GFi Comments by nobody
  • I’m kind of shocked that I watched all 20+ minutes of this. It’s fascinating! Thanks, juv3nal!

  • This is a much better article than the one I’d previously seen about this (possibly on Eurogamer? it included a line like — paraphrasing — “With a sentence like that one you can see why no one would want to actually read Ulysses“), but oh my god this article’s headline: “Ulysses as video game could make it more approachable, but not replace it, scholars say.”

    That’s like the games journalism equivalent of “Whitehouse unhappy with Supreme Court ruling, but won’t call for its dismantling” or “Pope embraces modern biblical interpretations, but says he still believes in Jesus.”

  • The freeform, abstract DLC levels, which are what I bought the game on Steam for years after playing it when it came out, aren’t available (as far as I’ve been able to tell) for the PC for some idiotic reason.

    Unclear whether this will please you or horrify you, Stav, but the DLC seems to be available, just not on Steam?

  • There are some bizarre things going on with that festival this year, and I’d guess it has to do with the intersection of money and ambition amongst its organizers. They’re apparently hosting Zynga, of all companies, and some sort of farm animal booth promoting Zynga’s charity work. I’m not so sure a regular ol’ corporate PR charity demonstration ought to count as a “Game for Change,” particularly when coming from such a despicable company.

  • (I forgot to add: I think you forgot to include a link to the article?)

  • That they’ve integrated this into Steam Workshop is really neat. We’ll see if people are willing to jump through the hoops, but it sort of means Steam will become a repository for a bunch of freeware stuff (with the caveat being that players would need to download the free version of Game Maker Studio before being able to grab any of them).

    It’s also neat that such a tool for making games will (at least in its somewhat crippled free form) be basically a click or two away from being in the hands of millions of Steam users.

    I’ll stand by GameMaker as a good piece of software (though I’ve only barely touched the Studio version — lots of bugs at launch, but that may be par for the course for those guys, and I guess they’ve probably been ironed out by now?). It lets a novice user start off with some fairly intuitive drag-and-drop game creating and shift — at any time, even within a single project — to programming directly in a language that looks a lot like Javascript, with the bonus being that many of the framework-specific functions will already be familiar from their drag-and-drop versions. (It also has a sprite editor and a level-editor built in, which removes quite a bit of friction from just diving in and messing around with things.)

  • It looks like the series ended up being not really about an alternate history of first-person perspective games, but rather a history of mods, starting with Doom (hence no mention of Doom’s antecedents in the first article). Oh, well. Still interesting, but not as much as I had hoped…

  • I’m sort of exhausted by the classist chatter on Twitter about this, but wanted to point out an excellent article by Rob Remakes describing his situation in light of the Greenlight fee.

    When reading that initial announcement over on Steam’s site, my first reaction, honestly, when reaching the first sentence about the fee, was that it must be a joke. Greenlight is already almost completely crowd-sourced, allowing Valve staff to ignore anything but the most highly voted-for entries and those entries that have been flagged as spam, etc. A paragraph that should have been building up to a smart technological fix for the discoverability issue (I mean, at least as of a few days ago it was randomizing the order of entries — as it should — but re-randomizing each time you went to the next page, meaning you’d see repeats and get to the last page without realizing you hadn’t been shown everything) instead introduced a money-based barrier to entry.

  • I think the damage multipliers are the ones carrying torches.

    And I got through to the end (indeed, it’s battle 50) without stun, but I did have the shield (“block”?) powerup (blue + priest). I probably didn’t play with maximum efficiency, as only four-of-a-kind matches were really worth it against the self-healing end boss, but I had enough health to just wait it out in the hope that he wouldn’t transmogrify one of the figures I was trying to align. (It helped that the shield also blocks the transmogrify power.)

  • Here’s the actual court document. I just skimmed through the screen-shot comparisons. There are a lot.

  • It only uses Gabe Newell’s comments as a jumping off point, but here’s a more in-depth look at why Windows 8 is a catastrophe for anyone in the PC space.

  • This is pretty fascinating. There seem to be so many market-altering implications here, I wonder if Valve’s economist might have some words to say about it? (I’d guess perhaps not, considering how delicate the topic might be with the big publishers?)

    Something I haven’t seen anyone address: is this ruling pretty much final or are there avenues for appeal?

  • This is so exciting. So glad that this he’s putting together a public blog.

  • The thought process to get to this wasn’t quite a direct line from the video — I was thinking through safe-ish ways to get someone out of that terminal velocity situation — but I’m not sure why I never noticed until now that the Portal games never involve portals placed on moving surfaces. I assume Valve probably played around with that and decided it wouldn’t be worth the disorientation effect?

  • I like that he’s trying things. I mean, if I were in his position I’d almost certainly self-censor this change-the-game-based-on-social-media-info idea because I can’t imagine it functioning in anything but the most superficial (and obviously transparent?) ways.

    Overheard snarky response to his/their first upcoming ‘game’: it looks like Peter Molyneux’s putting out a Cow Clicker clone.

  • Link is working now. And he’s posted a followup in which some Blizzard folks respond.

  • (I’m getting a gateway timeout on this…)

  • We can only hope one day another post will arise to which the same tag can be appended.

  • Whoa, it seems kind of surprising in retrospect that no one’s attempted something like this yet (especially after glancing at your post from a couple years back). I wonder if a big part of the barrier to entry is how the space theme might demand more sophisticated graphics. They seem to have embraced all sorts of extra complexity above the MineCraft model, especially with the deformable terrain underlying the block-shaped building materials, and, of course, with the physics stuff.

    It looks like the company only started this year? The video sure makes it seem really far along, no?

    [By the way, either AVG or Windows Firewall popped up a javascript obfuscation attack warning on the Full Glass Empty Clip page. Unfortunately I closed it out before taking note of the details. Possibly a false alarm, of course, but it does seem like there have been a bunch of site hacks over the past few months…and now I’m a bit hesitant to go back to check right away.]

  • It’s curious that both articles happened to be published on the same weekend, but Michael Walbridge just finished playing through all 250 available Molyjam games and has a write-up drawing some conclusions about the whole endeavor.

  • Whoa, I don’t know if one is supposed to be able to access this so easily, but if you look at the javascript source file there’s a significant amount of behing-the-scenes commentary (commented out, naturally). I’ve only just started browsing through it…

  • (excuse the typo: ‘arem’ –> ‘are,’)

  • I felt the same shock of cognitive dissonance upon first seeing EA’s marketing department’s choice of bundle naming, but I find the counter-arguments pretty compelling: arem for example, Braid and Fez to be excluded from the ‘indie’ side of the venn diagram because they were published by Microsoft?

  • Here’s a follow-up/clarification by Taylor Clark.

    I have to say I’m not convinced, and I suspect he’s got some fairly ironic blinders on: he acknowledges that not all games are dumb, but it looks like he hasn’t come to the realization that the ‘dumb’ games are the ones that he, himself, is compelled to play all the time. (Otherwise the article still doesn’t make much sense to me.)

    From a separate angle of critique, here’s a response from a 10 year veteran of a handful of those big budget ‘dumb’ games. The pull-quote: “when you are a writer, every problem looks like a writing problem.”

  • Very charming. The last level took me a bunch of tries, most of them ill-conceived, but it felt like a satisfying lynchpin solution in the end.

  • This is a much better article than the pull-quote might suggest. I think it’s a bit silly to be talking about Kickstarter backers as though they were investors — the hypothetical 10k backer mentioned at the end of the article is really just donating money to receive some series of rewards, including, eventually, the game itself to play; unless the whole thing’s a complete fraud I bet they’ll get their dinner with the developers (or whatever) even if the game never gets completed — but I found myself agreeing that most of his pessimistic predictions will probably end up taking place. (He does, however, seem to think backers of a game that ultimately ends up needing to going to a publisher for additional financing are deserving of more than what they were initially promised. Is he assuming the publisher will renege on sending out copies of the final game to these, in essence, pre-orderers?)

    For what it’s worth, I’ve only donated to one Kickstarter project. I thought of it as nothing more than a half-price pre-order, and it did turn out that the folks involved did not have the skill to expand their already existing and enjoyable little Flash game into something more substantial; nor did they have the self-awareness to realize this, even after the fact, showing hope even then that their game might be accepted on Steam. (Note: They later released a “Season 2” update at no additional cost, which I’ve never gotten around to bothering to try out. The initial “Season 1” release was so buggy and so badly designed, and it has turned me off a bit to the whole Kickstarter thing.)

  • A couple nice pullquotes from the article stavros just linked to:

    We assume people know what they’re doing. On Half-Life 2, one of the engineers made a bunch of really bad decisions. There was no monitoring system along the way so it took us about six months longer than it should have for us to catch it. It cost everyone on the team a whole bunch of extra work.

    The terminology we use internally is “individual” and “group” contribution skills. A group contributor’s job is to help other people be more productive, and in doing that you sacrifice some of your own productivity. It’s a higher stress job and you get interrupted a lot more. People will do that for one project. They’ll say, “I really want to do this game!” and everyone will say “Ha ha ha, you’re stuck with it now.” At the end of the project they’re like, “Gee, that was really interesting but I want to go back and work individually on the next thing.” Some of the highest compensated people at the company are relatively pure individual contributors.

  • Thinking about this further, I think there must be some negatives to the culture at Valve that aren’t apparent from the official rule-set, and I imagine they must have to do with certain aspects of the ingrained culture there.

    The tip off: Why did Kim Swift need to leave Valve to make Quantum Conundrum? Couldn’t she have simply put together a small team there? Couldn’t she even have pushed to hire people specifically for her project? Isn’t it supposed to be that simple?

    Similarly, if 100% of everyone’s time is discretionary, wouldn’t you expect to see a whole bunch of small projects coming out as people form ad hoc teams to make something on a smaller scale than the big releases? (I guess that was sort of the promise of the Half Life episodes, in a way, but those were still just continuations of an existing franchise.)

  • I’m about 150% of the way through, I think (though don’t know for sure since I was using a guest account and the completion percentage is only visible on the inaccessible to me leaderboard screen. It’s an amazing game, and would be even if not for the central 2-d/3-d conceit. I can’t wait to find the time to head over to the XBox’s apartment to play more.

    Related to this article, apparently the soundtrack — on sale at Bandcamp — has secret images embedded that can be revealed through spectral analysis. That might explain the directionlessness of the last part of the monolith search?

  • Oh no! This one is a lot more puzzle and a lot less reflex, in case it was the twitch-reflex parts that made you angry at VVVVVV, but there’s still a good chance you won’t like this if you didn’t like that.

    Personally, I think VVVVVV is such a great game. Now I’m curious what sort of platformers you have liked.

  • A version where the screen rotates to match the current gravity direction might make things a bit more intuitive. (As it is, the ‘stars’ in the background are always moving in the fall-direction).

    There were definitely a few spots I handled by trial and error, going through all possible move permutations until stumbling upon what I was missing.

  • This is such a good article. I’d like to read an infinity of articles about what Valve is like from the inside.

  • I ended up deciding this one might be general-interest enough to post over on MetaFilter, and was sort of surprised by the tame response. Likely I should have framed it better instead of letting the concept stand on its own. My inclination is to think that this may be an Important Project, however frivolous most of the individual variations might be, but in that regard I guess it’s a conceptual piece and not necessarily satisfying to those looking for a game to play.

  • In the late 90s I was interested enough in FreeCell to start playing through all the hands in order — if I recall, the version included with Windows 95 kept win/loss statistics for you, and that was incentive enough — but I don’t remember how many I played before eventually needing to buy another computer. (Apparently it was fewer than 11,982 of them.) And I never noticed until now that the version of XP I have installed since then doesn’t seem to include the game at all.

    But at the time, at least, FreeCell seemed like a revelation, a solitaire game that was a true puzzle game, with no hidden information and thus no luck in play beyond the initial deal.

  • For the record, I feel a little bad about the snark in my comment above (and misspelling ‘time-sink,’ but my job means I’m talking about sync much more often than sinks, I guess). More likely than not I’ll probably end up appreciating this one from afar again, but, like with Minecraft, I do expect to appreciate it.

  • Double, but this one is better-framed so I think we’ll let it slide. (feel free to scrap the earlier one — and this comment, too.)

  • (And, for the theoretical person who stumbles upon this and is interested, but who doesn’t have a Windows machine, it looks like someone posted a playthrough video to youtube.

    It also looks like the game is 5 minutes long, not the 15 we were estimating, and that the extra tin-foil piece I added to the fifth room, worrying that it was too much of a hint but seeing from playtesting that something was necessary, is in fact not a large enough hint at all. The person who made this video did it the hard way, which I’m a bit surprised is even possible. The easy way is excruciatingly easy, but I guess more obscure than I thought. If you watch the video, you’ll probably recognize the easy solution as they’re leaving the room.

    (Also, I guess the child character still can get stuck on the doors in the in-engine-sort-of-cutscene room toward the middle, but luckily I added some protections for that so it’s not a game-ending bug. What’s dumb is that I even coded — but didn’t use anywhere — invisible barriers that bystanders bounce against but bullets and the player pass through, and totally should have set those up there to keep the child a block away from the fully opened door position. Oh, well. 48 hours. And first game ever.)

    I’m also thinking of adding two more game mechanics and maybe just releasing a set of stand-alone bonus levels, but we’ll see if that happens. Typing this here for motivational purposes.

  • Overheard on the internets, which made me laugh: “16bit computer in 0x10c sounds cool, but the bullet point “real game features” leave[s] me skeptical. Can Mojang do that sort of game design?”

    This sounds neat, but I remember almost signing up for Minecraft in its first few months of Beta but deciding I’d rather wait until the adventure stuff got worked in. I guess I was lucky in a way, because by the time the Adventure Update was released a couple years or so later it was clear what a massive time-sync Minecraft was for everyone. (I’m likewise probably lucky MMOs didn’t exist when I was a teenager.)

    But this does sound super neat. (But was the Minecraft Adventure Update even really all that gamey in the end? If one had little interest in building or socializing, would the Adventure feel like a complete single-player experience?)

  • (And now Rock Paper Shotgun says “These Automatic Arms has the best of all names and is a thoroughly entertaining take on the tweet.”)

  • (Oh, it looks like Terry Cavanaugh posted my game on his site. That’s pretty gratifying.)

  • I did make something for it, and missed out on Internet April Fool’s day as a result!

    Maybe you would like to play These automatic arms.? (Windows executable, 35MB zip file).

    First game ever for all three of us, but I think we’ve made something hopefully not uninteresting. It’s a bit of an action game, so maybe a touch against the spirit of the event. Unsure.

  • An unfortunate thing about the higher levels, particularly somewhere around 70, is that you can be playing a near-on perfect game, with every single square on the board flagged or revealed, but still be unable to proceed due to the new lines on the bottom having too many gaps built into them already. (I’ve had this happen only once or twice so far, but I suspect it’s because I’ve seldom had that ‘perfect game’ state at such a high level.)

    Possible counter-point: this may mean you just need to play faster, earlier, since I believe new lines appear at the bottom on a timer, not based on how many pieces you’ve dropped.

  • Hard mode: 692,115.

    This game is elegant in so many ways. You have to start remembering what the mine count is to see by how much it’s changed when the next piece drops, and then making logical deductions based on that and which numbers have just changed adjacent to the new piece. Sometimes you get lucky and can determine that an entire new row on the bottom of the screen must be completely safe to click on (quickly). At the moment I still just register when a square’s number has changed, not by how much (unless focusing on that square alone). Still room to grow. Hard mode is satisfyingly hard.

  • Whoa, there’s a little bit of story here!

  • Alone Together in Journey is a wonderfully written travelogue by Brendan Keogh, focusing on the multiplayer experience.

  • I’m excited about this. It looks like I may even make something for it, too.

  • I think I enjoyed watching this — it’s fun to see things broken down in this way — but, man, it’s almost bizarre how clearly wrong/invalid most of his arguments and statements are. I mean, to take the headline statement as an example, there are tons of spatial games that aren’t violent, and the video even shows over a dozen of them.

    But to break things out a bit further, his thesis has a couple steps to it:

    1. Computers are inherently geared toward spatial simulation, above all other sorts of things games can be made out of. [Obviously incorrect. His spreadsheet/database game examples are so much closer to what it means to be a computer at its core.]

    2. Violence is a natural result of looking for concrete, player-graspable rule-sets within a spatial simulation. [I don’t see it.]

    While this sort of technological argument would be elegant if it were valid, the place to look for answers as to why X% of video games are violent would be the marketplace/culture surrounding them (and from which they spring). Why are so many of the big, blockbuster movies violent? Is it something inherent to celluloid?

  • When me and my anonymous buddy first encountered those things we immediately, instinctively tried to hide behind something to avoid being spotted despite not even knowing whether (or how) they could harm us.

    We happened to have no buddy the first time they showed up, and we knew they were bad, but we were totally lulled into a sense of security by the game until the red spotlight was shining directly at us, after which it was either too late to do anything or we didn’t manage to maneuver sufficiently out of the way in time.

    But a neat little multi-player moment from a bit later in the game: The second time the dragons showed up, in the snowy mountains, we immediately went for cover underneath one of the small igloo-like things. Our online partner, on the other hand, tried to rely on our earlier faulty strategy of simply running around to shake off the spotlight. In doing so, s/he ran right in front of our igloo as the monster was attacking, and it broke the entire structure down and took our scarf anyway. It was a nice little surprise, since I imagine that would never happen without the other player around.

  • Bug report: if you lose while going in a horizontal direction and don’t press any other keys on the game over screen, your score will increase indefinitely.

    Small note of pedantry: Surround predates Tron by around 5 years. I always assumed it was the direct inspiration for the light cycle game (but I had to look it up to make sure my childhood memory wasn’t deceiving me).

    Lastly, I was going to ask why there aren’t any Surround/Tron clones out there on smart phones (esp. with Snake finding its way onto so many pre-iphone/Android phones), but then I remembered: Hard Lines

  • Hm. I guess that spoiler button doesn’t work. (Entire last paragraph after the colon should have been hidden from view.)

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