alienmelon

Nathalie Lawhead is a net-artist and award winning game designer that has been creating experimental digital art since the late 90's. Past works include titles such as the IGF winning Tetrageddon Games, "Everything is going to be OK", and the Electric Zine Maker. Follow them on Twitter: @alienmelon

Liminal Fever Dreams & Rejecting the Player (the surrealist, strange, upsetting otherworlds of video games)

I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time, but held off to wait for The Lovely Estate to release a patch that would fix the walking issue. It’s fixed. This game is tremendous and you must give it a chance! Talking about this game here was important to me because it captures everything that I love about atmospheric games. It has a MOOD. – The Lovely Estate “You’re here to get someone. They’re here to breathe until they can’t anymore. Mind the fumes. Explore the secrets within these stained walls and find something before it finds you.” The...

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“Everything is going to be OK” is in THE collection in MoMA (also Tetrageddon won the Webby)

I’m finally able to share some incredible news that deserves a blog post all on its own… “Everything is going to be OK” was accepted into the permanent collection in MoMA (New York)!!! I am honored to be able to announce that. It will be part of the Never Alone exhibit this September… Never Alone Video Games and Other Interactive Design Sep 10, 2022–summer 2023 “Everything is going to be OK” is a work that I’m probably most proud of. It has everything from me, poetry, animation, meaning… I’m honored that it has meant so much to so many people,...

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Photogammetry, Meshroom, and Blender (some learning resources that helped me)

“Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs. It infers the geometry of a scene from a set of unordered photographs or videos. Photography is the projection of a 3D scene onto a 2D plane, losing depth information. The goal of photogrammetry is to reverse this process.” – Meshroom github I’ve been doing a lot of 3D modeling lately and, because I’m new to it, I have also been experimenting with finding workflows that I might be comfortable in. For example a friend of mine models a lot in VR. She swears by it. Anyone I have asked has...

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Use, participation, visibility, and anti-artificial scarcity… How small independent tools help us construct a reality that empowers us (something of a manifesto)

Tool development, as an umbrella term that is used to describe software that is both utilitarian and a toy, has become deeply important to me. I think there is something interesting to observe from that space, especially when it is centered around making interesting visual experiments functional to artists. It invites abundance and generocity. For example, J.Kirchartz’s Glitchy3bitDither has become invalualbe to me. It’s a browser based glitching tool that lets you import an image, and then choose from a series of glitch effects. Yes, I can make my own. Yes, there are so many of these. No, for me,...

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Tetrageddon.com is officially a Webby Nominee (and Honoree)!

I woke up to some incredible news today! The Webbys nominated Tetrageddon.com! (Under the “Weird” category, which is the cool category.) Tetrageddon.com is 15 years old. It was created June of 2007, and I have been building it, tearing it down, rebuilding it, creating this strange weird online world… for over a decade. ~~~ Webby Nominations Tetrageddon is a Webby Nominee in Websites and Mobile Sites – Weird: Official listing link Webby Honors Tetrageddon is a Webby Honoree in Websites and Mobile Sites – NetArt: Official listing link ~~~ You can vote for Tetrageddon here! Tetrageddon.com also received an honor...

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Itch.io creators you need to follow & some of their beautiful work

Featured image from “space for black hair zine” by starybri A while ago I noticed that my itch following grew quite a bit (now over 5k followers!), but I don’t nearly follow enough people there. I think it goes without saying that itch.io is a wonderful platform. The way they let you follow creators there, and handle notifying you, has been invaluable to me in terms of finding those hidden gems. I have an unsorted growing curation-monstrosity called “the good stuff” that I mention any chance I get. So… I put out a call for people to share their projects...

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Recommended Reading Roundup #2

This is my second roundup of recommended reading, in which I share articles (or threads, or youtube videos…) that bring awareness to issues that I feel are desperately underrepresented. Like I said in my first roundup… “I’m also going to try to focus on sharing things relating to marginalized groups in Europe, as they relate to my own family’s history or (complicated) identity (Eastern Europe and the Balkans).” Doing this will continue to be especially important to me as I work on BlueSuburbia. You can read about my plans for the project in my announcement post here. If you find...

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“RPG In A Box” is a cool tool! (an alternative game development curation)

– RPG in a Box by Zeromatrix I know I probably say this in every one of my Tool posts, but I’m constantly amazed by the breadth of work that’s out there from developers who are making independent tools. Just when you think you’ve seen it all a new take on “how to be creative on your computer” surfaces, and you fall in love with it all over again. I’ve written these tool roundups so much that I started a “Tools” category, and my Cool Tools itch curation keeps growing. I didn’t think this is something you could keep up...

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Recommended Reading Roundup #1

I’m going to try something new for this blog and that will be roundups of recommended reading. Here is the first! There’s a lot that I usually don’t get to share on my social media because that space is heavily game’s focused… so I thought of saving informative things I read, or quality resource, and then regularly sharing them on my blog. I’m also going to try to focus on sharing things relating to marginalized groups in Europe, as they relate to my own family’s history or (complicated) identity (Eastern Europe and the Balkans). I don’t get to talk about...

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Exciting news: I’m on Rhizome!! (Artbase and Artist Profile)

So here’s a dream come true for my work, and I’m dedicating an entire blog post to this very cool news… My work is on Rhizome again! Artist Profile: Nathalie Lawhead By Ryan Kuo https://rhizome.org/editorial/2022/feb/01/artist-profile-nathalie-lawhead/ Everything is going to be OK Rhizome Artbase https://artbase.rhizome.org/wiki/Q12199 “Everything is going to be OK” was recently included in the Rhizome Artbase. They put out a call for submissions for their executable poetry project. It seemed perfect. “Everything is going to be OK” very much fits that description because it features so much poetry. Then Ryan Kuo asked if I wanted to collaborate on an...

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Revisiting BlueSuburbia in Unreal (an update on what I’ve been up to)

I have been heavily invested in learning Unreal and Blender. I announced that I wanted to make a 3D game, so this is my trajectory for the foreseeable future. I’ve been keeping a development update thread on Twitter. It’s fun to track it! update: i finished modeling a bunch of trees (enough for variety) and finally got the procedural forest running.it's so cool and spooky!! i was right too. the god rays + trees are intense. the light effect is amazing too. i love this.can't wait to get some good fog into this… https://t.co/E6OeK0h3Wz pic.twitter.com/DjqcVh9vcv — Nathalie Lawhead (@alienmelon) January...

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On GameJolt’s new policy: why stigmatizing “sex” in games is harmful to the medium and never works…

Yesterday GameJolt emailed a lot of people saying that their game was removed because the site’s new policy bans any game that “depicts, solicits, promotes, normalizes, or glorifies sexual acts, sexual solicitation, and sexual violence“. I got an email too for F2OGGY (Only one survives!). This seemed like an obvious error to me because this game has 0 depiction of anything sexual. The game Curtain also received this notice… Source: https://twitter.com/ldreamfeel/status/1478065400286007304 Curtain is a brilliant and critically acclaimed work of art that interrogates abuse. It’s far from a porn game. “CURTAIN is an interactive first-person narrative about Kaci & Ally,...

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Tiny indiegames and the joy of Very Small Things

~ This post is my epic roundup of recommendations for 202x! ~ When we talk about games, especially the indie game space, most of the games we suggest are ones with lots of critical acclaim, playtime, and that demand plenty of involvement. Playing a game these days feels like as much of a financial investment as it becomes a life investment. I find myself drawn more and more to spelunking itch.io for tiny hidden gems… getting lost while diving into all the developer pages filled with all these odd little works. Browsing itch or GameJolt has become almost as rewarding...

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Red Dead Redemption 2 as a commentary on The Game Industry (my love–hate relationship with it)

I’ve been wanting to do another post talking about indie games, analyzing game design, and showcasing good examples from the indie space but… I’m struggling a lot with being afraid of unintentionally platforming an abuser. I know saying that out loud sounds irrational, maybe. It’s been hard finding love for a space that I feel like happily decided people like me are a justifiable loss if it means making snarky Twitter Takes about what they’re going through… or just benefiting from indifference. I don’t know anymore… I don’t want to rant. I want to talk about game design. It’s hard...

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Make Tiny Weird Software, Please! (all about desktop pets, old computer eras, and virtual toys)

I recently gave a keynote talk at the ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado’s Whaaat!? 2021 Festival. A festival focusing on small and quirky games and experimental interactions. They’re doing wonderful work. I’m honored to have been part of this, talking about something very near and dear to my heart. This post is that keynote turned into a blog post. I’m sharing a lot of links here! Mind the in-line text links too for good resources. I hope this will be useful to people that share this same interest. ~ ~ ~ As most of you know, my work...

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Part 2: In support of Wren (the abuse she continues to endure, Fight Knight, and publicly ridiculing her trauma)

This is a continuation of my original post “In support of Wren (the abuse she endured while working on Fight Knight)“. More things have happened since I originally voiced support for Wren and I think it’s really important to discuss how this is all unfolding, in order to hold those responsible for this abuse accountable. I will do my best to be as concise as possible. I am still shook up. TW: severe content warning for all this. Hello, I'm the "writer" of the Dangen Warning and the former writer of Fight Knight. I feel it's important for me to...

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ZineCamp Workshop – using tiny open source tools in your own work, the values of preservation, and building your own tiny tool box

“There are countless tiny tools scattered across the internet, all made with love from independent developers. They might not look like much at first, but if you start using them in combiation with your Professional Everyday Tools, you open the doors for wonderful, unique, and beautiful art. This workshop will demo a tiny handful of these tiny tools, using them in combination with the Electric Zine Maker to make a zine! My hope is that you will leave inspired, and start collecting tiny tools of your own… to regularly find use for in your work.” Cool Tools itch.io collection Open...

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Speaking candidly about things lately (there is no justice and other short horror stories)…

TW: For all the things. I’m writing this because it’s my birthday tomorrow and I REALLY need someone to talk to. My blog exists for that. Many moths ago… because of the ongoing Global Pandemic this feels like an eternity ago, but that’s another tangent… Someone reached out to me for help about coming forward with their story (abuse, the type of story we all know is too normal in the game space by now). This happens a lot and I try my absolute best to be as helpful as possible. I think it’s important to do that because I...

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Talk Transcript: Your uniqueness is your strength (and why that matters to the indiegame space)

Following is the transcript of a talk I gave to the Interactive Media program at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. This talk goes over why uniqueness matters in a space like indie games. I discuss early internet and computer history, and why that history is something we can learn from to maintain the health and openness of the current “golden age” of the indie game space. Links in this slide: – alienmelon.com – unicornycopia.com – tetrageddon.com Hi everyone! My name is Nathalie and I go by alienmelon online and in my work. I’m mostly known for games like...

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In support of Wren (the abuse she endured while working on Fight Knight)

I am writing this post in support of Wren. Hello, I'm the "writer" of the Dangen Warning and the former writer of Fight Knight. I feel it's important for me to come forward about why I left the Fight Knight project. https://t.co/ccrZgh1IeA — Wren (@rivalerose) October 1, 2021 Wren is a wonderful human who endured physical abuse, psychological abuse, gaslighting, manipulation, and pretty much that entire spectrum that we’re way too used to hearing about when survivors share their stories. She endured this while working on the game Fight Knight, putting out what I’m sure was amazing work that we...

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