Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

24Nov/140

The Conversation, 3: Win Cash Prizes

The Conversation is a retelling of my meeting with Dan Stubbs, who is developing the probably-too-ambitious-for-its-own-good game, The Hit. In part one, we discussed the squandered promise of the GTA open world model and in part two, the restrained ambitions of AAA.

conv3-minecraft

What is The Hit?

When I originally arranged to meet Dan Stubbs I thought of it as a GTA open world with a bit of dynamic narrative trickery, but as time went by, I realised I was trying to visualise a ten-dimensional object in my head: all I could see was a three-dimensional slice of the whole. Stubbs had said that giant AAA projects were “like a collection of different things” but that’s all I really appreciated of The Hit.

“I'm taking development at my own pace,” he told me, still in the coffee shop, forced to listen to an endless torrent of the 80's greatest hits. “So if you make your own world, I want you to put your own money up so that if people can beat your own story or win whatever goal you set, they actually have a reason to play it.”

Beat your own story. Or win whatever goal you set? This didn’t sound like the GTA open world with emergent narrative system I had pictured in my head... it sounded more player-authored?

“Whether they are winning pennies or a fortune, whatever, it doesn't matter. But I love the possibility of advertisers being able to have a ‘Cokeworld’ and you actually go there because you think you can win money. Or film tie-ins or something.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Time to talk about money. And ethics.

Read More »

13Nov/147

The Conversation, 2: Hero Men

The Conversation is a retelling of my meeting with Dan Stubbs, who is developing the probably-too-ambitious-for-its-own-good game, The Hit. In part one, we discussed the squandered promise of the GTA open world model.

conv2-binfinite-columbia

As Belinda Carlisle belted out Heaven Is A Place On Earth from the coffee shop speakers, our conversation veered towards Bioshock Infinite.

“My favourite moment of Bioshock Infinite was a moment that wasn't a cutscene, wasn't a scripted moment,” said Stubbs.

“It was the menu?”

Read More »

5Nov/140

The Conversation, 1: GTA is Proteus

conv1-gta-3-claude

“You look at AAA games and they're all about playing it safe,” he said. “They're all about taking something that already exists and remaking it in a slightly different format. Watch Dogs is GTA plus Deus Ex. It's because you're trying to raise X amount of money to make these things because they're so expensive. But nobody knows what the Hell videogames are.

“Nobody knows what they're making.”  

Read More »

29Oct/142

Counterweight 14: All Hallow’s Eve

IntoTheGloom 2014-08-17 19-42-31-64

In this episode of Counterweight, Eric Brasure and Joel Goodwin discuss three HAUNTED games for Halloween. The Rapture is Here and You Will Be Forcibly Removed From Your Home (Connor Sherlock, 2013), CHYRZA (Kitty Horrorshow, 2014) and Into the Gloom (Emmanuel Ramos, 2014). This is pretty much a spoilery podcast so, uh, sorry about that.

Contents

The Rapture is Here and You Will Be Forcibly Removed From Your Home (Connor Sherlock, 2013)

03:10 "There is a sense of menace about it."

04:30 "The actual environment you are in is interesting to run around in but the story bits just didn't seem to make much sense conceptually."

12:50 "As a cohesive whole, it doesn't really gel."

CHYRZA (Kitty Horrorshow, 2014)

15:10 "It's like one of those very odd horror stories where you really don't know what's going on... but it's a bit creepy and disturbing."

16:50 "I like it because it teaches you how to play the game very quickly."

21:20 "I need gameplay to justify why you're going to be listening to my story. I need the story to justify why you have to do this ridiculous game play."

Into the Gloom (Emmanuel Ramos, 2014)

25:40 "It reminded me a lot of playing games when I was a teenager."

27:50 "I gave up near the end because I found it quite frustrating."

37:40 "It's definitely a game where you have to take it on its own terms."

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:

References

You can subscribe directly to Counterweight via iTunes or RSS.

27May/1414

Counterweight 13: Threes

threes_cw
In this episode of Counterweight, Eric Brasure and Joel "HM" Goodwin discuss celebrated pocket puzzle game Threes (Sirvo, 2014). Yes, we know it's not a PC game.

Contents

03:00 "It's just a very well-constructed game and it's also a joy to play."

08:00 "The uncertainty can be devastating to your game."

12:00 "The key to what makes it difficult is the movement."

16:50 "It's a very mindful game and you really have to be present when you're playing it."

24:30 "I'm staring at this... feels like an impossible board."

26:30 "I think you just must be an old man, Joel."

29:10 "2048 trumps Threes straight away."

31:50 "I don't know why people like this sort of thing."

35:40 "Trying to convince someone who's played 2048 to read a 60 million word article on the development of Threes is not going to work."

43:10 "If people can undermine you with free-to-play... then you might need to do that too, but that will change the game you make."

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:

References

You can subscribe directly to Counterweight via iTunes or RSS.

10Apr/1419

Counterweight 12: On Fear of Twine

It's Twine Week on Electron Dance. This is the fourth of five posts.

fear-of-twine
In this specially extended episode of Counterweight, Eric Brasure and Joel "HM" Goodwin go through the Fear of Twine exhibition (2014), curated by Richard Goodness.

Contents

Room One

01:30 Debt by Tony Perriello "It's almost like a text movie"

05:30 Duck Ted Bundy by Coleoptera-Kinbote "It is manic"

10:00 The Conversation I Can't Have by Morgan Rille "She wasn't writing as a victim"

14:00 The Matter of the Great Red Dragon by Jonas Kyratzes "This is the kind of thing he does and he does it well"

Room Two

19:15 Zombies and Elephants by Verena Kyratzes "I really like this twine"

27:45 Workers in Progress by Konstantinos "Gnome" Dimopoulos "It makes sense to view it as a work of speculative fiction"

Room Three

32:45 When Acting as a Wave by David T. Marchand "This is my personal favourite of the entire set"

37:00 The Girl in the Haunted House by Amanda Lange "This is an example of something you couldn't do in the short story format"

40:30 The Scientific Method by Evil Roda "I like this one because I'm a sucker for end of world stuff"

44:00 Drosophilia by Pippin Barr, Gordon Calleja and Sidsel Hermansen "What is going on?"

Room Four

47:45 Abstract State-warp Machines by Ivaylo Shmilev "It had a lot to say"

51:30 The Work by Cayora Rue "You don't know it's secret, do you?"

57:45 Coyotaje by Joseph Domenici "It's not about big picture, it's about what people go through"

63:15 TWEEZER by Richard Goodness and PaperBlurt "It's kinda charming, right?"

Closing Thoughts

70:10 "My feelings towards Twine have changed"

73:15 "Look at the twines I found most successful, they were probably also the ones that were the most technically complex"

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:

References

You can subscribe directly to Counterweight via iTunes or RSS.

Twine Week

4Mar/144

Counterweight 11: Miasmata

cw-miasmata
In this episode of Counterweight, Eric Brasure and Joel "HM" Goodwin fall in love with island survival game Miasmata (IonFX, 2012).

Contents

01:00 "I think this is probably one of the better games that I've played in the last couple of years."

03:10 "The game gives you just enough information to get in a lot of trouble."

04:10 "The strength of the game is that you feel lost in the beginning but the atmosphere powers you through..."

10:50 "I felt like I had done something really great."

23:30 "Nobody had a bag on the island? Like nobody? At all? Like, nobody thought to bring one? Or make one?"

26:30 "...and I literally rolled backwards away from my desk."

31:50 "The game was made by two people so it's amazing that the game is as complicated as it is."

37:10 "And I was really upset, I'll be honest."

42:50 "Some of the environmental narrative aspects are really quite... they're a bit crude."

44:00 "The game is so good at creating this atmosphere of loneliness..."

46:50 "But it is one of the most striking things I found on the island."

50:20 "It's really a meditative game in a way."

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:

References

No companion notes this week as I've already written about the game previously in The Beast and The Island.

You can subscribe directly to Counterweight via iTunes or RSS.

12Feb/1413

No Alternative, 2

This is the concluding part of No Alternative, the first part was posted yesterday.

na-dearesther

What if someone wanted to market a hypothetical “non-game”? Channels for marketing and distribution have matured for games but are there any channels for publicising or selling “non-games”? Are developers being coerced into calling their works games for commercial reasons?   

Read More »

11Feb/146

No Alternative, 1

na-fibrillation

A couple of years ago in an essay called A Theoretical War, I touched on the Holy War over the meaning of the word ‘game’. The war has not gone away. Each time some ‘alternative’ release reaches across the divide – such as when Proteus (Key & Kanaga, 2013) or Depression Quest (Zoe Quinn, 2013) hits Steam – there’s an outbreak of unpleasantness. This battle to control ‘game’ even has a parody Twitter account, TheGamePolice.

Outside of the mainstream, there’s a strong belief that no one needs to define or control what gets to be called a game. Everything can be a game. But let’s put aside a technical discussion on definitions. The word ‘game’, in popular culture, has connotations. It is a complicated word that means different things to different people.

Last year, Darius Kazemi published a slideshow called Fuck Videogames in which he suggested not everyone needs to make ‘games’. He admitted he had dropped the term himself, pitching his own work under the banner of ‘weird internet stuff’.

Here’s a question for you. Are there problems with calling everything a game? Here’s another. Are there developers who would rather not call their software a game? I consulted Kazemi, Ed Key (Proteus), Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn (Tale of Tales) and Dan Pinchbeck (The Chinese Room) on whether we need an alternative.    

Read More »

28Jan/1422

Counterweight 10: Bioshock Infinite

cw10-bioshock-infinite-facepalm
In this specially extended episode of Counterweight, Eric Brasure and Joel "HM" Goodwin get their claws into Bioshock Infinite (Irrational Games, 2013). Danger: spoilers, profanity and genuine anger within.

Contents

02:10 "It's probably the most important game of last year."

03:40 "Columbia Celebrates! Ooh? What about? You can't read the newspaper!"

05:20 "...[a] serious game about prejudice and multiple realities... and they've put a bloody rollercoaster in it!"

07:50 "The game parts of the game aren't any good, the shooting parts aren't any good, the exploration is frankly pointless..."

15:50 "It's The Stanley Parable without the funny."

18:00 "Just referencing [The Boxer Rebellion or the Pinkertons] is not enough, you're not doing anything with them."

19:30 "Bioshock Infinite: The Notgame - and that would be a good game to play."

21:10 "Whatever we say on this podcast here, Bioshock Infinite made a ton of money and was very successful."

27:10 "There's a glibness to it I find offensive."

30:50 "It's basically an episode of Fringe only worse than Fringe."

42:30 "And there's no sense that the story needs to make any sense because after all it's just a videogame, right Joel?"

43:50 "It's just not good enough... it's over-convoluted. It's deliberately trying to confuse the player."

47:50 "The whole game feels like cooking with a 7-year old."

50:10 "We should try to talk about things we liked about it."

53:20 "We were supposed to talk about things we liked, so I think we failed."

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:

References

It might be a little long, but for the Infinite haters, I strongly recommend Joannes Truyens' Bioshock Infinite script:

"We’re now heading into another new universe where a quantum-reanimated gunsmith might have access to his tools so that he can craft a bunch of weapons while bleeding all over them, only so that the Vox will give us back the airship that I just randomly selected from plenty of other available ones. We can’t even be sure I made the same deal with Fitzroy in that universe."

COMPANION NOTES ALSO AVAILABLE: "One word. Trash."

You can subscribe directly to Counterweight via iTunes or RSS.