New Words Are Up!

I’m still writing, but all those words are currently elsewhere. Go check out my review of The Photo Album – a theater piece that involved game play and augmented reality by The Story Gym at The Brick Theater. It’s on PinkRayGun!

I also have a review of Bioshock Infinite up currently at Searching For SuperWomen! There are spoilers for some of the twist ending because I had to talk about why Elizabeth’s clothing was just… extra annoying and kind of icky. I mean, there are a ton of other issues with that game, but that REALLY got to me.

I’m working on some new ideas, so stay tuned!

A machinima play grows in Brooklyn

I wrote about a play that I saw at The Brick Theater in Brooklyn. Check out my review on here!

I will be writing more there and a couple other places, but will try to make sure to have links to the articles here. And I assume will still occasionally write about game design here. In the meantime, enjoy!

Global Game Jam 2013 – Achievement Unlocked!

WP_20130126_001I managed to survive the Global Game Jam of 2013 mostly intact, (although very tired)! Friday, we were greeted by Frank Lantz and the NYU Game Center folks with both a youtube Game Jam keynote and the theme, which this year was a heartbeat. There was some element of “oh we’re all connected by heartbeats” in the theme (which you’ll see if you watch the video), but that ended up not being the direction my group went in any way at all. Well… at least by the final idea.

The order of events was basically: Come up with game idea, try to lure a team together to build it, hash out issues of the game idea and propose other game ideas in group, pick favorite, build initial prototype and see if it works, and flesh out in art/design/game elements/narrative and code from there. There were teams building a samurai game (which won), a geography bee game that required dancing on hacked Dance Dance Revolution pads, gorgeously innovative games about relationships and circulation and a few great board games! Everyone was friendly, collaborative, and helpful while also a bit competitive.

monster screen shot Our team was awesome and the idea we ran with quickly shifted into a survival horror style game. We had a 3D artist who was jazzed about building a monster. We had a horror fan writer who helped create a backstory that influenced the design of all our art elements. We had a musician who composed and recorded some amazing music and sound effects. We had a programmer who was our MVP. We had our idea guy who coordinated between the artists, the musician and the programmer. And we had two arts people, me and another guy, who basically brainstormed with everyone and built out art assets that were necessary for the mood and story of the game, along with menu screens.

I found my role ended up being support designer, product manager, art director and general counselor and backup deadline person when everyone was at the end of their patience. It was a really amazing experience and I feel like it was also the gateway drug for me building more games.

tumblr_mhayxu60VO1s4v4myo1_1280Our game had a tumblr for all the elements being pulled together – here. The premise was that a monster is coming for you and can only find you by the sound of your pulse. You are trying to find the supervisor who has the keys so you can get out of the warehouse where you work the night shift. The faster you run, the louder your heartbeat is and the faster the monster will find you. You also can’t stay still because it will find you eventually anyway. All of this accompanied by creepy creepy music inside a tight, claustrophobic, dark space and you only have a flashlight to find your way.

The game was completed in a broken and bumpy form, but it was done! Considering our huge effort, and that we worked from roughly 8pm-ish Friday night to 5pm on Sunday evening with zero pre-made assets (except for some crates) and no pre-made game mechanic AND having to break the base coding of the first person player’s acceleration in Unity… I’m impressed with us. Especially as during the everyone-play-all-the-games part, almost all the folks who came by to play it were made uncomfortable/scared/anxious/etc. Only one person won the game! Unfortunately our win and lose screens didn’t quite work… but whatever! Close enough!

I want to do more. I want to fix what we have (some tweaking, cosmetic fixes, and perhaps adding to it so there’s a learning curve). And hopefully we’ll find a way to get it uploaded onto the Game Jam site or somewhere so people can play it. I also have a bunch of ideas I want to play with and I am JAZZED UP! Let’s do this!

Torsos, Reasons, Global Game Jam, and a Tech Revolution!

Hey! Been a bit, but I figured I should make a note of being quoted in GiantBomb, along with a bunch of other brave and fascinating women (incredibly honored to have been included among them)! Fair warning, there is a gory, decapitated, boobtastic torso that may have escaped the set of a Jaws Takes the Thames movie involved. Check it out here!

Why of all people was I asked to comment? Because I said something in reference to this torso situation about #1reasonwhy, which had been a huge and pretty amazing speaking out by industry people of why there are not enough women in the games industry. This particular episode is just one more in the many ways in which certain elements of the game industry keeps forgetting or trying to ignore an entire 50% of the population. Not everyone is on board with this though, so I keep having hope!

In other news, I’m participating in the Global Game Jam that’s starting tomorrow! I have no idea what my contribution will be to the team I end up with, but I expect it will be fun! And exhausting! There’s going to be a tumblr that we’ll post to, so I’ll try to link to that as soon as I get a url.

And last but not least, the tech scene in NYC is getting kind of amazing as NYTM (New York Tech Meetup) is working to consolidate the influence of the tech industry to affect public policy and change within the city for the benefit of everyone who is affected by technology. I personally like the push for educational opportunities for all New Yorkers to learn skills applicable to working with current technology. Because if there is any resource NYC has a lot of, it is people. Check out more about that here!

NYC Mobile Gaming Summit is Tomorrow!

So it looks like another gaming summit is happening in NYC. This one is focused mostly on mobile gaming, which has been one of the biggest growing markets in technology in general. If you’re interested in attending, you can get 15% off on the ticket by clicking through here! I believe this is the first Mobile Gaming Summit, so this should be really interesting! I unfortunately cannot attend, but follow Stacey Horricks on twitter for updates! Happy Gaming folks!

Making Games in NYC and Five Excellent Rants – NY Games Conference

The NY Games Conference (held at The Jewish Museum on September 6th and organized by Digital Media Wire) was really intense and amazing. There were many panels and fireside chats focused on the monetization and distribution of casual, mobile and networked games with a room of game studios and indie developers showing off their work. There was so much to take note of, and lots of words of wisdom, but it ended up that my favorite part was the final session which consisted of rants by five game developers. These rants were actually very informative with regard to the industry, some of the perceptions of the industry especially in NYC, and some of the issues that we need to deal with overall.

First off was Jason Schreiber of Powerhead Games, who jumped right in and started yelling about the fact that NYC and NY State have almost no incentives to lure new media entertainment and all of the usual incentives are still focused around film and television. The crazy thing that he focused on is that so many other states and cities have tax incentives and other opportunities for game studios. Even Texas has something, and you know NY likes to compete (or mess) with Texas. At least I always thought we did. Because of this, the NY region is not especially friendly to game studios, and yet NYC is a hub for technological innovation and venture capital firms. The lack of actual support by the city and state for game studios makes it harder for upcoming studios to move to New York or want to stay if they end up founded here. A few have, of course, but not as many as you would expect. We need to compete!

Rent is too damn high Brian Wane of SMERC Games followed with a rant on respecting branded games and pushing back on the claims that branded games mean being a sell-out. Considering NYC is generally where people come to make money and that the majority of this conference was about monetizing games, this is a hilarious rant to have to make. As he pointed out, branded games often actually get played by regular non-gamer people. He did make a point that he didn’t want to just make crappy branded games, but games that were actually fun to play while also having a brand behind it. He also pointed out that NYC is expensive and put up a “Rent is Too Damn High” slide. This is the meme that will never die because it is just so very true. Read the rest of this entry »

8-Bit Stories #1 – Joust

(This is an experiment. Let me know what you think! Send suggestions of games!)

The smell of the vultures was finally getting to me. After days of training and preparation for this first match, I still was not able to fully ignore the stench of rotting meat they gave off. Their riders weren’t much better, as they were apparently living in those red leathers and not bathing at all.

“Why do you think they don’t at least take their helmets off?” asked Blue, sitting down and letting his tray of food clatter on our shared tabletop.

“Maybe they’re not actually human?” I suggested, looking over at the red riders again. I couldn’t tell, but I thought one of them might be looking back.

“Well, it’s amazing their leathers are still red at all. I mean… have you smelled them?”

“I’m smelling them right now. Thanks for the reminder,” I said, putting my fork down. The red rider I thought was looking at us waved at me and I raised a hand automatically before shuddering and putting it back down.

“You gonna eat that Coward?” Blue asked while grinning, his blue eyes reflecting the color of his flying leathers. We were both new, and signing the employment papers immediately wiped our identities giving us color designations. Blue had decided that being yellow and the primary meant I deserved any joking nickname he could come up with. Ignoring him seemed to be the best response so far.

“No, go ahead. It was just a snack as I’m about to go up” Blue nodded in understanding as he scraped my food onto his tray.

I watched as Blue dug into his food with gusto. We were sometimes on the same side, but every once in a while our competition to win meant we “accidentally” took each other out in practice. This could be the last time we’d see each other, but acknowledging that was too hard.

I sat for a few minutes before my nerves got to me and I left the cafeteria, heading to the Pit. The sound of the crowd filing into the arena seats echoed through to the Pit where the vultures and ostriches were kept. I found my assigned ostrich Tiktik quickly by his brilliant blue feathers and walked up to him to check over his gear yet again.

“Ready young’un?” said the old man who took care of the birds. His gnarled face and hands and spry step seemed out of sync, but the birds loved him as nameless as he was now.

“As I’ll ever be.” I said, swinging up to sit between Tiktik’s augmented wings, gripping tight the reins that would help me communicate with him until they dug into my palms. The old man handed me my lance and I cradled against my ribs.

“You’ve done good so far, just gotta crush those Reds and stomp on their eggs. We don’t need any new Reds in the Pit, although we’ve got plenty of vultures for ’em.” he said.

I paused for a moment and turned to him. “Before I go out there, could I ask you a question?”

He shrugged. “If I know the answer, sure.”

“What are they?”

“Aliens? The dead come back? Goblins? Never did figure it out. All I know is they’re creepy and stink, so go kick some in the butt,” he said. He winked at me, and I knew he must know the answer but couldn’t tell me now.

“If I come back, will you tell me?” I asked.

“You’ll know by then. You always know when you fight them what they are. Enough of that. Good flying.” he said. He smacked Tiktik on the leg, and he leapt forward straight into the transporter beam.

The sudden roar of the crowd upon our entry into the arena deafened me so I couldn’t hear the introductory beeps. I braced my lance, heard the drone of the Reds being transported into the arena on the floating platforms above me and kicked Tiktik into motion.

Here we go.


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