Haha, what happened?

March 16, 2011 / 0 comments

What happened is that I got way too excited about the previous post on conversation systems, and ran off to make the game Diego and I were talking about in comments.  A year later I’m still working on data structures.  But they’re totally rad data structures!  Anyway, I got all worked up about this post…

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Conversation in Games: Trigger, Branch, Repeat

April 23, 2010 / 11 comments

Bento Smile’s Air Pressure Why is there so little variety in conversation systems in games?  Conversation is one of the most essential and frequent things humans do.  It is a common source of interest, drama, and comedy in both real life and fiction.  It reveals character, it advances plotlines, and it uncovers information.  It’s hugely…

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Less Flicks More Bits

April 5, 2010 / 3 comments

The indie developer Craig “Superbrothers” Adams recently published a manifesto called “Less Talk More Rock,” based on a talk he gave at the Game Developer’s Conference.  It is a good and glorious thing that we have finally reached the “artistic manifesto” phase in the development of the videogame medium; let us rejoice and hope for…

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Darkfate (2009)

April 3, 2010 / 0 comments

Kévin Soulas’s Darkfate is a quiet little exploration game.  You move your avatar, Chris Freeman, around a series of large atmospheric pixel environments, and at certain locations you trigger a bit of story text that is presented as notes in Freeman’s journal.  Pretty standard stuff with some nice music and mood.  The help text, however,…

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Daniel Benmergui and the Gulf of Execution

July 12, 2009 / 0 comments

In the study of human-computer interaction, a user’s uncertainty about how a system will respond to her actions is sometimes referred to as the “gulf of execution,” in Donald Norman’s phrase. In useful software, of course, a designer tries to narrow this knowledge gap as much as possible, and the same is true of many…

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Triptych (2009)

April 18, 2009 / 0 comments

In Stephen Lavelle’s brief but dense Triptych, a decontextualized internal monologue similar to those he used in Mirror Stage (review) is broken to pieces by two intrusive elements.  First, there is a quasi-adventure game-style series of actions the player can take to explore a room. The feedback for these actions is interleaved with the sentences…

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Signifier (2009)

March 9, 2009 / 0 comments

Interaction in games can be roughly divided into two major parts: the actions that can be performed and the control scheme used to trigger those actions.  Intuitively, we often consider the ideal control scheme to be one so natural that it becomes invisible, so that your intentions lead to in-game actions without any thought spared…

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Mirror Stage (2009)

February 27, 2009 / 0 comments

Stephen Lavelle’s Mirror Stage is a trim and elegant little piece about exploring kaleidoscope patterns.  While there’s not much more to it than that on paper, the aesthetic effect outstrips the simplicity of the premise by a surprising amount.  The game builds up a lot of appealing disorientation through the design of kaleidoscope levels full…

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4 Minutes and 33 Seconds of Uniqueness (2009)

February 19, 2009 / 0 comments

Petri Purho has come up with a brilliant border case of a game in 4 Minutes and 33 Seconds of Uniqueness, the most memorable entry from the recent Global Game Jam.  Inspired by John Cage’s 4’33”, a musical composition without sound, Purho made a game of the same length with no interaction.  You win by…

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Coil (2008)

February 4, 2009 / 0 comments

In my review of The Graveyard, I implied that I’m generally unsatisfied by the most basic style of game storytelling: perform an action, get a cutscene, repeat. What I neglected to address is that there are some significant variations in this particular structure, some of which produce unusual narrative effects. One variation is to make…

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