Friday, December 5, 2014

Radiator Blog: Fifth Year Anniversary

In keeping with tradition, I do a roundup of this blog's "notable posts" from this past year -- because this blog is now about five (5) years old, it is enrolling in kindergarten and learning how to write. Oh my, the time does fly! (All of the past years' roundups are available here.)

This year, I've posted about 50% less than last year. This is due to a few things: I've been busy teaching more often, I've been trying to work harder on my projects and de-emphasize my writing, and also I realize I've been "saving my material" to deliver at talks instead of "giving it away" on my blog. I don't like that I'm doing this, I've always thought I would be the type to discuss and share freely -- so next year, I'm going to try to post more reliably again... but still, it wasn't such a bad year:
  • I finished and released three games: Chandelier, Intimate Infinite, and Hurt Me Plenty.
  • My post as "A first-time IGF judge with IGF submission advice" in February got quite a few referrals from game development communities... and judging by this year's new batch of entries, a lot of people still need to look at this advice! I'll probably write another list of tips for next year, but this time closer to the submissions deadline so maybe a few more people will heed it.
  • "An alternate history of Flappy Bird" was me weighing in on the event that was Flappy Bird, back in February. I felt like (and I still do feel that) there was a strong racial current to the weird backlash and faux outrage. After all that speculation, I believe Dong Nguyen said in interviews that he withdrew Flappy Bird because he felt that distributing such an addictive game was unethical... which was an angle that occurred to approximately zero Western thinkpiece writers. I think my personal favorite Straight White Male angle was Charles Pratt's piece for Polygon, a formal analysis on how well Flappy Bird is tuned.
  • I took a few more stabs at procedural dialog / conversational NPC systems for Nostrum. Then I actually showed it at GaymerX2, and I had to disable the system at the last minute because it was still too abstract -- once again, I made the mistake of focusing on a system instead of a game experience. People seemed to like flying under rock arches though... which convinced me that I needed to re-think my approach to the game, and so Nostrum is currently on hold.
  • I am now one of (several hundred? maybe a thousand?) architecture critics with my words printed in a book, an expensive mega box-set organized by Rem Koolhaas. Of course, I haven't actually seen or touched these books in real-life, so they're still mostly imaginary to me, but I've totally seen the page proofs and they looked nice enough.
  • My snarky game engine review roundup fooled Jonathan Blow into following me on Twitter for a day or two, almost as if I were an authority on this stuff?...
  • Noserudake 2 is one of my favorite Japanese Unity web player games, and I riffed off that to write about the role of language in game dev, specifically how game development / our identities as game developers ("self-learning self-taught polymath nerd gods") is mediated by English being the "default language" of code and development, vs. other cultures and language users developing their own ways of game making.
  • Modding is still alive, it's just taking a different shape... I wrote about how Ryan Trawick's "Keys" plays with conventions of the "alt walking simulator" genre, and it's kind of amazing that there are established conventions and motifs now? It prompted me to look into Source SDK 2013 and revive the old Radiator... which, um, I still need to finish making. Shit.
  • I reviewed Anna's book on ZZT and Darius' book on Jagged Alliance 2. Both are excellent books, you should read them. I think I'm going to assign them in my classes.
  • I got more into tool development... here's me making a simple 3D scribble-modeling tool called "Mural", and here's me working on a Twine-like plugin for Unity called "Bramble"... which reminds me, I still need to finish those, huh? Shit.