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Thursday, November 19, 2009

~Mory, Mory, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mory, Mory, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

Let's sum up this embarrassment of the blogosphere, shall we? Once upon a time there was a pathetic excuse for a person. His name was Mory. He sat around all day and did nothing but whine and think too much. And he said: "Ooh! I think I should share my misery with the rest of the human race! What fun!" And he wrote this blog. At one point he made two games, and they were crap. But still, they were games and they worked when you ran them, and for a split-second I thought that there was hope for the guy, for this pathetic little miserable ball of shit named Mory. But no. He went back to whining and moping and doing nothing.
At this point, I'm not sure
I disagree with your assessment.
My day is complete, I've heard the opinion of Mory's little imaginary future-guy.
Not sure...?!
The blog isn't worthless, it led to me. And by the way, you left out the part where Mory's a self-centered jerk who creates characters, uses them, and then disposes of them. I mean, take these future guys-
How can you think he hasn't made progress?
-how long has it been
Wait 'til she stops talking, I can't hear myself think.
since the last post they were in? I bet it was pretty darned long. And what have they been doing all this time? That's right, they've just been sitting and sipping their coffee and reading this blog! Never a break, never a moment to themselves, because that single task of reading the blog is the only task their selfish creator thought to give them. Now that's a tragedy, a tragedy, but only imaginary people like us would see it for what it is. They're consigned to a one-note existence, all because their creator never bothered to give them more. And the only way we can stop things like that is by getting together and making a unified stand against it! We need to start some sort of protest group and just hijack every post he tries to make. We need some sort of name.
Sure, babe.
Okay, here's the thing.
This blog has just been continually frustrating.
Don't bother to disagree, you know I'm right.
This is still part 2 of the blog, right?
That started in, what was it, August 2007.
That means that at the time of this post we're up to,
part 2 has been more than two years.
And the point of part 2, as he set it up,
was that he was going to change to be more like
the Buckman that we're reading through this to
27 months.

27..?
27 months since the beginning of part 2.
Right, 27 months.
See, that's what I'm talking about.
It's too slow.
And now he might as well have never even started part 2,
he's practically back where he was before it.
I just don't see where he's going.
But we know he's
Yes, of course we know.
But it's getting really frustrating that he's still so far from that.
He's worrying so much about that silly little play,
like that's what matters in the grand scheme of things.
How about "Imaginary People's Rights"? No, I don't like it either, it needs to be catchier.
And take this post here. This is, what's the date here.. November 19 2009. Right. And what was the date he said he was going on that second trip thing.. November 23. So this is four days before that, he should be working like crazy to finish up as much of The March of Bulk as he can, but instead he's pulled out all his toys and is playing around with them.
Did you just call me a toy?! I am not a toy! I am a fictional character, who's just been taken advantage of!
My apologies, ma'am.
Oh yeah, now you're so classy! A few seconds ago you were calling me a toy!
Hey, cool it, cool it. He's an idiot, but he didn't mean anything.
He certainly did!
You see? This is entirely pointless.
Are you sure?
Entirely pointless.
I'm thinking maybe we should just stop reading.
Oh, come on!
At this point he is working on the game,
he just isn't posting anything about it because there's nothing new to post. I'm sure that's what it is. And he'll be done soon, and part 2 will wrap up, and I bet it'll be really interesting.
We've been reading this far, we can't stop now.
Oh fine, we can read a bit more.
I hope you're right.
I am.
You're not.
I agree. There's no way a guy like Mory knows a way out of the mess he's made for himself. He thinks he's so smart, but really he doesn't think about any of the things that matter.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

~Imagine, if you will… Glitchy transitions as horror

Monday, November 16, 2009

Imagine, if you will…

Glitchy transitions as horror

When the game begins, the player character is a young man. The player has been playing for a while, reaching no satisfying end point, when he is approached by a man with a fancy suit and very neat hair. As the man comes close, the camera shakes a tiny bit, the music repeats a note, and the gameworld (including everything and everyone in it) freezes. This glitchiness lasts no longer than one second. Suddenly the character is in his bed. The player gets up, walks past a mirror on the wall, gets dressed and goes out to continue the game.

All the other characters are speaking about things which the player has not seen. They talk to the player character as though he is meant to understand what they are talking about. The player is given vague clues that it's been a few months since the last scene, though it's a bit early to give it away entirely. Otherwise, the game proceeds as normal.

Then the man in the suit walks toward the player character, the game glitches for maybe a second and a half, and he's back in bed.

..and so on. The first segment of gameplay (before the first appearance of the man in the suit) is fairly long, but each successive segment is shorter. The glitching is slightly longer each time, where by "glitching" I mean that the camera gets stuck between two points, the game freezes, and the music loops whatever the last second it played was until the character is back in bed. Each time, the character gets subtly older in appearance, though this is so subtle that the player might not notice for a while.

Another change over the course of the game is that the man gets progressively harder to spot. The game might freeze at the moment you see him sitting in a chair across the street. Or it might freeze as you're minding your own business as he walks around a corner far away. One time the man knocks into you, then walks away, five seconds pass, and then the game glitches. But that's a one-time gimmick; more often the player is likely to not have even noticed the man in the suit, because he is just wandering around in the background.

Sometimes the player wakes up and discovers that an important character has died. Sometimes the player wakes up and discovers that what the goal he's been playing toward is already irrelevant. Sometimes the player wakes up and discovers that the game world has changed significantly.

By the end of the game, the player is playing an old man. The glitches last a good ten seconds, and the player can barely get in five minutes of gameplay before they happen. He stumbles out of his house after one glitch, and there's a huge crowd outside. There's nothing to do in the crowd, but the player's actually safe there. As soon as he leaves the crowd and walks into some secluded little alleyway or house (it doesn't matter where), he sees the man waiting there.

He wakes up, gets out of bed, and before he can even get to the door the game freezes again. Again the player gets out of bed, and he doesn't even make it that far. And so on, until the game crashes immediately after the character wakes up, his eyes wide open in fear, and that glitch holds. It doesn't matter if you leave the game running for hours, it's going to keep looping the music and shaking the camera and not accepting input. There are no end credits; the only way to end the game is to shut off the console.

When the player goes back in, he discovers that his save file has been deleted.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

~Do I overthink things? I don't know, let me think about that…

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do I overthink things?
I don't know, let me think about that…

so okay, it might be possible that in certain cases I think about things a tiny bit more than I maybe should.

I just came back from the second rehearsal. And boy, what a disaster it was. It turns out, I've got entirely the wrong approach for Barnaby. The hunched shoulders? That was a mistake. The awkwardly limited movements? That was a mistake. The general lack of enthusiasm much of the time? I'm not sure, but I think that's a mistake too.

I'm not entirely sure I understand why they're mistakes, and that bothers me. The hunched shoulders were supposed to be like a little turtle hiding in its shell, I thought it would be cute. But it's not cute, I'm sure of that now. It just doesn't work. The limited movements were supposed to indicate shyness, but I think they're just making him bland. The last thing Barnaby needs to be is bland. It just doesn't work. The lack of enthusiasm is supposed to make it more noticeable when he does get enthusiastic, to give the sense that this isn't something he experiences every day. But instead I think I'm finding it hard to figure out what the right moments to bring the enthusiasm in are, so he constantly occupies some strange space in between obsessiveness and disinterest. It just isn't working.

At home and then on the bus to Jerusalem and then waiting around because I'd gotten there early, I went over Act 2 (the subject of tonight's rehearsal). I specifically looked for the rhythms of the lines, the pitches of the lines, that sort of thing. I wanted to figure out how random lines could seem like more than a string of words. I also wanted to learn the lines as quickly as possible, so that I could pay attention to the other actors and to my own performance rather than to the script. So I was really eager to get started. And then for the first 45 minutes, we just went over all the revisions. Tanya's changing lots of little lines. That meant I couldn't ignore my script; I needed to always be aware of the current version! It also meant that all the little bits of performance I'd worked out were suddenly more confusing than helpful.

But I don't know if that even mattered. In the bottom line, I wasn't playing Barnaby right. A little quirk here or there in a performance, that's fine. The voice is a quirk like that, that I don't at all regret. But I had so many quirks there was no room left for acting. I was so conscious of how I was moving around, and how I was interacting with the stage, and how I could get the next little beat that I'd planned in, that I barely noticed what anyone else was doing. Or where I did see what they were doing, I couldn't see how I could work with it.

But beyond that, I think I'm misunderstanding who Barnaby is on a fundamental level. I'm playing him as scared, and I'm starting to wonder if he should be closer to the opposite extreme. Does he really want to get out of trouble or does he want to be in trouble? I can't say I know, and that's a problem. Sometimes as I was reacting to Cornelius a certain way, in the back of my mind I was wondering whether I had it all wrong. I'm going to need to think more about Barnaby's motivations, about how much is under the surface and how much is clear. I think it's not quite right to just play a character here - I ought to be playing a character playing a character. Tanya says Barnaby wants to act cool, wants to be as fearless as Cornelius. So I need to think about which parts of that are an act, and which parts are revealing hidden truths. Or maybe all acts are revealing truths. This is the sort of thing that I'm not qualified to play Barnaby until I think about.

..or not. David, who's playing Cornelius, said to me that I don't need to try so hard. He said that Barnaby is really a lot like me, so if I just act like myself it'll be right. And that goes with what Tanya said to me after the rehearsal. For one thing she said that I need to speak up more (and it's embarrassing that I'm not doing that), but she also said (after I asked for her input) that she thinks I'm a "natural". And I didn't really know what to make of it as I was hearing, but now I'm thinking that maybe she said that because she wants me to get away from things that aren't natural, and back to something that's less of an act.

I think I think so much about details that I miss the basics. I think if I weren't thinking so much on stage about what it was I was supposed to be thinking about, I might have been confident enough to project my voice more. I think thinking so much about how Barnaby thinks got me thinking that the only way I could play Barnaby was by thinking it through to a point beyond my capabilities as an actor.

Okay, I think too much. ..I think.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

~Holy. Cabooses.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Holy. Cabooses.

(Previously: Matchmaker)

so, this is more perfect than I could possibly have expected.

Forty minutes after writing the last post, I left for Jerusalem and the first rehearsal of The Matchmaker, in which I will be playing the part of Barnaby.

Barnaby is a sidekick character. He's 17, has never left home before, and gets pulled along on a wacky adventure in the big city. His catch phrase is "Holy cabooses!". I do him with a nasal voice and hunched shoulders. I basically knew that I was getting the part before I even wrote that other post, because at one point in the callbacks the director slipped up: When telling us how to read a new scene, she meant to say "..and Barnaby will be played by Mory...", but instead said "..and Barnaby will be played by Barnaby...". So I had a good hunch that she wanted me for that part.

And reading through the play at that callback, I was a bit conflicted. Because on the one hand, Barnaby was a really good part. It'll especially have a lot of fun physical comedy. But y'know, I heard how some of the other parts were being played, and I felt like I could do them better. I'm told that all actors feel like that when watching other actors. And it's probably not any more true in my case than it is with other actors. I should have learned from watching that 1776 DVD that I'm not the actor I think I am. But still, I wanted to get a turn doing the other parts, just that once. So after the other male actors had all left, I stuck around and read for all three young male roles: Barnaby, Ambrose (the other one I'd tried at the auditions) and Cornelius.

Cornelius is the one that gets all the funny lines, he's one of the three leads (along with Dolly Levi and Horace Vandergelder). Ambrose is a romantic artist who wants to elope with his girlfriend but has a hard time getting her to go along with the idea. For a few, glorious minutes, I got to play both of them and Barnaby, even though I knew I would only be getting Barnaby. (Who, granted, is a better character than Ambrose. So there's that.) Sometimes I'd be talking to myself, doing two voices. When we stopped for the night, Tanya said that she wished she could split me in three and have me play all the roles, and of course I understood perfectly well that that was just flattery. But still -that was so much fun.

I was surprised at this first rehearsal to see that some people from the callback who I thought had done a good job weren't in the play. Or at least, they're not doing the parts I thought they were. An old and experienced actor did a fabulous job with the part of old man Vandergelder, but he's apparently been given Vandergelder's assistant instead. Vandergelder was given to a younger actor (Actually, the father of the actor who's playing Cornelius, who's the same guy who walked into the audition with me.), I assume because Dolly was given to a young actress. So one thing you can say about Tanya: she uses what she has in creative ways. At the very last minute she might change her mind about something huge, but she'll change it to something interesting. For instance, that lady with the accents that I mentioned before (Sorry, I don't remember her name.) is supposed to kiss me at one point in the play, but she raised an objection on religious grounds and almost at once Tanya came up with a solution: just as she comes to kiss me, I faint. In the context of that scene, that's a great idea. So I guess the unconventional casting is part of that out-of-the-box approach.

Oh, and by the way: she's decided that our version of the play is set in the 1960s. And she's making very significant edits and rewrites to keep it under two hours. So this isn't a straight rendition of the material by any means. Which is good, because it'll help us distinguish ourselves from.. you know what, there's a funny story here, but it has nothing to do with anything. So left-click here if you're interested.

On Friday night, I was next door at Avri and Lorien's house, and a friend of theirs came by from the Aviv neighborhood. This is someone who I recognize from Games Nights, but not someone I know well. I asked him what he was up to, and he said that while attending Bar-Ilan University he's been involved with a play they're putting on. "Oh?", I asked, "What play is that?", and he said "The Matchmaker". Yeah. So I asked him, "Who are you playing?", and he said "Barnaby". Think about the odds there for a second. They started rehearsing a week ago, and they're performing in January. At our rehearsal today I told Tanya about this (She'd been unaware.), and she immediately came up with some creative but dubious ideas of how we could use this to our advantage. Aaaaanyway..


I got to the rehearsal a few minutes late, and that was after taking a taxi rather than a bus. There was just so much traffic, we would have needed to leave a half hour earlier (That's two hours transportation time.) to get there on time. Oh, yeah, I said "we". It turns out, all of JEST's shows are rehearsed in the same place at the same time. So I might sometimes be going to Jerusalem with Dena, who has a small but important part in "Another Antigone". I don't think I would have thought to take a taxi. I got to the rehearsal way before Barnaby's first line, and someone was reading Ambrose who wasn't actually the actor for Ambrose. After Act 1, we took a little break and Tanya mentioned that if we ever get there late, we're fired. (No pressure.) A long time after we started, a guy who smelled like cigarettes but seemed pretty friendly walked in and sat next to me. That was our Ambrose. He didn't do a very good job, but that bothered me less now that I knew officially which part I was getting.

What did bother me was that Tanya's planned cuts (mentioned earlier) take out a lot of good material for Barnaby. So when we stopped for the night, I was feeling like maybe this wasn't going to be quite as great as I'd hoped, though of course it'd be much more fun than my previous roles. And then Tanya said that she'd like to talk to me for a second.

She said to me that she might be firing the guy she had for Ambrose, in which case I'd be playing two parts.

And let me be clear: these are both good parts. I'd be happy to play either one. But both! Switching back and forth! And it's not even my birthday!

Apparently, there's only one point in the whole play where both Ambrose and Barnaby are on stage. And Barnaby doesn't talk there. So Tanya's idea is that at that one point, we'll replace Barnaby with a doll dressed in his clothes. I don't know if something quite that drastic is necessary (Surely he can just go to the bathroom?), but that is funny. Apparently Tanya would really trust me with playing two parts. She wasn't lying.

So I'm there 100%. Whatever it takes to get this to work, I'll do it. There would be no less than seven costume changes, each of them a rush. So I'd just have to practice speed. Hey, I've beaten one of the F-Zero GX cups on Master. I can do speed. Doing two different voices with distinct speech patterns? Hey, I read the Megillah. That's eight voices. Keeping in my head the way two different characters think, and switching back and forth between them on the fly? Hi.

Okay, I admit it. This will be friggin' hard. But this is my kind of hard.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

~Training Wheels Off

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Training Wheels Off

For over a year now, I've been using a program called Access Boss to get myself to work on my games. It's a really simple program: it has a schedule of when I'm allowed to use my computer, and when I'm not it logs off my user. I used this in tandem with a Microsoft program called Windows SteadyState, which limits what programs specific users can access. I created a user called "Work", which is unable to run Firefox, my comics reader, my media player, or my most-played games. I'd tell Access Boss to kick me off my regular user at specific times, and keep me out for, say, two hours or so.

In this way I cast Access Boss in the role of employer, so that I'd play the reluctant employee and eventually get some work done. Earlier I'd cast the blog itself in this part, but I was finding that it wasn't effective enough because I could ignore the blog too easily. I only ever saw the need to work when opening my browser and browsing over to my page. The program played the boss better, but not particularly well. The trouble was, ultimately "Access Boss" was just a character I was playing myself. And due to the simplicity of the program, it didn't have enough of a personality to understand what I needed. I needed a boss that'd understand that when I say I can't work right now I don't really mean it. This one just said, "Okay, don't work.". I did work more under Access Boss than under the blog, but I would always delay the time of work and then shorten it once I'd done some. Efforts to prevent myself from running Access Boss from either of the two users didn't work, due to inadequacies with Windows SteadyState.

You probably remember my attempt to supplant Access Boss with a more fully-formed character. That was a mistake. The idea was to always keep Notepad open, in which I'd have a dialogue with this new boss character. The "imaginary girlfriend" character I'd just invented for the blog (the one written in the Palatino font) eagerly jumped in, and I shouldn't really have let her but I wanted to spend more time with her anyway so I didn't see a problem. The problem was, I hadn't figured out exactly who she was yet. She was supposed to have Asperger's Syndrome, but I hadn't even given her an affinity yet. So that fictional relationship was too weak to withstand the antagonism of a boss-worker dynamic. That aggression became the main gist of the story, ruining what could have been a fun part of the blog. (I still haven't found a way to write myself out of that corner.)

So I quickly ended that and went back to Access Boss. I wish I could say that was enough, but you've seen how slowly The March of Bulk has been coming along. Where I stand right now is that I've solved the problem with the viewports (Embarrassingly, the solution was just one line of code saying to use OpenGL instead of DirectX.), and am now struggling to fit the next step into math. (There's no question that I'll be able to deal with this, but it's taking some time.)

A week ago, I made the mistake of upgrading Access Boss. It was bugging me with one of those upgrade windows, and I thought "What's the harm?" but I should have known. My copy of Access Boss is illegal. The upgrade broke the crack, and I can't find a crack for the new version. To make matters worse, there is no one still sharing the old version on BitTorrent, so I can't get back to the way it was. (I deleted my copy of the download after installing it.) In short, I've lost Access Boss. I haven't uninstalled it yet, but that's a matter of laziness rather than hope.

So whatever happens now, I've gotta deal with myself. There's no one requiring me to work anymore.

But of course, there never really was anyone else but me. I think the modicum of self-control I gained as those three characters is still there. The way it manifests is mainly in focused depression. Every now and then while I'm entertaining myself, a little taste of depression starts to build up. The longer I ignore it, the more it gnaws at me. But as soon as I get down to work on my game, it goes away and I'm as happy as can be. This isn't a pleasant system, but it feels like a more permanent one.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

~iPhone, Part 2

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

iPhone, Part 2

I've let this Eyal know I'm not interested. My father, upon hearing what their deal was, suggested that I should learn how to program for iPhones myself. Kyler, upon hearing the deal, pointed out that The Perfect Color wouldn't work on an iPhone. So I'm not getting involved with these guys, which is a load off my chest anyway. All's well.

I will keep iPhone development in mind, though. I think Next Door could work well on it.

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~Where The Money Is

Where The Money Is

I just got off the phone with a guy named Eyal. He works at a company in Tel Aviv that makes iPhone games. He's expressed interest in The Perfect Color. He said I'd need to pay somewhere between $5,000 and $8,000 dollars for them to develop it as an iPhone application, market it and sell it. How much of the money from sales goes to me (and Kyler, by extension), I don't know. But it would need to be pretty darn high to justify that. Holy heck, that's a lot of money.

How did I get myself into this scary situation? Well, that's a long and funny story, filled with twists and turns and shocking coincidences. No, I'm just kidding, it's not any of those things. But that would be a really cool intro to a story, don't you think? No, it's actually really simple: my father saw an ad.

I haven't talked about my father much on this blog. He's a practical kind of guy, he holds our shul and our community together, he's a reliable doctor. And I know that under all that, he's actually kind of weird. When we lived in America, he taped lots of science fiction shows like Babylon 5 and Star Trek and Earth 2. These days the only TV show he has the time to watch is The Amazing Race. He watches that every Saturday night with my mother. You should see him when he gets the opportunity to talk about that show. He just goes on and on. If you only saw him then, you'd think he had Asperger's Syndrome. That's how much enthusiasm he has for things he likes. He enjoys simple things: biking to work, Sudoku puzzles. Sometimes I feel like out of my whole family, he's the only one I can recognize as being related to me. But then he goes and acts all productive, and that feeling goes away.

He said to me a while back that his only regret in the way he raised me is that I should have been put in a school where I'd learn physics. He's right- I probably would have enjoyed physics. And he's always tried to get me to learn that. He's a real purveyor of silliness sometimes. It might surprise you to hear me speaking so positively of my father, given what I said earlier. But he hasn't done the whole discipline thing since I got out of high school. I guess he thinks I've grown up already. (Heh heh.)

A few months ago we were having dinner with some friends of the family (a Russian-American couple and their daughter) from America. (Dinner was terrible, by the way. Don't go to the restaurant Noyah in Jerusalem.) And the topic of my gamism came up. This friend of the family, he said that he's heard that iPhone games are big business now. My father was at that table.

So when he saw an ad (in Hebrew) looking for developers who'd like to make iPhone games, he pushed me to get in touch with them.

On reflection, that whole story could have been one sentence long. Sorry about that. Here, let me clean up the post a bit.
my father saw an ad (in Hebrew) looking for developers who'd like to make iPhone games, and he pushed me to get in touch with them.

So somehow I found myself on the phone with this Eyal guy. And that money! I don't have that kind of money. I could try to dig into savings for that, but I dunno. The point of that is to make money, right? I'm not so interested in that. I'd prefer to work out a deal where they pay me (and by extension, Kyler) for the code, and then they keep the sales money themselves. My interest is to have as many people as possible play the game. This company can do that. But this could be dangerous. I don't know how much I trust a bunch of guys out to make a buck. Not just in terms of the money, which as I said I'd like to try to wriggle out of anyway. But the game, do I really trust these guys with the game? This is the best thing I've ever done in my life, and they could mutilate it so badly, if they didn't know what they were doing...

Eyal said to me that he thinks it could use some 3D graphics, to better sell it. This is the sort of business we're talking about. I said to him that that's not necessary, and he said I might be right. He said to me that some of the games that sell big on iPhone are so simple and silly I wouldn't believe it. (I probably would. I don't think like a businessman.) So I'm off the hook with the 3D thing. But what if they try to change the ending? What if they replace the line about trying to make everyone happy with a line about how that's really not what you want at all?

They don't care about the art, I'm quite sure of that. They don't care that this is a universal statement about ideas. And that's not something I should resent, it's just something I need to understand. These people, they don't think like me. They're interested in The Perfect Color because they see an opportunity for easy money. The iPhone is going to be officially released in Israel a month from now, and they want to be the first ones out there with Hebrew-language games for it. Which my game isn't, of course, but it can easily be translated. The question is whether I can make a deal with these people. I tell you, it's scary.

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Do not -- I repeat, *not* -- pay these "developers" one red cent (or agora). They want *you* to pay them to develop your game for the iPhone?! You're not an investor, you're not a businessman. To paraphrase Toy Story's Woody, "YOU - ARE - A - GEEK!"

If you're willing to give up some degree of control over your creativity in exchange for money, then by all means, sell them the concept and/or the code, for a bulk sum and/or some portion of the profits. This is your product, not the iPhone app, if and when it finally appears. You should not have to bear any of the financial risk.

 
You're right, of course.

 

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Monday, November 02, 2009

~Here, have some high culture.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Here, have some high culture.

Small Worlds by David Shute


As far as I can tell, his only previous game was the hilarious comedy movement game Chasm Spasm. (I'll be darned, it has been done before!) This new one's a pure exploration game. I like this guy. :D

With Small Worlds he's playing with zooming-out (much like I did in The Perfect Color), which I don't think I've ever seen before in exploration. The worlds are all pixel-art, which start so zoomed in that it barely has any coherence yet. You explore more of it by jumping around in side view, and it zooms out so you can see where you're going. Any parts of the image you don't go to don't get filled in. So if you don't want to experience the game to the fullest, you're not forced to.

There's an overworld, a science-fiction-y space-ship-y area, cold and gray like so many other games. The soundtrack has the humming of machinery, and everything looks dead and desolate. From there, you get to four other worlds, each of them beautiful and serene. They feature unusual combinations of what looks like man-made structures and natural chaos. When you get to the end, the game jarringly switches back to the overworld, leaving you disappointed to be back. After you've been to all four worlds, you detach from the space ship, the world zooms out further to show that you're leaving it behind, and the word "silence" appears on the screen to indicate that the game is over.

If you think that sounds like fun, you're right - it's terrific. And if you think it doesn't sound like fun, go away, you philistine.

The one weakness of the game is the jumping. It's the annoying kind of jumping, where if you hold down the button it keeps jumping forever. Those controls only ever existed because they're easier to program than sensible jumping- if there's a context in which that kind of endless bouncing works, I haven't seen it.

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