Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pardon the lack of updates...

... but I've actually been working on a game, for once.

I'll finish some writing this weekend through, probably.

(Sci-fi textures by PhilipK.)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

TRIP, a crazy psychedelic first person peyote simulator, is now available for purchase and play.

"TRIP is an exploration art game featuring an abstract world. There are no objectives, there are no enemies, just you and the world."

Sounds good to me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Games for Change 2012, thoughts

This is from last year but it pretty much looked the same
A friend of a friend said the atmosphere was "masturbatory." I think that's about 50% accurate. Not much criticism goes on here, everyone just pumps each other up about their ventures and start-ups and whatnot. (I'm guilty of perpetuating this culture too; my "gay rant" consisted more or less of patting everyone on the back.)

But is there anything wrong with masturbation? It feels great, it doesn't hurt anyone, they should do what they enjoy -- so yeah, mixed feelings here.

I watched one presentation by the Tate, where basically they had a bunch of money and wanted to make games inspired by Alice in Wonderland -- and in a breathtaking squandering of opportunity and resources, they chose to reskin a pipe dream game / a matching cards memory game -- followed by some patronizing videos of mouth-breathing adults talking about how you used the memory in your brain to memorize cards.

And all around the auditorium, with my eyes like dinner plates, I saw people eagerly taking notes and celebrating this as something other than a profound lack of imagination that utterly betrays its subject material.

One feels almost as if G4C could use a bit of the drama that engulfs GDC / IGF each year.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Text of my "Gay Rant" at Games for Change 2012

I spoke at Games for Change 2012. It was very well-received, and I'm so relieved because I wrote and re-wrote this speech like 20 times, revising it constantly in the nights before the festival. Here's the full text, though I ended up flubbing some of the lines as well as running a few seconds over.

Hi, I'm Robert Yang. I'm an indie game developer as well as a practicing homosexual.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

"How to “Get Better”: Approaches to LGBTQ-relevant Video Games" at Games for Change Festival 2012

So on Tuesday, I'll be speaking at the 2012 Games for Change Festival at NYU about gay stuff in video games. Me and MIT-Gambit darling Todd Harper were originally going to tag team it, but as the schedule got finalized, the logistics for Todd zipping down here got less tenable, so now I'm just going to be dancing on my own.

I've been scheduled in a 5 minute time slot labeled "Rants" on Tuesday at 12:15 noon, on the main stage. That's just 5 minutes to foam at the mouth about heterosexual tyranny!

It's been difficult writing this talk because I don't really know the demographics of the audience here -- from what I can grok, it's mostly government / NGO education groups, some private sector education people, and the odd sprinkling of AAA game industry. (That means no Mass Effect jokes; that means an entire audience will lack fundamental video game literacy for a talk about video games; that means I'm screwed.)

But, uh, we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dan Lockton's Design with Intent

I remember reading Dan Lockton's original PhD blog, like, 5-6 years ago, and being impressed by his ability to explain usability concepts with his many real-life examples. One of the bigger problems in usability design today, I think, is that it's often theoretical or just pulls the rote academic examples from Donald Norman.

What I like best about Design with Intent is that it doesn't preach usability or design as a religion: bad design and obfuscated design, just like good design, can be important tools depending on your goals.

Anyway. If you're not familiar, and you have some sort of interest in level / game / any design at all, then flip through this slideshow and let Lockton crack a few eggs of wisdom on you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

7dfps, halftime report

Hey! I've been chugging away on my 7 Day FPS entry, "The Leaden Circles," a single player squad FPS based on Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs. Dalloway. I was planning on cross-posting all my updates here, but I decided it would've been too much, so read all my daily dev posts over there.

I also want to draw your attention to some other entries I've been watching:

"Table For One" tasks you with being an utter glutton, re-imagining Dinner Date as a physics puzzle with a playful Natural Selection-ish skulk cam perspective (best. view model. ever.) because hey, don't we see with our mouths sometimes? The current build is absurdly difficult, at least to me, so I hope he makes it easier!

"Europa Concept" looks like some sort of high fidelity sci-fi survival thing about crash-landing on one of Jupiter's moons (Europa is one of Jupiter's moons, right?) and managing your inventory and crafting and shooting, or something. The developer's quite a Unity veteran, so I'm sure this'll be pretty slick in the end.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

7dfps: The Leaden Circles, prep

(I'm making an FPS in 7 days, as are many other designers. This is cross-posted.)

"One feels even in the midst of the traffic, or waking at night, Clarissa was positive, a particular hush, or solemnity; an indescribable pause; a suspense before Big Ben strikes. There! Out it boomed. First a warning, musical; then the hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air."

Mrs. Dalloway is a novel by Virginia Woolf about a rich white lady in 1920s London throwing a party for a bunch of random acquaintances she doesn't really care about. She does it because she likes the attention and it's good for her husband's career.

It's also about a smart-ass white dude coming back from India who judges everyone.

It's also about a depressed World War I veteran who's going insane, hearing trees sing in ancient Greek. It's also about.... well, 20 other people.

It's not an easy read on the first try. Virginia Woolf wrote it in a "stream of consciousness" style, meaning you go back and forth between different characters' heads, often without warning -- sometimes several times in a paragraph. Sometimes you're reading what he thinks she thinks he thinks, as filtered by her (?!) but trust me, it's rewarding. Part of the idea behind making this is that hopefully it'll make the logic and systems governing the book (novels and narratives are systems!) more apparent.

Now, most of the different book covers feature a portrait of some random lady on the front... which totally misses the point. My favorite version is the one above, Wassily Kandinsky's Akzent in Rosa (1926). Sure, the book is about a Mrs. Dalloway, but it's also about consciousness, some kind of unseen universe on the edges of human comprehension.

My plan is to adapt Mrs. Dalloway as "The Leaden Circles," a single player squad shooter with a stream of consciousness mechanic, kind of in a Space Hulk format. You'll ping pong between the different characters, chaining together thoughts, memories, and feelings -- and to win, you have to get this rich petty vapid white lady to feel something deeply profound at the end of the day.

I'll be using Unity, C#, Maya, Audacity, Photoshop, and source material from Virginia Woolf, CGTextures,

Let's do this, and good luck to everyone!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

PCG UK #240, "The Weird Future of the FPS"

I'm published! In print! Unfortunately it's pretty difficult to find a copy of PCG UK if you live outside of the UK, but I'll be giving a longer, more comprehensive talk on FPS past / present / future at the No Show Conference on July 14th / 15th at MIT.

Thanks to PCG UK Deputy Editor Mr. Graham Smith / modding pal from way back when.

France Diaries: sketches + a 3 sentence review of "Game Feel"

I'm in France right now. This is part of a series of game architecture diaries about France.

If anyone thinks I'm qualified to offer advice to beginning level designers, then here's that advice: draw, even if you're awful at it.