september highlights

a collection of links

12hrs is a Twine-based game by Kiva Bay and Carolyn VanEseltine portraying 12 hours in the life of a homeless woman. It's also currently on Steam Greenlight. 12hrs succeeded in generating a sense of futility, and it sounds like the developers are planning to provide more options in the sim. Paying for food was particularly well done and required (I think!) begging similar to Porpentine's Begscape. Like many Twine-based games, it was most effective for me on my first play through. In subsequent attempts I found myself just selecting options to learn about the implementation boundaries, and I'm not really sure how to recapture that feeling it portrayed so well in that first session.

Around the time I played 12hrs, I read about tiny houses being used in Madison, WI to shelter formerly homeless people. It's perhaps the one piece of good news I've seen about Wisconsin recently, so hopefully it will continue to succeed in Madison and spread elsewhere throughout the state.

Terra Lauterbach launched Thunder Gun: Revenge of the Mutants earlier this month. I've mentioned elsewhere how happy I am to see this released: I first met Terra when she was working on the original Thunder Gun, and I enjoy seeing how she's developed the game years later. She also did an interview about the game here.

Andrew James Adams, a local game developer who helped start the Eau Claire Game Developers, launched a development blog covering his new puzzle game, Unmatch. There's a playable demo of the game here.

My father-in-law sings pansori, a traditional Korean form of musical storytelling. Here's an example that we saw during the summer (with translations at the National Gugak Center; it's still interesting to listen to without understanding Korean. The story here is about trying to cure the dragon king's illness with a variety of medicines). This is a long prelude to why I was so excited hearing Nanano Nanda's electronic pansori when I was doing research for Mabeopsa.

There's been an ongoing discussion about the difficulty of making a living selling games this month (as opposed, I guess, to every other creative work like poetry, painting, and playing music). There were three articles that I found useful: Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Obsession, Delusion, and Writing looked at the importance of attitude and expectations by comparing writing and running; Jeff Vogel directly addressed the issue in games in The Indie Bubble Revisited (or, Are We All Totally-Doomed or just Regular-Doomed?). Joining these two veterans was Kitfox's Tanya Short with The Secrets to Scrappiness: Fighting to Survive as an Indie Studio with a newer studio's perspective.

Vogel's Early Access, Difficulty Fetishists, and Driving Yourself Insane was also relevant this month and helps explain in-part why so many roguelikes are difficult: Though he's discussing it in the context of early access, catering to an audience of people who have played roguelikes for years can similarly make the game more difficult for newcomers.

Katherine Cross's The Market Goddess compares Ashley Madison with Victoria of Victoria's Secret and Gamer Gate's Vivian James: Who are they? Why were they created? Also worth reading was Vijith Assar's An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar.

And to end on a more positive note, I discovered that all ElfQuest comics published before 2014 are free online. Check it out if you haven't—or if you have!