Saturday, December 30, 2017

Postcards from Unreal, pt 2

My Unreal Tournament 4 deathmatch map "Pilsner" isn't really done. But as an exploratory project, I've fulfilled my goals to learn the basics of building 3D spaces in Unreal. I also reached the point where I needed an actual player base to confirm how the map plays, or at least tell me that it's total shit -- but it looks like I can't even get a denunciation when Unreal Tournament 4 seems to have a grand total of like 5 players!

I appreciate all the pre-configured art content and basic gameplay structures implemented in the game already, and it has been really helpful for me to learn how to configure my assets and work in Unreal projects -- but this experience has also convinced me that I shouldn't try to teach level design to my students with this half-finished basically-dead game.

It was also questionable how well this was going to run on our students' laptops, because half of them use Macbooks with small hard drives, and very little room for a Windows partition and an additional 50 GB for UT4 and the UT4 editor. This leads me to one of the original reasons why we stopped running a level design course: there are simply no popular first person multiplayer games with modern level editor suites that were easily deployable on our students' computers. (Given how long it takes to make games, computer labs are impractical.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"Level Design Workshop: How to Light a Level" at GDC 2018

Hey there. I'll be returning to GDC in 2018 with a talk called "How to Light a Level"... Here's the blurb:
Lighting is traditionally one of the most computationally expensive parts of game rendering, as well as one of the most crucial design tools for setting mood and readability in a game world. And yet, level designers and environment artists often lack the language and theory to collaborate effectively on lighting design. What does light do for games, and how can developers use lighting to facilitate certain experience goals for games? This session begins with a brief cultural history of lighting, before moving on to an overview of practical lighting design theory as well as various case studies.
I'll be presenting alongside many other amazing folks as part of the Level Design Workshop, run by Joel Burgess, Matthias Worch, Clint Hocking, and Lisa Brown.

This year, the roster includes:
We're basically a "tutorial" mini-track that, I believe, will run all-day on Tuesday. Traditionally, we also do portfolio reviews during the lunch break. If you'll be around, come check us out. (And if you won't be at GDC this year: it's fun, but don't worry, you really aren't missing that much.)

Friday, December 22, 2017

LEVEL WITH ME will return in January 2018

Hey viewers -- sorry if you're waiting for the next installment of Level With Me. You're going to have to wait for a while, since I'm on holiday / traveling, and lugging around my streaming setup is going to be impractical. But we'll be returning in January 2018 on a new day and time, so watch out for that.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the entire Level With Me archive on YouTube if you still need your regular dose of lighting complaints and texturing nitpicks.

Be good, and see you next year!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Radiator Blog: Eighth (8th!) Year Anniversary

As is the holiday tradition in December, teenagers throughout the world have gathered around their radiators to critique environment textures and be wantonly gay, in flamboyant celebration of the anniversary of the Radiator Blog's founding. This year, the blog turns 8 years old!

For 2017, I resolved to blog more... and I ended up with 72 posts, which is double the amount of 2016's posts (a mere 36). Compared to social media like Twitter, I've always thought of blogging as a more "formal", slower platform. But to keep up the pace this year, I had to relax my attitudes and write more freely, which I think was ultimately a positive thing.

(You can check out past years' anniversary round-ups here.)

Now let us gather around the radiator, and review the past year's "greatest hits" along with some commentary...

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and the Ways Forward" at ICA Philadelphia, February 2 - August 12, 2018

A bunch of my gay sex games will be appearing as part of an exhibition "Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and the Ways Forward" at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia next year, a show about "queer play" curated by artist Nayland Blake.

I'll hopefully make it out for the opening in February too. They also might be using my game screenshots as the basis of some branding and advertising materials, so keep a lookout for some uncanny hunks near you!

Here's the blurb from the ICA website:
Organized by guest curator and artist Nayland Blake, Tag: Proposals On Queer Play and the Ways Forward explores how the expanding influence of digital and online technologies, fandom subcultures, and artistic discourse has created new possibilities for queer identification, changing how personal roles and forms of expressions are defined in contemporary society. Based on the premise that the cultures of role play, sexual play, and digital play have all flourished beyond the boundaries of art structures, this exhibition provides a gathering place and platform for the exploration of queer play created by individuals and groups from the worlds of game design and theory, performance, kink, and activism. Tag: Proposals on Queer Play and the Ways Forward will be on view on view February 2 through August 12, 2018.

For the exhibition, Blake illuminates these new and evolving forms of representation and examines the implications these developments have had on art and social action through a curatorial approach that draws on his own preoccupation with themes of interracial desire, same-sex love, and racial and sexual bigotry. Artists include A.K. Burns, Clifford Hengst, Arnold Kemp, Savannah Knoop, Dusty Shoulders, and Robert Yang, among others.
Admission is free and open to the public, and it runs February 2nd - August 12th, 2018.
118 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3289. (215) 898-7108. ADA accessible.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

For all our US-based readers

Net neutrality is an issue that would heavily affect this blog and its proprietor. As someone whose "controversial" work regularly gets banned from platforms like Twitch, I'm really worried about the future of open and equal access on the internet when universally-reviled ISPs are allowed to further control who sees what / and at what additional costs.

If you're a US citizen and you like all the shit I post, then please ensure your continued access to my shit, and send some e-mails or make some calls to your local congressperson.

Below, I've copy and pasted from this post on why net neutrality matters, and what is happening now, and what action you can take:

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The joy of learning how to freeze to death

This post spoils some gameplay systems in The Long Dark.

I still remember the first time I played Minecraft, back before the quests and tutorials and candy dispenser walls: I woke up on an unknown shore and followed the setting sun. At night, a dozen monsters chased me across a valley. I desperately dug a burrow with my hands, and barricaded myself inside -- but I didn't know how to make torches or even how to get wood or food, so I just sat quietly in that dark dirt hole and waited for death.

In contrast, I was recently playing some of the new Assassin's Creed game set in Ptolemaic Egypt, a land chock full of happily glowing icons that will give you cookies. As you visit various cities and villages along the Nile, every single NPC will offer you a handshake and a warm hug. And, ok, this example is actually real: if you swim longer for 15 seconds in the water, the game impatiently spawns a helpful man with a boat in front of you, so that you don't have to keep swimming.

A week or two ago, I left sunny Egypt for the cold Canadian wilderness of The Long Dark, a popular first person indie survival sim. There are approximately zero cookies in this game -- or if there are, they're probably moldy cookies scavenged from a 15 year old military ration... uh, don't eat them.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Radiator -- Spring 2018 US & European Tour

I'm trying to get all my traveling arrangements for next spring -- and it turns out I'm going to be visiting Europe quite a bit! Here's my tentative traveling schedule for next year. Feel free to attend / hang out / say hello if you see me at these events...
  • January 21, 2018 @ Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London, England
    London Short Film Festival, panel discussion of Tearoom (2007)
    I'm going to be on a fancy panel with much smarter people, talking about William E Jones' work Tearoom (2007), which my game The Tearoom (2017) takes heavy inspiration from. It won't be a game-literate audience, but I think part of the work of reforming game culture involves growing these partnerships and connections with other fields.
  • March 19-23, 2018 @ Moscone Center in San Francisco, California
    Game Developer Conference (GDC)
    I'll be giving a short talk -- well, probably? I don't think the session has been published or announced on the official schedule yet, so I'm not supposed to say much more than that... But hopefully, eventually, I imagine I'll be presenting alongside many other great folks too, so look out for more info on that.
  • April 13-16, 2018 in Copenhagen, Denmark
    Nordic Game Jam
    I will be speaking during the "conference" portion of the Nordic Game Jam -- which is apparently the biggest game jam in the world / the original inspiration for what is now the Global Game Jam. I don't really know what I'll be talking about yet, but I think it's supposed to be inspiring for teenagers and stuff! Maybe I'll even make a little game for the jam.
  • April 25-29, 2018 @ Urban Spree in Berlin, Germany
    A MAZE Berlin
    Uhhh I don't really know what I'll be doing at A MAZE, yet, if anything, but I'm still planning on attending! Maybe I'll just hang out? I'm sure Thorsten will give me something to do. But when I attended back in 2016, I basically had the worst burrito I've ever had in my life -- as well as the best doner I've ever had in my life -- so I guess Berlin just has that certain, you know, das gewisse etwas.