Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

26May/1512

The Minecraft Industrial Revolution

A video essay on Minecraft's survival mode.

Proteus indulges the fable of the “simple life” where we co-exist peacefully with the ecosystem. It asks me to lose myself in the majesty of nature and its joyous, playful manner is beguiling... but the code protects the island above all else. We cannot even take a blade of grass or petal of a flower with us and we leave no footprints behind. Violations of Proteus law are forbidden. Nature is immutable. Nature is God.

Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

 

Credits

  • Video by Joel Goodwin

Games Shown

  • Minecraft, Mojang
  • Proteus, Key & Kanaga

Footage

  • Mountain Men, History Channel
  • Space 1999 "Breakaway"
  • Space 1999 "Dragon's Domain"

Music

From the album Minecraft - Volume Beta by C418:

  • "Alpha"
  • "The End"
  • "Ballad of the Cats"
  • "Mutation"

 

21May/156

The Strange Case of the Roguelike Suicide

868-hack-brough-roguerush

Perhaps you’re at home. Perhaps you’re on a train. The location doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you’re enjoying your current favourite rogueish-type-like. You think you’re on top of your game, got all the enemy moves figured out. Yeah, baby, you know what to do.

And then something goes horribly wrong.

You just click, click, click quickly through three moves in one go, as if you’re trying to beat the computer before it gets in a countermove.

And of course you don't get to be quicker than the computer because the game is turn-based. No, you get to die. You die, because you were stupid.

You’ve just experienced a brain phenomenon I call the roguerush. What the hell happened there?

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2Apr/150

The Best Electron Dance Posts of All-Time EVER

This month we're celebrating FIVE YEARS of Electron Dance!

such applause

Welcome, welcome all. Today I present the most definitive of lists, the one you’ve waited five years for.

This is the nine most popular posts on Electron Dance.

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18Dec/1412

The Feng Shui of Minecraft

feng-shui-origins

Maybe you've had nightmares like this too. Finding yourself stuck in the middle of an impossible nowhere with no hope of getting back to the safe and familiar. I stared at the unending maw of the ocean, a handful of sand teeth poking through the surface. This did not look like the kind of world I could survive in.

I discarded the desert island world and asked for another. This time I was presented with trees. Pigs. Snow-capped mountains. A pond.

And then I began playing Minecraft (Mojang, 2011) for the first time.

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27Oct/140

When Is It OK To Spoil A Mechanic?

kompendium-extra-exuberant-struggle

My latest Rock Paper Shotgun piece went up a few hours ago. It contrasts Michael Brough's local multiplayer epic Kompendium with Alexander "droqen" Martin’s Starseed Pilgrim, highlighting how both games have a spoilery exterior that prevents you from talking about them in too much detail.

Here's an excerpt:

We were locked in a duel with unknown rules – so we talked rather than competed, exchanging theories about what we were supposed to do. Even though each game in Kompendium is a fight to the win, the ambiguity of its rules means players often start out in a cooperative struggle against a common enemy: the opaque system.

Of course, there’s a dangerous point after this where the fog lifts more quickly for one player than the other and they acquire the knowledge to win. I figured out “March Eternal” before Gregg did and had to consider whether to explain to him what I had figured out. I considered it and then I destroyed him.

Why not go and read it?

23Oct/1422

Vault the Grave

vault-the-grave

Look, this is going to be a short post as I am still working on resurrecting my PC. The above image from Watch Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal, 2014) snowballed on Twitter this month. Perhaps the one with 2,000 retweets is the original although I've found a mention of this unfortunate juxtaposition back in June on the Giant Bomb forums:

How about after his tear jerking moment at the grave, you are immediately presented with a "Vault" prompt on the tombstone. I hoped over my niece's grave 4 times, having a good laugh at how silly it was.

It's true. Over the grave of the protagonist’s niece hovers a ghost. A ghost called Vault. This means we can finally discard that monstrosity ludonarrative dissonance and instead write the game vaults the grave.

It’s a brilliant example of where systems clash with narrative intent but... also misses the point.

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23Sep/1414

The First Open World, Part One

This is an appendix to the Where We Came From series.

mddclone-bridge

For Mercenary, author Paul Woakes, has created what can only be described as a world simulator. The first release using this technique is sub-titled "Escape From Targ".

– Mercenary: Escape from Targ instructions

Paul Woakes’ debut title on the Atari 8-bit home computer was a tense and memorable re-imagining of Battlezone (Atari, 1980) called Encounter! (Novagen Software, 1984), using vibrant raster graphics instead of the flickering green wireframes of the Atari arcade original. It quickly became a favourite for Atari owners who liked their action games to be fast and responsive.

From A.N.A.L.O.G Magazine #20 (July 1984)

From A.N.A.L.O.G Magazine #20 (July 1984)

Shortly after, hints of Woakes’ followup title began to seep into the news sections of computer magazines. What could Atari owners expect next from a developer whose first title had conquered the action genre?

A first-person 3D open world offering intrigue and complete freedom to explore a planet.

In 1985.  

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5Aug/144

Wot I Think: Quarries of Scred

qos-pelagic2

This week I've written a proper review of Quarries of Scred (Noble Kale, 2014) for Rock Paper Shotgun. Go have a read.

But I'm going to add a little bit more here, a Quarries anecdote from the weekend. Minor mechanical spoilers.   

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16Jul/1419

Screw Your Walking Simulators

naissancee

It’s while I’m pacing through the haunting, empty megalopolis of NaissanceE (LimasseFive, 2014) that it occurs to me. I’ve had enough of the derogatory phrase “walking simulators” even though some are attempting to adopt the term as a positive label. Ya know... that doesn't mean I have to like it.

This kind of crap goes a lot further than “walking simulator”. Games have also been characterized negatively as toys. Or theme park rides. It's all about the magic ambrosia known as “interactivity” which is as well defined as a drop of water in a puddle, because “sitting, walking, listening, looking, playing, just fucking being is interaction”.

Attempting to rigorously define interactivity is about as joyous as rigorously defining the word game into your preferred pigeon hole. You might see healthy debate in this conversation. I see a black hole event horizon through which my will to live is disappearing.

Anyway, that's enough of that. Especially as you've probably figured out that today I want to discuss “himitsu-bako”.   

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1Jul/1417

#warningsigns: A Short Film About Videogames

ws-progress

A detective searches for answers after investigating a mysterious series of crimes. But the answers find him first.

#warningsigns is a short film about videogames and the future. Twitter has already issued its verdict:

"a subversive and challenging video about games, gamedev and journalism"

"interesting and unsettling, something I'll have to watch again"

"intelligent and masterfully crafted"

"#warningsigns is terrific"

"I lasted three minutes"

And Kieron Gillen has also put in a nice word. You should set aside fifteen minutes to watch the entire film. If you have the bandwidth and screen estate, please note you can watch at 1080p HD resolution. The film, preview screenshots and credits can be found below.

A year in the making. Turn out the lights and settle down. This is #warningsigns.   

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