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Circa Infinity free demo runs a ring around the monsters

Circa Infinity is the creation of Kenny Sun, a 21-year old undergraduate at NYU. It's a fast-paced orbital adventure in which the player navigates around and into recursive circles.

It feels like a cross between a circular platform game and Atari classic Tempest: the player travels along the perimeter of a circle, ducking inside to avoid baddies and seeking the best route to jump to the center. Each center then turns into a new circle.

Visually distinctive and with an appealing soundtrack, the game is currently seeking Greenlight votes on Steam, with a full release planned for Windows PC, Mac and Linux around August. The final game will be 40 levels deep, with the first ten levels recently released as a free demo.

Sun has been developing games since he was in his early teens, experimenting with Flash. He is currently majoring in computer science and mathematics with a minor in game design.

Circa

"Circa Infinity originally started off as a Ludum Dare game called Core," Sun told Polygon in an interview. "I liked how it turned out and continued to work on it. At the time, I thought that I'd just polish up a little bit in a few months and release it as a throwaway free mobile app. But as I kept on working on it, the scope of the game grew and grew."

Sun studied established work in order to set his marker. "I looked a lot at Terry Cavanagh's games, especially Super Hexagon, early on in development," he said. "You can probably see how the disorienting craziness of Super Hexagon kind of translated into my game. Jason Rohrer's Inside a Star-Filled Sky was also a big influence. I really liked the idea of recursion in a game, having levels within levels."

Designing levels is almost like painting a picture

It's a fun game, but also has the feel of an artistic experiment. "The recursive nature of the game makes it so that almost all of the visuals are a byproduct of the level design. Designing levels in Circa Infinity is almost like painting a picture," explained Sun. "I like the idea that games can be art. But I'm definitely putting most of my emphasis on making this a fun game with good design."

Sun credits fellow developers surrounding NYU for helping him to press on with the project. "The game development community in New York and NYU has been super helpful throughout this game's development," he said. "Every Thursday, the NYU Game Center hosts an event called Playtest Thursdays, where local and student developers can play-test each other's games.

"I started bringing Circa Infinity there every week and the feedback has been immeasurably helpful. There's one developer I met named John Rhee from Coda Games, who provided a ton of guidance and gave me the confidence to try pushing this game further."

You can download the demo here.