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1  General / Check this out! / Being There by Jordan Magnuson on: October 22, 2012, 05:00:25 AM
This game is beautiful. It is friendly. For those of you who don't know, it's a text-based game. When you use a word it doesn't understand, you forgive it because it's not trying to challenge or defeat you - it's trying to show you something, trying to give you joy. I played it a while ago, around the same time I tried Knytt and decided I wanted to maybe make games myself. Replaying it now, I'm struck by how great it is - like a good haiku.
2  Creation / Technology / Re: I want to make something, instead of thinking about how to make it. on: September 28, 2012, 06:23:25 PM
I think that programming is fundamentally different from something like painting or music. I do both, and I feel a definite shift in my state-of-mind when switching between the artistic and engineering aspects of game-making. This is, however, during the development of a game engine. Once the game engine is completed, I'm going to try to make it so I can manipulate things using the mouse in real-time. From what I've tried of visual programming (A little bit of Puredata), it works better with simple relations, and it's very good for experimenting. I agree with what people have said earlier about real-time programming being a lot better than the process of changing something, compiling, and seeing what it does, like a film photographer. I think visual interfaces aren't more popular because they're pretty domain-specific -- good for visual or musical programs, but not for much else. I don't have much experience, but that's my feeling. I think a visual interface might be cumbersome for implementing something like AI, and probably wouldn't work too well for text-based games. As for the "pressing cursor keys to make paintings" idea, I'm not sure if you're referring to the procedural generation of art or something else. I think most big game studios have ways that artists can arrange things to their liking after the infrastructure is completed.

By the way, there are a lot of neat real-time programming systems out there, many of them designed for audio/visual live-coding (programming as a performance art, a pretty new thing). The one I'm most familiar with is Supercollider, which I'm planning on integrating with a game at some point. has a lot of info on these.
3  General / Check this out! / Re: Alpha build of Bientôt l’été now available on: September 27, 2012, 04:44:48 PM
Wonderful! I was ridiculously excited when I heard there was a new alpha. All the graphical additions are excellent, and I especially like the 'clouds' when you're in the cafe. The bench at the end of the world is also a bit mindblowing. The blur effect and the increased (I think) usage of bloom lighting makes things more intense and dreamlike, so I like this. The wet area of the sand on the beach seems to receed now, although this might be a side-effect of the bright sand; in any case, I like it. Also happy to see splashes, although they could definitely be more substantial. The blur effect is great, and also makes it look like wind is blowing the surf. I feel like there are more phrases in this version, which seemed to even out the tone. Previously, the conversations felt a bit more hostile to me, more like a breakup or misunderstanding. There's more happiness now. Of course, that may just be an anomaly, but I like it. I'll have to post more of my thoughts on the new version after I've played it a bit more.
4  General / Check this out! / Re: Noctis on: September 02, 2012, 05:46:42 AM
axcho: You gotta send for help. There should be a menu for emergency functions -- select 'distress beacon' and wait a bit, then a craft like yours will come and give you fuel. The whole deal with fuel is part of Noctis's weird simulation-ness.

Mans: Yeah, I replay Knytt all the time, just because it has such a lovely atmosphere. I like how Small Worlds tells a bit of a story in each little world. I should try playing Fallout 3 for the exploration aspect. I enjoy this about the Zelda games. Ultima Underworld is another nice nonlinear exploration-heavy rpg; it's for dos, and can probably be easily found via google. Games like Myst are also excellent. A lot of games have interesting worlds, and it can be a lot of fun to just experience a game like that -- walk in a direction, just to see what can be seen.
5  General / Check this out! / Re: Noctis on: August 31, 2012, 09:57:05 PM
Glad to see someone else has experienced this obscure gem  Cheesy
There aren't many of these Exploration Games, but you might want to check out Knytt or Seiklus. Both are platformers that have minimal challenge (There are a few puzzles in each) and lovely atmospheric worlds. Although they aren't procedurally generated or simmy like Noctis, I think they have a similar feeling. Both are highly recommended. There is also a recent flash game called Small Worlds that's in a similar vein. All of these are free.
6  General / Check this out! / Noctis on: August 29, 2012, 10:01:44 AM
Rather old pseudo-space sim. Features randomly generated universe made up of billions of stars, each one with planets that can be explored. Exploration is the only thing to do. It was written for DOS in assembly, but in the year 2000, so it's rather difficult to run speedily on dosbox. It is, however, quite magnificent. It appears as if the man coded his own 3d engine from scratch, because it looks like nothing I've ever seen. Just wondering if anyone had heard of it or was interested. The link explains more:
Seems like a notgame to me - no challenge, only travel and discovery.
7  General / Check this out! / Re: Alpha build of Bientôt l’été now available on: August 18, 2012, 08:01:16 AM
Another thing:
The phrases come in on the waves too frequently. I think they should come in more sparsely, like every 5th wave or something randomized. It feels too rapid-fire, walking along the beach and collecting phrase after phrase.
8  General / Check this out! / Re: Alpha build of Bientôt l’été now available on: August 18, 2012, 07:39:19 AM
I'd like to say that I really like it. I feel like the minimalist atmosphere of the beach contrasts nicely with the dialogue of the cafe. I love the idea of it, that you have to communicate using someone else's words, and you must use your imagination to figure out what's going on, the subtext, and when we're done you must go and ponder and receive inspiration from the ocean.
I only realized it was a holodeck after reading your description of it on the blog. I thought it was just a sort of self-awareness of the program's videogame-nature, and I think I like it to be vague. There doesn't need to be another level of make-believe, you're already in that future, using that holodeck.
I really like the chess-board, although I've had trouble with lifting the chess piece only to find that none of the options suits me. I'd rather have a drink than just put down the piece. Although I suppose it doesn't matter too much -- lifting the chess piece is an action.
I have mixed feelings about the switch to mouse control. On one hand, it feels less like I'm steering him around, it feels more organic. On the other hand, I feel more distanced from the avatar, and I think that he walks too quickly. The latter is probably a technical issue that needs to be worked out. As for the distance, it might be mitigated if I didn't have to point to an area of the ground -- if I'd just click, and he'd simply move forward if my mousebutton were held down.

Smaller thoughts:
I feel like the expanded number of potential lines of dialogue in the 2nd alpha could be pruned a bit.
The music is wonderful, reminds me of the Void soundtrack.
I can see some artifacts, the edges of a rectangle, in the surf waves, which annoys me.

I'll probably think of more later, and as I play the game more.
So far, I really like it.   
9  General / Check this out! / Anyone heard of thecatamites? on: May 19, 2012, 06:46:42 AM
Of Space Funeral fame. The 'gameplay' of his creations is usually just a vehicle for surreal humor. This is an instance where Gameplay is humor's bitch. Very accessable. Drill Killer, Crime Zone, Ghost Voyage, and Space Funeral are all recommended; they are beautiful and notgamey. 
10  Creation / Notgames design / Re: The contradition of the narrative avatar on: May 13, 2012, 01:31:17 AM
Hi everybody, I'm new here. I have a deep respect for all of you pioneers in the new medium. Hopefully my thoughts make sense. I've been comparing and contrasting 'The Graveyard' and Jordan Magnuson's 'Grandmother' in terms of interaction and the degree to which characterization is used for the avatar. 'Grandmother' gives the player a shell-avatar and makes the action very interactive - after walking to your grandmother's grave, you clean it with a sponge in an intuitive fashion. In 'The Graveyard' the avatar is the core of the experience, particularly her slowness, and the end action is non-interactive. 'Grandmother' was more affecting for me, and I think this is because the interaction method was more direct and I wasn't being forced into a character. I felt more present, because the shell-avatar allowed me to exist in that space as myself. On the other hand, the way 'The Graveyard' uses the avatar is quite interesting, conveying a certain feeling of being that person. It was frustrating, because all I could do was walk her to the place, but it made me think about the character, whereas in 'Grandmother' the avatar-character isn't very important. These two different motives: action/character, doing/being, are interesting. The first two Ice Pick Lodge games, Pathologic and The Void, are different in this respect, with Pathologic's avatar more concrete and characterized (of course, not to the degree of 'The Graveyard') and The Void's avatar nameless and faceless. I like Pathologic better, maybe because there's more for me to relate to - it isn't set in a world of existential metaphors like the latter. I think that having a shell-avatar with more direct player interaction (in The Void there is much more direct manipulation of the world via mathematical rules and relations that have to do with a physics engine; in Pathologic it is mostly about pre-written dialogue trees) means that the world has to be more easily represented by a computer - it has to be abstract, mathematical. I couldn't relate to a world too much like that, but I also couldn't relate to a game with a very highly-characterized avatar that doesn't represent me at all. I think a balance needs to be maintained between the two. 
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