Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights


Into The Black: The Movie

How do videogames undermine those players who enjoy exploring virtual worlds? Here is the fourth Electron Dance film, a hybrid of Into the Black and Chekhov's Collectible.

Watch this video below or direct on YouTube.






Into The Black

Obsolete Ring

Developer Orihaus made a short game called Obsolete for last year's 7DFPS challenge. There are two ways to approach Obsolete.

Option A is the obvious one, play. You can bask in the cold, abstract visuals and finish all of the levels. You can then file it away and pat yourself on the back for killing off another bite-sized game that you'll quickly forget.

Option B is to tell the rules to go fuck themselves. You can look away from the bright neon glow of the place where mechanics roam. You can go out there: into the black.    

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Countdown 2016, 21: Off the Map

Welcome to the Electron Dance Advent calendar. Each day will bring another post from the archives.

Obsolete Ring

Have you read Into the Black posted on 30 January 2013?

From the smallest of acorns... I had been trying to keep up with the intense output from Terry Cavanagh's Free Indie Games site. It proved too much in the end but one of the games I loved the look of was a 7FPS contest game called Obsolete. It was okay, nothing special in the game department, but then I decided absent-mindedly to wander out of the core game area... and Obsolete did not stop me. I found I could keep going and had this terrifying experience of being lost in the dark.

When I remade Into the Black as a film, I discovered I was unhappy with some of the descriptions used on the page, sounding to me like they all I could come up with given personal deadlines. And so I feel the film is far more representative of what the essay should have been than of what it was.

But the original is still here, intact and unchanged. Go read it?

PostScript: In my head, translating the journey "into the black" from word to screen sounded easy, but I tore my hair out over this. In real-time, the journey is very slow so requires careful editing to keep it watchable but also preserve a sense of narrative flow. Further, choose the wrong direction and the journey ends in darkness pretty quickly - I had to find exactly the same route as that intimated in the original text!

From the comments:

  • ShaunCG: "The counterargument can be made that with games such as Far Cry 3, no matter what you might find within that world it is always only a framework for the core mechanical experience"
  • Steerpike: "But I admit, there are times when I look at something linear and find great comfort there."
  • Fernando's comment shocks me: "So this whole thing is like Chekhov’s Gun." This is precisely the argument I made in Chekhov's Collectible... two years later. GAHHHH! Did I remember Fernando's argument all that time but fail to recall the source of it? I'm sorry for not acknowledging you, Fernando!
  • Amanda Lange: "When I first read this article, I was annoyed a little."

How I Made: The Drake Incident


Oh, I've got an idea for Dark Souls film, I thought. It'll be short. We'll not do anything crazy like half an hour about The Witness. But, somehow, things never go according to plan. Because there is no plan. There is just:

  • oh my god this is way harder than I thought

Here's a little behind-the-scenes insight on The Drake Incident.

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Where Are They Now 2016: Part Three


I thought it would be fun to go back and take another look at those developers I covered in the early days of Electron Dance. In six years, what has happened to them?

In part three: Orihaus, Austin Breed, Chris Park, Jonas Kyratzes and Paul Eres.

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Where Are They Now 2016: Part One


I thought it would be fun to go back and take another look at those developers I covered in the early days of Electron Dance. In six years, what has happened to them?

In part one, I talk to Matt Verran, George Buckenham, Nicolau Chaud, Jay Kyburz and Gregory Avery-Weir.

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Early Thoughts on The Witness


I am helpless before The Witness (Thelka, 2016). I don’t mean it’s difficult, I mean I just can’t stop playing it. It presses my buttons hard. It’s a miracle I can tear myself away to write something about it.

Here are some key points about what The Witness is and why it’s good. I'll talk a little about structure, but won't spoil any of the puzzle solutions so you can read with impunity.

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Chekhov’s Collectible

GTA 3 hidden package

“One of the weirdest / saddest design exp I had: [Bioshock 2] playtesters carefully loot every container for hours, then report hating every moment.”

-- Zak McClendon, Lead Designer on Bioshock 2

The car smashes through the glass front of Easy Credit Autos and I brake to a halt. I hop out of the car, run to the back of the showroom and grab the package. Nothing happens. No one wants this package. No one even gets upset at the damage, which will be repaired without fuss while I am away.

I was a moth to the dull flame of the hidden packages of GTA III (Rockstar, 2001), pieces of virtual tat that simply add one to a meaningless counter. I continued to burn rubber for hour after hour until I had found every last package.

They’re just one example of the now ubiquitous collectible. Today I’d like to introduce the collective noun for the collectible: a fucking plague.

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How Alphabear Became Unbearable

If you've spent any time on Twitter, you'll know that people love Alphabear (Spry Fox, 2015). It's official, it has won the award for Really Quite Cute Word Game of the Year. Congratulations all.

You know, I also once loved Alphabear, but not any more. This probably makes me sound like some kind of puppy-kicking monster. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let me tell you a story.

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A Girl and Her Chopper: On Goals and Sandboxes

HM is on sabbatical for June and guest writers are filling in for him. This week it’s the turn of Emilie Reed, who wrote the blackly comic twine Duck Ted Bundy and has been published in The Arcade Review. This essay has been cross-posted from her website.


It’s probably 1998 or 1999…ish. My pre-adolescent memory doesn’t care much for dates. Like just about every other evening that week, I’m perched on the big green chair in my dad’s computer room, where he keeps his old engineering textbooks, a filing cabinet full of stuff like our birth certificates, and of course, the family PC. It’s an HP in that ever popular mid 90s computing shade of taupe, which frequently bluescreens and whirrs like an air tunnel. This one is probably our second computer, since there’s a picture of me on the desk next to the monitor. Me: a chubby baby bald as a cue ball and butt-naked, standing up on a metal folding chair to reach the mouse and keyboard of our first PC. That one only played floppies, but now CD-ROMs are the order of the day.  

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