Staring down a hard weekend

November 19, 2009

I’ll be working twelve hour shifts this weekend. I don’t know how that will affect my work here at ADITMO, or on the IF I intend to write. It’s a crap shoot. There’s the potential that I can get a lot of writing done, and then there’s teh potential I’ll be tied up and buffetted about the entire time.

Still, I’m hopeful. I’m most productive on my side projects while I’m at work, and i’m staring down a weekend that seems tailor made for such things.

On a different note. One of the things I’ve been considering is whether or not I’ll start hosting games through this site (ahem, once I’ve, you know, done all the behind the scenes work I want to do).

As it stands, because I spend so much of my day at a place where games are generally firewalled, I have taken to downloading my vaforite swf’s and taking them with me wherever I go. As a result, I’m sure it wouldn’t be all that difficult for me to just go ahead and post them once the site is ready to handle it.

Something to think about. anyway.

Could My First Game Ever Postpone My ADITMO dreams?

November 18, 2009

Started talking to a friend I haven’t really been in touch with for months. It’s interesting in that she and I have been dancing around the possibility of collaborating on a creative project for some time. Enter Jay is Games’ 7th Casual Game Design Competition, and at least the stage is set for a collab to come to fruition (I’ll post a link to the compo page when I get home tonight).

I don’t know that this will actually happen. The time constraints of the contest and the fact that I’ve never made any kind of game, IF included, means I need a partner, and if my partner can’t jump in on this one, then maybe not. But I’m telling you, I love this moment, when the inspirations and promises of a new project hit the creative nerves like a hurricane… truly wonderful.

If I do go all in, our deadline for this contest would be Jan 31. I wouldn’t, of course, halt all ADITMO preps between now and then, but I would say that ADITMO would take backseat to the compo, and I would naturally push the launch time for ADITMO to sometime in February.

Progress Report

November 18, 2009

Last night I sat and chatted with an old partner of mine, laying the initial groundwork for getting ADITMO up to 100% capacity. Also, I have been taking the opening steps towards establishing how this site will be organized. Part of this organization involves the writing of a ton of blurbs or short essays, and over the course of 2 days, I’ve got five of them done so far.

Still an AWFUL lot of work to go, and an awful lot of people I need to get back in touch with. Also, I’ll be asking for feedback in the coming months from anyone willing to give it, so please keep your eyes open and your opinions handy.

A Work In Progress

November 16, 2009

I think today is the day that I finally made the decision as to what I want to do with this site, and my online writing career (if, indeed, you could call it a “career”).

The truth is, I haven’t really written anything of import since September, though I felt half motivated to change that since then and now. It’s just trickier now than it used to be. I first started as a solo political blogger, not sure where I was going or what I wanted, but positive that in only a year or two I would be this wildly famous voice for… well… for something, that would be for damned sure. That’s not how things happened of course.

I’ll spare you the long and somewhat sordid history of where my journeys in online writing took me. I’ll only say that I’ve been some interesting places (metaphorically), spoke to some interesting people (corresponded is more accurate), and accomplished much I am proud of. Hell, I’ve even pulled in a paycheck for the words I’ve written, something that, two or three years ago, would have been little more than a pipe dream.

And so here I am, 32, and looking at re-kick-starting my writing career again for the umpteenth time. Not much is firm about what this next plunge in the world of words will bring, but I’ve two guidelines, compass needles that I hope steer me true as I make my way to what one hopes is an amenable final destination.

1) When I recommence writing, it will be to a purpose and it will be planned. I’m not foolish enough to think that once my path is selected I will not veer off that path for nothing, but I think I’ve finally learned that if I hope to have any measure of success a plan not be necessary, but at least the general flavor and shape of a plan would be beneficial. All this to say that I’m going to take my time getting ready to start things up again, and when I do, I’m going to do so with a certain amount of deliberation and even caution.

2) I’m going to stick with gamingj. On twitter today, Gamezebo highlighted this NYT article that at least partially informs why independent gaming remains such a cherished passion of mine.

Let’s face it, I’m a product of my generation; video games are the medium that grew up with us. We watched these creations evolve from Pong to Modern Warfare 2. Think about that for a moment. What other medium of creation had so humble of a beginning as pong? Cave drawings were more sophisticated in relation to the Mona Lisa than Pong is to, say, Metroid Prime 3. This was, as I grew from child to adult, the meter of a counter culture. Just as kids before me watched Rock and Roll evolve into Nu Metal and Alternative, or Superman evolve into Spawn and The Maxx, I watched mushroom stomping plumbers evolve into trained tactical espionage experts with reptilian names.

Now, at 32, with a wife and two kids, the Wii sits in my living room as a testament to the possibility, even the probability, that my days as a “hardcore gamer” are over. I’m now, for want of a better word, more casual than hardcore, and more indie than mainstream. Of course, there are still holdovers, tributes to my youth. In betwee Wii Sports Resort and Dance Dance Revolution sit Metroid Prime Trilogy and Dead Space Extraction. Resident Evil 4 and the Umbrella Chronicles stand there defiantly reminding me of when I used to care about frame rates and graphic intensity. About button mashing and feeling the sweat trickle down your forehead as the blood splashes across the screen.

But there’s the kicker. Even though I still have these mainstream titles, 90% of my gaming remains independent. I’ll tell myself that tonight, after the kids go to bed, I’m going to finally beat that tenticle boss at the end of level 6 in Dead Space, but instead I’ll find myself three hours later trying to figure out how to get past the first Epic Boss in Gemcraft Chapter 1. I’ll play my brother-in-law’s Playstation 3, and indeed, the graphics will be gorgeous, but the aesthetic beauty found in the PS3’s titles hardly match in my mind the more metaphysical beauty found in Roehrer’s pixelated offerings. I’ve yet to come across anything in the mainstream that is as deep as Gregory Weir’s Silent Conversations or Bars of Black and White, nothing as just outlandishly freaky as Cactus’s Mondo duet, nor any story at once as heartbreaking or as uplifting as Kyratzes’s House at Desert Bridge.

Within the world of independent gaming there is this lush jungle of textures for the spirit and soul. It’s not just a choice between which kind of badass hero with which kind of badass weapon goes after which kind of badass enemy. There’s depth and sincerity and more often than not an invested effort towards introspection. To this degree, I disagree a bit with the developers talked to in the article linked above. From Blow to Roehrer, they all speak as though there is still this uphill struggle to turn video games into an acceptable forum for the creation of art. In my mind, we’re already there. Okay, sure, you’re not going to see single games being sold in galleries for thousands of dollars, but each medium is different in the way that it defines success. All that matters is that the vehicle is being used to express, to package thoughts and emotions and ideas in powerful ways and subsequently given to the public to experience.

Across all mediums, the creation of art has still this thing in common–the artist creates, expresses herself, and the audience experiences. That’s really all that is necessary, Roger Ebert can go screw himself for all that. Almost two decades ago a virtual god in the world of video game development said the following in an interview:

I think great video games are like favorite playgrounds, places you become attached to and go back to again and again. Wouldn’t it be great to have a whole drawer full of “playgrounds” right at your finger tips?

Mr. Miyamoto’s words have never left me from the moment that I first read them so many years ago. Now, I find that most of my fingertip playgrounds are not shrinkwrapped in plastic on store shelves for 50 bucks a pop; they’re downloadable for chump change, or more often, free online. The swingsets and slides I’ve grown most fond of more often than not can be played right in your browser. When you’ve played some of these titles and seen the blood, sweat, and tears that were poured in until they start to leak out and spill onto you, it’s not hard to see how I’ve grown so passionate about this world of independent gaming.

So yeah, this site will be dedicated to indie games, and casual games, but not yet. Like I said, if I’m going to do this, I intend to do this right, so I’m going to spend some time making sure everything is in place before I do. I have some folks I want to talk to, and some old friends I want to dig up. There’s some organizational stuff I need to handle, but I’m hoping to be in a position to do this thing here sometime early in January. Until then, the only updates I intend to post here are how things are going in working to that goal.

Until then, should you feel the need to catch more of my raves and rants, you can always follow PROTIPZ on the twitterz.

News: Is One of the Greats Going to Call it Quits?

July 21, 2009

If you’ve ever played a game by developer Cactus, you’ve had the opportunity to sample some of the best, and most bizarre independent games available. Cactus simply has that ability to take you to places few others can, and then he promptly leaves you there to fend for yourself.

Thus, it is with some sadness that the following shows up on his blog:

Also… I probably shouldn’t mention this, but I’ve been thinking more and more about not making games anymore. The last nine months have had quite a few highlights, but overall it’s been the worst time in my life. Maybe things will change, though. I don’t know.

Whatever is best for the prolific developer is of course what he should do, whether or not he continues to make games. But I know I’m far from alone in saying that his strange touch would be greatly missed throughout the indie gaming world.

Site News: Throwing out the trash

July 20, 2009

In order to get this blog up and fully running the way I want I’m going to be spending time this week deleting a lot of the old posts. The first to go will be the music posts which are all mostly blocked by YouTube these days anyway. I’m going to keep JE up for a bit so I can make sure I get a the chapters copied down and saved somewhere safe, but pretty much everything not game related is going to get erased.

Review: MoneySeize

July 20, 2009


It’s been a while since my JiG review of MoneySeize and I STILL can’t put this game down!

MoneySeize is a platform game of the ridiculously difficult variety. You play Sir Reginald MoneySeize and your goal is to collect 1000 gold coins so you can build the world’s largest tower. Getting these coins isn’t easy as they are scattered about in fifty plus rooms filled with traps, enemies, and perilous jumps that will challenge even the most adept of platform players.

What makes MoneySeize so good? Lots of things really. The controllers are fast and loose, but responsive like a finely tuned sports car. As such, once you’ve acclimated yourself to the gameplay, it hardly feels like you’re even using your hands but instead controlling little MoneySeize with your mind. This is handy considering that the levels are viciously difficult and often times collecting all the coins will have you relying more on muscle memory than anything else.

Yes, you’ll die, and die often. There will be rooms in which you will rack up deaths in the hundreds before you’ve cleared out all of the coins. But what really makes this such a delicious challenge is that many concessions have been made to allow the player to take this game at his or her own pace.

First, you are granted access to several rooms at a time as opposed to being forced to play all the levels in order. This means that if one particular level is frustrating you to no end, you can take a break by playing another level that will frustrate you to know end and have you pining for the last room that was making you pull your hair out.

Second, as long as you make it to a room’s exit alive, you can save your progress for that room. That means you get to tackle rooms at your own pace. If you’re a platforming god, you can feel free to scoop up most or all the coins in a level in one shot. If you’re like the rest of us, you can nickel and dime your way through a level until it’s finished.

The ultimate effect is that MoneySeize at first looks impossible, but you eventually come to realize that if you just stick with it long enough, you can overcome. Now, I’m not suggesting you may not want to throw your laptop or keyboard through a window from time to time, but the rest of the time you give to MoneySeize will be time well spent.

Knightfall 2 Coming Soon

July 20, 2009


UK based developer, Megadev, has some big news coming. The sequel to its awesome match-3/rpg mash-up, Knightfall, should be dropping very very soon over at Armor Games.

The first Knightfall featured innovative game play and more than a few twists on the old match-3 puzzle genre. We have quite a bit of faith that Megadev took the old formula and ramped it up to make a game that’s bigger and better in just about every regard.

Kyratzes To Release New Work Soon

July 20, 2009

Salivate over this if you will:

Jonas Kyratzes remains one of my favorite indie developers. He is, in my estimation, among the best story tellers in the world of independent gaming, so I’m sure you can imagine my excitement upon learning about this upcoming release.

My anticipation is redoubled considering that not too long ago, Kyratzes actually hinted that he might give up making games completely. This would, of course, be a great loss to we who travel off the beaten path to get our gaming fixes. It’s unclear whether this is his swan’s song or not, but at least we get to enjoy his vision for at least one more title.

Without playing, my initial thoughts are somewhat mixed. The story behind Phenomenon 32 is intriguing. In an alternate Earth, a “reality bomb” is developed and its hellacious power is unleashed upon the world. Nearly all of humanity is wiped out with the exception of a small cadre of colonists on the moon. The tentative fate of mankind is further threatened when the moon colony begins to run out of resources. The only way to save the last of humanity is to send a mission back to the Earth to collect supplies if any remain.

It’s an ambitious plot, and one that Kyratzes is well equipped to deliver. But I also have to admit some apprehension. Kyratzes usual millieu is that of the point and click adventure. Phenomenon 32 is a metroidvania style platformer, and this means that Kyratzes finds himself in a field full of excellent titles. The thing about point and click style games is that there’s only so much you can do with the actual gameplay and the focus usually centers around the plot and puzzles. With platformers, the gameplay is the focus, and the most well intentioned platformer can be sucked under into mediocrity by poor controls.

Seeing this movie alleviates much of my fears, though. From the look of things, this game appears to be smooth as silk. From these few minutes of footage, it looks like Kyratzes is seeking to meld his trademark excellence in creating the perfect atmosphere, with high quality platforming action and discovery.

In other words, this game simply can not drop fast enough. We need to get our grubby little hands on this as soon as possible! Stay tuned here, or keep your eye on Kyratzes’ website for when it drops.

Could ADITMO make a comeback?

July 19, 2009

Is it possible that ADITMO could comeback?

In short, yes. I’ve been contemplating bringing it back for a while now, but if I do it will look a little different than it has in the past. If I come back, it will be almost completely as a gaming blog. I’ve got a lot of different things going on right now, so there may be more of this in the future, but just know that I may be digging out the old bilateral defibrilators on this thing.