Monday, March 28, 2016

"Let's Get Lit: How to Light Your Game Like a Strip Club" @ 6 PM, April 30 at IndieCade East 2016, New York City

I'll be speaking at IndieCade East this year about video game lighting -- but to spice it up, I'm also going to talk about hunky dudes taking their clothes off in the seminal beefcake stripper movie Magic Mike (2012). The director, Steven Soderbergh, intentionally went for naturalistic "bad lighting" reminiscent of a strip club. Look at the shot above -- most of the men are in shadow! That's actually a pretty radical aesthetic for something that's supposedly a few steps away from commercial pornography. Plus, lighting can often be a bit of a dry topic, so I felt it was important to pair it with some sweaty studs to help the medicine go down. It'll be fun for the whole family.

IndieCade East 2016 runs April 29 - May 1 at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City, and thank god it's no longer in the dead of winter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"The game industry needs to get laid and just chill already" @ GDC 2016

This is a lightly edited transcript of the 5 minute microtalk I delivered as part of a panel at GDC 2016. Thanks to Bennett Foddy and Richard Lemarchand for their advice and assistance.

CONTENT WARNING: I'll be showing and discussing some sexual content.

I’m an indie developer, and I make small experimental games about sex and intimacy. Games about spanking, about sucking, about dick pics in your mom’s bathroom, about showering... you know, things we all enjoy. I also try way too hard on my graphics. My shower game Rinse and Repeat is the most technologically advanced male shower sim on the market -- I waste so many draw calls on physically simulated refracting water particles BUT I DON’T CARE, it’s clearly worth it.

I kinda feel like I have to make these games because few people do. By and large, even AAA games you might associate with gay sex -- they aren’t really about gay sex. I firmly believe we can all do better in the future. (To learn more about sex games, see my sex games talk.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

GDC Microtalks 2016: "Everybody Loves to Play", March 17 at 4 PM in Room 135, North Hall

It's GDC season again.

I'm going to be delivering a 5 minute microtalk on Thursday as part of MC Richard Lemarchand's impressive lineup, alongside Jenn Frank, Bennett Foddy, Steve Gaynor, Mathew Kumar, Christina Norman, Henrike Lode, Brian Allgeier, and Aleissia Laidacker. If you're busy around that time, don't worry, I'll probably put my slides up at some point, and you can also check out the video recording later too. For more info, see the GDC session scheduler -- "GDC Microtalks 2016: Everyone Loves to Play"

I'll also be around at various places / parties, so feel free to say hey.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A history (and the triumph) of the environment artist: on The Witness and Firewatch

This post vaguely spoils random bits of Firewatch and The Witness. I wouldn't worry about it.

Only a few years ago, hiking games (first person games with a focus on traversing large naturalistic landscapes) were rather fringe. Early indie masterpieces like Proteus and Eidolon abstracted the landscape into pixelated symbols, with a special interest in simulating weather and wildlife to make it feel real. But it took "mid-period" hiking blockbusters like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, and Dear Esther (2012 remake) to monetize the genre with all their glossy near-photorealistic graphics.

Now we are entering a later period of hiking games, epitomized by The Witness and Firewatch's less realistic visuals. It represents these environment artists finally asserting their control over a project and their identities as artists, within older traditions of gardening and landscape painting. To better understand this latest shift, let's think about the social and technical history of the environment artist in 3D games.