Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On branching dialog editors and narrative design tools

I was prototyping a game concept with branching dialogs for conversations and/or CYOA story events, so I started looking at various solutions on the Unity Asset Store. Dialoguer looked the most decent, but generally all of them just made too many assumptions or enforced bad workflows, and seemed to ignore what made Twine so accessible.

So I've decided to make "Bramble", my own editor plug-in and system for Unity! Here are some factors in its design:

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Notes on working with Source SDK 2013 Singleplayer Base

I've been working with Source SDK 2013 base for the past few months, and I thought I'd share some notes on workflow for any future modders who google to this post:
  • If you are making a simple mod that uses default Half-Life 2 features, then you do NOT have to compile your own binaries. You can just tell Steam to use the ones that come pre-compiled by Valve from the already included "sourcetest" mod instead. Steam automatically downloads the correct binaries for the client's platform when they download the Source SDK 2013 Base -- which means you presumably get free and painless Windows / OSX / Linux support, as well as any new changes Valve merges into the codebase... As far as I can tell, most of the basic Half-Life 2 entities work in sourcetest, though env_screeneffect seem to be broken due to some missing shaders.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Indiecade East 2015, February 13-15 at the Museum of the Moving Image, New York City

Indiecade East is back for another year in beautiful snow-filled New York City, and they are looking for talk proposals from new (as well as old, I imagine) voices in the community! You have until November 10th (that's about 3 weeks) to get your submission in:
If you have something new to say about / for / from independent game making, and you can encapsulate it in a 20-minute talk, we want to hear from you! Everyone is welcome, regardless of experience, visibility, etc.

We are particularly interested in these topics:
- Diversity in Audience, Diversity in Creators: Playing and making games is not the exclusive domain of a privileged few -- games are for everyone, and anyone should be able to make them.
- Indie Games’ Second Wave: Indie games have been around long enough that there are old-timers and newcomers. Who are the new generation of creators trying to break through in a different landscape?
- The Other Indies: There are many people making interactive art not traditionally thought of as indie games, from modders to interactive fiction writers. How do they enrich the world of indie games?
- Storytelling in Indie Games: Independent games are one of the spaces where narratives experiment with new forms and topics. What exciting new work or unappreciated old work is being done in this area?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Quality product": on Jagged Alliance 2 by Darius Kazemi

Much like Anna Anthropy's study of ZZT, Darius Kazemi's study of Jagged Alliance 2 for Boss Fight Books is a quick read but feels very comprehensive, analyzing the game in a holistic interdisciplinary cross-section across history, anthropology, politics, and computer science.

Unlike Anna, Darius adopts a much more academic tone, and rarely inserts himself into his own narrative. And while the result is a convincing, well-written, and well-researched book, it ends up falling prey to certain weaknesses that were irrelevant to Anna's book... which fascinates me, because I want to write my own book on Half-Life 1 that somehow blends both of their sensibilities.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

QGCon 2014, October 25-26 in Berkeley, California

Hey, the excellent Queerness and Games Conference ("QGCon") is running again this year, and you should go! I had a pretty good time in 2013, where I presented "Queering Game Development," a critical code study of "FeministWhore" and the politics of code (I'm still working on the final essay / paper, oops) -- and I probably would've gone this year if I weren't consciously trying to lay low and try to finish stuff instead of jetting-off to conferences all the time...

... But that doesn't mean you shouldn't go! If you are going to be in the Bay Area on October 25 and/or 26, you should definitely check out QGCon at UC Berkeley. There's a bunch of really great speakers this year. So sign-up, it's free to attend! Have enough fun for the both of us.