What struck me at first about IGF 2009 contestant Dyson is that I had a hard time deciding if the world I’m playing in is on the micro- or macro- scale. The game tells you that you are using seedlings to populate asteroids, but the asteroids themselves seem almost cellular. Either way, I was also struck by the very minimalist and utterly beautiful art for this game. Heavy in strategy, you start with a small group of flying “seedlings” populating an asteroid. You can cash in some of these seedlings and grow trees with them… some trees produce more seedlings, and some trees produce defensive spore-like missiles. To complete each level, you must populate other asteroids in an asteroid belt, while conquering an opposing army of seedlings, and defending your asteroids from them.
The game was named after physicist Freeman Dyson (b. 1923), a true renaissance man who studied and formulated ideas about everything from theoretical physics to nuclear engineering to quantum field theory (which is really just the tip of the iceberg). Dyson proposed the creation of a Dyson tree, a genetically-engineered plant capable of growing on an asteroid.
I’m a huge fan of infographics, charts, and other ways of visualizing data, and Dyson seems like a wonderful combination of gaming and the artistic sensibilities of infographic design:
(source: Visual Complexity)
The official Dyson site can be found at dyson-game.com, and TIGSource has great interviews about the project with both creators, Rudolf Kremers and Alex May. Collectively, they keep a Dyson developer diary. Dyson will be available on Steam in October 2009. While you’re waiting, enjoy a beautiful video documenting the developer’s tests with tree growth logic. I just can’t stop watching it: