Monthly Archives: March 2015
A question about Hadean Lands from the tweet gallery: "Have you written anything about how you approached designing the alchemical system?"
Excellent question! The answer is "No, but I should, shouldn't I," yes okay. (Thanks @logodaedalus.)
My twitter-sized reply was "Sound cool while supporting the puzzles," but I can say more than that.
(Note: I will start this post by talking about HL in generalities. Later on I'll get into more spoilery detail about the game structure. It won't come down to specific puzzle solutions, but I'll put in a spoiler warning anyway.)
I am pleased to announce The McFarlane Job, a short interactive caper story that I developed for House of Cool late last year. I built it with Massively, their new platform for creating and distributing IF that resembles SMS conversations.
While Massively has commercial aspirations, this game is free for all to enjoy. To play the game, download Massively onto your iOS or Android device, create an account, and then search for “McFarlane Job”.
Keeping to the pattern of IF I have written before, this game is quite short, so I shall say no more about the story. I shall instead say that it benefitted from Katherine Morayati’s expert QA, and enjoyed additional development by House of Cool’s Dylan McFadyen. I would very much welcome bug reports and other feedback!
Shout-out to Jim Munroe and the Hand-Eye Society of Toronto for organizing WordPlay, the November event which allowed me to cross paths with House of Cool, leading in turn to this work.
For the past few weeks, my partner and I have been striving to get out of house more, a tonic against the crushing isolation of Newport in winter — made all the worse on us as newcomers with few local friends. A couple of weekends ago we attended a board game meetup at my favorite local coffee house, our first such event since leaving our Boston-based circle of tabletop-loving friends. We didn’t know anyone there, and had a great time.
In the same vein, and at the same time, I decided to finally try Ingress. More than one friend of ours treats this game as a significant personal pastime, and I’d felt curious to examine it for months just from my usual semi-pro game-studies perspective. Ingress presents itself as an augmented-reality game that gets you exploring your neighborhood in a new way, and I imagined something like Geocaching: the RPG. It seemed like just the thing to escape a wintertime rut, at the cost of stomping around through snow and sub-freezing temperatures.
Well: the game is ostensibly like that. I had terrific fun for the span of a single weekend, but it ended up souring on me quickly. Before a week had passed, I had deleted the game from my phone, and found the willpower to keep it off. My problems with Ingress stemmed from how I found myself unable to stop playing the game. I don’t refer to addictive, repetitive play, here, even though it does involve a bit of level-up grinding. Rather, I mean that I felt literally unable to enter a state where I was not playing Ingress. I would put my phone away, I would get back to work, and yet I was still playing Ingress. I found this total bleed-through of game and life initially novel, then uncanny, and finally uncomfortable, especially once I started interacting with other local players. This culminated in an angry and cowardly action my part, the last thing I did within the game world.
Before describing this negative effect any further, I shall describe three inarguably positive experiences I enjoyed via Ingress during that first weekend.
In case you're wondering, nobody hassled me about how long the rewards took. Apparently you folks really were in it for the game -- or to support me, which is even nicer.
However, I bet there are people out there who are working on Kickstarters. And they should be warned: it always takes longer than you think. To substantiate this, here's a timeline of Hadean Lands work that came after the game shipped.
Note that I did lot of reward design in December, but didn't order the stuff until early January. That's because I knew I would be out of town for the last week of December. I didn't want expensive parcels arriving when I was gone.
Tags: hadean lands, if, interactive fiction, kickstarter, postage, zarf, zarfplan.
Yesterday Valve lit up their Steam Machine store page, offering previews of the upcoming Steam-based gaming consoles. (All "available November 2015".) It's a somewhat preposterous range of hardware -- sub-$500 boxes up to $5000.
I am not and never have been a connoisseur of graphic-card model numbers. ("More digits is better, right?") Come November, I'm going to have to browse a lot of tech-rag web pages to figure out which way is up.
I did a little of that browsing today. Naturally it's all handwaving at this point, and this post will only throw more hands in the air. But here are the first two articles I found:
- Steam Machines Are Back (Sean Buckley, Gizmodo)
- The PS4 and Xbox One Have Nothing To Fear From $500-$5,000 Steam Machines (Paul Tassi, Forbes)
You can read the articles if you want, but the headlines sum it up. Either the Steam Machine is a rising force in the console market, or it's a laughable dead end. Journalism!
I can't speak to the market appeal of these things. But I was excited by the original Steam Machine announcement of 2013, and I still expect to buy one this fall. Why? Many factors converging.
The season of GDC-and-PAX is upon us, which means more gaming news than any one human can hope to digest. And yet, I will burden you with a couple more snippets.
The AdventureGamers.com site, which has been reviewing adventures in various forms since 1998, has opened a web storefront specifically for adventure games. Hadean Lands is in the launch lineup, as are several other indie highlights: Dominique Pamplemousse, Lumino City, stacks of Wadjet Eye and Daedalic titles, etc.
(AdventureGamers.com gave Hadean Lands a super-nice review back when I launched.)
Note the Adventure Gamers Store currently only offers Windows versions of these games. (They say they hope to add Mac/Linux in the future.) Also, everything is currently priced in Euros. (You can buy from the US or anywhere else, don't worry.) I've set the HL price at €4.39, which makes it a fractionally better deal than the $4.99 price I've got everywhere else. Snap it up before the winds of currency conversion shift!
And in other news about places that sell HL...
The Itch.IO site has just announced that they will start taking a share of game revenues. (For most of their history they have been a completely free service.) This change will happen on March 23rd.
Unlike most platforms, they are going to let the game author decide what cut Itch takes of their games. They suggest 10%, but the author can move that slider anywhere between 0% (author keeps all the loot) up to 100% (donating all revenue to support Itch).
This is a sweet idea, and very much in the spirit of the Itch service. I am happy to support it by offering them the same 30% taken by Apple, Steam, and (for that matter) the Adventure Game Store. You can buy HL via Itch here.
Occasionally someone asks me about porting System's Twilight to a modern platform, because setting up a Mac emulator is a pain. I figure that someday the Internet Archive's Software Library will have it, and I'll just point there.
(In fact JSMESS already supports early Macs, but I don't know how to set it up for a single game on my web site.) (No, this is not a task I intend to tackle right now.)
Anyhow, I started checking the status of the Software Library last night, and got distracted looking through the Apple 2 section. I played a little of this and that -- games I remembered from my childhood -- and then my attention was snagged:
Penqueriel Mazes (19xx)(Sadistic)
Yes, that's me.
Tags: apple 2, if, interactive fiction, internet archive, juvenilia, mazes, penqueriel, praser, zarf.