Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Radiator European Tour 2019 (London, Berlin, Milan) + Level With Me hiatus until April 17

In April, I'm going to cram ~6 different events into a whirlwind week of travel through London and Berlin. What's wrong with me? Why did I sign up for all this? There's only one way to find out how much of a wreck I'm going to be...

I'm planning on covering a wide variety of events, both free / non-free, and for gays / gamers / insiders / general public alike, so take your pick:

  • April 6: EGX Rezzed at Tobacco Docks, London
    I've heard nice things about Rezzed and I've always meant to go, so now is the time of reckoning. My talk "Designing For Sex Games" will be a short teen-friendly PG-13 introduction to sex and intimacy in game design, aimed at the general gaming public, at around 4:30pm on the last day of the festival.
  • April 7: Now Play This at Somerset House, London
    Now Play This is one of the jewels of the European game festival circuit, and I've always been meaning to go. I'll be presenting at their very very cleverly named mini-conference "A Series Of Interesting Decisions" on the design choices going into my next sex game Macho Cam.

Monday, March 25, 2019

new Unity tool: Bobbin

I wanted to be able to write game dialogue in Google Docs (from my phone or tablet, or to share with external collaborators) and then automatically send those changes into the Unity project on my laptop.

To help me do that, I made a free open source tool called Bobbin, which is a relatively simple Unity Editor plugin that can automatically download the data at URLs, and import that data as a file in your Unity project. Again, it's very simple: every X seconds, it opens a list of URLs (as if it were a web browser) and then it saves all the bytes as a .txt, .csv, .png -- or in-theory, whatever file type you want. Note that this is just an automated download manager, you will still need to write your own game code to actually import, process, and use these files in your game.

The main audience for this tool is narrative designers, writers, localizers / translators, and designers / developers who need something fast and lightweight for syncing files with external collaborators. I imagine it also pairs well with text-based narrative plugins like Yarn Spinner, where in-theory, you could collaboratively write Yarn scripts in a Google Doc and then use this tool to automatically bring the script into your game.

(But if you're making a game that's going to make heavy use of spreadsheets, you should probably use something more robust like Meta Sheets or CastleDB-Unity-Importer, which can import your spreadsheet data as C# types with Intellisense auto-completion in your IDE.)

Anyway, I'm planning on a few more feature updates, like runtime support and/or better Google Sheets support, but personally I'm probably not going to expand the feature set much beyond that.

I hope you find it useful! And as always, feel free to submit any bug reports (or small feature requests) by opening an issue on the github.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Consider supporting Wonderville on Kickstarter

I rarely stump for Kickstarters on this blog. Maybe once or twice a year? So it's a big deal when I spend this year's quota on Wonderville, a new indie game arcade / event space / bar in Brooklyn run by longtime non-profit art games organization Death By Audio Arcade.

They need $70,000+ to support their first year of operations, as they take over the space from Secret Project Robot, a well-known and beloved queer-friendly performance space / venue in Bushwick.

Honestly, that last bit caught me by surprise. I didn't know Secret Project Robot was looking for someone to take over? If we're deciding between allowing the death of yet another creative venue in NYC vs. finding a worthy successor to carry on similar work, the choice is obvious.

Everyone knows and recognizes the importance of independent venues to sustain a local music scene. Well, it's also the same ideal for video games too: we need these physical places to build and sustain creative communities. And once we have these local anchors and templates, we can follow up in other cities throughout the world too.

For more context and discussion, see my older post on "Theorizing local games cultures in a post-TIGSource era".

Saturday, March 16, 2019

GDC 2019 plans

I'm already exhausted, just from looking at this picture
Here's some of my GDC 2019 plans.

The usual GDC disclaimers apply: GDC is mostly a business event, and it's boring unless you have any business to do, or if you have some weird public profile to maintain. Anyway, don't feel bad about not going. You saved yourself a lot of money!

On Tuesday, I'll probably be spending a lot of the day at the Level Design Workshop mini-track. My days of breathlessly live-tweeting talks are over, but I'll probably do at least a brief summary for most of the sessions.

For Wednesday afternoon, I'm holding some "open office hours" at the NYU Game Center booth on the expo floor. If you'd like to meet me or ask for advice or discuss something, I'll be there. Later that night, however, I actually won't be participating in the Delete GDC party anymore -- you can read our statement here. Instead, I might spend a quiet night somewhere else, or maybe I'll check out the Gay Game Professionals (GGP) party; last year there was even free gourmet pizza if you arrived early. The gays know how to eat.

On Thursday afternoon, I'll probably hangout at Lost Levels in Yerba Buena Gardens for a little while; if you don't have a GDC pass and I don't already know you, then that's probably your best chance of randomly talking with me. Afterward, I'm giving a sexy game design micro-talk at 5:30pm on the Advocacy track, which means anyone at any GDC pass tier can attend. Then to celebrate the end of my obligations, I'll probably attend the GDC speaker party / open bar, where I'll try to drink as much fancy Japanese whiskey as I can.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Why you should almost always localize your games

screenshot from my game Rinse And Repeat, with a sexy shower hunk speaking in Russian subtitles
This post is adapted from a talk I gave at WordHack on February 21, 2019 in New York City.

It's hard to feel validated and respected as an artist or creator on the internet. One common (and unhealthy) barometer of "success" is to measure how many people play your game or look at your work -- did you find an audience and are you reaching that audience? I argue that localizing your project into other languages will help you find your audience. It might not be an audience you necessarily understand or communicate directly to, but for example, a large Russian or Chinese fan base might help offset the hurt of being ignored in English-speaking media, and so on.

If you believe these random stats I found, about ~80% of Steam users live in countries where English is not the main language. This roughly corresponds to the worldwide average, where it is estimated that only about ~20% of the world (native and non-native speakers combined) uses English, and about ~25% of all internet users use English. Note that these are all very generalized numbers with lots of assumptions, but let's assume they're in the right ballpark -- that means English-only games basically ignore 75-80% of the world.