On stuff.

07/10/2011

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Forgive me for another huge long blog post, but I've been stuck in a house with cats for a week and I'm enjoying the opportunity to use words with consonants in. I want to write about the future, because it's just like the present except you don't have to do it yet. It's also made entirely out of platonic forms and hope. The future is the best place to hide vulnerable emotions like hope, because no one will ever be able to find them to crush them.

I originally wanted to get into games design to get rid of all the silly plots and characters that had been free-loading off my synapses for years. The bludgers just kept breeding and producing new ideas, and I figured the sugary pill of paid employment would eradicate them all. I thought about being a writer, but decided against it because I enjoy having money and self-respect. (So obviously, I became a student.) 

We're all in our final year at RMIT, and it's been really fun. We do arty-farty stuff, and writing exercises, and make mods, and sculpt 3d models. The only downside is that we have to trade in this cozy patchwork world for the real one. There's only limited space under this doona, and you have to get out of bed sometime, even if you do have cold feet.

"What chance do I have" I wonder, often now. But it's not useful to be negative, except in certain medical or electrical circumstances. I can't remember who said "We have seen the enemy, and he is us", but I'm sure he was lots of fun to be around. Sometimes I think I'm the only optimist left in the world. 

So this project is pretty important, as it will be the last of its kind. All our other projects have been consumed, sent away to zoos or otherwise tamed for the domestic market. This will be the last wild game we make. Maybe one of our group will try eke out a living in the indie jungle. Perhaps we will all live in the city and tour the countryside on the weekends. Maybe we'll breed little baby games in our backyards as a hobby, or spend our lives splicing genes to determine the toenail colour of huge honking beasties. Maybe we'll stack supermarket shelves.

I'm quite sure the future will include play, because play is everything. As you get older, I think playfulness gets directed into certain areas. Flirting, cooking, decorating, pets and children. These are adult ways to play. The rest of it all seems very serious. And it seems to me when a person is serious for a long time, they get used to it. And it becomes comfortable and familiar, and eventually it happens that you can't remember feeling any other way. But there's always more future, and you can keep fun in there too.
 
 
At temperatures below 30 degrees, anything exposed to the air dies. Flesh freezes solid. Capillaries in the skin writhe and burst. Nerves shut down, then wake up screaming hours later. Fingers blacken and split. Hope evaporates. Dreams of homecoming perish. Memories fade. Thoughts other than food and warmth shrivel and die. Your only change of survival is to cut yourself off from the world. 

Fortunately, there's a Wikihow to tell you how to do it. I wouldn't want to be a polar explorer before the internet.
 
 
So far I've talked a lot of guff about possibilities, ideas, and vague desires. But ideas are worthless. They aren't real. 

Here's a list of things we've actually decided. I've divided them into nouns and verbs; things and actions. 
Games are made out of nouns and verbs (and sometimes adjectives and adverbs too, if they're complex games!)
Being an interactive medium, games are all about the verbs. If the action is fun, then you've got a pretty good game.
So far we have a lot of nouns, and not so many verbs. That's ok! We have weeks, and nouns are easier to think about first.

Nouns
  • There are 8 people.
  • They all have predefined roles.
  • Scott is the leader.
  • There is an inventory of stuff.
  • The inventory contains food, a stove, fuel, animal food, sleeping bags, science equipment and a tent.
  • The inventory may also contain fears, hopes, and memories.
  • They carry all the stuff on sleds.
  • They have individual items, which is aligned to their predefined role.
  • Scott has a diary.
  • There are x dogs and n horses.

Verbs
  • The objective is to get to the pole and back.
  • The three main activities are walking, camping and rationing.
  • Being the leader, Scott tells others what to do, chooses what equipment to take, allocates resources and decides the route.
  • Over time, the landscape becomes more complex.


 
 
You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to log in, update and tune out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on adam and skip,
Skip out for beer during load screens,
Because the revolution will not be gamified.

The revolution will not be gamified.
The revolution will not be brought to you by EA
In 4 sequels 6 months apart.
The revolution will not show you pictures of ladies
hoisting large guns and leading a charge in underwear,
high boots, ammo belts and smeared makeup to eat
turducken liberated from a Nazi stronghold.
The revolution will not be gamified.

The revolution will not be brought to you by indie
developers and will not star pirates, ninjas, zombies,
robots, monsters, vampires, werewolves, cyborgs or soldiers.
The revolution will not give you character customisation.
The revolution will not give you a high score.
The revolution will not give you any extra lives
to use, because the revolution will not be gamified, brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Alyx Vance
shooting down that antlion from the back of a broken jepp,
or having one-sided conversations while learning to use the gravity gun.
You will not be told when your armour has critical damage
or when your friends have died.
The revolution will not be gamified.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Gay Tony being
run out of town as you launch a tank into the air with the cheat code.
There will be no slow motion or still life of a large-shouldered
man strolling through an explosion in a pair of tight leather
chaps and aviator sunglasses that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Networking, marketing and Facebook games
will no longer be so damned relevant, and
homophobes will not care if Shepard gets down with
blue aliens on Mass Effect because game designers
will be in the street playtesting a brighter day.
The revolution will not be gamified.

There will be no screenshots on the official moderated
forum and no congratulatory GUI text telling
you your position on the international leaderboard.
The theme song will not be written by Jonathon Coulton,
Yū Miyake, nor sung by hundreds of fans ironically
after the key phrases become widely-circulated memes.
The revolution will not be gamified.

The revolution will not be right back after a cut-scene
about a white wizard, white lions, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the red under your bed.
The revolution will not be better in widescreen.
The revolution will not bombard your position with waves of AI army troops.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be gamified, will not be gamified,
will not be gamified, will not be gamified.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

With sincere apologies to Mr Scott-Heron. RIP.
 
 
  • Sometimes wind get get so fast and cold that it can cut like a knife.
  • Halva is delicious and I never want to eat anything else ever.
  • Camping on sea ice in summer isn't a great idea.
  • Scott thought white ponies worked harder than other ponies. He was a horse-racist.
  • Corsets are a) tricky to put on by one's self; b) the natural enemy of the stocking; c) painful if you've ever had badly-healed broken ribs.
  • Penguins are so broody that an eggless penguin father will shape ice into a ball and care for that instead. 
  • Entry level jobs have the most elaborate application processes. Why is that?
  • Frostbite causes huge blisters, which then freeze and solidify. Eww.
  • The sound of 200 homing pigeons swooping just a few metres above your head is pretty special.
  • Bowers once confused curry powder with cocoa powder. They drank the spicy milk anyway.
 
 
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We're still in the process of plotting which route to take before we embark on the journey of creation.
It's tricky when there's many worthy ideas all bustling for a place onboard the project.

Two discoveries of note:
-   My teammates uncovered the Nothing Paradox - How do you fill a space with interactivity, interest and feeling when the definition of that space is that it contains nothing?
-   The resourcefulness of the word 'perhaps'.



- Kalonica
 
 
Antarctica is a horrible lady. Mainly because she's so easy to anthropomorphise. You cannot know her without meeting her. People will try and tell you what she's like, but it won't help. "She's cold," they say, "and windy". But she's not. She's cold and windy in the same way as my chicken sandwich is a t-rex. On a good day she'll bury you in soft snow, evaporate your fuel from its tins and blind you with her beauty. She will never like you. The best you can ever hope for is grudging tolerance. Even in a good mood she's twice as cold as my freezer. Yet she carefully preserves every remnant of your visit, like a capricious grandmother. She'll convince your friends to kill themselves so she can have you to herself. On a bad day she'll just kill you. She'll freeze your food, freeze your clothes solid, yell at you until you're deaf, bite your fingers off, steal the vitamins from your body and then double the weight of all your possessions. On a blustery whim she can pick men up and scatter them like unwanted toys. For fun she makes compasses unusable and digs crevasses under thin ice. What a nasty lady.
 

Melon.

06/13/2011

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Melon had once seen a tulip. This made him something of a celebrity in the pony community, akin to Runwell, who had been shod twice in one year, and Hazel, who was the only pony known to eat lichen. Despite this, Melon stood alone most of the time. He didn't feel part of the herd. He was self-conscious about his Beatles-style haircut, and the way his chest deformed weirdly when he moved his front legs. He knew the other ponies didn't worry so much about things, and he wasn't sure why he did. Sometimes he thought about leaving the herd, and finding a field where he would be alone. Sometimes he thought about the tulip. 

When he became the first pony to reach the South Pole, he didn't notice. But he did feel a vague moment of unease, like he was facing all directions at once.
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It was 5 degrees. It was raining. Someone was throwing tiny ice daggers at my face, and the wind was trying to rip my ears off. As I jogged home through the pelting hail I thought "This situation isn't similar to Scott's at all." The only thing we had in common was a landscape that didn't care about the state of our trousers. Isn't that the same for everyone?