Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Level with Me, screen test 2

There are still some weird encoding errors (video editing isn't my strong suit) but if you ignore it, you can just watch and enjoy some handsome men profess their deepest beliefs and feelings about video games. Production on the mod is lagging a bit behind, but I think I'll be okay once I crunch on it this weekend.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Critical Information at SVA, 3 December 2011

Next Saturday, I'll be talking about Radiator 1-2 ("Handle with Care") at an art criticism conference called "Critical Information" hosted by School of Visual Arts in New York City. If you happen to be awake and in Manhattan that Saturday morning, around 10 AM, stop by and drink some complimentary coffee; it's free and open to the public.

You might just end up feeling terribly bored because I'm going to have to explain a lot of game studies concepts / theory that you'd already be literate in -- it's a digital, but non-gamer audience there -- but it should make for an exciting live demo (?!) nonetheless.

Though honestly, I'm a little nervous, as Radiator has always been more of a "gamer's art game" than something anyone off the street can just pick up and comprehend. (Even worse, only gamers understand what a "gamer's art game" might entail.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Process as pastime

This post will be published (or so I'm told) in new media journal Switch v28 but I'm just cross-posting it here since that might take a while. I was asked about "process." I came up with a rant of sorts, that basically attacks everyone except Glorious Trainwreckers / Pirate Kart people. Please don't be offended; polemic is just too much fun to write:

“Process” is a heavy word in video game design.

It refers to procedurality, the ways in which a computer manipulates or generates data. It also refers to proceduralism, the idea that a video game is a formal system of rules and interactions, not a narrative nor a simple toy. Most often, it refers to the iterative process, the act of prototyping over and over again until the game is least awful. The game industry and nascent game development schools they sponsor would have you believe that best practice involves mastery of all three. They want you to think the act of making video games is some sort of art or science, an arcane magic performed only by hyper-literate and experienced masters.

And they're right. For now.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On the first person military manshooter and the shape of modern warfare.

from "Photographs of the War in Afghanistan"
I alluded to this during my RPS interview with industry veteran Magnar Jenssen -- how I went to "The Shape of War," a small panel hosted by Geoff Manaugh (BLDGBLOG) about "spaces and technologies of conflict" in the 21st century. This post is more of a detailed write-up about it, and how I think it applies to games.

The main message, coming from a war photographer and national security journalist, was a decidedly ethical message: Today, war is invisible and nearly impossible to photograph. And that is a dangerous thing.

So if you ever see a photo of a guy aiming a rifle, remind yourself -- that's not war.

Instead, they argued that war is an agonizingly slow, decade-long game of chess. War is the US spending billions to magically airdrop and sustain a city of 45,000 people in the middle of Nowhere, Afghanistan. War is a guard tower built next to a tennis court. War doesn't take place on a battlefield, but a "Battlespace" that encompasses every facet of modern life. War is an unmanned drone with 96 cameras, sending back footage for 200 intelligence analysts to dissect before going home to eat pancakes. War is a cheap internet router that may or may not have fed data to Chinese intelligence agencies (EDIT, March 2017: finally updated this link to not go to a weird conspiracy blog).

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Water" mod is out.

From the HL2 Short Story team comes "Water," a third person adventure game with some light turn-based combat, clever NPC-based puzzles, and really pretty environments. When I alpha-tested some earlier versions, it was already pretty solid and playable, so I can only imagine it's even nicer now.

You only need Source SDK Base 2007 to play, which comes with any Source-powered game. So you probably have it. Just go and download / play this fitting swan song of a seven year old mod community. It'll last you a good hour or two.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What I'm Working On

Souvenir is a first person VVVVVV-style puzzle game about growing up. It's the design thesis of me and 2 other students. We're in the middle of production right now.

Zobeide is a first person / hypertext hybrid based on Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities." Play an early prototype / follow progress on it here.

As for Level with Me? The next installment is Brendon Chung. Still a lot of transcribing left to do.

As for Radiator? Gah. I'll have time this coming winter break, the last half of December / first half of January. I really want to push it out the door because now it's just more like this lingering regret.

... now why did I install Skyrim?!

Monday, November 7, 2011

It makes you wonder...

... what it would be like to date Adam Foster. First he'd show you his potato connected to an Arduino. Then he'd whisk you off to some decaying factories and take hundreds of photos of doors.

You'll waver at times, but then you'll take a nice long sip from your Cherry Fanta and think, "as long as we don't miss that 8 o'clock showing of Paranormal Activity 3, he can photograph as many cracked concrete slabs as he wants."

No, I'm the only one who wonders that? Okay. Never mind. Ignore me.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

0 Hour Game Jam: "Apollo 2"

Because daylight savings time ended and was rolling back an hour, a bunch of people decided to make a game in "zero hours." The full results are here. As for my entry, I clicked the "get theme" button and got "moon." So I made Apollo 2. Take a few minutes to play it in your browser over here. Missed out on the fun? There's always next year...

UPDATE, 8 May 2017: due to this game's only super-fan's special request, this has been ported to WebGL. You can now play it here on Itch.io.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Super Friendship Club's "EDITOR" pageant, Nov 1 - Nov 30

Yes, Super Friends... it's that time again.

You now have one month to make a game that includes some sort of level-editing component, along with some mechanism for sharing levels. It's not nearly as hard as you think.

A "level" can be anything. A "game" can be anything. An "editor" can be anything. Just make something.

Check out Mr. Lavelle's advice and some more helpful info here.

Good luck!

Level with Me, Jack Monahan

UPDATE 2: The second installment, with Polycount fixture Jack Monahan, is now up. Read part 2.

It's been pretty quiet around here... that's because I've been spending all my time recording interviews, transcribing them, editing them to make people sound smart, etc. Why did no one ever tell me this "game journalist" racket was so much work?

The first installment of "Level with Me," this time with the naturally smart-sounding Dan Pinchbeck, is now up at Rock Paper Shotgun for your perusal. Read part 1.