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 Mastodon

Exploring the beautiful worlds of games made with “RPG in a Box”

This is a cross publish of a post I just put up on itch.io. Itch.io has started supporting blogging! My posts so far are… * Video game blogging at the end of the world (hello world!~) * Exploring the beautiful worlds of games made with “RPG in a Box” (get it free December 1st through December 8th) But I swear I will get back to posting here too! I mean to use my itch.io blog for short form things, and this one for long form writing… Tho it’s kind of turned on its head right now because blogging on itch.io...

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The Joy of Silly Useless Software

I was invited by the wonderful organizers of the “Gamez & ruleZ” conference to speak. I’m grateful to have been given an opportunity to discuss a topic that I’m passionate about: silly software (like desktop pets or other unusual programs that are hard to classify). Following is my talk turned into a blog post. There are a lot of recommendations here, and I hope you enjoy these wonderful, strange, silly finds… As you may know, I’m an experimental game designer, and make weird software that kind of exists in the space between games and “something else”. It’s the type of...

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MoMA’s “Never Alone: Video Games and Other Interactive Design” Exhibit & The Hopeful Future of Video Game Preservation

I just came back from visiting New York City to attend the opening for MoMA’s newest exhibit all about video games, interactive art, and the “@” sign. The exhibit is also accompanied by a book in the MoMA Design Store. In case you haven’t heard, “Everything is going to be OK” was one of the games that the museum acquired! MoMA’s journey into acquiring (and effectively preserving) video games has been an effort they announced back in 2012. This was met with much controversy in the art space, as most notably captured in the Guardian article titled “Sorry MoMA, video...

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When software makes you laugh! (…creativity as a mechanic, how it exists in games, and the ethics of either empowering or exploiting creation)

A lot of exciting tool related developments have been happening in the indie game space since my last post. Go get lost checking out all The Tool Jam 2 submissions… also my Cool Tools itch.io collection is at its 400th addition as of today! When I started writing about tools, and putting together that curation, I thought I would stop at maybe 30… or 100 if I felt like doing too much work. I only got into paying attention to all this because of the Electric Zine Maker, and I wanted to highlight other exciting work done in this space....

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BlueSuburbia Progress Update (screenshots of what I’m working on)

As you probably know from following me on either Mastodon or Twitter, I’ve been working hard on my next “game” (the appropriate label for it is still undecided)… built in UE5. This post is an excuse to share a bunch of screenshots! There have been points where I wasn’t sure if what I was making would even run on any other computer, but I tested it today on my work laptop… omg it runs! Smoothly too! When I started I didn’t completely understand performance, or settings, or all the fancy things Unreal lets you do with optimization… so it was...

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“Abusing you was by the book” (documenting two years of abuse from Game Journalism, after sharing my #metoo… the whole painful story all in one place)

It has been about a full year since the Kotaku article that exploited my sexual assault, and exploited the other victims of my rapist, has been removed. A full year since I had to argue with journalists for my life, and trying to show them the extent of the harm this has caused. I am told that what I achieved was “unprecedented” (I hate that word). That articles don’t get removed without lawyers, this, that, or the other fancy thing only rich or powerful people have. Nevertheless, I don’t feel victorious. I feel burned out, abused, laughed at, and alienated....

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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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