Physics Games and Physics-Based Game Downloads

Paint the Town with “De Blob” Physics Game

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006 by Matthew in Physics Games
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (Rate this game! 329 votes, average: 4.07 out of 5)

De Blob is an amazing project by students at the Utrecht School of the Arts and Utrecht University. The game was developed by a team of 9 in just four months, with everyone working minimal hours alongside other obligations. The output is tremendous. Joost van Dongen, the lead programmer, describes the game as:

It is a 3D game in which the player controls a ball of paint rolling through the city. The ball can absorb coloured NPC’s to become larger and change its colour. With the paint, the player can then proceed to paint the entire city. Almost everything is paintable: buildings, trees, cars and using the paint trace even the ground. The main goal of the game is to paint all 17 landmark buildings. Hardcore fanatics can also try to collect all 50 coins that are hidden around the level.

Perception vs. Simulation

What’s really interesting about De Blob, as Joost points out in his post, is that the actual physics simulation of the main character is a simple rigid body sphere. Even though the game feels like you’re controlling a blob of fluid, this is entirely accomplished by the presentation. The squash and stretch of the blob and the squishy-sounding audio creates the illusion. It’s a very powerful example of how our internal, mental simulation of a game world can actually be much more complex than the computer’s underlying simulation.

Player perception is an important lesson for game developers to learn. You could enhance the fidelity of your physics simulation, or you could simply create the illusion of enhanced complexity. The flipside is possible, too, where a player could perceive a physics simulation as less complex than it really is. When you design a system, keep in mind that players spend more time playing the game in their heads than they do playing the hard-and-fast numbers inside some piece of silicon.

Mark Your Territory

The gameplay in De Blob is fairly basic, but remarkably well executed. The goal is to become the same color as various targets throughout the city and then touch them. The game uses a very elegant color-mixing scheme to accomplish this. For instance, if you need to turn green you’ll have to pick up a blue and a yellow person. Some of the targets require careful movement to reach, but for the most part the physics aspects of the game are very simplistic.

De Blob Screenshot Screenshot of Physics Games
(De Blob Game Screenshots)

It’s Fun!

De Blob was designed as a kiosk game, where passer-bys in an information center would casually play for a few minutes and then move on. Because of this, the game doesn’t have a lot of structure on top of it. There is only one level, and there aren’t any rewards for actually completing your task.

Still, it’s a surprising amount of fun to play and a visual treat to look at. And, hey, it’s free, so give it a whirl. The only downside is steep system requirements–the developers recommend a 2Ghz machine with 512 MB of memory.

Download De Blob Game [mirror 1] [mirror 2] (99 MB)

More information on the game is available in this discussion thread, which was posted by the lead programmer.

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23 Responses to 'Paint the Town with “De Blob” Physics Game'

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  1. c--b said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 2:28 pm

    I played it for a good hour and ended up with the whole city painted, it was good colorful fun; however I probably wouldn’t play it again.

  2. joshwa said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    katamari clone…

  3. Matthew said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    joshwa: It doesn’t play much like Katamari. I’ve heard the download links are a bit slow, but make sure you give it a try.

  4. c--b said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    It’s no more a Katamari clone than Breakout is a pong clone.

  5. tawal said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    Yeah, I was sure this would be very Katamari Damacy-esque, but it totally is not. That said, I was not especially fond of the control, and it is a little short (though the collection of coins may prove to be entertaining for some).

  6. Ikkonoishi said,

    on July 19th, 2006 at 9:34 pm

    With some work it could be a great game. The multiplayer could really rock with each blob racing to color their color around town.

  7. Jain said,

    on July 20th, 2006 at 3:41 am

    Played this for a good half hour ( a test version at school over here ) reacts really naturally and the faking of blobbyness works out really well, the fake, my guess is, actully makes it play better, because actual blob physics leave a lot of room for strange sideeffects.. Nice to see so much attention for a game from the HKU :)

  8. Wunderbear said,

    on July 20th, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    Wow. This does look quite neat, downloading now. I nver had a chance to play Katamari Damarcy, so this will be welcome even if it is a clone.

  9. Ikkonoishi said,

    on July 20th, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    Oohh its moddable. The gravity, jumpheight, movement speeds, and city scale can be changed, and it seems that the entire map is laid out in a text file.

  10. Beakless said,

    on July 21st, 2006 at 11:30 am

    ……………MORE LEVELS……….

  11. Arnos said,

    on July 22nd, 2006 at 8:06 pm

    Haven’t played yet but it looks very neat.

  12. Nox said,

    on July 23rd, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    it doesn´t work, HELP

  13. Tom said,

    on July 28th, 2006 at 5:53 am

    Katamari + Mario Sunshine.

    Except you are painting instead of washing.

    Someone please make some more levels?

  14. Borat said,

    on September 22nd, 2006 at 8:43 am

    My recipe to make it funnier would be to add cheats, not necessarily those who need additional programming, more like just pressing “+” for additional speed or size, right now the game is deadly boring ;)

  15. Anthony said,

    on October 29th, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    I really got into it for about an hour, great fun. A bit shortlived though. Also I would like it if the little paint people would scream when you consume them unto yourself.

  16. Delaregar said,

    on November 2nd, 2006 at 8:35 pm

    For the person who said it didn’t work;

    I also had that problem, the exception said it couldn’t open the directory “Assets/NL/menus”.

    I was able to fix this by renaming my EN directory in assets to NL, and it runs fine now.

  17. Kurrus said,

    on January 19th, 2007 at 5:21 am

    Hey, this game is fun. Way too short, though, but my little sister loves it. I found it’s moddable, I put really high gravity and jump power and I made some kind of teleporter O.o

  18. fraser said,

    on January 27th, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    just in case you want to edit the gravity/jump/etc, its in the file:
    C:\program files\de blob\Blob EN\assets\settings\settings.cfg

    Not sure how you make a teleporter though?!?

  19. quinn said,

    on March 28th, 2007 at 6:33 am

    it sure takes a reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaly
    realy,realy long time to download :(

  20. Awais said,

    on May 28th, 2007 at 5:25 am

    Ive got problems with this game.After installing it…and starting it the game just crashes.I start it…and after a few seconds boom!it crashes with some ‘exception problem’.


  21. Invalid Soul said,

    on July 7th, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    Ive never played katamari so i cant agree or disagree with this entire katamari clone thing. takes a while to download but it is worth it! awais, try downloading the second mirror. the game is very fun. i got all landmarks and 27 or so coins, but i was too lazy to get the rest of the coins. its very fun anyways. what you might want to try is finding a sign and get color after color each time hitting the sign. there are different things, like black is “Blobtrix”, brown is “Blobbers”, blue is some wierd thing i assume its from a tv show. there are a TON of things to experiment with, and the graphics are very ToonTownish on high. but the things arent goofy like toontown… they are just strange… perhaps even mysterious to some >_> try it out is all i say

  22. Jeran said,

    on July 25th, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    i have read in Nintendo Power, that they are making a Wii version of this, with more levels, and other stuff, like multiplayer.

  23. Holkeye said,

    on January 5th, 2009 at 7:39 am

    This game is awesome. It took me 3 minutes to download, it installed without issue, and it gave me exactly what I expected it to: An hour of innovative fun. Many of the comments here compare it to Katamari Damacy, and that is really a shame. We live in a time where computer games are basically stuffed into four categories: RPG, FPS, RTS, and TBS. I, for one, am glad when a game comes along and tries to do something different. If you shake this game off as just a clone, you’ll be missing out on something that is lacking these days: A new idea.

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