Ludum Dare: What to Do When the Theme Isn’t Working

It’s inevitable. When the theme is announced, more than a handful of people don’t know what to do with it. The theme might be too esoteric or vague. The theme might be too restrictive. It could suggest a particular kind of game, and that’s not the kind of game they want to make. Maybe they just simply don’t like the theme. We’re a diverse community, and so the theme doesn’t work right away with every one of us. This was me when “An Unconventional Weapon” was announced for LD 32. If this is you, this post is here to help you work through the theme so you can get to working on your game. Don’t give up at the start because you don’t like the theme! Remember, Ludum Dare is about making a game. The theme is there to help. This post is meant to be encouraging and helpful. Continue reading

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Projects From 2017

Hey all. It’s been over a year since I’ve written anything here. I haven’t much felt like writing about things since I’m not yet established in a somewhat stable job, but I’ve been working nearly every day of the year on one project or another. I wanted to spend some time today writing a tiny bit about each of the projects I’ve worked on this year. This is helping me organize my thoughts about what I’ve done, but also allowing you some little insight into my world.

This will by no means be a comprehensive list. I’m sure that I’ll forget something or another along the way. I work on a lot of projects, and some are just one-offs that I forget about. That said, I keep copious notes about projects, so I’ll be going through that.
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Disseminating the Fantastic

Like with my posts on the uncanny and the abject, I am here providing the raw text of my description of the fantastic, a literary genre described by Tzvetan Todorov in The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. The fantastic (and Todorov) is extremely straightforward, but this particular theory is actually key to the work that I’ve been doing. As such, I may have spent a bit more time describing it than needs be, but I want to make sure everything is clear (something you can help me with). In any event, here is the text of the final theory being described by my thesis.

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Trash: A Story of Uncertainty – Postmortem

Last week, I participated in Mini Ludume Dare 53. A mini Ludum Dare is a much more relaxed version of the full version, and it usually has some specialized rules. The number of entrants are usually much reduced (this one spawned 63 entries). In the case of Mini Ludum Dare 53, the rules were quite the same as a regular Ludum Dare (make a game in 48 hours with readily available tools). I chose to participate in the mini LD mostly because I’m moving next month right after the full Ludum Dare event, and I wouldn’t have the time to participate then.

For this mini LD, I made a game called Trash: A Story of Uncertainty [download link]. What follows is my postmortem, a look at how I made the game and what I was trying to portray with the game. As with all of my postmortems, if you haven’t played the game, then reading further will completely spoil everything that the game offers, so if you haven’t played the game, read on at your own risk.

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What We Make Will Be Interpreted

Today, Nintendo issued an apology to its fans about not including same-sex marriage as a possibility in the game Tomodachi Life. This is essentially the end of a journalism and marketing snafu that started last year and has been bubbling on the internet for a few weeks now, since the announcement of the game’s release outside of Japan. I’m going to give a very brief description of the events that transpired, but I’m not going to go into detail. If you want that, Christian Nutt has written a very good article about what happened and why it’s important. Please see his article if you want to know more. It started with some Japanese players making opposite sex Miis in Tomodachi Collection: New Life and making them look like the same sex so that they could marry, which was misconstrued due to a bad translation that the game included same-sex marriage and that this was a bug that Nintendo intended to patch out. The game never included same-sex marriage and it wasn’t removed, but because of the bad translation and rumormongering, Tomodachi Life was on everyone’s radar. So when it was announced for western release in April, a petition spawned to have Nintendo include same-sex marriages as a point of equality, to which Nintendo offered a response, which was received very poorly. Two days after the response, was when Nintendo issued their apology and pledged to make future Tomodachi games more inclusive, stating that they could not retroactively redesign the game to allow same-sex marriages. That’s about all I’m going to say about the situation. Again, if you want a more in-depth look at the issues here, take a look at Christian Nutt’s Gamasutra piece. He explains it better than most I’ve seen. Instead I’m going to talk about something that comes from Nintendo’s first response: “Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of ‘Tomodachi Life.'” This is going to be about understanding what happens when you make something and put it out there.

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Field Notes for Catherine

For my class on understanding games and impact, we have to describe 60 minutes of gameplay. As I mentioned in my last post, I have chosen to analyze gameplay from Catherine, a game about a man who has a supernatural nightmare that mirrors his real-life dilemma of choosing between a life of marriage or a life of fun. I chose to record my playthrough from start to finish and have divided the video into digestible chunks. In this post I will be providing the video and then following each video will be a description of the mechanics described and used in the game, as well as how the game progresses through its narrative. A side note on the structure of Catherine, as I describe in a previous post, the game is divided into three parts. The first part is a climbing block puzzle, the second deals with narrative decisions that affect the resolution of the game, and the third is a section of narrative feedback, which describes the results of the player’s performance in the first two parts. Keep this in mind when viewing the videos.

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Summer in the City

Greetings again readers! I have come to tell you what has happened during the summer while I was off doing other things. And the answer is… a whole lot of not much. Exciting isn’t it? I haven’t done much updating in the past two months simply because there hasn’t been much to post about. There isn’t much to say now, either, but I figured that I can’t ignore WordPress for much longer. So without any further ado, here’s what I did this summer.

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