Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

19Jul/179

Gaze of the Abyss

Manifold Garden

Earlier this year I wrote an essay called Art of the Impossible about Fragments of Euclid (Antoine Zanuttini, 2017) and William Chyr’s as-yet unreleased Manifold Garden. In classic Electron Dance fashion, I ended on a throwaway thought that bore closer inspection. I moaned about the tendency for beautiful art games to rely on what you might call “tried and tested” mechanics to drive them. I don’t think of them as tried and tested, more like “unambitious and disappointing”.

Find a key, unlock a door. Touch the hotspot. Memorise a sequence.

Does this sound familiar?

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11Jul/1714

Prey Tell

prey_title

We've talked about the music of Prey. We've talked about exploring Prey. It's time to talk about the story of Prey.

Actually, I don't have much to talk about because Prey didn't scratch my story itch. I'm hoping you'll have a little more to share than I. So this is an invitation to spoil away in the comments, chat about what you liked, what you didn't like and do your best to keep Matt W on topic.

Let me outline a few brief thoughts to get the ball rolling. Head for the spoiler-free escape pods now if you don't want to be spoiled.

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30Jun/1726

Discussion: Art for Art’s Sake

bubble-ball

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the June edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

28Jun/178

Free to Prey

prey_coral

I find a secret route into an area that was locked down. Unusually, this feels exhilarating as I’m still not familiar with the game’s signposts. There’s a genuine sense of discovery. Can this last? Perhaps I am just enjoying a longer than usual honeymoon period, where the lack of education about the game’s design imbues it with mystery and surprise?

Of course, I consider backtracking. I’m not exactly running with a powerful character and perhaps this is not the route I’m supposed to take. There's an office ahead; I want to at least see where this leads. Ah, a few corrupted operators. Annoying but not difficult to dispatch.

I'm inside a small maintenance crawlspace and the only other exit to the office is blocked with boxes. Corrupted operators continue to stream through the open windows, so I refuse to enter the office until it's safe. God, how many more of these? Suddenly

WHOMP

all the boxes jolt forward as if something is trying to get in. I assume it’s just another operator. And again,

WHOMP

Boxes go flying and-- what… what the hell is that trying to get in? It’s as big as the door! I put up a good fight but The Thing From Beyond the Door kills me. Reload, it kills me again. I reload again. And again and again.

Just as I’m on the verge of throwing in the towel, I spy a window on the opposite side of the office. I sprint across and throw myself through it - and fall a few metres to the floor below.

I hold, staring up at the window with the gloo gun in hand. I wait.

Moments pass and it seems I am safe for now. But where has this one-way trip taken me? There’s only one thing to do: keep quicksaving and carry on.

This is Prey (Arkane Studios, 2017). Backtracking is for wimps.

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23Jun/1727

The Warning Orchestra

prey_door

I know we like to talk about AAA games being dumbed down and over-tutorialised but to an outsider they can still seem like a blistering attack on the senses. These days, I find the early honeymoon hours often start out with bewilderment rather than wonder as I blunder around for an hour. There's a limit to how much tutorial my brain can internalise in such a short time span.

When I embarked on Prey (Arkane Studios, 2017) it was the same old routine of relying on WASD muscle memories then working through the game’s many systems. Its surface writhed with information: personal and suit health in the bottom left corner; pop-up inventory matrices whenver I examined someone or something; objective updates blasting out across the top of the view and nav markers skating across the screen whenever I turned my virtual head to admire the sheer depth and attention to detail in the Prey environment.

There was another layer of feedback embedded in the game which is not unique to Prey. Feedback I’ve come to resent. Let's call it the warning orchestra.

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Filed under: Longform 27 Comments
29May/1712

Discussion: Corrupted Memory

pointer-sisters-automatic-corrupt

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the May edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

11May/179

Side by Side: Crawl

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is the second series, episode 7 of 10.

Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly are the real monsters in the unique multiplayer dungeon crawl, Crawl!

  • We recorded this two years ago when it was topical and on early access, so well done Joel for the fast turnaround
  • Crawl is fun, albeit a little complicated - party game for the right crowd
  • Although can be played with 2 human players, we suspect it is better with at least 3

If you enjoy the series, please like our videos and subscribe to our channel.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

7May/1713

Discussion: Ham on the Holodeck

data-holodeck

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the late April edition of the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

5May/176

Status Report: May 2017

This is an update for my YouTube subscribers and includes footage for the in-development Endlight. Watch on YouTube or embedded below:

Links

Music

28Apr/1730

The Farfield: Found Footage

The Farfield is an occasional series where I write about something other than gaming.

The Dyaltov Pass Incident

The Dyatlov Pass Incident

I’ve been increasingly focused on junk television, likely because both work and play - in the form of Electron Dance writing - tend to be mentally taxing. Firing the trigger on a new, engaging series with multiple storylines is tough. If you want to know how bad it is, I’m still watching the execrable Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Confession time: I watch a lot of horror, a lot of rubbish horror. I also have particular dislikes, such as when people are being victimised just for someone’s kicks - I feel exhausted and abused after an experience like Ils, in which a French couple are terrorized in their new country home, or F where school staff and children on detention are terrorized and brutally killed by hoodies. While I like the sense of dread that hangs over the first half of In Fear in which a new couple are lost in the Irish countryside, it eventually degrades into a game of unexplained sadism. In these type of films, the antagonist or antagonists often appear to have superhuman powers to be in the right place at the right time to maximise impact.

The horror film is much more of an audience game that many other film genres; the art of the thrill is the art of designing an intricate roller coaster. Good horror is intensely aware of context and audience expectations with films like Scream and The Cabin in the Woods deliberately exposing the game with a knowing wink to the audience.

I could easily write a whole essay on how I feel about horror but, look, I don’t do much critical pontification about what horror means or why it works. See, I disliked The Bababook which got critics applauding. That shows you my credentials. Even worse, I remain fatally attracted to the “found footage” subgenre, where the film is based on “real footage” recovered amidst mysterious events like a documentary crew gone missing or a spate of murders.

As an accidental connoisseur of this derided subgenre, I've decided to list every found footage film I’ve seen with a little bit of commentary. I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum. Here we go.

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