Inertia's picture

Indie game: CellZenith

Since I'm abusing the Documentation board in the forum as Off-topic area anyway, might aswell go one step further and declare it my official spam zone :P

The game CellZenith has caught my attention due to it's interesting use of 2D and 3D art. One of the biggest problems independent/hobbyist developers face is the content challenge. Commercial titles have just advanced too much to leave small-bugdet developers a chance to compete with a AAA title's graphics/sound presentation.
CellZenith takes an uncommon approach, using 3D for the world's environment, but uses 2D for the actors/characters. This might sound ugly when you try to picture it, so you're invited to check out the Demo to prove that picture wrong (or watch it's video recording online) at

Just looking at the screenshots will not give any hints how well the 2D actors are animated in the game, and this fact gets totally lost during the (hectic) gameplay. Watching the video is probably best to get the idea.

I'm not trying to sell the game, or claim it'd be the next step in evolution. This post is merely intended to show a indi game with rather decent presentation - created by a single man. The combination of 2D and 3D is definitely worth some thought, and CellZenith proves the concept to look quite acceptable.

(In fact, i don't like the gameplay too much: the controls feel restricting (don't give me W,A,S,D controls and forbid strafing with A,D. It doesn't feel like I'm in control of the thing), the intro is more of a joke than informative and the list goes on.)


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flopfloat's picture

Cool, seems like a good game. I also enjoy experimental or indie games very much, mostly because of their "pure" character.

P.S. This could be a start for the creation of more forum categories ;).

Inertia's picture

Indie games also tend to be braver regarding experimentation, the Wingmen in this game and your level of control over them are a very nice touch. The demo includes a showroom for the different Wingmen, pointing out their strengths/weakness, which is much better than just showing a table with picture/text.

My initial post might have reduced the game to interesting presentation only, but that's not the case: it does as many things right as it does things wrong. Controls are an important aspect of a game, and I don't really understand why a futuristic flying vehicle can only turn left/right, but not strafe. Also the camera movement should rather try to follow the mouse cursor (show where you're aiming at), than being influenced by where the vehicle is facing.

What forum categories do you feel missing? The "Documentation" section of the website is pretty much covered by the book itself, so I guess it could be renamed to Offtopic. I've also suggested a "Projects" gallery, where people can introduce/preview their projects, but since OpenTK is rather young there doesn't seem to be much interest from the users in that, yet.

nythrix's picture

I'm interested in the projects gallery. Unfortunately my train sim isn't quite ready yet. I hope to drop a line there in a year or two.

the Fiddler's picture

Train simulator? Cool!

Glad to know there's interest in a project gallery, it's definitely in the todo list :)

Inertia's picture

To have some project section as a refernce that has proven to work, here's how the user projects are handled over at for several years now. First of all they created 2 separate boards:
-"Opinions about Projects"

This is solely used to separate the topic describing the project from user comments. So the topics in "Projects" are only replied to by the developer of the project to inform about progress, but never for discussion.

Furthermore there's some rather strict minimum requirements for a project to be posted. I'll roughly translate the sticky:

What's the purpose of this forum?
This forum has been opened to give users the opportunity to showcase their projects, and also use the created project thread as some kind of diary/blog. That's why you should only add your project to this forum, if the project has left Alpha stage and you intend to update the topic regularly. ("regularly" translates to monthly, not daily)
A detailed project description including techniques, features, technical details and future plans are REQUIRED. A download link is optional, but screenshots should be provided to give a better idea.
What this forum isn't for:
Small demos showing off a single technique (they are refering to stuff like a bump-mapping demo, cel shading, etc.) are not welcome, neither are projects in the state of "This is game X, it will be a clone of game Y one day" which do not include any details about goals, techniques or screenshots as a proof-of-concept. (they are doing this to decrease the amount of never-to-be-completed projects)

I think they're just paranoid about people who would abuse the projects forum to brag about their MMORPG / AAA Shooter projects, who spent more time playing them than actually coding something. The chances of a MMORPG to be completed - without having programmed network communication before - are below 0.

According to their requirements, the PQ Torusknot test would not qualify as a project because of the timespan needed to code it (2 days). The other requirements are all met (multiple techniques, features described, goal defined) and it has a higher purpose than showing how to draw a VBO (profile the Vertex Cache).

Imho for OpenTK the rules should be less strict, most projects that are more complex than what is included in OpenTK's tutorial folder should qualify. The only thing I really don't want to see is "Hi, check out my project! Bye", which is an advertisement and not a project introduction.

the Fiddler's picture

I kinda agree with the requirements being less strict. I'm not so sure about having two different boards, though - one board could be enough, describing the project in the opening post, and comments/discussion below.

The gallery might work better as an independent thing (pictures & captions, the pictures would also be linked from the "Project" board). The reasoning is that this could allow more functionality, e.g. rotating pictures of the day.

Inertia's picture

Guess it could be stuffed into a single board aswell, however the 2-boards approach has some advantages:
-clear distinction between what is written by the project's author and the user comments. Wouldn't you be annoyed if you post your project, and the first reply is from some Anonymous: "LOLOLOL you suX0rz! Don't dl it contains a virus!" (Ok not the best example since I'd immediately delete the post when I see it, my point is it allows users to append their comments directly to the project introduction)
-Updates to the project can be done by a new post, rather than editing the initial post. This also timestamps the update and gives an idea what has been accomplished since the last update. This is very cool to see how a project grows.
-It allows branching of comments into multiple topics, e.g. 1 topic for troubleshooting, 1 topic for programming/technical questions, 1 for gameplay questions, etc. This will not apply to all projects, but it can help with active and popular projects that receive alot of feedback.

Regarding the gallery, this would ofcourse be nice to do. It should be optional though, you don't really want to exhibit screenshots of a work-in-progress game which is functional/playable but largely contains placeholder or unfinished graphics. It should always be obvious to what stage of development the screenshots belong, typically you don't want people who google for your game's name to find screenshots of early development (unless explicitly in a project's diary/blog).

flopoloco's picture

I love indie games, I would definitely call them entertainment. If you know about
e.t.c. you will know what I mean.

While on the other hand AAA titles are a form of trendy-mass-maniac-entertainment that lasts 6-12 months (maybe 3 weeks for sure)... They promote hardware mostly rather than user's experience and happiness.