Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

8Mar/1517

TV Games Are For Boys

This is the concluding part of The Petri Dish trilogy. The previous parts were on the inexplicable anger of complete strangers and the inescapable clutches of cynicism.

tv-minecraft-hate-table

It seems I’ve been terrified for nearly three years.

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4Mar/150

Side by Side: Super Pole Riders

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is episode 14 of 17.

This week Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly get their poles in a twist in Bennett Foddy's Super Pole Riders, another game from the Sportsfriends package. Two players pole vault for victory - if they can slam that ball into goal. Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

  • "And then I'm pole vaulting the wrong way, it's like, what am I doing?"
  • "I need a replay! That was awesome!"
  • "No! Yes. No! Yes. No!"
  • "You'd get a bit of a rhythm going... but I tend to just fluff it up right at the end."
  • "I'm not playing this game with you any more, Gregg."
  • The original Pole Riders prototype is available to play online for free at foddy.net.
  • If you're enjoying the series, please like our videos and subscribe to our channel.

The series theme is the delightful "Adventures in your sleep" by The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra.

26Feb/156

A #MinecraftFamily Update

I'm still wrestling with the third part of The Petri Dish as well as Ethan Carter Vs Verde Station, so here's a few notes from all the Minecraft play going on at home, a followup to The Family That Plays Together.

minecraft-canyon-moon

  • Since beginning Minecraft a few months ago, both my children have really improved their mouse/keyboard skills.
  • My 6yo son doesn’t want to play creative, but he finds wandering around in the night or underground in the dark too tense.
  • My 4yo daughter initially required us to build things for her in creative: now she’s bringing up the menu and choosing materials herself. However, even though she is in creative and nothing will chase her, she had a big fright when a creeper tried to get past her and we had much tears. She hasn't played Minecraft since, so I hope that's not the end of that.
  • "Developments in Minecraft" is a regular topic amongst the family. Just today I proposed a high-speed rail link through the Nether to the dinner table forum.
  • My wife’s approach to house-building is entirely different to mine. I think about the building itself, form and function. She thinks about the view the building captures, it's location. She started out with a mountainside residence, progressed to a beach house by the ocean, and her latest is bolted onto an existing cave. (I was planning a “cave house” myself at some point.) Her structures come out looking really different to mine.
  • Okay, there's this towering mountain with a beautiful lavafall. My wife climbed it and said it would be a great place to create a mountain retreat. It seemed like quite a climb and getting all the materials up there would be a hassle. When I raised the topic of whether we should build a rail up the side of this natural feature (which I thought we should not), my wife was incredulous. You don't build a railway to a remote mountain hideaway!
  • When my wife plays in my Minecraft world, she goes off in search of materials to fuel my addiction to construction. When my wife plays in her world, she isn’t as interested in building which means excavation in caves lacks a certain purpose. She loves caves, but it seems she needs me to give her caving a purpose.

minecraft-bracken-canyon

  • We have tackled several caves together, including Bracken which I subtitled “scary old mine”. A whole section was infested with poisonous cave spiders and we both came close to death many times. Normally it’s just negotiating the environment and hunting for the source of water/lava noises that costs time – but we had a bloody war in the bowels of Bracken. Sadly, this particular cave was largely shallow meaning it generated very little return in terms of resources. (In contrast, another cave called Banach Dark consisted mainly of an underground gully which was rich in redstone, gold and diamonds.)
  • We took on the Nether together for the second time just this week and spent the whole time watching each other’s backs. Initially, we had no idea zombie pigmen were neutral to players and set about slaughtering them.
Filed under: Short Notes 6 Comments
24Feb/154

Side by Side: Nidhogg

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is episode 13 of 17.

This week Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly totally get the point of Messhof's Nidhogg, where two warriors sword fight their way for the glory of being gobbled by the purple wyrm Nidhogg. Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

  • Joel describes Nidhogg as "Stab, stab, jump, jump, throw sword, pick up sword."
  • Although playable as a title called Raging Hadron after it was commissioned for No Quarter in 2010, it took four years before Nidhogg was released commercially. Like Joust, it was a game that only surfaced in exhibitions which lent it some mystique.
  • Messhof on Twitter.
  • If you're enjoying the series, please like our videos and consider subscribing to our channel.

The series theme is the delightful "Adventures in your sleep" by The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra.

20Feb/150

Links: Passive Generational Indemnity

  • What if interactivity is the new passivity?
  • What does it mean to be offended by the Hatred trailer?
  • What makes a game last a generation?
  • Paid or F2P?
  • Where indeed is Cathy O'Neil's vagina?
  • If FGM is barbaric, should we consider male circumcision the same way?
  • What can the French indemnity of 1871-73 teach us about today's Eurozone crisis?

Find your seven click escapes below.

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Filed under: Link Drag No Comments
17Feb/158

A Glitch in the Parkour Matrix

i know this - what you are doing is wrong

I had a little fun with a game called I Know This (Two's Complement, 2015) thrown together for this year's Global Game Jam. It's a celebration of faux hacker scenes in movies, particularly the hackers got to play in a "3D file system space" (see Jurassic Park, Disclosure) which demonstrated a dramatic (!) lack of HCI understanding by Hollywood directors. Like a lot of jam games, it's a rough experience so it's not necessarily a ton of fun.

One aspect stood out though. In one challenge, you have to hack together a complete sequence of program code before the countdown crunches down to zero. Apparently inspired by the site hackertyper.com, as the player types on the keyboard, legible code appears as if by hacker magic, making the player feel very l33t. But I Know This turns it into a game by demanding the player hit ENTER after each completed line of code; failure to do so causes red gibberish to appear that must be deleted.

i know this - hacker parkour

It feels more fun than it has a right to be, typing like a hacker, but there's a problem. Every time you start typing red error text, the cool factor dies and it becomes a slog to slowly delete the bad characters. The fantasy is too readily skewered by what feels like a pedantic design.

And then I sensed déjà vu.

Games that want to emulate free running or parkour also run up against this kind of wall. A failure in parkour usually means the flow of movement is broken and it doesn't feel cool any more. "You," the game continuously reminds you, "are just as mundane as you thought you were."

mirrors edge - the hole

I'd like to think it would be possible to turn this hacker mini-game into keyboard parkour which works but, if games like Mirror's Edge (DICE, 2008) are anything to go by, it's probably a wish that will go unfulfilled.

mirrors edge - the fall

14Feb/152

Side by Side: Super Punchball

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is episode 12 of 17.

This week Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly take it on the chin in Neverpants' Super Punchball, where players don boxing gloves and fight to punch a ball into goal. Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

The series theme is the delightful "Adventures in your sleep" by The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra.

12Feb/156

Brough Beaten: A Portrait of Success

868-sad-face

Michael Brough developed 86856527 for the 2013 7DRL challenge (7 Day RogueLike). It was a great prototype that Brough transformed into an iOS commercial release called 868-HACK (2013).

It’s taken two years for Brough to get the refined, post-jam version back to its original home on PC. This is where a reviewer might ask, “Well, was it worth it?” Rather than treating the question as some pithy gunk to pad out the opening paragraphs, we would do well to take it more seriously.

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Filed under: Longform 6 Comments
7Feb/1521

Playing Chicken With The Reader

Goodness_GunShop

Here's a quick random thought stretched to 500 words. I was just listening to the latest episode of Trekabout which covered the Star Trek TNG episodes Aquiel and Face of the Enemy (the latter being the best Troi episode), and there's a bit where podcast host Eric Brasure (spoilers!) says something like, "If it had turned out that Aquiel was the killer it would have been a dull episode."

It reminds me of a structure I sometimes play with when writing, particularly fiction writing, and I'm not sure it's a healthy form. The story is shaped so that it suggests a very obvious, clichéd conclusion, but the author sidesteps at the last minute to produce the real ending. What Brasure notes is that if you trust the author, you're not going to fall for that, because you know this author will not let you down.

But what if the author does? What if that's the twist? What if it just isn't a very good author? In that case, it's not just the journey that looks dull and by-the-numbers, but there is no twist to compensate! Such a "there-is-no-twist" twist can feel like a betrayal. When I participate in a story  - whatever the form - I abhor this kind of reader/author tension when the author drags me along a very mundane path towards a seemingly obvious conclusion. I'm worried in a very meta sense that there will be no surprise twist, that everything will be exactly as it appears. Then, rather than getting to the surprise twist and punching at the air with "God that's so clever", instead I exhale, "Jesus, what a relief". I bet you some readers don't even reach the final page if they don't trust the author, choosing assumption over anticipation.

I tend to see Richard Goodness' Twine works sometimes playing this sort of game of chicken with the reader, although it's not quite the same phenomenon. I don't think he's ever stated this outright, but sometimes his work is an antagonistic response to reading too much into light-touch storytelling. That if I merely write "there was a word" the right critic might go 188 miles to London Town about what this means (giving mouth-to-mouth to the author who we know is totally dead, yeah). Goodness floods some of his works with overt symbolism: the danger being, that's all people will see as the "meaning space" has been saturated with coarse, chunky crap. (Hey, can you tell yet that I have no literary academic background? I'm sure I'm supposed to throw in the word semiotics somewhere.)

As you can see from the above screenshot - taken from Goodness' Twitter today (link) - he is heading down this particular road again. But what do you think? Is it good to play chicken with the reader (or just straight out troll the reader)? Let me know in the comments...

Note: The most approachable of Goodness' works is TWEEZER which I recommend if you love the classic old RPGs. I wrote about it last year.

3Feb/150

Side by Side: QWOP 3D

Side by Side is a video series on local multiplayer games. This is episode 11 of 17.

This week Joel Goodwin of Electron Dance and Gregg Burnell of Tap-Repeatedly keep busting their noses on the race track in Bennett Foddy's QWOP 3D, a game which no longer has anything to do with the letters Q, W, O and P. Watch the video here or direct on YouTube.

  • QWOP 3D was made available to backers of the Sportsfriends Kickstarter. If you did not buy in to the Kickstarter, you are probably out of luck.
  • You can play the original QWOP or a two-player version 2QWOP at Bennett Foddy's site.
  • If you're enjoying the series, please like our videos and consider subscribing to our channel.

The series theme is the delightful "Adventures in your sleep" by The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra.