use of specific elements, making Mechatronics type levels and will help assimilate the foundations that then, once internalized, you can apply in your own way and according to your needs to create gadgets in the Main game, which intelligently seems to always want the sandbox. Retro Gadgets has to teach you to fish, not give you the fish; That depends, as encouraged by the promising start of this early access, the success of such an explicitly open proposal.

It is already, in fact, a pleasure to gossip in the discord of the game, for example, where people throw a cable and share their inventions with the community, a more interactive way to send your inventions to people, beyond the Borders of the Gadgets Explorer In-Game, in which you can also share your own inventions. There is also a code, for example, that you can copy and paste in your projects to have a starting point on which to start working or to directly imitate something that seems interesting to you. Weekly design tournaments are also organized; The first revolves around designing games without screen, and there is already interesting circulating around, like a Frogger clone made with LEDs, which represent the frog, and sliders, which are cars.

Design consolidates or digital pets, or even program games for systems that only exist within Retro Gadgets, to the peak-8 (something that is already in the Roadmap, by the way), is a very real and very impressive possibility, of course; As if that were not enough, it is very simple to get the devices from the game and have them floating on the screen of your computer, like those virtual companions who were so fashionable already a good time. But looking for the three feet to the cat and designing impossible pots and that do not make sense outside the fans niches to create apparatus, such as that impossible frogger with Lucites and sliders, is no less interesting or impressing less, and surely is where Retro Gadgets has More than contributing: it is a safe environment to experiment without fear of waste materials or run out of resources, and although it is not difficult to see the addresses in which the game can grow the idea is to dedicate at least one more year to the development of this Preliminary version, so it is likely that this tool, this toy, can still give us a few good surprises. I, a little from the barrier, plan to use it mainly to relax; It will be a pleasure to follow its evolution and that of your community, and see which unexpected and surprising gadgets appear.

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