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

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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Celebrating all the wonderful zines from the Electric Zine Jam 2.0

During the month of September I ran another Electric Zine Jam (the two point oh edition!) in which people made a bunch of beautiful zines. This jam was to celebrate the new Electric Zine Maker update which introduced a number of templates, and the brand new UI update. I’m also over the moon that PAGE online wrote about it! “Zines und OpenSource passen wunderbar zueinander, findet Nathalie Lawhead und entwickelt seit 2018 den Electric Zine Maker. Nun ist ein großes Update für das Printshop-Tool erschienen.” – by Lena Simonis on PAGE, Zine Design: Micro-Heft gestalten mit dem Electric Zine Maker...

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Generative art & tools (on the intersection of toys, tools, and games…)

I hoarded a lot of links to tools again, and am putting aside some time to share them here. Here’s another tool post! I just opened a blog category called “tools” in which you can read all my writing about open source, freeware, or small tools from small devs. At this point I feel like I’ve already said everything I can possibly say about the wonderful world of tools, coming out of this space… It’s an inspiring area that never fails to surprise! One thing that I’ve been thinking about lately is the intersection between tools and games. When you...

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My GDC 2021 Indie SoapBox Talk Transcript (five minutes about making desktop pets & virtual toys)

This last GDC I was invited to participate in the Indie Soapbox. It’s a wonderful set of talks that happens every GDC in which each speaker is given five minutes to talk about anything they want. I talked about desktop pets, desktop toys, and why that entire concept is such a valuable mode of expression. I actually plan on writing a much longer, and more in-depth post about this (it might end up being a longer talk too), as soon as I have time… It’s a topic that has really grown on me because I think it offers so much...

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A retrospective on the Electric Zine Maker, making tools, sharing the $ numbers, and more (after launching the really big update…)

Over this weekend I finally launched the really big Electric Zine Maker update that I have been working on for the last few months. This is a notable update featuring a UI overhaul (it’s less intense now!), new templates, and a lot of fixes. I spent a lot of time making the UI friendlier. I couldn’t help myself so pop-up windows are cute pixel art. There’s animation to many elements, but I think it’s much more refined now. The main menu UI was always very “placeholder”, and many decisions in it had been for the sake of compromising for the...

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Indiepocalypse x kuš! (The secret collaboration I was working on is out now!!)

Here’s a small but meaningful announcement! Download link >> https://pizzapranks.itch.io/indiepocalypse-x-kus Over the last few months I was secretly working on a collaboration project for the “Indiepocalypse x kuš” mashup. The project teamed up a group of random indie devs (provided by Indiepocalypse) with random comic artists (provided by kuš). The results are stellar! Even thecatamites worked on a game for it. I’m honored to be part of this! The person I was teamed up with is Gvidas Pakarklis, who is an amazing illustrator and artist. You can see more of his work on Instagram. His work is very symbolic and...

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Tiny tools and the ephemeral nature of digital art…

It has been a hot minute since I wrote about tools. I’ve got a ton of emails to answer, too much to do, and a lot of work on the Electric Zine Maker that needs doing but… I’ll just make a moment to finally talk about tools and digital art again! These links aren’t going to share themselves. Before I begin, here is some recommended reading: Parasocial Nintendo Complex: 10 Years of Game Dev by Melos Han-Tani My Procreate Curl Brushes Are HERE!! I made over 50+ different coil, curl, kinky, and wavy texture brushes! I also made more outline...

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The Machine That Eats People

I just finished having a really long conversation with another friend that works in games and it inspired me to write this post. It’s given me a lot to think about. I’m still processing my experiences… As I write this, the game space is under another metoo “moment”. More of these horrible, but all too normal stories, this time coming out of Blizzard. I won’t be linking to any of these because I don’t have the stomach for it. We’ve had these “moments” come and go now for the last few years. Each time reminding this space of the abuse...

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If Cosby’s trial were Game Industry Twitter Discourse™…

This post is a rant because, despite all the things my blog has become known for… it is still my personal blog where I talk about how I am doing. Today I’m angry and need to vent. Alternative title: Need to vent. Might delete later. Just days ago my Twitter timeline was blowing up with news of Near’s death. It’s a very difficult and heartbreaking story. I don’t really want to say much about this loss other than it is a tremendous loss. I’ll share the two tweets, but please look up this person’s contributions too. This post is not...

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My next game will be a horror game! (unpacking the horrors of social media, the violence of words, and the experiences it will be based on…)

I’m making a new game. This is my first, very early attempt at an artist statement, creative philosophy, and unpacking what it is about… This all is about something very near to my heart, very real to me, and I would like to take some power back by making art from these experiences. The Fiction… The game opens in a long straight hall. This space is like a temple. There’s this atmosphere or reverence, dread, forgottenness… It’s been well traveled, but nobody is here. It’s not a place that people like to go. Along the sides of this passage are...

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Bitsy is Beautiful! (exploring the Bitsy space and some of my favorite Bitsy games)

This post is all about Bitsy! I vividly remember the very first Bitsy game that I played. I don’t remember who it was by, or how to find it again… it’s lost in the sea of Bitsy games that came out since. I almost brushed it off because, judging by the first impression, Bitsy looks so easy to not think much of. In a space like itch.io that is inundated with thousands of really great indie games, all with some pretty great and complicated visual styles, why even try it? On the other hand Bitsy runs in the browser so...

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Thank You

As I’m sure you’re aware of, if you follow me on Twitter, or read this blog, I have been spending well over a year Tweeting everyday at Kotaku asking them to please DO SOMETHING (ANYTHING, PLEASE, JUST SOMETHING, AT LEAST DELETE THE ARTICLE, HELP!!?!?) about the harm that they caused for myself and the other sources that were abused for an article that Kotaku wrote about my rapist. It’s a long, drawn out story. I even opened a separate category on my blog because I wrote so much about this. If you’re not aware, you can read these things… An...

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Software is Art! (KhK Games class talk transcript)

This is the talk transcript of a talk I just gave as a guest speaker at the KhK Games class. Thank you for inviting me!
They also have a beautiful itch.io page here, where you can see equally as beautiful work.

This talk is about viewing software, the desktop, and all our virtual environments as art. Treating all these platforms as legitimate spaces that we can create stories in. The intersection between software, websites, and games is an inspiring area…

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Game Journalism Is Dead

This is long-form criticism with a clickbait headline. I’m writing this all again… Painfully aware of every bridge I have now burned as a result of standing up for myself, all the people who have been blocked by self-proclaimed game journalists with the word “leftist” in their Twitter bio, and the never ending cycle that this is going to continue to be. I have a pit in my stomach from knowing that so many people that supported me, publicly, have now been blocked by journalists here. I feel sick thinking that this is the way they decided to deal with...

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Talk Transcript: Spring 2021 #OSSTA Lecture Series (my talk on tiny non-commercial tools, fantasy consoles, and tools-as-games)

For the past few months the Electric Zine Maker was part of the STUDIO’s OSSTA Residency Program (at Carnegie Mellon). They have been funding and supporting development of the Zine Maker. They are to thank for the comming UI re-design, and all the new features that have been coming to it. You can follow them on Twitter here (they host some amazing things). As of writing this I just finished giving my talk in their OSSTA Lecture Series. Speakers included Everest Pipkin (who just published this vital repository of Open Source tools), Marina Kittaka (of Zonelets), and Kate Compton (who...

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Stories are Structures, Videogames are Places – LudoNarraCon 2021 Recording

Hey so… I thought I should share this here really quickly. This last Friday I participated in a LudoNarraCon panel with Claris Cyarron (of SilverString Media), Jord Farrel (MrTedders), and Zoyander Street (the person behind the Cis Penance interactive documentary project) about video game spaces. We discuss the assertions that “stories are structures” and “videogames are places”… About how you can explore these worlds, what they meant to us, and all the nuances behind the intersection between virtual environments and the stories we build for them. It was a wonderful panel that I thought was very inspiring. The recording is...

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5 beautiful altgames (tiny special things found on itch.io that are deeply meaningful)

I’ve been posting some pretty heavy stuff lately so, to get myself grounded back into what I love the most, I thought I should write about some altgames (artgames, small indie games, tiny experiences?) that had a meaningful effect on me lately. I have a million things to do, a super busy week, but I can’t hold back on these. They’re all beautiful and offer something unique, or special. I couldn’t recommend them enough! SkateRPG by danieldante Last night I finally played

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A very angry & venty blog post that I’m writing just to get shit off my chest…

This is an update to my situation: I am angry. I am writing this for the sake of venting… at the very most to keep documenting what has been happening. Writing feels like all I can do… I’ve been fighting for over a year with Kotaku, and then game journalism in general, to care about what they have done to survivors in this space (in terms of misrepresenting our stories). I’m not the only one this was done to by Kotaku and the same journalist. It’s a loop that I’m tired of talking about because it keeps spinning and getting...

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