Since I'm always on the lookout for game studies related material, here is a new, interesting journal: Well Played.
The Well Played Journal is a forum for in-depth close readings of video games that parse out the various meanings to be found in the experience of playing a game. It is a reviewed journal open to submissions that will be released on a regular basis with high-quality essays.
Contributors are encouraged to analyze sequences in a game in detail in order to illustrate and interpret how the various components of a game can come together to create a fulfilling playing experience unique to this medium. Through contributors, the journal will provide a variety of perspectives on the value of games.
The journal is released under a CreativeCommons License, so grab it while it's hot! [found via jesperjuul.net]
Half a year after my bachelor's thesis game was presented at the bachelor's exhibition, it is now available as a download on this website.
The version is still largely the one that could be seen at the exhibition, with an additional, though very rough, English translation added.
Still, there are some bugs around. It might be best to understand the current state of the game as a tech demo: Most of the functionality is here, but it still lacks content and proper balancing. Play around – and tell me what you think.
- ID: Me, You (and everybody else) – Mac OS X Intel, Revision 117
- ID: Me, You (and everybody else) – Windows, Revision 117
- Some dialogue options lead astray or produce errors. If you encounter one, please let me know the last working option. Pressing ESC will allow you to interrupt the dialogue and start again.
- Moving around while carrying the moving box and looking at the floor will make you bump around – weird physics. Should have exchanged the box model with another one upon picking it up.
- Kicking the ball around might result in it dropping out of the level.
The complete list of all known issues can be found over here.
If you encounter bugs or have other suggestions, please get in touch with me. Thank you!
Having a collection of ideas and sources of inspiration is always good, and it is even better when they are shared with like-minded people.
Janina: Welcome to the club!
Everyone else: go ahead and visit her blog!
Even someone with little or no electronics background can build devices made up of components like sensors, lights, switches, displays, communications, motor controllers, and much more. Just pick your components, plug them into a mainboard and program the way they work together. .NET Gadgeteer utilizes the .NET Micro Framework to make writing code for your device as easy as writing a desktop, Web or Windows Phone application.
Given the fact that Gadgeteer is programmed using C#, it might also be interesting for the game design course at the Zurich University of the Arts, given their use of Unity3D as their main engine – good for students, who then don't have to learn yet another programming language … ;)
When it comes to games, I often find that architecture can yield the best inspirations – especially when it comes from sources like the BLDGBLOG.
In this case, it's all about trapdoors. Funny things, trapdoors. Even funnier that they are not in much use when it comes to games.
Most levels are, when analysed thoroughly, mostly 2D: they might go up and down and wind around themselves a bit – but in the end, they're just long strips. Trapdoors undermine this simple structure, by opening up unexpected shortcuts. Yes, this might confuse the players … but couldn't this be fun, too?
I have not yet played Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but I do hope that this game uses trapdoors (and other unexpected shortcuts) more often.
A Spatial History of Trapdoors, as BLDGBLOG proposes, would be a good start to explore those devices:
Someone should write a short history of the trapdoor as spatial plot device in Broadway plays, literary fiction, Hollywood thrillers, and even dreams, CIA plots, Dungeons & Dragons modules, and more. How does the trapdoor, as an unexpected space of strategic perforation and architectural connection, serve both to move a plot forward and to give spatial form to characterization?
You see, some people still think that Unity 3D is just for script kiddies and art students. Well, take that.
Arthur Lee created a game that effortlessly combines Portals and time manipulation by allowing the player to take snapshots of the game and place them somewhere else on the surfaces – where they act as snapshots not just of the view, but also of the time, therefore allowing you to go back in time.
But watch for yourself:
[Found thanks to Alex Amsel]
Hidden deep in the trenches of Instapaper I found this little gem – as a matter of fact, this should be required reading for all game design students.
Over the last few years, I've been collecting examples of metagames — not the strategy of metagaming, but playable games about videogames. Most of these, like Desert Bus or Quest for the Crown, are one-joke games for a quick laugh. Others, like Cow Clicker and Upgrade Complete, are playable critiques of game mechanics. Some are even (gasp!) fun.
Since I couldn't find an exhaustive list (this TV Tropes guide to "Deconstruction Games" is the closest), I thought I'd try to pull one together along with some gameplay videos.
It contains such classics like Desert Bus, First-Person Tetris or You have to burn the Rope, all of which you should check out at some point.
Deer walk upon our mountains, and quail
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
And, in the isolation of the sky,
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
Downward to darkness, on extended wings.
Currently, I'm sitting on a plane leaving for Amsterdam. So yes, I'm on holidays!
Internet connectivity might be limited during the next two weeks until August 8 – depending on the availability of free WiFi. All your pending requests and mail will be dealt with after my return, promised.
But then again, you might be in for some new flickr pictures afterwards … ;)
One future I see for our little company? Definitely something like this:
A StarWars game called FleetCommander, played on a 8160 by 2304 pixel wide touch screen.
Well, let me correct that. A touch wall.
[found via GamelLife]
It's sometimes funny what you manage to dig up when trying to archive your projects. There are always some projects that you started for some people out of an act of kindness, and, since they have been pet projects for everyone involved, died a slow and painful death, languishing in your projects folder, untouched and unloved.
What remains are the stories that come with those projects. Sometimes, they are better than the projects themselves.
Like, you know, this weird archive I have found. I had no idea what project this could be, and only after decompressing it, I remembered — well, half way at least. I won't give any names here, not just to protect the persons involved, but also because I can't recall them anymore.
It was supposed to be a collection of poems. I did not write them, I was just supposed to do the layout. Which was enough, because the poems were not something you would like to have your name associated with after some years. They were the kind of poems you write when you are a student and occasionally in and out of love.
The booklet was a team effort. She, the student who asked me to do the layout, was the driving force behind it. The other one, a guy, seemed to be more tagging along with her fancies.
And boy, did she have fancies. You could say that I found her remarkable, mostly in the way she seemed to embrace her girlishness. She had bracelets with heart-shaped ornaments. Most of her stuff was pink, and she took great care in getting that eyeshadow and lip gloss just right. I had a hard time taking her seriously. And I guess she took me looking at her the wrong way.
She started to talk to me. She left a spot open beside her in the lecture for me. She was very talkative about her projects. She started to involve me in her projects.
Robert Yang kindly asked me to translate the article about my level design considerations for my bachelor's thesis game. I'm slightly afraid that he is going to be disappointed, since this is not so much a theoretical approach to architecture and level design in general, but rather my thoughts and motivations for creating the specific level architecture for my own game.
When starting to design the level, I considered the following points to be the main guiding lines:
With the game being a serious game and a bachelor's project, I have neither the time (now) nor the money (in the future, when, hopefully, I'll be able to finish and publish the game) to create a large, open world.
Okay … normally, April Fool's jokes are somewhat lame, and I have a tendency not to repost them. But this one … this one is pretty cool.
Actually, it's a pity that it's just an April Fool's joke. With good writing and engaging characters, this show would have potential. Hat tip to Chris (or, actually, one of his friends – anyway, without being Facebook friends with Chris, I would not have found this).
Since I happen to be ranked somewhat high when it comes to mentioning Unity 3D and XML, and some of the posts1 happen to be outdated by now since I learned stuff2. But most of all, I intend to learn even more.
That's why I choose to release those two projects into the wild and publish them on github.
I seem to lack the skills to express myself currently, it seems. Looks like I have to explain myself after my previous post on female characters.
She has a point there, of course. It was never my intention to suggest that in the end product there should be gender neutral characters. My thought was more along the lines that writers should maybe care more about the goals and wishes and flaws of their characters instead of attempting to write a token "strong female character" (which usually fails).
If those goals and wishes and flaws relate to the character's gender identity, then yes, gender becomes important, and needs to be a part of the story.
Again, the example of Ellen Ripley is interesting. Ellen Ripley in the first film is indeed gender neutral to a degree. She has her own character, her own goals and flaws, but there is hardly anything that makes her more woman-y than the rest of the crew.
It's only in Aliens, the second film, where the character of Lieutenant E. Ripley has already been defined as being female in the film before that the plot actually deals with it – and in my opinion in a meaningful way. Ripley gets a new goal and is established as being a mother. A mother that at first loses her child (because of her being 57 years in hypersleep, her daughter has since become an old woman and died) and then finding a surrogate daughter in the form of Newt, the lost girl on the space colony.