Videogames

May 042009
 

At this year’s Game Developers Conference I was commissioned to do a text game set there — I got the nifty press pass pictured in exchange — and I spent the last month making it. You can play it in your browser here or here, if that one doesn’t work. You can read the announcement and my development diary I kept at GameSetWatch. Thanks to the betatesters, who I named the attendees in the game after, as well as the Hand Eye Society Social where I got a nice reception for a mini-talk about it a few weeks back.

In other IF news, Everybody Dies won a XYYZY award for Best Non-Player Characters! They had a pretty funny real-time text award ceremony. And the excellent e-zine SPAG did an interview with me about my interactive fiction.

Update: Kotaku warns it causes GDC flashbacks, Offworld said it “manages to capture quite accurately the collaborative, socially supportive and intellectually curious aspects of what it’s like to actually be there”, and Rock Paper Shotgun declares it an “oddly human little thing which captures quite a bit about the human side of development.”

Jan 072009
 

Our illustrated text adventure game, Everybody Dies, has chalked up over 7000 plays to date, in no small part due to the great press it’s been getting. It was declared one of the Top 5 Indie Games in 2008 by the great game industry site Gamasutra, it was listed as one of the Top 10 videogames of 2008 (alongside, y’know, Grand Theft Auto IV) by entertainment mag Variety. And you know the Onion’s AV Club? Gave it an “A”. All for a dinky little text game. Just crazy! Update: My first ever Russian review, in any medium.

If you haven’t yet, you can play it here. I’ve added Invisiclue style hints.

Dec 012008
 

from Jason Van Horne's The LandmarkersAnd you don’t even have to unwrap the latest games produced by my Artsy Games Incubator project. Just download them! There’s a point-and-click adventure set on Toronto’s Queen St. West, a pixelly Lovecraftian game with audio drama, a sharply designed underwater gold quest, an architectural preservation simulation game, & one by me and Susan where you play a plastic bag out to asphyxiate seagulls. Check out the screenshots here.

The response to the project has been terrific, with people who want to make games in future Rounds, people who are looking to start groups in their cities, and industry coverage of our Artcade event, so we’re expanding a bit. To apply to participate check this out!

Nov 162008
 

My new text adventure videogame, Everybody Dies, was just voted third out of 35 entries at the annual Interactive Fiction Competition!

It starts with a metalhead, Graham, realizing that throwing that shopping cart over the bridge was not the great idea he thought it was. Even if it did get him out of washroom duty at Cost Cutters.

UPDATE: Invisiclue Style Hints provided below, Windows exe customized.

Continue reading »

May 182008
 

Rosemary Mosco's AlbacrossThe second round of the Artsy Games Incubator went terrific: all five of us ended up with videogames you can download and play: check out Mouse Police, Bungee Fisher, Cupcake Challenge, Albacross, and my own Baby Runs This Mofo.

It’s a good excuse to interview one of the founding sponsors of the AGI project, Jon Mak, a Toronto game designer who Newsweek dubbed a “wunderkind”. His abstract videogame Everyday Shooter came out for the PS3 and now it’s available on the PC — if you’d like a chance at winning a free copy, leave a comment in response to the MP3 interview I did with him below. In it Jon explains why Guitar Hero is fun despite being a sucky game, that he learns best through failing, how he made ES while working part-time for money thanks to context switch, & how the work gets better the more you take away.

No Flash? Get the MP3 here.

Apr 082008
 

hangout.jpgThe last round of the Artsy Games Incubator was really good — we had a longer run (meeting weekly for six weeks) than the first round, and we all ended up making videogames worth showing. So we’re doing an open house at the Mobile Experience Lab at 52 McCaul St. (3rd floor) on Wed. April 23rd at 7pm, where there’ll be short presentations of the games we made using accessible tools. It’s a great time to find out more about future rounds of the AGI, and we’re also inviting people in the indie games community at large to bring their games-in-progress to demo — and no, you don’t have to identify as an artist. Admission: a game-in-progress, or a snack for the snack table. For a taste of what’s to come, check out some of the screenshots below.
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Mar 312008
 

Jennie hunts the wild camera. For those who’ve attributed my recent silence to Sidney, she’s only part of the cause. I’ve also been doing a gig for OCAD recently — The Mobile Experience Lab was looking to showcase some of the cell phone technologies they’d developed over the past two years in public spaces. I started as a consultant on narrative and then I was kept on to implement the scenarios I’d written. It was a lot of fun working with a bunch of talented folk to figure out how to make these whimsical and odd things happen on John Street. They’re hoping to launch it this summer, funding and situation willing. [UPDATE: They didn’t.] Below is some documentation we got during the alpha and beta testing. Continue reading »

Dec 182007
 

N plus, now with headband!I recently produced a promotional video for some friends of mine who have a game called N+ about to be released. Based on their free Flash game N that they developed independently in 2004, it’s coming out soon on Xbox Live Arcade as well as the PSP and Nintendo DS. It’s a great game, and it was a good opportunity to work with Craig Macnaughton (my co-producer for Infest Wisely) again — he did an amazing job pulling together what was a complex shoot with effects and stunts. Click through to check out the 3 minute vid.
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Oct 102007
 

Detail from Chris McCawley’s Swimmin HoleA lot of artists I know have great ideas for videogames, but no programming skills. A lot of videogame makers I know wish there was more creativity and innovation happening in the field, but don’t know how best to foster it. I started the Artsy Games Incubator to try to address both issues.

We just had our first prototype set of sessions, with four of us meeting once a week for four weeks, and I kept notes. Using point-and-click game creation tools we made games and game elements for the sessions and invited feedback and discussion from the other members. It’s based on the writer’s-circle model that I’ve also used for movie making, but I wasn’t sure it’d work for games — but when the other members were playing and talking about my game Space Invader I was getting feedback as useful as I did with those other groups.

There’s going to be another iteration, so whether you’re a Toronto artist looking to get into the next group in January or an interested party who would like to get involved in some other way (Metanet and Queasy sponsorship are what made starting this possible), read more about it here.

Apr 102007
 

Click to expand Mak’s screenshot.I’m proud to say that my interview with Emily Short, my favourite interactive fiction author, is on the front page of the equally fantastic game website Gamasutra. And yes, Infocom fans, I think her work is better than Zork-era games both from a programming and writing standpoint. Download her free games and find out why.

While you’re on Gamasutra you might want to read this great interview with Jon Mak, a Toronto game maker who’s EverydayShooter builds on the Japanese underground abstract shooters — it features his sweet indie rock guitar strumming against a throbbing colourfield that makes you feel more like you’re collaborating rather than conquering. He deservedly nabbed several awards at the 2007 IGF.

And if all this game writing excites ya, we’re looking for videogame and other guest articles on theculturalgutter.com, let us know if you have an idea for a genre most consider beneath consideration. We pay $50 on publication.

Sep 062006
 

Laura, Sandy and Benny b jammin -- pic by Patrico DavilaFor the shameful headstanding scene in my machinima piece Yoga Deathmatch I used something called Gary’s Mod. It allows you to spawn and arrange Half-Life 2 objects really easily, a surreal 3D sketchpad. Immediately it started me thinking how neat it would be to introduce more visually creative people to it, and thanks to Digifest I was able to arrange a “jam session” with a half dozen artists.

We took clips of the jam in progress and it’s going to be screened this Saturday, as part of dorkArmy’s monthly event at the Gladstone Hotel (Sept. 9, 8pm, $5). They’re bringing their Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero gear (out of the basements and into the bars!) and I always enjoy myself. If you’re not in Toronto, however, you can check out one clip from each of the artists by clicking through. Continue reading »

Hey! Where’d the Games Go?

 Press, Videogames  Comments Off on Hey! Where’d the Games Go?
Feb 192004
 

We totally posed this.
I’ve moved them to where they belong — The Cultural Gutter. My new collaborative blog has Guy Leshinski writing about comics, James Schellenberg on science-fiction, and my videogame pieces. Once a week we’ll be featuring a new piece on one of these subjects, and once a month we’ll be having a guest write about another piece of intriguing trash — an artform that’s poo-pooed but nevertheless fascinating.

Eye, where Guy and I write, was nice enough to do a cover article for the launch, which consisted of a chat between the two of us moderated by Bert “Mastermind” Archer. The incomparably clever Marc Ngui was put to the task of realizing us in our true forms for the cover illo. You can click the little cover to see the whole thing in its subtle-yet-striking glory.