Friday, 1 July 2016

Because I bought a pen with four colours (Black, Blue, Green & Red), 4 Colour Pen sketches from Auckland, drawn as I walk around.

Because I can combine the  feeble scrawl of a pen with the hazy lens of a cell phone camera.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Interesting youtube videos from EGX, a British computer games event,

a retrospective by Failbetter games, Sunless Seas development, possibly a form of advertisement.

and a panel discussion titled The past, present and future of Narrative in games.

Also a series of lectures, held at a english pub, about game design and narration called "VideoBrains Event". They are amusingly not politically correct and are really a form of entertainment, probably for people in that industry.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Trying to improve how I draw the human figure & clothing, without the massive shoulder pads.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Late Summer becoming early Autumn.

This plant (perennial herb) is apparently a Gomphocarpus physocarpus , they have milky white sap, characteristic seed pods and are liked by Monarch Butterflies.


Patrick Weeks in an interview mentioned Twine as a good tool for learning to write interactive fiction, so I decided to go see what was what and see what people had made.

There are a number of interesting uses of twine, which include text based interactive stories using parser or multiple choice and  or even ASCI based games such as The Temple of Apshai (Connelly et al 1976) . I prefer the multiple choice games, highlights for me include the lyrical poetical Beware the Faerie Food by Astrid Dalmady (who has done work for the wildly successful "Welcome to NightVale" podcast show), and the philosophical Creatures Such as We (2015) by Lynnea Glasser. There are also many parser text games, but finding the right verb noun combinations is not so much fun for me.

Creatures Such as We (2015)  feels like something that Phillip K Dick would have written, if he wrote with a more feminine voice and used interactive fiction, it has a game within a game structure, similar to the book within a book structure that The Man in the High Tower  (Phillip K Dick, 1962) uses. Why I describe it as having a "feminine voice" I will detail later.

Also there is an approach to represent political actors using AI, Versu, that has been described to me as a clever use of an Alice type parsing program and text based hierarchical structure. I remain hopeful for that AI of the future (already used for telephone reception and telemarketing), knowing too well that it will be replacing employee positions, but maybe in the future, when I'm, like, 70 years old, the pan corporate state will assign a carer AI to my retirement village, that only has slightly murderous tendencies, so that it only tries to kill me when I'm sleeping. Which will be comparatively nice.

Emily Short has produced a number of Twine based interactive stories on a regular basis since at least 2000, and is part of the Versu project and appears to be a significant figure in the Twine community, if it can be described as such. She has a website. I will be checking out First Draft of the Revolution (2012), which because of its alternative historical setting, looks interesting to me.

This type of small scale game, interactive fiction, clearly allows a more personal vision to be created by the author/ designer, which means that more of the authors language and thus experience is transmitted. Creatures Such as We (2015) has the player enacting a carer role in a kind of tourist facility, the player is able to select their gender and other characteristics but the empathetic nature of interaction and central caring issues that the player faces feels to me feminine. There is a series of actions each morning that involves a ritual of beauty maintenance, use of makeup, done irrespective of gender, but it feels female. Sure I may think about moisturizer in the morning but I would think about this action in different terms than the language used by Lynnea Glasser. The tourist facility of Creatures Such as We (2015) has a futuristic setting and thus it is possible, even probable, because she does include transgender as an option, that gender is represented differently because it is a more androgenous, malleable characteristic in the futuristic setting of Creatures Such as We (2015).

This is part of what makes Creatures Such as We (2015) interesting, and diversity seem to be an issue addressed by Choice of Games LLC, who clearly attempt to write inclusive games. When a product is written that is not intentionally offensive but is non inclusive, people will initially become aware of it by a sense of a lack of agency, which entails a value judgement at some point. An extreme example is given by Mattie Bryce in the article "Death of the Player"  (2013). Mattie Bryce argues that agency in interactive games can be reduced, especially in games that don't follow conventional wisdom. Small scale games that are not monetized can be more about the designers personal vision than player agency as profit motive may not be a predominant incentive or may event be potentially absent, as a form of self expression or art.

This potential is what makes Twine interesting for me, though it is necessary to pay attention to the various rating systems in use to help decide if a Twine file is actually worth your time, the potential to find something unique or clearly artistic is there. The best, potentially quirky examples are those entered into competitions, although the professionally written interactive fiction is quite entertaining as well.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

13 Good Web Comics, (in my opinion).

List of 13 web comics that I consider good (Alphabetically, Does not reflect an order of preference). 

Atomic Robo (Historical/ Science fiction/ Comedy) : Very good artwork, comedy writing uses a lot of 20th century tropes to good effect. Written in the spirit of 1950s faith in human progress and the potential of atomic energy. Therein lays much of its comedy. Produced by a team that includes Brian Clevinger & Scott Wegener, with Dr Dinosaur in customer support services.

Brood Hollow (Supernatural thriller/ Comedy): Unique artwork, effective for its subject matter, set in 1930s small town America. Produced by Chris Straub.

Cassiopeia Quinn (Science Fiction/ Comedy): Good artwork, best described as Westernized manga in a Space Opera Setting. Cute & funny. Produced by a team that includes Gunwild & Psudonym.

Daughter of Lilles (Tolkienesque Fantasy/ Comedy): Brilliant Artwork, interesting ideas. Still kind of a new comic. Produced by Meg Syverud & Jessica "Yoko" Weaver.  

Guilded Age (Tolkienesque Fantasy/ Comedy): Unique artwork, effective for subject matter, interesting ideas, political realism in a Tolkienesque fantasy/ long story, "The Saga of the Working Class Adventurer". Produced by a team that includes T Campbell, Phil Khan, John & Jason Waltrip.

Kill Six Billion Demons (Supernatural Thriller): Mind blowing artwork, artist sometimes takes about a month to make each scene, the story has interesting ideas. Produced by Abbadon.

Lacksadaisy Cats (Anthropomorphic Animals (Cats)/ Historical /Comedy): Really Good Art, Well written, you won't find a better comic about cats being 1920s- 1930s gangsters anywhere else. Produced by Tracy J Butler.

Sheldon (Relationship Comedy): Unique artwork, good writing, good natured, cute & funny . I like the duck and the old man. But then again who wouldn’t? (If you attempt to describe it, prepare to have your time wasted while they process that you are not talking about "that" character). Produced by Dave Kellett.

Sluggy Freelance (Relationship comedy that over time becomes science fiction/ supernatural thriller) : Artwork develops over time from minimal to quite good, the artists skill develops and the story becomes quite involved and often clever, often satire and sometimes scary. Always funny, because it is at heart a comedy. A long running daily web comic. Produced by Pete.

SMBC, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (Observational Humour) : Adequate artwork with clever, possibly (who am I kidding? Always) dark, amusing writing. (Sometimes makes fun of XKCD, its like that). Produced by Zach Weinersmith.

Snow by Night (Supernatural Thriller/Colonial Fantasy). Good artwork, with an interesting 18th century (1700s) setting. Some light hearted comic moments. Produced by a team that includes Eric Menge & Julie A Wright (et al), and has contributors.

Something Positive (Relationship Comedy): Artwork develops over time, unique artwork, effective for its subject matter, developed ongoing narrative. Author uses dramatic irony a lot, but also has characters evince a double perspective. Comforting, I read it regularly. Also site is a good gateway to other comics, something about community I guess. Produced by rkmilholland.

XKCD (Observational Humour): Minimalist Artwork that elaborates on itself, likes graphs, tables, scientific methods of data presentation, then makes fun of them. Clever writing. "Hoverboard" deserves special mention. Gets made fun of by SMBC, which is a bit like watching two nerds fight in the play ground, I ah, imagine. Produced by Randall Munroe.

Finally a comic from Sheldon  (9th of Dec 2015),