Under The Radar is a weekly look at games that have ended up hidden through lack of coverage, but shouldn’t have. If you have a game that you think should be featured here, leave it in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out.
One of the activities I enjoyed most as a child was finding shapes in shifting cloud formations. It’s a strange exercise- attempting to place order on unordered systems, but it’s one that humans have been doing since at least antiquity when we were making stories out of stars. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s game, Stars Over Half-Moon Bay: A Gentle Bit of Ouroboros (SOHMB).
Rod Humble may not be a household name, but he has worked on one of the most important game series of our time- The Sims. In his spare time, he creates high-concept games that focus on video games’ strongest aspect- participatory mechanics- and attempts to create meaning with them. While it may sound high-falutin’, it’s a goal that only a few independent designers and almost none of the major developers seem to be aiming for. SOHMB, is one of those games.
Released in 2008, the game takes place on a blue night sky with a dark cloud slowly rising up from the bottom of the screen. As the murky stain billows up dots of light begin to appear on the screen. The player’s mouse controls a tiny dark circle that can be placed over these points of light and dragged around, leaving behind them a trail of stardust. Dropping the points into the dark will set them in place.
Eventually, the screen will be covered in the black cloud, then will recede back to the bottom. Left behind are the stars that were dragged into the cloud, which can now be connected in a variety of ways.
Talking too much about what the game means would go against the spirit of discovering a meaning through playing with it, so I’ll just point out that the subtitle helps in directing players towards an answer.
You can download SOHMB for Windows for free from here.