Saturday, May 18, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
This post is significantly changed from a talk I gave at Different Games. It was prompted by Jon Stokes approaching me and helpfully telling me that my talk made no sense, so hopefully this post will be more clear. SPOILER WARNING: I spoil Brendon Chung's excellent Thirty Flights of Loving.
As a self-proclaimed developer of "personal games", one thing that puzzles me about these games and empathy is that no one really knows how emotional transfer between players and games works -- like, what's really happening when you control a character in a game? Do you sympathize directly with the narrative situation, or are you role-playing, or do you think more in strategic terms, or what's going on? These words -- flow, immersion, empathy, role-playing -- how much do they really explain or predict how we, as humans, experience video games?
There's very little actual research on this because, I think, the game industry isn't interested in funding it and finding out. About the only researcher I've heard of is Jonas Linderoth and he argues for severe skepticism, or that games don't actually teach you anything outside of games -- and that isn't something the game industry would want people to hear.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
I've been implementing the Oculus Rift VR goggles into my first person projects, and the process has been... interesting.
Valve's excellent introduction to working with virtual reality (per their experiences in porting Team Fortress 2) is the definitive primer to working with VR in a first person context, and more or less the state of the art. However, it also ends with a powerful notion: we're only just beginning with VR, and it's going to take time before we know what we're doing. Here's a very brief summary of general design guidelines, as defined by Valve:
Thursday, May 2, 2013
(NOTE: There are sketches of nude human figures in this post, with their anatomy intact.)
If you ask any great AAA game artist about the single-most important thing you can do to get better at art, they'll probably start mumbling about "foundation." Photoshop, Maya -- these are just newfangled versions of pencils or paintbrushes or clay. They won't really teach you how to paint, or how to sculpt, or how to look at things and represent them. In this way, a bit of traditional, non-digital fine arts education can be an extremely useful tool sometimes.
In the pretty casual 12 week, 2 hours a week drawing class I took, the teacher presented two ways of thinking about drawing:
Monday, April 29, 2013
So I recorded a Let's Play for Jake Elliott's "Let's Play" event in Chicago a few days ago. Since the event's now over, I thought I'd share the video for the entire internet to see. In it, I talk a bit through the design of the first section of Anomalous Materials, and how it played with the affordances of first person views / represents two divergent ideas of "realism" / presence, and what being in a virtual world entails. WARNING: a good portion of the video is me staring at a wall and talking over it, sorry...
Sunday, April 28, 2013
"From Earth" is probably going to be one of the very last Half-Life 2 mods ever made. It's Mirror's Edge-ish first person parkour + a mechanical machine-shop crafting-puzzle system + original science fiction setting. If I had time, I'd totally help them out... I don't have the time, unfortunately, but I really want to make time...
However, I really do think this is a golden opportunity for people with some mod skills but want to collaborate on a bigger project and focus on specific design problems. This is a veteran mod team that has already finished and released 2 very big mods already; they're small, focused, and they know what they're doing. (Most mod teams have difficulty getting coders, character modelers, and animators -- but that's exactly what they already have, so they're in a really really good position.)
This project is looking for writers / narrative designers, level designers, concept artists, and voice actors. (Again, these are traditionally the easiest roles to recruit for mod projects, the so-called "idea people" who are considered plentiful and worthless. The fact that this team is focusing on recruiting for these roles, consciously and thoughtfully, demonstrates they're different from the vast graveyard of dead projects -- these people get things done.)
Imagine you're a writer / narrative designer who wants to get into AAA, but you're incapable of making games yourself. Ideally, you would learn how to make games yourself, go indie, and bypass AAA entirely -- but if, for some reason you still want to go into the mouth of the beast, this is fantastic chance for you to actually do what they would do... You'll make demands for animations and audio logs and scripted sequences; the team will helpfully explain to you why that would take several years of work; you'll work around these limits and genuinely improve your own ability to design narrative; it'll be hard, but rewarding.
This is a solid project. They're doing a lot of things right. They have most of the core game already working and implemented. If you're a decent writer or multiplayer Source Engine mapper or environmental artist or someone, looking to hone your skills or practice single player design, you should definitely jump on-board. You will make good work and get results.
(Disclaimer: I've playtested From Earth.)
Thursday, April 25, 2013
This weekend I'm giving a talk called "First Personal" at the "Different Games" conference, this Friday and Saturday at NYU-Poly in Brooklyn. I'm going to talk about first person games and why I think they're really well-suited for making personal games. I'll also be showing the newest iteration of CondomCorps in the arcade they've setup.
The conference is free to attend, so if you're in the area you should come hang out for at least a little while.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Jake Elliott and co. are running a "Let's Play" themed event at 8:00 PM on Thursday at Chicago's "beloved microcinema", the Nightingale. What is the LP and what's interesting about the form? What's the difference between LP and machinima, and what happens when that line blurs? (Extra credit: play the Stephen Lavelle classic Rara Racer for further commentary of the LP genre.)
Daphny and Liz Ryerson (and me!), among other artists, have made new original videos just for the show. I think some are even doing live Let's Plays as performance (!!!) Personally, I had never recorded an LP before and it felt really weird to me... are the results compelling at all? Find out in Chicago, tomorrow! Full description and info pasted after the jump: