Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

11Jul/140

This Link Drag is Free to Read

Here Be Links

OLD “RPS Exclusive: Gabe Newell Interview” - John Walker

The worst days [for game development] were the cartridge days for the NES. It was a huge risk – you had all this money tied up in silicon in a warehouse somewhere, and so you’d be conservative in the decisions you felt you could make, very conservative in the IPs you signed, your art direction would not change, and so on. Now it’s the opposite extreme: we can put something up on Steam, deliver it to people all around the world, make changes. We can take more interesting risks.

“Selling candy to babies” - Rich Stanton

“The F2P space for kids is unfortunately a highly predatory one,” says Jeffery. “There are a lot of developers doing things they must know and feel are not the right things to do. It is predatory, and it is lucrative. We make six apps a year. Companies like TabTale make 200. It’s a machine, a freemium converting machine.”

LONG “Games By Design: AI War: First Four Years Postmortem (And By Extension Arcen History)” - Chris Park

That AI War can gross more than a million dollars (and growing) while serving that sort of niche -- and have players happy about the prices they've paid, and not grumbling about it as they do with certain $80+ titles that I can think of -- is quite something. It shows that there is a lot more life in the "small spaces" that the big AAA publishers are ignoring. And it's something that I think should be a hopeful sign to players who love various "dead" genres. Most "dead" genres could provide this level of developer income and this level of player happiness for the right game sold the right way, I'm convinced.

“Positional Balance” - Matt Pavlovich

Positional balance is a relatively new notion in game design, and it seeks to lessen the possibility of a runaway leader and keep players engaged through the duration of a game, even ones nominally at the “back of the pack.” The primary concerns of positional balance are addressing the runaway leader problem and implementing catch-up mechanics.

“Repeating History: N++ And The Case For Conservative Game Design” - Michael Thomsen

“It’s actually pretty shocking how lucky we are to live here,” Burns said. “From attending our first GDC when N was in the Independent Games Festival, to securing the loan to make N+, to help with financing N++, we would be in a vastly different position today were it not for government support of small businesses. Without this support, we probably could have still made the games, however we would have had to cede control of them — as well as the majority of the royalties — to a publisher.”

“How Long Does It Take to Make an Indie Game?” - Joseph Mirabello

Also, looking back, here’s a tidbit I learned about myself during prototyping: feeling overwhelmed leads to demotivation. Demotivation leads to stagnation/distraction/facebook. Working mostly in solitude makes this worse: the sense of a shared investment that comes from teamwork is replaced with an echo-chamber of doubt. Devising strategies to combat self doubt, therefore, became a crucial part of development (maybe that’s worth a blog of its own someday).

VID “Music Object, Substance, Organism” - David Kanaga

Liquid is of special interest being at the edge of chaos, as it were. It is between stillness and chaos. More or less viscous. Besides, we are inside of music. It is not in front of us, like a picture, going away if we turn around or close our eyes. No, music is like a bath. We have to dry off after to get away from it.

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8Jul/144

The Making of #warningsigns

weapon-headshot

If you liked some of the music from #warningsigns or just want to know how it was made or how it came about - you've come to the right place.

I don't think it's advisable to read this post unless you've watched the film first. But, hey, I'll throw you a bone. For a good year, the subtitle of #warningsigns was "this is a series about the end of the world".  

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4Jul/144

This Link Drag is a Murder Robot


This week's Link Drag discusses Depths of Fear :: Knossos, ethical problems in self-driving cars, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Lost Alpha, what the economist for EVE actually does and a little more.

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1Jul/1415

#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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27Jun/1418

Can You Find the Hidden Signs?

[IMAGE: No clues here, sorry.]

Two years ago, seven signs were hidden on Electron Dance.

Over the next few days, you must find them.  

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26Jun/142

The Farfield: Marmite Anxiety

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

black swan

I got around to watching Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2012) recently and found it stimulating. I’m not convinced it says much about the grander scheme of things but, as a character study, I loved it.

As I usually do after watching a slice of television or cinema that I find engaging, I went online to see whether people had taken to it like a swan to water. Turned out it was a Marmite film. There seemed to be as many people who judged it insufferable, pretentious nonsense as those who thought it was high art.

And I experience this sudden pang of anxiety, that maybe the work has fooled me, maybe it is vapid rubbish after all.  

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24Jun/146

This Link Drag is Deadlocked


Some news! I've decided Link Drag is going to be more regular. I'm hoping weekly, but we'll see. However, I've decided to stop publishing Marginalia as that sucked up resources out of proportion with its audience.

I'm officially back from sabbatical next week but, until then, if you're new around here, why don't you give The Aspiration a read? It's one of the best things I ever wrote, you know.

And if that's not good enough then how about the seven links below?

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17Jun/1436

Faltering Faith in Twine’s Teaching

HM is on sabbatical for June and guest writers are filling in for him. This week it’s the turn of Dan Cox, who has previously written for Nightmare Mode and been a strong supporter of Twine. He has authored both a Gamasutra series on Learning Twine and a video tutorial series. He has also figured out how to use Google Drive to host Twine, explained how Twine authors could distribute and sell their work through itch.io and, most recently, been working on getting Twine to work on Ouya.

legoland-buck-palace

In many ways, I’ve come to think of Twine as a religion of sorts as I’ve watched the tool and its greater community grow these last two years. It has its followers, rituals, and customs. It has its saints and celebrities. There are numerous sites and people dedicated to promoting it and, of course, it definitely has its detractors. Yet, if I view my own relationship with Twine in this light, I think I might now describe myself as having lost my faith.

I am no longer comfortable with some of the community practices. I feel that Twine's two core promises, that it doesn’t require programming and is for everyone, have changed. What I once promoted as tenets of the Twine “faith” I no longer believe or celebrate. I’ve increasingly become worried that the Twine community might be headed in the wrong direction.  

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10Jun/146

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.

simcopter3

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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5Jun/146

The Self and Software

Last month, while writing an article for Rock Paper Shotgun, HM asked several developers for their thoughts on the physical interface between player and game. Robin Arnott, the audio engineer behind Deep Sea and Soundself, responded with a short essay. Extracts of this essay appeared in the completed article, but today Electron Dance presents the essay in full.

soundself-1

The original motivation behind Deep Sea was a dirt simple question: how do I maximize immersion? It was a curiosity drive! I started out knowing from my own experience that fear can short-cut the rational mind and touch players at a pre-cognitive level. But all the design decisions, like blinding the player, or playing back their breathing to obscure the critical information, all of that was me blindly reaching into the darkness and holding onto what seemed to work. I'm very fortunate to have stumbled onto some ideas that worked incredibly well, but the great irony of Deep Sea's development is that I didn't know why they worked. It took about two years of watching people play Deep Sea for me to reverse-engineer my own game and figure out the why.     

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