Thursday, October 13, 2022

Indie game capsule reviews: Immortality, Wayward Strand, Cult of the Lamb, Betrayal at Club Low, Atuel

SPOILER WARNING: I keep specific story spoilers vague, but I do have to talk about what happens in the games somehow. So I still kinda spoil the player progression / interactive arc. Sorry.

What are people playing and talking about these days? Well, I don't know anything about that. But here's what I'm playing and what I'm talking about:

  • Immortality
  • Wayward Strand
  • Cult of the Lamb
  • Betrayal at Club Low
  • Atuel

Thursday, September 29, 2022

new Quake map: There's a Certain Slant of Light

These are design notes about my process and intent, and it may spoil what happens in the level.

I made my new single player Quake map "There a Certain Slant of Light" for the Quake Brutalist Jam, a 2 1/2 week long map jam focused around making chunky modernist concrete themed levels.

I actually made most of this level around two years ago. I wasn't really happy with it, so I never released it. Though when I fixed it up for this jam, I ended up keeping most of the layout and geometry. Maybe it wasn't such a bad map after all? 

The two big changes I made were the texturing and the monster placement / player flow...

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

"Voluntary Attempts to Overcome Necessary Obstacles" at EFA Project Space, Sept 23 - Oct 29, 2022

My gay historical bathroom cruising game "The Tearoom" is part of a new upcoming group exhibition "Voluntary Attempts to Overcome Necessary Obstacles" at the EFA Project Space in New York City, curated by Nicholas O’Brien. 

The show will run for about a month, from September 23rd to October 29th, 2022. Although I won't be there, since I currently live on the opposite side of the planet, I encourage you to check it out. There's a lot of great people and good stuff.

I've copy-and-pasted the exhibition blurb below:

Friday, August 12, 2022

new Quake map: Breakfast Under The Balloons

I made a new single player Quake 1 map called "Breakfast Under The Balloons" for the community map pack Coppertone Summer Jam 2, where mappers were encouraged to make sunny summer-y themed maps using the popular community rebalancing mod Copper.

I like making sunny maps anyway, and the first CTSJ back in 2020 was when I made my first Quake map, so the event has a special place in my heart.

This post details some of my process and intent, and spoils what happens in the map. You may want to play it first if you care about that.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Zugzwang as a pole dance upward unto heaven





This post details my process and intent for making my new release Zugzwang (pronounced in German like /ts'OOK-ts'VAHng/) a tactical sex dungeon roguelike cum ritual game.

I first prototyped it back in 2019, but I didn't really know how to finish it. This marks its true public release, with finished graphics, gameplay, tuning, more sex, and finally an ending.

SPOILER ALERT: This post spoils what happens in the game. It also spoils a bit of Bioshock Infinite (2013) because why not.

CONTENT WARNING 1: I mention a suicide from a century ago.

CONTENT WARNING 2: the game is rather explicit, but I've kept the imagery in this post relatively tame, at a semi-NSFW / soft-R rating.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Postcards from Quakeland, 2022


Some random notes and thoughts from Quake modding land, in this cold wintery June of 2022:
  • Community Hubs
  • Official Mods
  • The Future of My Quake Maps

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Logjam as mourning wood

Logjam is the latest in my gay sexuality series -- a short small game about a middle aged lumberjack daddy processing wood and other hard things. It's about forestry, masculinity, and history, but on a surface level it's a simple work simulator with a burly stripper and occasional twists.

CONTENT WARNING: Some of the screenshots have some CG nudity in them. It is "NSFW".

SPOILER WARNING: This post spoils what happens in the game. If you care about that, then you should play it first.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Why I still use Unity

There's been some game dev twittering about Unity vs. Unreal lately. Why use Unity when Unreal is better?

The basic consensus is that Unity's advantages have been crumbling for years, and its attempt to challenge Unreal on high-end graphics has meant neglect everywhere else. But if you want high-end then UE5 Nanite / Lumen is light years beyond Unity HDRP anyway? And if you're making the typical aspirational photorealistic action game, you'll probably want UE's gameplay architecture and free photoscan assets too.

Most recently, respected developer Ethan Lee has weighed in. For him it's not about the graphics, it's about source engine access and engineering processes. Being able to pinpoint bugs in the core Unreal Engine code, fix them, and submit patches to Epic is how modern software development works. Comparatively, Unity is closed source, and even if you go to the trouble of filing a bug report you'll still have to wait a year for an official bug fix if you're lucky. This is important during the second half of a game dev cycle, when game making becomes a terrible slog -- when your game randomly crashes on Nintendo Switch for some reason and you have to figure out why but you're already so so tired.

So why on earth would anyone still use Unity? Everyone has their own situation, and here's mine:

Friday, April 1, 2022

new Quake map: The Close And Holy Darkness

This post spoils what happens in my Quake map. If you care about that, play it first.

I made another Quake map -- this one was for a map jam called Retro Jam 7, where we all spent 2 weeks making level design homages to the greatest hits. 

The theme here was "Koohoo" or "The Castle of Koohoo" (2001) by Vondur. The theming felt very fresh for Quake at the time, taking notes (and maybe a few textures) from Unreal. The novel use of greens and blues, as well as the outdoor hub layout, contrasted a lot with the browns and reds of Quake 3 Arena inspired aesthetics popular at the time.

Of course, I figured everyone else in the jam was going to lean on those dark greens and blues, so instead I opted for a rosy morning brown type of mood.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

new Quake map: "Heart Like A Bird's Nest"

Heart Like A Bird's Nest is my new Quake map made for the weekend level design jam "Quake Speedmap Snack Pack 2" organized by Fairweather a few weeks ago.

This jam placed specific constraints on submissions, asking designers to map for a "slot" with a specific texture theme and weapon progression. I chose slot 1 which represents the start of a campaign with a "cr8 base" theme (grungy brick / concrete / metal industrial sci-fi) and shotgun / nailgun (+ optional super shotgun / grenade launcher secrets).

I started by blocking out a small arena. The arena has a little observation deck with a little floor hatch to drop down into the fight when the player's ready. I wanted a typical 2010s era play pattern where the player can safely scope out enemy positions and form a basic plan before getting into it. But I also mess with the player's limited information and hide some enemies underneath the observation deck sometimes, in proper Quake fashion.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Darner's Digest, vol. 3: on the Yarn Spinner v2.0 release + a YS primer

Darner's Digest is a series of blog posts about Yarn Spinner, a free open source Unity dialogue tree plugin.

On December 21st, 2021, the Yarn Spinner project finally made its public YS v2.0 for Unity release

YS 2.0 has gone through six (6!) preview versions / betas over the last few years, with several debates and redesigns that have finally culminated in this version. If you're familiar with Yarn Spinner already, you should go read the changelog for upgrade notes from v1.0 to v2.0.

But a lot about YS and its ecosystem have changed, so it's probably helpful to recap what's going on.

1. What is Yarn Spinner in 2022?
2. When to use Yarn Spinner
3. How to use Yarn Spinner
4. Current Strengths / Weaknesses
5. The Future

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Resolutions, 2022

Well, 2021 was a year, huh? Here's the work in 2022 that I'm looking forward to:
  • Release 1+ gay sex games. I have two projects that have been perpetually stuck at ~95% complete, and two that are 50% complete. It's been tricky to find time (and volition) to sit down and finally finish them. But again! 2022 is going to be the year I bet! I mean, it has to be, right??
  • "Launch" my level design book project. While the book is already open and public, I haven't been talking about it or publicizing it since there's still so many gaps and missing pages. It's a very unstable book, even though I've somehow written 100,000+ words over the past 2 years. But this year I feel like it's finally going to feel complete enough that I can start recommending it to people.
  • I'm going to start streaming again, maybe in a few months. Since my move to New Zealand last year, it's taken me a while to get settled with a more reliable schedule. Now I'm finally on my way to figuring out my routines again.
I also have a few other projects in the works, but those'll get announced later in the year. There's one in particular that's pretty unusual compared to my past work. I've been having a lot of fun making it though.

Good luck everyone, and here's hoping 2022 treats us all a bit better.