About Snoother (twitter: @yr_property)

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Ludum Dare 30
 
Ludum Dare 29
 
MiniLD 50

Snoother's Trophies

Good Listener
Awarded by Jakub Koziol
on August 31, 2014
you have been in Helevenium #LD29
Awarded by alvivar
on May 19, 2014
The Advanced Punmanship Award
Awarded by Teejay5
on May 1, 2014

Snoother's Archive

A Best Of (Ctd.)

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Sunday, September 7th, 2014 7:12 am

This is my fifth (I think) ‘best of’ post. You can view the past few on my LD page.

Warp Paint — An extremely well-designed puzzle-platformer. The objective is simply to throw an orb to the correct destination. But the level designs can be deviously clever in their uses of colour and various other elements.

 

 

The Lion’s Song — A romantic game set in the epicentre of Romantic and Classical music, Austria, with a player character who composes (presumably) Romantic music. Despite this seeming bombardment of romance, that aspect never feels overwhelming. Each layer is romance is placed subtly, to such an extent that its romantic elements won’t be at all evident at the start of the game. It arrives spontaneously, a genuine romantic spark. And that is why I love the game. (It’s beautiful graphics and atmospheric audio only make it even better.)

 

World of Beatrice, the Girl Next Door — Engagingly written and attractively presented feminist game highlighting our anachronistic view of women. I rather like the fact it portrays the prejudices against all the choices women make, be they progressive or traditional.

 

 

Mor — I need only to reprint the description: “In this videogame you play a fetus. You try to escape your mothers body through her anus.  Your dead twin’s ghost chases you on the way, throwing drugs and cigarettes at you.” Funny, addictive, oozing with style. 

 

 

 

Superdimensional — A moody, sort of ethereal game with a very innovative mechanic. I hate writing about games like this, because the gameplay is really bloody difficult to describe. I guess you rotate shards of transdimensional matter that expose you to a secondary world, without knowing which one is in fact real. It’s easier if you just go play it.

 

Galactic Bonding — An adorable little game in which you try to match your dad’s silly faces as a kind of bonding exercise. It’s cute in its simplicity, with endearingly childish sketches and easily accessible gameplay.

 

 

Dear Sister — Based on a real life incident, this is a sentimental game about a sister passing on, the connection between our life and the next. Admittedly, as an irate anti-theist this premise instinctively causes a grinding of the teeth, but taken as an emotional venture with real-life connections, I thought it was an admirable game with some powerful music. (It is also, doubtless to many people’s disgust, a “walking simulator”.)

 

Which is my cheeky way of bringing the subject onto one of my games. I just released a second game for the RuinJam 2014, a jam to celebrate the imagined demise of the games industry as a result of social justice games, “non-games”, queer & feminist games etc. The game is a “text-only stream-of-consciousness (and heavily queered) walking simulator”. You can play it here.

It also serves as a companion piece to my LD entry, Sleep.

Okay, the obligatory plug is over…

If you think I’d enjoy your game or for some unfathomable reason want to talk to me, please leave a comment either here or on my game page. I will endeavour to play your game, though I’m at a point now where my comments are getting increasingly abbreviated. So I’m sorry if my feedback is too terse.

I will, however, be making a final ‘best of’ — which I not-at-all narcissistically title “The SNOOTHAs” — late in the coming week. A kind of best of the best, I’ll put together winners for each category and honourable mentions, all in a snazzilly formatted blog post. If you want a chance to win an unquestionably-prestigious SNOOTHA award, then please bring my attention to your game. You can view last year’s SNOOTHAs here.

–Snoother

A Best Of

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 2:34 pm

This is my fourth ‘best of’ post. Hereafter I’m abandoning the categorised approach, or else I’ll risk leaving shit out. Please do check out my past posts: the best romantic/erotic games, the best sci-fi games, and a mini-feature on a fascinating little game titled Any Moment.

Where Are Your Friends Tonight — This is one of those games that many people can doubtless relate to. Who hasn’t been moving on in life, finding out that you’re no longer tethered to certain friends as once was the case. Reunions become loquacious bouts of nostalgia but nothing more, until gradually the people you once new most intimately just fade from your life. And it’s all done with nice-looking graphics and a simple, accessible social network-esque interface.

 

Circling Circles and Oval Opposites — These are two of a perfect pair. Apparently both developers know eachother and decided to pair up to create two “connected”, thematically similar games set in the same world. Probably one of the most inventive takes on the theme I’ve seen. And the games work really well too. They’re minimalist, casual games with distinctive designs and moods.

Familiaris — A gorgeous Twine game — both visually and narratively — centred round  a dog and his owner. It’s all written from the dog’s perspective, which makes for an interesting, and ultimately engaging experience that I can heartily recommend.

 

 

Intranet — Another Twine game, but this one’s much more creepy than it is cute. And it uses the theme wonderfully. I don’t really want to say much more. You’re better off playing this one without any foreknowledge.

 

A Ludic Proof of the Difficulties Inherent in Finding a Proper Skull — Few! That’s one hell of a title. And it’s one hell of a game too. Like with the last one, I’m going to reserve to right to say no more. Narrative-based games like this are best played with a wholly unaffected mindset, I think. Just go play it. (You might not get it immediately though. It has a fascinating, but at first kind of subtle, take on the theme.)

 

Connecting — An involving conversation game written with utter believability, and set against pleasant graphics and atmospheric audio. You are texting your partner after a trip visiting a past love (or old fling; it’s not overly clear, nor does it need to be). The text messages can take multiple directions, and all the one’s I’ve found are engaging and affecting.

 

Alice Anxiety — Beautiful artwork, stunningly moodful music and notably interactive for a visual novel. Sadly, the game is very much still in embryonic form — just as things start to get really interesting, it ends. The developer obviously ran out of time. But what is here will keep you engaged, just be prepared for a lacklustre ending. I truly hope a post-Jam version is in the making.

 

And if you want to play my game, you can visit its page here. If you leave a comment I can promise I’ll check out your game and repay the favour. It just might take me a couple of days, considering my to-play list is expanding at a stupid rate.

And also because (self-serving plug coming up) I’m a bit distracted with the RuinJam 2014, for which I entered A Tale of the Cave, a hyperlink-based hardcore-but-short cave-crawl nearly entirely written using William McGonagall’s tremendously inept poetry. And I intend to make another game for jam in the next few days. I encourage anyone else interested to join me in ruing the game industry.

–Snoother

Let’s Ruin Games Together

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Monday, September 1st, 2014 4:11 pm

A Tale of the Cave CoverCurrently it’s the Ruin Jam 2014, a jam to celebrate games that “contribute to the downfall of video games”. I’ve done my little bit in aid of this dystopia by creating A Tale of the Cave. It’s got a few things in it that are causing the non-existent demise of video games: it’s all text, it’s all poetry (albeit humorously awful poetry), and it’s a parody. Basically, a hyperlink-based hardcore-but-short cave-crawl nearly entirely written using William McGonagall’s tremendously inept poetry. As I rather like to put it: “No longer are William McGonagall’s ruinous effects confined to poetry.”

I recommend for anyone else interested to give the jam a go — it’s a really brilliant idea. I took a more lighthearted approach, but the jam is important in celebrating games that are too often accused of ruining the games industry. The organisers list the following things as ‘ruining’ games:

  • “Forced Diversity”, i.e. Minority characters with agency.
  • People who make or talk about games having social and/or love lives
  • “SJWs”, which stands  “Social Justice Warriors”. It’s bad to be this for some reason.
  • People calling things that aren’t games games. The criteria for what a game is has yet to be disclosed.
  • Not being able to jump, shoot, or be killed
  • Criticism or satire of existing game franchises

I hope to enter another game — there’s still 12 day left! — but this time something more serious. Probably queer themed or something that glorifies ‘walking simulators’ — or both.

And of course, this is all a break from Ludum Dare. My to-play list is steadily building up, and I’ll probably have an intensive gameplay session tomorrow and release another ‘best of’ list that evening. There’s still plenty of time to go. If you want to check out my entry for this LD you can do so here. And if you think I’d be interested in playing your game, or just want to be friendly, please do leave a comment.

–Snoother

 

Without Comparison: “Any Moment” by Jakub Koziol

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Sunday, August 31st, 2014 12:30 pm

[Warning: the following is mildly spoilerific, but personally I think it’s about as spoiler-filled as your average game review. So if you want to enter this game completely unaffected, go play it first.]

Any Moment is an entry that is completely different. As far as I can tell, it bears no resemblance to any other game this LD. I think the best way to describe it would be the ‘weirdest’ or the most ‘experimental’ game, rather than the most ‘innovative’ . A game that I struggle to find a comparison for.

How many of us just have to keep connected to social media? The restless checking for new emails and messages, and the serious impediment this can be on your creativity. Any Moment centres on this, and then branches out into the author’s submergence into depression. This is interesting and evocative by itself; however, what makes it so special as to be considered ‘without comparison’ is the way it approaches this subject. There is only ever one screen. There is only ever one method of interaction. There is only ever one path. Profound minimalism. How else do I describe it?

Well, okay, I can maybe do a bit better… It is an autobiographical conversation game where you listen to the author detail the aforementioned problems, spoken with the genuineness and austerity of unscripted, stream-of-consciousness speech (even though I suspect it was partially written). The only occasions at which the player interacts is when a question is posed, at which point the player can press the spacebar when they are ready to continue listening. For instance, at one point you are asked, “have you ever lost interest in something you really loved?” The audio pauses; a prompt arises waitingSpace for your to press enter. The player pauses, contemplating and reflecting until they are ready to move on. For me, this was a profound method of interaction, unlike any other this LD. It doesn’t require choices and consequences, but it still engages the player to an extent much greater than many other entries combined. As patronising as this may sound, it forces you to ‘think’, to involve yourself.

There is also an interesting overriding theme in the game: the desire to be listened to. In games we expect the player to be the ones listened to. The player is the one who inputs, and the game acts accordingly. In this case the opposite is true. So then, I hear some of you cry, why on earth is it a game? Well, the player sets the pacing. They choose when to progress, and they are being directly interacted with by the author — there isn’t even a fourth wall to break. And the player listens. For once we holster our expectations of power and listen. I feel that this is an important message, ever more potent as more and more gamers are demanding games tailored to the  player, rather than games directed and authored by, well, the author(s).

So, an autobiographical minimalist game with no agency that demands passiveness on the part of the player. Yet it works. Go figure.

On a sidenote: this is the kind of game that some people may consider to be “ruining the game industry” and causing its impending “demise”. So in the spirit of hyperbolic dystopianism, I recommend everyone enter the Ruin Jam 2014, a jam to celebrate games that “contribute to the downfall of video games”. Hopefully I’ll get the time to do my little bit in aid of the forthcoming apocalypse. (And thank you to Sunflower for bringing my attention to it.)

Also, this is the third ‘best of’ list I’ve written (well, in this case it’s more of a mini-feature). Please do check out my past two lists on the best romantic/erotic entries and the best sci-fi entries.

–Snoother

Sci-Fi: A Best Of

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Saturday, August 30th, 2014 5:36 am

The second in my ‘best of’ lists for this Ludum Dare. You can view the last one, which was on romantic and erotic entries, here.

Cesarino’s Friendly Interplanetary Delivery Services — Even without acknowledging that the game’s title is nonpareil, this is a truly fun piece. You perform the various deliveries, bumping humorously into various planets and asteroids, while also eliminating all the competition ships with your laser guns and upgrading your own ship along the way.

 

Capsule — A really amusing one-man-in-space story that will keep you captivated from start to finish. Made in Twine, it’s also one of the best looking text games I’ve ever seen, packed with dazzling css effects, cool animated gifs, and a decidedly professional font and colour scheme.

 

 

 

Parallel Rift — A high-octane platformer where you repeatedly traverse the level, each time creating a clone of yourself who performs your last navigation of the level. But you can’t come into contact with any of your past selves, quickly ramping up the challenge and making for some addictive gameplay. An interesting take on the theme, I thought.

 

 

A New and Beautiful World — An admirably large visual novel with only one occasion for interactivity. To many that sentence would be an indictment of the game — but trust me, it shouldn’t be. That one moment of interactivity is more profound than the combined gameplay of many other entries. And the story, set decades in the future,  is an engaging, sentimental one of the relationship between two brothers and a father.

 

Crece-above-Clouds — A kind of space-island tower-defence game, but with various peculiar characters who’s dialogue is always engaging and quite often amusing. And the music — oh my, the music. Definitely worth checking out.

 

 

Crisis Culture — An interplanetary visual novel ridiculous in tone and lush with style, both through its odd, distinctive characters and its highly stylised graphics.

 

 

And if you feel so kind, you could also check out my game. It isn’t sci-fi, however — there’s not much science to it, and only half of it’s fiction… But it is kind of surreal, pretty intimate, and I’m proud of it at least.

–Snoother

Love and Lust: A Best Of

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 4:14 pm

So like last year, I’m going to make lists of my favourite entries every few days. But unlike last year, I’m going to try and categorise a few of the lists, especially as this theme seems to have inspired people to work within specific genres (sci-fi and romance come to mind).

It goes without saying that just because I played your game and it isn’t on any list, that doesn’t ipso facto mean I don’t think it’s any good. Sometimes it’s just down to preference, other times it was just hard to pick which ones to include, and very occasionally I may even forget to bookmark your entry.

This list is one for the best romantic/erotic games I’ve played so far, somewhat selfishly chosen considering it’s the genre I wrote my game in. (And yes, that was a not-very-subtle plug, but I had to put it somewhere 😉 )

13 Minutes of Light Okay, normally I’ll refrain from ranking anything on these lists, but I can’t help myself announce how much I like this game. It is my favourite so far. Beautifully told, 13 Minutes of Light is a romantic visual novel played through a clever letter-writing mechanic and set against a tumultuous political backdrop. I will be replaying this game to find all five ending. And then I’ll probably replay it some more.

 

 

Zanlings Match by Franklins Ghost — I’m not quite sure how to advertise this one. A weird dating show simulator where you may end up marrying a towering pink blob monster. Wait, that’s not quite it. A carefully stylised romance that will amuse, touch and perplex. Slightly better. But not perfect. Just go play it — trust me.

 

 

Our Worlds by Davi Santos — A dual-screen boy-girl romance where you control each character separately in an effort to get them to “connect”. Loads of games LD have gone for this, but so far I think this one comes out top. It looks great, with a distinct palette for both characters, and the mood is then refined thanks to the great music.

 

Thinkings by Lythom. This game also follows the two-avatars-connecting-with-one-another-via-puzzles template, but does it in a uniquely abstract way. You have some nice quotes to inspire solution to each puzzle, and each puzzle is an attempt to deepen the connection between these two pentagonal creatures. It doesn’t even have to be viewed as a romance — but that’s the way I interpreted it.

 

Secret Place by M James Short — A piece of Twine erotica about existential lust, with some very evocative lines: “early wetness as you melt inside me”, “a silent hiss of chemical infatuation”.

 

If I encounter more enticing romantic and/or erotic entries I’ll put up a part 2 to this list. And if you’ve made a game within the genre that you’d like me to check out, please do leave a comment!

–Snoother

[ETA: I got in a slight kerfuffle  (it’s getting late here) and had to repost this. I hope I haven’t annoyed anyone by doing so.]

I’m In (Another Tired and Narcissistic Announcement Post)

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Sunday, August 17th, 2014 3:12 pm

The mighty, infallible Snoother emerges once more into his sunlit arena of triumph. After the resounding success of his last entry, Beneath the Surface, he honours his colourful assortment of omnipresent fans by announcing his second involvement with Ludum Dare.

Okay okay. The more apt description is perhaps one employed by none other than Bertie Wooster: “like a fairly diffident snail poking its head out of its shell during a thunderstorm.” Ludum Dare is frightening, tense, thunderous. And I’m the nervous, timid sort who nevertheless can’t help but take on the challenge.

Plus, it was just so damn enjoyable and rewarding last time round. For once I actually completed a project, rather than them just being little Catholic embryos stranded in limbo. (Yes, I know the church reversed its policies to allow babies into Heaven. The church is compassionate like that. Just look at this current pope. He thinks I should be treated with dignity — well how nice of him! Just because you’re more liberal than Islam doesn’t make you moral. Rant over.) The game wasn’t too shabby either. Admittedly, I think it did a bit better than it should have because of its immediate shock value, but still, for my first compo I was (and am) pretty proud.

So I’ll be entering the compo again if all goes to plan, and once more I’ll be using Twine, a tool for authoring hypertext games.

Of the themes put forward so far, the following seem to furnish my mind with inspiration: Connected Worlds; No One Can See You; You Must Leave it Behind; Isolation; Love; The Other Side; This Happens to Me Every Day. I think it’s obvious that I tend towards the more narrative-friendly and potentially-emotive ideas. But that’s just my thing. I am, after all, a pompous-as-fuck hypertext author — albeit not a particularly good one.

Right. I’m excited about this. And actually, I can’t wait to see what others produce, perhaps even more so than seeing what I produce. Last time I played so many fabulous entries and had a wonderful time doing so. This time will doubtless be no different.

–Snoother

The SNOOTHAs

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Saturday, May 17th, 2014 2:32 pm

The SNOOTHAs is a self-described prestigious ceremony set up to award Ludum Dare entrants for their efforts. It may or may not be real. The “S” stand for Snoother (me, of course) and the “A” stands for award. I can’t for the life of me be bothered to fill in the rest.

The awards ceremony was held in a musty, windowless room by the “Robed Ones” — a bunch of self-appointed game critics donning brown, hooded robes. They quipped back and forth about “innovation”, “agency”, “underlying messages”, “immersiveness” — all that stuff. After weeks of sleepless deliberation, they finally reached a judgement. For each category they have assigned an overall winner and a selection of honourable mentions, listed alphabetically. Here are the results:


 

EXCELLENCE IN INNOVATION

Winner: And the Moment is Gone

An introverted and experimental conversation game. It brilliantly depicts the pains and frustrations of so many conversations by using an innovative game mechanic. The Robed Ones — for whom the voice of love often calls, only to find it’s a wrong number — felt they could particularly relate to the game.

 

Honourable Mentions: A Day in the Life; I Remember Alice; The Loudest Ballerina; The PondSpace to Go; Substratum; Tenkosei Robo


EXCELLENCE IN FUN

Winner: Gravity

A ridiculously addictive game in which you descend below the surface to collect all the artefacts, reveal the ending and, of course, beat the high score. The Robed Ones stayed up way past their bed time playing this one.

 

Honourable Mentions: Beneath the Ice; Black Bile, Inhuman Circuits; Coin Diver; Doomsday Bunker; Mimic of the Deep; The Pond; Senilescape; Substratum; Tenkosei Robo


EXCELLENCE IN USE OF THEME

Winner: Not All of Them Died

A chilling and beautifully-minimal use of theme. It is “a game celebrating industrialised warfare” in which you walk through a vast cemetery of deceased military personnel, all individually named, including rank and date of death.

 

Honourable Mentions: A Day in the LifeAbstraction; And the Moment is Gone; Black Bile, Inhuman Circuits; Castle Engineer; Heart of the CardsThe Loudest Ballerina; RMBR; Series of Choices


EXCELLENCE IN GRAPHICS

Winner: Wunderheilung

Wunderheiling has some gorgeous art with a gently-surreal touch. The gameplay consists of examining peculiar creatures for medical problems, virtually forcing you to stare at each fabulous pixel cluster. While playing, the Robed Ones were gazing endlessly into their computer screens and drooling slowly — oh wait, they do that anyway.

 

Honourable Mentions: Gravity; Last Dive; The Pond; Seven Souls; Tenkosei Robo; Watch Your Step


EXCELLENCE IN AUDIO

Winner: Space to Go

A one-button music game — doesn’t sound like it should work, right? But oh my it does. With each spacebar press you control the pace of the music, moving forwards through this abstract plane and unexpectedly discovering a narrative. Just sublime.

 

Honourable Mentions: Any Ship Can Be a Minesweeper… Once; Coin Diver; Fragment; Gravity; In the Black; Last Dive; Magma; Mimic of the Deep; Tenkosei Robo


EXCELLENCE IN HUMOUR

Winner: Black Bile, Inhuman Circuits

The humour is so incisive and devious, thanks largely to how well-written it is. Loads of subversions of tropes and referential humour, but, as I said, it’s done so well. You experience that which is “beneath the surface of the body, in the realm of bodily humors: black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood.” (The Robed Ones nod along, frothing.)

 

Honourable Mentions: Any Ship Can Be a Minesweeper… Once; Orlok’s Ordeal; The Sadness of Rocky Barbato; The Surface; Wunderheilung


EXCELLENCE IN MOOD

Winner: The Pond

This isn’t an outright mood piece: you have to sustain life in the pond for as long as possible by feeding the fish and moving the water. But it’s minimalism and life-and-death theme makes it remarkably evocative. Playing it feels serene, sombre, wistful. As the second-counter moves steadily onwards and your pond life begins to die away, you feel dejected — if only life weren’t so ephemeral.

 

Honourable Mentions: A Happy Place; Black Bile, Inhuman Circuits; Gravity; I Remember Alice; Last Dive; Mimic of the Deep; Not All of Them Died; Sopora


BEST GAME OF LUDUM DARE 29

Winner: The Loudest Ballerina

So cute and well-executed: a game about ballet and a giant monster. Intrigued? You should be. For goodness sake, go play it! Even the Robed Ones love it — and getting them to abandon their hypermasculine gamer culture and do ballet is indeed an achievement.

 

Honourable Mentions: And the Moment is Gone; Black Bile, Inhuman Circuits; Gravity; Last Dive; The Pond; Tenkosei Robo; Wireside


MY GAME

And what post would be complete without some aggressive self-promotion? This is, oh kind, generous reader, my game. A game that — wait for it — looks beneath the surface of an FPS.

Okay, in all seriousness I’d be really grateful for anyone to check it out. I put quite a bit of effort into it and there’s an important underlying message. It’s a text-based second-person shooter that explores the worst aspects of violent video games and the culture surrounding them.

 

–Snoother

Highlights So Far (Cont.)

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Friday, May 16th, 2014 10:32 am

I’ve played 175 entries, and this will be the last of these posts before I list my absolute favourites. If I haven’t played your game and you really think I’ll love it (you’ll know if I’ve played your game because I virtually always leave a comment), then please do post in the comments. I’m probably more likely to give your game a chance if you were to kindly leave some truthful feedback on my game 😉 But I’ll do my best regardless.

So, in no particular order:

Beneath The Ice — Has a great ending, polished graphics and fun, progressive gameplay. Also never overstays its welcome, which so many fishing games are guilty of.

Fragment — A very minimal narrative piece with such graceful music. You, as pulsing dark grey ball, explore a light grey area in search of narrative fragments. This does have its practical problems, but the concept is wonderful, and the final result is still worth checking out.

Substratum — All those luminous, bordering on lurid, colours! A really innovative space puzzle game that also has some great music.

Wunderheilung — Gorgeous art with a gently-surreal touch. You examine these peculiar creatures for medical problems and in the process get rid the problems. Simple concept executed deftly. Can’t wait to see it expanded upon.

RMBR — In RMBR, you literally drag memories towards you to delve further beneath. Great ambience and mood, and plenty of promise for a post-compo release.

Series of Choices — Fantastic use of theme where you quite literally have to perfect the underlying, meticulous workings of a speed run. Loads of Braid-esque (though the comparison is largely unfair) time rewinding.

Speed of Light — It looks beautiful and builds to an unexpected and smile-inducing climax.

Coin Diver — Ignore the premise of diving for coins — that’s not the interesting bit. It’s the fast gameplay that builds powerfully with the music. The need to play more and the urgent dilemma of: do you return to the surface to double your score or stay below in the hope of finding plenty of coins? I thought this would be a throwaway game, but it turned out to be one of those pleasant surprises.

Anyway, that’s it. As I said, if you think I’ll love your game please do comment below. Or if you’re really eager, you can comment on my game and I’ll be more encouraged that it’s worth the effort. (Maybe that’s selfish, but I do think things like LD work better if people critique one another, rather than a few people doing all the heavy lifting.)

–Snoother

 

Update and Afterthoughts

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Saturday, May 10th, 2014 12:39 pm

So, I’ve uploaded the game to itch.io. You can take a look here. Nothing new, I’m afraid, just a rather snazzy webpage with a money-giving option for those who are particularly kind-hearted. Here’s a snapshot of the page (clicking it will take you to game’s page):

Screenshot 2014-05-10 20.15.02

And I’ve received some criticism lately that’s given me plenty of food-for-thought, especially when it comes to a potential post-comp release. JavadocMD pointed out the lack of agency in the game, a very good point that hadn’t quite occurred to me. Of course, some of this is to do with a lack of time — there’s no way I could make x varieties of kill methods and path choices in just 48 hours, but it is feasible to do as a post-comp version. I also agree that this inclusion could make it a lot more affecting, as the player will feel more personally responsible for their actions rather than feel as if they are merely following the breadcrumbs laid by me, the author.

But I’m not sure how I feel about implementing any kind of change. I’m really happy that for many people the game worked and that the message(s) came across, so I’m reluctant to make any dramatic changes that may compromise the already-effective parts. It’s a damn-annoying dilemma. And there’s so many other projects I want to start that I almost just want to move on. But I am proud of this piece. Grr, I hate indecision.

Edited to add: I better also mention that I changed the game’s title screen slightly — though it’s so unimportant and superficial I didn’t bother to class it as a post-comp version or something silly. Hopefully I haven’t infringed upon any of the rules, but if I have I’ll happily revoke the minor change.

Highlights So Far (Cont.)

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Tuesday, May 6th, 2014 12:29 pm

Okay, here are some more games I’m really excited about. In the last two days I seem to have come across a handful of fabulous games that deserve all the praise they can get.

So, in no particular order:

The Loudest Ballerina — Really cute and well-executed game about ballet and giant monsters. Intrigued? You should be. Go play it — this is a five-star game in nearly every category.

Enderscope’s Game — A peculiarly wonderful idea that is a joy to explore. You are performing laparoscopic surgery to cut out a cancerous tumour from a patient. First person and 3D. And quite an experience.

Magma — Mechanically-simple game in which you set out to destroy a the inhabitants of planet who are “mired in sins, mortal sins”. Some killer, earth-shaking music just completes this impressive package.

Watch Your Step — A resource-gathering, sidescrolling, semi-survival game with fantastic art design and addictive gameplay.

Doomsday Bunker — This is most definitely the entry I played for the longest — probably way over an hour. And that’s a testiment to just how bloody good it is. The premise is simple: “Build your doomsday bunker! Survive the air raids! ” But the gameplay has a lot more complexity, and stuff like UI and graphics are so well polished.

A Happy Place — Slow and surreal death in an underground shelter. A memorable mood piece; evocative and beautifully minimal.

And the Moment is Gone — An introverted, experimental conversation game. It brilliantly depicts the pains and anxiety of such situations through an innovative game mechanic. I definitely feel like I can relate to this one.

The end of the list… That means it’s time for some self promotion! You can play my game here. Some of my favourite comments include “The perverse and nearly erotic descriptions are perfect”, “That was some dark shit… Well done”, “It’s hard to fight the urge to just stop playing and close the window”, ” I don’t think I’ll sleep well tonight knowing what I’ve done” and ” I feel like crap now… ” Who says games are fun?

Highlights So Far (cont.)

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Sunday, May 4th, 2014 2:49 pm

I’ve now played 143 entries apparently, so it’s probably about time I continue with my unimaginatively titled “Highlights So Far” list. Goodness knows I’ve played loads more fantastic games that deserve extra praise.

In no particular order:

I Remember Alice — An introverted romance story with a remarkably-suitable game mechanic. The whole thing still lingers in my mind vividly.

Mimic of the Deep — Very good gameplay in which you play as an illusive octopus; but the music turns this very good game into a great game.

Abstraction — Inventive use of theme that highlights the programming going on beneath the surface of videogames.

The Surface — A two-player game with an emphasis on spinning. Also has a notably fun plot twist.

Heart of the Cards — “Under the surface of a matching game there is a story generator.” A fascinating use of theme.

Castle Engineer — Another interesting use of theme that may, in this case, change the way you view the type of platformer it’s parodying.

The Westport Independent — A political game — something that instantly makes it stand out. Sadly, it’s a bit too derivative of a certain other game, but is nevertheless a well-made piece that demonstrates the importance of the press in society.

Wireside — Very polished cyberpunk RPG with an interesting take on the theme.

Senilescape — Really tense prison-escape game with well-suited music.

Le Ver — “A depressed existentialist earthworm contemplating his life.” That’s all that needs to be said.

In the Black — I found it hard to believe a mining game with essentially only three repeated choices could be engaging. But it is. And my God that banjo music!

Tenkosei ROBO — Most innovative gameplay in this LD. You have to type words as they appear to stay alive, and it makes for a great narrative device.

Last Dive — Outstandingly polished. And has an effectively-told sentimental narrative that gradually and eerily develops. This is perhaps the most accomplished game I’ve played so far, bar some underwhelming prose passages.

And, of course, no post would be complete without plugging my piece, Beneath the Surface, available in fine bookstores everywhere and so forth…

–Snoother

 

Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Sunday, May 4th, 2014 5:54 am

I’ve had a fair number of questions about the story and message of my game, Beneath the Surface. Commentators seem to be unanimous in finding it “disturbing” or “dark” or “depressing” — which was absolutely one of my intentions — but only a few seemed to identify the messages behind the obscene gameplay. So I’m finally writing a post-mortem that will hopefully address these ambiguities and expand more generally upon the development process. (It also occurs to me, in a sick whimsical way, that the term “post-mortem” is particularly suited to a game this macabre. And with its near-genocidal content, the term may even need to be pluralised.)

[Spoilers ahead!]

(more…)

Soundtrack Released

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 1:20 pm

I’ve had quite a few wonderful comments about the game’s soundtrack (thank you!), so I decided to upload it to the game page.

Yes, I know you can get the files by downloading the game anyway, but I’ve included quite a bit extra for those who download the soundtrack. In the zip file you’ll find:

  • Four audio files: the theme track, the piano variation used later, a looped version of the piano variation, and an unused piano theme that was later replaced by the piano variation.
  • Scores for each track. They aren’t the most intricate scores — after all, I wrote them up quickly in Sibelius for the purposes of importing the midi into Cubase — but they are detailed enough, and may be of interest to someone.

–Snoother

 

Highlights So Far

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 12:33 pm

So far, of the 60 or 70 odd games I’ve played, a good handful have got me pretty excited. Of course I enjoyed others that aren’t on this list — in fact I’ve pretty much liked something about every game thus far — but these are the ones that linger in my mind.

So, in no particular order…

Sopora — A stunningly claustrophobic game that exudes tension. Loved the use of a timer and slight randomisation.

Not All Of Them Died — A chillingly minimal game that, and I quote, “celebrates industrialised warfare” (intended with a sardonic twinge, of course).

Black Bile, Inhuman Circuits — An extremely well-written, slightly-referential game that is beautifully disgusting, horrifically sublime — every gorgeous oxymoron under the sun.

The Pond — Another game that dabbles in minimalism, but in this case it’s to highlight the mechanics. It’s a simple simulation game about sustaining life and hopelessly attempting to avoid death in a pond. Much more evocative than you would ever expect.

Under a Bush of Roses —  I loved the use of theme for this one and the day-by-day progression and slight repetition of it. Has a well-crafted ironic and cultural satirical tone too.

The Sadness of Rocky Barbato — It has a wonderful premise about the reflections of an ex-porn star. And the multimedia additions are extremely effective.

Any Ship Can Be a MINESWEEPER… Once — Brilliant sound effects, graphics and overwhelming-fabulous end-song.

A Day in the Life — An extremely creative entry with a unique mechanic. The monotonous gameplay is so well suited to the premise of maximising activities in one’s life.

The World Beneath — This one does mood very well. You explore this underground, slightly surreal place. But as you get deeper you need to use your limited supply of torches to illuminate the place and its secrets. Every time you light a torch the lushest of synthesised chords plays out, just leaving this indescribably good feeling.

Anyway, they’re all my highlights so far.

And if anyone would be so kind as to check out my game I’d be quite grateful too.

–Snoother

Pesky audio bugs

Posted by (twitter: @yr_property)
Sunday, April 27th, 2014 1:53 pm

I’m almost considering taking down the web option. The audio is sometimes delayed; the gunshots seldom sound. Ugh. Really. Bloody. Annoying. I’m wondering how much of an audience I’ll lose by making it download only.

And for some reason it isn’t working (online) on Firefox at all.

Twine really needs native support for audio — or at least a macro that’s more stable for online games. Though it may be an issue with Google Drive, but I’m not sure what else I can feasibly use.

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