Cloud (video game)

Cloud
A curved painting of a field of white flowers in front a gray, fenced-in city. The word "Cloud" is written below the Chinese character for the same the right side, and description of the game is in a gray box on the left.
Publisher(s)USC Interactive Media Division
Designer(s)
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
ReleaseOctober 24, 2005
Genre(s)Puzzle
Mode(s)Single-player

Cloud is an indie puzzle video game developed by a team of students in the University of Southern California's (USC) Interactive Media Program. The team began development of the game for Microsoft Windows in January 2005 with a US$20,000 grant from USC; the game was released as a free download that October. By July 2006, the hosting website had received 6 million visits, and the game had been downloaded 600,000 times.

The game centers on a boy who dreams of flying while asleep in a hospital bed. The concept was partially based on lead designer Jenova Chen's childhood; he was often hospitalized for asthma and would daydream while alone in his room. Assuming the role of the boy, the player flies through a dream world and manipulates clouds to solve puzzles. The game was intended to spark emotions in the player that the video game industry usually ignored.

Cloud won the Best Student Philosophy award at the 2006 Slamdance Guerilla Games Competition, and a Student Showcase award at the 2006 Independent Games Festival. The game was received well by critics, who cited its visuals, music, and relaxing atmosphere as high points. Chen and producer Kellee Santiago went on to co-found the studio Thatgamecompany, which has considered remaking Cloud as a commercial video game.

Gameplay

A blue-haired boy in a white robe is in the air over two small, mountainous islands. A white cloud is above him, and a gray, raining cloud is behind it.
A screenshot of the boy flying in the sky. Above him black clouds and white clouds that the player has moved are combining to form rain.

Cloud, a single-player video game for Microsoft Windows, centers on a boy who dreams of flying through the sky while asleep in a hospital bed. The player assumes control of the sleeping boy's avatar—the projection of the boy into his dream world—and guides him through his dream of a small group of islands with a light gathering of clouds. The avatar's direction and speed are controlled with a mouse; movement is generally on a horizontal plane, but vertical flight can be attained by holding down the third button of the mouse.[1] The player may interact with clouds only while flying horizontally.

The game contains three types of clouds: white clouds, which follow the avatar; gray, neutral clouds, which become white when touched; and black clouds, which may be combined with white clouds to cause rain, dissolving both clouds.[2] A large number of white clouds more easily dissolves a small number of dark clouds than an equal number, and vice versa. White clouds stop following the avatar if the player moves too quickly and they resume following if approached again.[1] Each of the four missions in Cloud has a different objective, including forming patterns in the sky with clouds, eliminating black clouds, and creating rain over each of the islands.[2]

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