OneBigGame Prepares Its First Charity Game, Chime, Discusses Future Plans

OneBigGame Prepares Its First Charity Game, Chime, Discusses Future Plans

Penny Arcade is rightfully commended for its Child’s Play charity organization. But there’s not enough charity work happening in video games, argues OneBigGame founder Martin de Ronde. Since leaving Killzone developer Guerrilla Games, de Ronde has focused on building up OneBigGame, which he once described to me as LiveAid for video games. That was quite a while ago, though. Only now, however, is OneBigGame gearing up to release its first game, Chime, over Xbox Live Arcade.

De Ronde admits he was too ambitious at the start.

"Developers are renowned for being late," he told me during a meeting in Los Angeles a few weeks back. "When you ask people, can you in your spare time, for charity, create a unique, innovative little game that we will publish and there’s no specific deadline. You just know that you’re asking for trouble. What happened is…the original idea was to do one big game, literally one, big next-gen game with just individual designers contributing blueprints for mini-games."

He quickly learned the LiveAid comparison didn’t work for a number of reasons, forcing him to come up with a new approach for OneBigGame. The reason de Ronde met with me and other journalists in Los Angeles was to pitch the new, refined path for OneBigGame, which promises a games on a regular (albeit unscheduled) basis released in both free-to-play Flash forms and fleshed out for pay on a "premium platform" like Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network or elsewhere.

He was also there to show me Chime, aka Lumines-meets-Tetris. Oooh.

"It’s nice that we can say it’s LiveAid for video games," he said, "but the analogy kind of doesn’t work because if you stick a couple of musicians in a room, at least you’ll have a hit single at the end of a studio day. If you stick Shigeru Miyamoto, Peter Molyneux, Will Wright in a room, at the end of the day you’ll get lots of crazy ideas, but you won’t have a game."

The first release for OneBigGame is Chime, a music-based Xbox Live Arcade puzzle game developed by Zoe Mode, the studio behind several SingStar spin-offs, the woefully underappreciated brain teaser Crush for PSP and a number of EyeToy games. Zoe Mode knows music games and Chime represents the developer’s original foray into the genre — and it looks really good. de Ronde described Chime as a combination of Lumines and Tetris, a combination I can confirm works quite well.

OneBigGame Prepares Its First Charity Game, Chime, Discusses Future Plans

Chime opens on an empty grid. Each stage has unique grids and music (Moby and Orbital are confirmed, with more to be announced). You drop rotating pieces onto the grind in order to create strings of 3×3 grids. Once a single 3×3 grid is made, combos are maintained by keeping the 3×3 grid by extending the grid. What drives Chime is how the grids manipulate the music. The grids riff on the track while an ever-demanding clearing line passes through. To hear the entire track, you must fill the whole grid. These mechanics work hand-in-hand to assert Chime’s addictive qualities, as you’re working towards both a high score and the opportunity to hear more music.

"The industry needs to embrace this…It’s good for charity, it’s good for the industry"

There’s no release date for Chime yet. OneBigGame says it’s arriving sometime in the "winter," which could place it before the end of the year or early 2010.

Either way, Chime’s a game worth watching, as are the other games OneBigGame is collaborating on. PaRappa the Rapper creator Masaya Matsuura is developing an iPhone music rhythm game that he recently showed off over in the UK, Shiny Entertainment founder Dave Perry is working on a remake of his favorite old school ZX Spectrum game and Charles Cecil of Revolution Software (aka the creator of Broken Sword) is crafting an adventure game based on…Minesweeper?

Yes, Minesweeper. "He’s [Cecil] come up with a back story for as to why the mines are there, he’s come up with characters," laughed de Ronde. "It’s turning out to be a really, really cool game in terms of mechanics and also in terms of the setting and the universe…"

The enthusiasm from de Ronde is obvious. He believes in this cause and the impact it could have on the world. OneBigGame started out a little too big, a tad too ambitious, but with Chime only a month or two out, the initiative is finally coming together. OneBigGame is becoming a reality.

"The industry needs to embrace this," he said. "People in the industry just need to buy this and spread the word because it’s a win-win situation, I feel. It’s good for charity, it’s good for the industry as a whole because we’re always defending ourselves against charges of violence and we’re just taking a defensive stance, whereas I think we should be proactive."

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