Sunday, January 16, 2022

Darner's Digest, vol. 3: on the Yarn Spinner v2.0 release + a YS primer

Darner's Digest is a series of blog posts about Yarn Spinner, a free open source Unity dialogue tree plugin.

On December 21st, 2021, the Yarn Spinner project finally made its public YS v2.0 for Unity release

YS 2.0 has gone through six (6!) preview versions / betas over the last few years, with several debates and redesigns that have finally culminated in this version. If you're familiar with Yarn Spinner already, you should go read the changelog for upgrade notes from v1.0 to v2.0.

But a lot about YS and its ecosystem have changed, so it's probably helpful to recap what's going on.

1. What is Yarn Spinner in 2022?
2. When to use Yarn Spinner
3. How to use Yarn Spinner
4. Current Strengths / Weaknesses
5. The Future

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Resolutions, 2022

Well, 2021 was a year, huh? Here's the work in 2022 that I'm looking forward to:
  • Release 1+ gay sex games. I have two projects that have been perpetually stuck at ~95% complete, and two that are 50% complete. It's been tricky to find time (and volition) to sit down and finally finish them. But again! 2022 is going to be the year I bet! I mean, it has to be, right??
  • "Launch" my level design book project. While the book is already open and public, I haven't been talking about it or publicizing it since there's still so many gaps and missing pages. It's a very unstable book, even though I've somehow written 100,000+ words over the past 2 years. But this year I feel like it's finally going to feel complete enough that I can start recommending it to people.
  • I'm going to start streaming again, maybe in a few months. Since my move to New Zealand last year, it's taken me a while to get settled with a more reliable schedule. Now I'm finally on my way to figuring out my routines again.
I also have a few other projects in the works, but those'll get announced later in the year. There's one in particular that's pretty unusual compared to my past work. I've been having a lot of fun making it though.

Good luck everyone, and here's hoping 2022 treats us all a bit better.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

new Quake map: "When There Were Wolves"

I made another Quake map, this time in collaboration with fellow mapper @mrtaufner for the 2021 Quake community Xmas Jam

Taufner handled the initial blockout and gameplay, while I did the art pass and tweaks. (With textures by Makkon as usual.) 

The collaboration here was ideal because I didn't feel like doing gameplay stuff, and Taufner didn't want to art pass, so we exchanged duties and took turns working on the level.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Deathloop deconstruction / design thoughts

SPOILER WARNING: this post spoils levels, main quests, and gameplay systems in Deathloop

I guess this post is my contribution to Deathloop discourse. This is similar to my tactics games writeup and Enderal (huge Skyrim mod) writeup where I spoil some interesting game designer / systems design things. I don't discuss much of the game narrative. I assume general game design knowledge but minimal Deathloop-specific knowledge. Perfect for pretending to have played Deathloop if you find yourself talking to a game dev. Not that you should ever talk to a game dev.

Just to warn you, this post is 5700+ words with 3 sections:
  • General systems overview
  • More specific gameplay stuff -- stealth and level design notes, combat notes, invasion implementation
  • Critical path / progression overview with "beat sheet" tables

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The Forgotten City (2021) revisited

I've written previously about murder in Skyrim, epic Skyrim fan game Enderal, and a very bushy Skyrim mod called The Forgotten City. Since then, the mod makers have remade it into a UE4 standalone time loop first person RPG called... The Forgotten City (2021)

From a game dev perspective, it's been fascinating to play. They had to rebuild Skyrim systems in Unreal... but what to cut and what to recreate? In this post, I compare and contrast the original and this modern remake from a dev / design perspective.

DISCLAIMER: I played the original mod and remembered much of it, so a total newcomer's experience would probably be different. Or maybe it wouldn't? Who knows.

SPOILER WARNING: this post spoils much of what happens in The Forgotten City (2021).

Saturday, September 4, 2021

new Quake map: Tell Me It's Raining

This post spoils what happens in my Quake map. If you care about that, then you should play it first.

NOTE: there are reports that my map crashes FTE Quake, so make sure you use Quakespasm or vkQuake to play. Sorry about that.

"Tell Me It's Raining" is my fifth released Quake single player map, part of the Alkaline Jam where we all made sci-themed "base" maps with a mod kit called Alkaline.

It uses the Makkon sci-fi themed textures as showcased in the stunning Alkaline start hub map -- a major inspiration for this map and I assume other maps in this pack as well. I was also inspired by the Centre Pompidou's copious colorful piping and vast industrial scaffolding. I wanted big chunky shapes draped in warm colors, continuing my tendency to make big sunny Quake maps.

I generally like how the map turned out, but I think I tried to do too much complicated stuff in this one, and miscalculated how players would react.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

"Quake Renaissance" for Rock Paper Shotgun

For Rock Paper Shotgun, I recently wrote a three-part series "Quake Renaissance".

Part 1 is an industry history of Quake's cursed development at id Software, Part 2 is a primer to 25 years of Quake community modding, and lastly Part 3 is a how-to guide for getting into Quake and enjoying its mods.

This series had some goals:

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

We Dwell in Possibility as queer gardening simulation

all drawings by Eleanor Davis

"We Dwell in Possibility" (WeDIP) is a new queer gardening simulation game about planting bodies and ideas, and watching them grow into a kinetic landscape. You can currently play it in your browser on the Manchester International Festival's (MIF's) "Virtual Factory" website. The game should take about 5-10 minutes to play.

It was made over several months in collaboration with world-famous illustrator (+ co-designer) Eleanor Davis and Manchester-based rockstar musician aya as a commission for MIF. (Also shout-outs to illustrator Sophia Foster-Dimino and sound designer Andy Grier for their incredible work!)

Some people may be familiar with my past work: uncanny CG beefcake sex games that toy with hardcore gamer aesthetics, which only run on laptop / desktop computers. For the longest time, I've wanted to make a gay mobile game, but I was unsure how to get my queer politics past Apple and Google's anti-sexuality censors. It's impossible to get anything on a phone without their long withheld permission... unless... I made a browser game? 

The history of browser games celebrates the open internet that exists beyond Silicon Valley's sterilized closed garden. However, the photorealistic 3D graphics of my past games are too heavy and slow for a mobile browser, so I need to make a 2D game even though I've neglected my 2D visual skills. Fortunately, MIF's support has made my creative collaborations not only possible, but enjoyable.

NOTE: this post "spoils" much of what happens in the game, so proceed at your own risk.