Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cross-post: Dinner Secrets

Over at the "Altercation" blog, I've written a post about me and Eddie Cameron's attempt at a Kinect game for a game jam. It's Happy Days themed and the game is rather silly. I also muse about the state of Unity3D-Kinect technology and some user interface concepts we learned while making it.

Picking at the patinas of dead levels

Sylvain "channie" Douce has done some excellent analysis of CoD:MW2's "Favela" -- read part 1 to understand the structure, then read part 2 for his excavation, where he wonders why certain rooms are there and even posits the former existence of a ladder based on how sloppy that part of the level feels.

It functions in the same way that a ring road might denote the former existence of a city wall, building cities on top of cities on top of cities. Levels function the same way, existing as iterations layered over each other -- a virtual patina that exists only in context to the rest of the level.

Western societies value this patina. We preserve buildings, we have a "National Register of Historic Places." Something old is something inherently valuable... Meanwhile, you get the Chinese government bulldozing hutongs and re-painting the Forbidden City. I'm a proponent of the former approach in real-life, so it's interesting that I don't nostalgize virtual environments in the same way at all. Why wouldn't you fix problems and smooth the cracks? That low-detail room and seam in Favela is a bug. And here, we squash bugs. No one lives in my levels, and there are no stakeholders or community councils to notify about the impending demolition.

But consider this. Someday, you will have a 9 year old child. You will point out the neighborhood you grew up in, and the streets where you used to play. She'll laugh; CS 1.6 is a 32-bit cold program, it's barely compatible with today's average quantum biological wetware. And de_dust... why, she can see the pixels in the textures! It's all laughable, really. It's great though, that you took the time to show her how video games used to be so old and obsolete.

You'll stay silent and mime a chuckle. That's when she'll realize she's hurt your feelings, and that's how she'll learn the weight of the dead is always shouldered by the living.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is currently in private beta testing.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The 2012 IGF Pirate Kart

I've submitted my Ludum Dare games, CondomCorps and FuhFuhFire, to the 2012 IGF Pirate Kart. Also, me and Eddie threw Super Cult Tycoon 2: Deluxe Edition into the mix too. That's 300+ incredibly creative games, all in one package, all full of love. So go play it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's Altercation Time.

Me and Eddie Cameron are now formally releasing our Unity3D stuff as a dynamic duo: "Altercation." The plan, I think, is to go back through our other stuff and polish those up to spec too? Maybe?

Our first official game is a more polished build of our most recent game, "Super Cult Tycoon 2: Deluxe Edition," now updated to version 1.0 -- with better difficulty ramping, some more graphical fanciness, and exponentially more playability.

+1 branding.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Frontiers, and why I'm afraid of working with multiplayer.

Frontiers is a multiplayer Half-Life 2 mod where one team is border guards and the other team is refugees, with environments and visuals based on real-life diaspora. The concept is very compelling... but I'll never get to play it, since it's real-time multiplayer and relies on a live, sustained player base that it'll never have.

This is why "serious games" and messaged-based games, in my mind, should never require more than a handful of players (or ideally, 1 or 2) to deliver its rhetoric -- or they should use asynchronous multiplayer -- because this is how a game dies. In contrast, single player games live forever.

I don't want to say, "don't make real-time multiplayer games," because that sounds awful. But I guess I'm saying it. I don't see any way around it.

Attention! Oct 21-23 = upcoming epic weekend of game jams!

For some reason, Sagittarius is aligning with Capricorn in the zenith of Jupiter and three (3) different game jams are happening on the weekend of October 21 - 23. If you live in or near a major economic center in the United States, you're in for a treat. Hopefully we can get some kind of simultaneous live camera feed going on between the sites.

hosted by Babycastles / Parsons, the New School for Design / New School Game Club
Friday, Oct 21 @ 7 PM - Sunday, Oct 23 @ 7 PM. (NOTE: building is NOT open 24/7.)
6 East 16th Street, (12th flr lab), New York, NY. (Take the L / N Q R / 4 5 6 to Union Square.)
> Free. Sign-up on the Facebook page, or just show-up. (+ Free pizza on mystery night!)

hosted by IGDA Chicago and Friends / Toy Studio
Friday, Oct 21 @ 6 PM - Sunday, Oct 23 @ 10 AM.
1550 N Damen, Suite 201. Chicago, IL.
> Free (?) Sign-up here.

hosted by TIGSource / Hacker Dojo
Thursday, Oct 20 @ 10 AM - Sunday, Oct 23 @ 8 PM.
140A South Whisman Rd., Mountain View, CA.
> Registration required ($50) for t-shirt, snacks, dinner and more.

If you've never been to a game jam before, don't be scared. Anyone can start making games. These days, you don't even have to learn much computer programming if you don't want to. For info and advice on starting out, see this thread at Super Friendship Club or visit!

And if you're unfamiliar with the game jam format, it roughly resembles this:
  1. First, you show-up and sign-in and stuff.
  2. The secret theme is announced. You listen to a silly but inspiring keynote.
  3. People form teams and talk about ideas.
  4. People start making games. People eat. Good times are had.
  5. People go home and sleep, or the building closes.
  6. People start panicking that they won't finish. Cut some features. Go home and sleep.
  7. Cut more features. The timer starts ticking down.
  8. Pencils up! Everyone presents their broken games and everyone is loved.
See? Nothing to be scared of. So see you at one of the jams! Come make games!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A level to look out for: l4d_yama

An epic Left 4 Dead project, made of so much custom content, deserves all the hype it can get. Unlike so many Japanese-themed FPS maps, this actually kinda looks authentically like Japan -- the author, Mark Edwards, clearly did his research -- and it's all pretty haunting if you think about the freakish chain of cataclysmic disaster that has swept Japan this year. Every empire is paranoid of its sunset, but the familiar real-life narrative of a shrinking population grants the setting some additional power. It's a rare digital survey of Japanese civilization: from city to countryside to castle.

Watch out for l4d_yama, people. The beta's hitting soon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

LGBTQ game design knife fight!

Okay, I exaggerate. But I'm of the mind that conflict is often productive.

I wrote about "A Closed World" more than a month ago, but only now is it garnering coverage from the larger gay establishment like The Advocate. Recently, Anna Anthropy more or less openly denounced the game with a scathing game parody of it, and Christine Love wrote about her own thoughts here. The general consensus seems to be, "yes, at worst, this is a diluted and facile expression of what being queer is like" and "mumble mumble, design by committee is slow and awful," but with some disagreement on what that all means. (And I took a bit of offense with the grumbling against games academia, but whatever.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Super Cult Tycoon 2: Deluxe Edition (alpha v0.9)

An RTS collab with Eddie Cameron (@eddiecameron) in your web browser, made for Super Friendship Club's "Mysticism" pageant.

Control your very own cult in Colorado; brew Kool Aid, sew wallets, build PR agencies, summon amorphous capture spheres, construct monoliths and ward off those pesky FBI agents -- then run off with the money. We were kind of aiming for a tycoon / tower defense / DOTA kind of game, and it doesn't really work as it should yet.

It's still pretty crash-prone, but pretty playable for the most part. Give it a few minutes.

Unity3d web player required, 3.5 mb. Textures from, sounds from