I was bawling as I sat on my couch, watching various names scroll across the TV screen before me. I grabbed my phone to text someone, anyone. I needed someone to anchor me to reality. Because this? This was just so, so sad.
I have come close to crying in a movie theater, but I’ve never actually cried. The closest I’ve come is when I saw the climax of Toy Story 3. I don’t cry in movie theaters. I don’t like the moment when you exit and you see someone’s ruddy cheeks and nose and the stains of old missed tears stuck to their face. It feels like you’re intruding on a private moment. A moment shared with dozens of others.
Movies have made me feel many things. Games have made me feel fewer. I have grown attached to game characters, I have watched in disbelief and shock as something horrible befell them and their polygons were lost to me forever… At least, until my next new game playthrough. I felt twinges of sadness, but never anything more than that. Never have I felt even the urge to cry.
And yet there I was, sitting on my couch in my apartment and crying ferociously over the end of the Walking Dead. I’ll admit, when I first felt the urge to cry I was weirded out. I remember thinking, “Video games don’t make you cry.” No more than a minute later I decided to let go of my silly preconceived notions and just let loose.
After a whirlwind of a week, I’m back from San Francisco! This Game Developers Conference was just as breathtaking and exciting as the last, but in many different ways.
I was a conference assistant again, but found my time in the CA Lounge to be very limited compared to last year. While a bit of a bummer, the high quality of the talks I attended and the contacts I was able to make made up for it.
The day I’ve been waiting for is finally here: Bethesda has released the Creation Kit for Skyrim.
Apparently it uses a new scripting language called Papyrus. They claim that if you’ve had experience with modding Bethesda games in the past, it shouldn’t be too tough to understand how this one works. Bethesda, of course, provides a bevy of tutorials for understanding quest creation, level creation, and scripting. Those can be found here.
I highly recommend getting into the Skyrim modding scene. The community has been nothing short of helpful, giving, and passionate in the past. They’re an extremely friendly group, and I expect awesome sites such as UESP to have dozens of great tutorials within the next week.
The Creation Kit can be found in Steam. Click on View up in the top left, then click on Tools. The Creation Kit will be in the list.
I already am starting out on learning Papyrus, and once that’s mastered I hope to have a relatively fleshed out quest and corresponding dungeon done by Friday afternoon. Keep an eye out if you’re a Skyrim player!
Cheerio, and happy modding!
I was an avid Oblivion player and modder. I didn’t submit anything to sites–something I regret doing now–but I was only in high school and still unsure about my skills. I played or modded Oblivion every day, for at least an hour. I balanced that with advanced placement classes, being captain of a club volleyball team, being a starter on a softball team, hanging out with my friends, and being an active volunteer in the community.
Gun Fight was released in 1975 on arcade cabinets everywhere within the US. Prior to that, however, Gun Fight had an interesting history. It was originally entitled Western Gun in Japan and was designed and programmed by Tomohiro Nishikado, of Space Invaders fame. It was published by Taito and released in Japan and Europe. The decision was made to then adapt it for Western audiences. This would be the first time a Japanese game was licensed for release to America. The title was changed to Gun Fight because it was thought that American players may find the current title odd or confusing. Dave Nutting and Tom McHugh of Dave Nutting Associates adapted the game for its new audience, making a few changes along the way.
Tom McHugh programmed Gun Fight a little differently than Nishikado—his programming and architecture called for the game to use an Intel 8080 computer microprocessor. It was the first arcade game ever to use a microprocessor, and the smooth frame rate and crisp graphics caused others, including Nishikado, to use microprocessors to their advantage in the future. Visually, Gun Fight was nice to look at—it ran at 60 frames per second at a resolution of 265 x 224 pixels. It made use of a black and white raster monitor with a yellow screen overlay, allowing the characters to look a bit more colorful than their counterparts in competing cabinets.
This here is the video my partner Casey and I had to create for our game, Into the Darkness.
Into the Darkness is a game where the core mechanic is painting your surroundings in order to see where exactly the you are in relation to the environment around you. With this, players can see if there’s a pitfall at their feet or a wall in front of their noses. Players can also use the paint mechanic to push objects around quickly, albeit with less precision.
The story behind this game is simple–the emphasis in our class was more of a proof of concept rather than a narrative masterpiece–and oh, did it pain me to have a generic storyline!
The player is trapped in an underground lab and must make their way up to the surface. There are traps awaiting them, in addition to a creature stalking them in the darkness. The player must escape the creature before it rips them apart.
Female characters in video games can often be described as slight variations of one of three archetypes: the helpless, hapless damsel in distress; the coquettish, alluring vixen; and the cold-hearted, distant embodiment of stoicism. In addition, the majority of women in games are heavily and overtly sexualized for mass male consumption, thereby providing slight variations of the same visual across several different games. Many lauded video game members have taken issue with the current state of women in games and have offered their own viewpoints in order to fix it. Leigh Alexander writes in an editorial for Gamepro Magazine that characters such as Bayonetta “[take] the video game sexy woman stereotype from object to subject” in which “the game itself is an artistic representation of the concept that female sexuality is its own kind of weapon.” Others disagree, believing that “characters [should] reflect the harsh lifestyle of their world in a much more believable way” (Hamm). Both offer interesting yet opposing solutions. However, both solutions can go much further in creating believable or truly empowering female characters. The hypersexualized dominatrix invoking female empowerment is a dramatic knee-jerk response to the objectification of women in games. The normal, average woman with a matching attitude and manner is currently the method being taken for game developers wishing to inject their games with respect for females. Video game females can be so much more than either of those two proposals. The change the industry needs for their female characters is to make them more multifaceted by giving them unique strengths, weaknesses, quirks, and personality traits. Female characterization needs to evolve to better reflect where females are today, instead of the antiquated false notions of what they were and perhaps should have been in the past.
I still have not recovered from GDC, but that’s alright. I had such a great and amazing experience, it was definitely worth every hour of sleep that I lost. As I’m sure you can find elsewhere on the net people extolling the virtues of attending GDC, I will say this: if you can be a conference assistant at GDC, be one. Apply early, write one killer essay, and hope for the best. Being a conference assistant was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my life thus far, and it is one I’m sure to never forget.
Below is an academic one page write-up I completed mere seconds ago for an indie game entitled Blueberry Garden. With a charming and eccentric aesthetic and catchy music, this game is definitely an experiment whose main focus is the players, and using them as the core mechanic.
Blueberry Garden is a Steam game that retails for 5 dollars and won awards at IGF and the Swedish Game Awards, in addition to critical praise on many game sites. Blueberry Garden is a platformer that the player is thrust into with no exposition, no instructions, and no clue as to who you are, where you are, and what this game is about. It is a game about curiosity and wonderment. It is also a game that tests the player’s abilities of discovery and persistence. Read More…
Interface Design: a type of design I never thought I’d be too terribly interested. Oh, how very wrong I was.
The Interface Design class is easily one of the best I’ve taken here at USC. I highly recommend it to all. Chevon is a wonderful instructor and I was extremely glad that I was lucky enough to have him as a professor.
Below is my final paper for the class.