Archive for March, 2009

GDC quicknotes

  • Computer = dead. Have been endlessly checking and re-checking email on iPhone instead. I don’t ordinarily go, “Gee, I’m so glad I own an iPhone!” but during GDC, that’s been my constant refrain. I know, I know: Mac users are so annoying.

  • Met @gkokoris for lunch! Hurrah! Will also meet for dinner, along with Steph of Eliss (and possibly others).

  • Met with Miguel of Spooky Squid Games at 1:30pm (scoop forthcoming).

  • Emily Balistrieri was standing in a long line in front of the Apple store. When she saw me, she cupped both hands to her eyes, miming binoculars.

    I stepped into line with her. “What are we waiting for?” I asked her.

    “Hideo Kojima,” she said. “You know. Metal Gear Solid Touch?”

    I looked at her as if she were crazy. We traded notes on what games looked good to us. She’d just come from interviewing Pixeljam.

    “You’re a nerd,” I told her, “for Pixeljam.”

    “I am!” she agreed. Even the Pixeljam guys acknowledge Em is their biggest fan.

    The line started to move, and we waved goodbye to each other.


Wear silly hats.

And the number one way to market your indie game? “Wear silly hats,” recommends Phil Fish.



Come for GDC, stay for the IGS

I really grinned endlessly at Brandon’s “Slouching through Wednesday” post at Offworld, not only because I was there (at the… inadvisable… ehm), and not because I, too, slouched through Wednesday (and—I’m a weak girl—Thursday also). Brandon writes,

In a way, I wish the IGS was why we were all here, and that it could go the whole week through: especially this year there’s a palpable energy and even more a sense of purpose and community to the indie game devs. As more people leave their salaried positions to set up shop for themselves, there’s a definite (and in some cases, outright spoken) sense that This Is What We Should Be Doing, and There’s Room For All Of Us, and Let’s Not Let Anyone Else Get Left Behind.

And that’s the heart of things: I literally have absolutely nothing else to add to that.

Brandon McCartin lists the IGF 2009 winners here, and the video is here. No, you’ll never get away from That One Photo of Phil.

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Scarygirl game ready for lift-off

In the comments, Touch My Pixel’s Tarwin Stroh-Spijer says,

The [Scarygirl] game is almost ready to play (going through final approvals), but in the meantime we’ve got this juicy final trailer for you, which should show a lot more of the game than you saw last time.

The Melbourne-based Touch My Pixel team has worked well over a year to bring the art (and toys) of Nathan Jurevicius to life. Scarygirl, a browser-based 2D platformer, will star everyone’s favorite eyepatched heroine in 14 levels of gameplay—which include, according to Tarwin, “platforming and adventure elements, as well as physics-based bike riding and even a street Street Fighter style fighting game.”

I cannot wait for this to come out.

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Overheard: GDC afterhours

Scott Sharkey is phoning me.

“Is that you over there? Standing lonely at the corner?”

“I am not lonely,” I tell him. “I was twittering.”

“Well, come over here, where we are,” Sharkey tells me. I squint at the intersection. A hundred feet away, Sharkey is waving.

Inside, I sit down across from Cactus. He frowns at me.

“You’re… Sharkey’s friend,” he says.

“You ate my snack mix,” I remind him.

Later in the night, Cactus will offer me potato chips.

Cactus presents Derek Yu with canned herring from Sweden.

“That isn’t legal,” I tell him.

“It’s legal… if I… didn’t show it to anyone at customs,” Cactus says.

Too late to worry about that now: we ate it all! Verdict? Pretty tasty, actually.

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SutraDS: Sex in the palm of your hand!

Eric at Tiny Cartridge already wrote about SutraDS, a homebrew DS catalogue of sexual positions, and reading about it made me choke, like, three times.

So first I will show you the screenshot Eric graciously pixilated for you.


And then I will simply direct you to his (not safe for church) entry:

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Fanmade ‘Link’s Awakening 3-D’: nostalgic, three-dimensional

20-year old Jordan Mullen is hard at work on Link’s Awakening 3-D. He’s finished a ton of the environments, and with the 2D pixel textures wrapped around 3D models, it looks really nice.

Zelda 3D interior

Now, though, Mullen isn’t sure whether to use the original 2D sprites from A Link to the Past, or to continue modeling each of the sprites one by one in 3D. I personally submitted my vote for “a mix of 2D and 3D,” but as of this writing, the votes are split exactly down the middle.

Check out more of Mullen’s work here.

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Daily Linksplosion: Thursday, March 19, 2009

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This is what we’re going to next week

So Adam of, curator of Game Over: Continue, was in town to work on the upcoming gallery show.

“Did you go to the first one?” Adam asked me.

“N-no…” I admitted. “But! That’s why I’m definitely coming to this one. Guilt!”


Game Over: Continue opens at GRSF on March 27. Check out the list—there’s art from trailblazers like CUPCO, Jeremyville, and Bigfoot. Plus, four special game/art installations will be playable in-store.


T-shirt Thursday: Everyone’s doing it, so why don’t we?

I’ve been thinking a lot about T-shirts lately.

That is to say, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to pay for Infinite Lives. And if you think of a niche blog as, um, a college radio station, the answers to your funding questions are: yes, a phone-a-thon; a grant from Annie May Swift, ideally; people who will work for free, of course; lots of free press in Spin magazine; a T-shirt!

The going will be tough, though. Everyone and his mom has a T-shirt, after all. Today, Phil Fish’s Polytron Corporation announced their brand new T-shirt shopthis design is so, so wearable.


And Flashbang Studios tweeted their overdue design for the Off-Road Velociraptor Safari tee. I’d wear it!

But more importantly, what would you wear?

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Daily Linksplosion: Tuesday, March 17, 2009

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Tripping to the blips of Bit.trip Beat

Kevin Bunch’s Otocky retrospective reminded me that Bit.trip: Beat just arrived on WiiWare!


After rearranging my Wii’s disk space to accommodate the comparatively large download—catch you on the flipside, Paper Mario—I settled in for some truly excellent, old-school synesthesia.

Bit.trip: Beat is a paddle game: think Arkanoid, Breakout, Pong or, ahem, Circus Atari. Here, though, the paddle control is gracefully approximated by very gently rocking the Wii remote forward and back. As with classic paddle games, the controls are ‘twitchy’ and require only very fine movements.

Your onscreen ‘paddle’ (which is to say, your avatar, or, you know, the line) moves vertically along the far left of the screen, and little pellets fly onto the screen from the right, hurtling toward the paddle. And the point is to hit them. Simple. Each pellet represents a kind of a musical note, too, so as you bat the pellets away, the game’s melody emerges. So far, easy enough.

But as you progress through the game, the choreography of the pellets becomes increasingly intricate. Soon those specks are weaving in and out of one another, changing shape and size, or cruelly altering their course midflight. In that way, Bit.trip: Beat is a classic gamer’s classic game: it’s all reflexes and pattern memorization.

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Spain gets its videojuegos on

LAN party at the cinematheque!

Taking residence in a movie theater (this theater, actually), Madrid’s Cinegames combines the flair of Captain EO with the special effects of Alien Encounter. Lights flash and adjust to match the action on screen. “Then we have the smoke,” explains developer Enrique Martínez. “If there are accidents or a car burns rubber, smoke appears.”

The result: a distinctly theatrical, shared experience among gamers who might ordinarily stay home. Yes, please.

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Synesthesia in early gaming, NES style

To say the NES’s musical capabilities are famous is an understatement. With tunes like the Super Mario theme and the soundtracks to Mega Man 2, Castlevania, Contra, and dozens of other games, the system’s little sound chip can pump out some incredible music. The NES is practically a founding member of the chiptune musical genre, alongside such luminaries as the Commodore 64 and the Atari 800. Thus when I heard about an oddball, Famicom Disk System-only ‘musical shooter’ entitled Otocky my interest was piqued.

Otocky is the brainchild of Toshio Iwai, known more recently as the developer for Nintendo’s Electroplankton, and was released in 1987 by the ASCII Corporation. You play a weird little orange thing with cartoony eyes, arms, and legs that flies through inconsequential backgrounds populated with even stranger enemies. Your objective is to collect musical notes to fill a meter at the bottom of the screen, at which point the stage will end and you will face off with a giant, foe-spewing musical note. You must then fire off your collected musical notes at the holes in the boss until you’ve used them all. You can collect a bomb power-up, and your normal, boomeranging shot can be tweaked by collecting certain items.

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Daily Linksplosion: Monday, March 16, 2009

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