Something for the weekend: Line Rider

Iain Simons recommends a simple but beautiful game to while away the hours... But don't let the mana

This weeks game was prompted by a mention of it by Media Molecule’s Alex Evans, speaking at the Develop Conference in Brighton.

He namechecked it during his presentation as one of his favourite casual games of recent years and the audience found themselves nodding in nostalgic agreement. That we could feel a warm glow for something only a few years old is an index of the relentless march of innovation within your browser. Ahhhh, 2006 - how we loved thee.

Evans has been working for the last few years on LittleBigPlanet, the most anticipated PS3 game in the world today and was examining the obsession with 3-dimensionality in games today.

It’s been an assumption in recent years that for a project to be valid and interesting it needs to contain that extra ‘z’ dimension - x and y alone proving sadly lacking.

There is of course a long and illustrious pedigree of 2-dimensional titles, from Pong to Tetris to Jet Set Willy - but few have demonstrated the joy of simplicity as persuasively as his example.

Line Rider, created in 2006 by a Slovenian student Boštjan ?adež, is a simple concept, beautifully executed.

Draw a course and send your rider sledging along it, bound only by the physics of the world within which he’s travelling.

In a sense, there’s little else to say about the tool itself. It’s in the hands of the users that the software shines.

As the gallery of movies featured in the site shows, the constraints that the tool forces on the user propagates some wonderfully inventive creations.

For a game that was initially featured on a site called Deviant Art, it’s with a heavy heart that we note how it’s recently been used in a campaign for McDonalds but hey, Deviant’s have mortgages too.
Ride Here.

Iain Simons writes, talks and tweets about videogames and technology. His new book, Play Britannia, is to be published in 2009. He is the director of the GameCity festival at Nottingham Trent University.
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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.