Games

A short history of Flash & the forgotten Flash Website movement (when websites were “the new emerging artform”)

This post is a transcript of a talk I gave at UCSC. Thank you for inviting me! I’m sharing it here because It’s a GOOD summary of the history of a technology that’s very dear to me (and also a defense of said technology)… so I think it may interest some. — For this talk I’m going to go over a short history of Flash, its decline, and what I feel lead up to that (from the point of view of someone that was heavily invested in this technology and all the surrounding communities), as well as what I think...

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Dev update for the new Tetrageddon.com (old-school animated cursors, iFrames, and more!)

I’ve been sharing this a lot on Twitter, but thought I should finally make an actual proper update with what I’m working on right now… including some of the ideas going into it! I’ve been working on re-designing (completely re-doing) Tetrageddon.com (the web version, not the desktop one). I guess you could call it a reboot? It’s exciting for me because I feel like the 2013 version has always been a bit of a placeholder that I kinda kept building on with the idea that “Ok, I’ll get to this later…” and “later” never came. Although I’m proud of it,...

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The Beautiful Rebellion of Video Game Bugs (how simulated worlds express malfunction in their own way, and that poetic digital decay…)

My favorite thing to do while playing AAA games is to go bug hunting. Not bug as in virtual insects, but bugs as in those weird quirks that totally break the immersion of the game, and put to test my ability to take it serious. It’s almost like the game laughs back at me for being immersed. I’m reminded that this is still software, and it breaks in very silly ways. My current video game hot take: Video game bugs are like glitch art. Just a sillier version of that. It’s incredibly novel to me how each simulated world expresses...

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Asking Kotaku for accountability, a collection of my threads (cries for help) all in one convenient place…

This is a short post that I will probably hide from the front page… The intention with this is to be a collection of all my threads in which I’ve been asking Kotaku for accountability for how they have exploited, lied to, and endangering sexual assault survivors. I’m putting all this in a post to keep track of the extend that I’ve been asking, and I’ve been ignored. After they covered metoo in games last time, and got lauded for “great journalism” by people that know what they did to us, I’ve made a point to tweet about it once...

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All the beautiful Zines from the first ever Electric Zine Jam (and the recorded stream)

This last week IndieCade ran a small event for the Electric Zine Maker. This is what was done in place of the E3 showcase that the Electric Zine Maker was chosen for. I’m honored and deeply touched by the amazing work they did in organizing this. I have an interview with Celia. You can see that here: Part 1, and Part 2… where we talked about the Electric Zine Maker, many of the ideas that went into it, and Celia ended with some profound thoughts on preservation. It’s a good talk! IndieCade also organized a few streams where guests made...

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Open sourcing the Electric Zine Maker (early commit available on github!)

Thanks to a grant by the Clinic for Open Source Arts (COSA) at the University of Denver the Electric Zine Maker is now open sourced. I am grateful for their generosity to creative open source projects such as this one. The github repository is here: https://github.com/alienmelon/Electric-Zine-Maker Do read the readme… although, this post is the same as the readme. So here are the details… This is a VERY early stage of the open sourcing process. All of the Electric Zine Maker, the various language renditions that it will undergo, and all the messy prototype bits, will be available there thanks...

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The New Electric Zine Maker Update! (About the grant, open source plans, and some thoughts on UI design…)

The newest update for the Electric Zine Maker is out! This marks the one year anniversary of the Zine Maker… It’s one year old. They grow up so fast! You can download it on itch here, or GameJolt here. I’m really proud of this one. It’s a tools update, but it feels like a major milestone because It Got Done. I took a step back from the Zine Maker, earlier this year, to build the story world for it. That’s the ARG that I’ve been talking about. You can check out the itch page for it here, and play it....

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Mackerelmedia Fish: an ARG-like text adventure game (with sourcefiles)

I just published this. It’s an ARG-like text adventure game called mackerelmediafish.com It’s about digital archeology, exploring the ruins of a long abandoned website, RSS spelunking, braving the hazards of the old web, and finding friendship in unlikely places. Play it here: mackerelmediafish.com The entire thing is open source here: https://github.com/alienmelon/mackerelmediafish-source I’ve been very quietly working on this for a while. I didn’t want to talk about it because I was afraid of jinxing it. I’m pretty sure that I jinxed my last project by talking about it while I was developing it (that’s why it failed horribly and couldn’t...

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UI design is fun! (inspirational ways of looking at UI, and discussing how to better understand UI’s place in game design…)

This post is an extended writeup of what would have been my GDC2020 talk. Since the conference has been postponed I’m sharing parts of this talk as a blogpost (I elaborated on what would have been my talk. This post is much longer). Last year I wrote about some of this on Gamasutra (link here). I also have a twitter thread where I’m collecting links to historic UI’s (link here). It’s kind of a source for inspiration. Also, here’s a youtube channel of interesting synth UI’s… There’s lots to be inspired by! UI design can be pretty amazing :) UI...

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An open letter to game journalists: #metoo, fighting with surviving abusive reporting, and the fallout of not caring

If you follow me on Twitter then you will be familiar with what I’ve been going through, and the intention of this post. I announced that I would write an open letter to game journalists about all this, so this is that letter. My intention with this post is to completely share EVERYTHING about how my story was treated (this is mainly in criticism of Kotaku’s handling of this since they had access to legitimate sources which they pretty much universally shat on), the consequences this has had, how this has affected me, how this (the way the sources were...

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The wonderful world of tools made by small teams, solo-devs, and shareware (weird, beautiful, and experimental things to be creative in + an analysis on building for approachability)

Since starting development on the Electric Zine Maker I’ve been hoarding links to interesting, unusual, strange, small, or just cute tools. This has grown to be a strong area of interest as I’ve been diving into what even makes a tool approachable… How much experimental UI or humor is too much? Do people even want tools that are goofy? What else is out there from creators making small and interesting tools that solve a variety of creative problems? Before I begin, you should definitely go check out Galaxy Kate’s work on Casual Creators. She has done A LOT of work...

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walking sims and the joy of existing in a virtual space

I play a lot of walking sims. It’s probably one of my favorite type of game to play when I’m exploring alt-indie games on itch. I think they are interesting for how they explore what it means to be in a space, the relation of space to a player, and how their existence brings into question why you even need goals to be motivated to meaningfully interact with a space. To me walking sims represent a type of interaction I can’t really have in open world AAA games. They are about carving out a tiny moment, and giving attention to...

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games as found objects & virtual relics

There’s this type of play experience that’s unique to freeware. It’s been part of the internet ever since Dial Up. That past time of finding weird things to download, from sites that you might more or less trust, and running them. Games, software, weird small things… It’s a pastime that I remember fondly when our modem “could do” 64 kbit/s. I used to spend hours on Downloads dot Com searching for DOS games. I found Chickens 2 that way, and still have the original copy on my machine. I never had the heart to delete it. PC Gamer used to...

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the future of my games on Apple (post-Catalina) and what this means for art games in general

Recently I posted a Twitter thread about OSX Catalina blocking all my games… An update for those of you that can't run my games anymore on OSX because of Catalina.I'm so sorry about this…I'll probably write a post about this, breaking it all down for you, but the situation is as follows.(from my point of view, and own experiences with Apple)[thread] pic.twitter.com/PY0y3o9gNF — Nathalie Lawhead (@alienmelon) November 7, 2019 …since I’ve been getting people asking me about that, and there doesn’t seem to be much anyone can do at this point other than throw their hands in the air and...

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design notes, a bit on definition hell, and building an “art toy”…

Sometime last week I released the breakfast tool update to the Electric Zine Maker! You can download it on itch: https://alienmelon.itch.io/electric-zine-maker Or on GameJolt: https://gamejolt.com/games/zine/426661 I also have a lengthy devlog about it on itch.io (here) so you can read that for a detailed breakdown of what’s new. Overall I feel like it’s a major update for all the cute tools it brings to the table (including a more elaborate ASCII art painter, which I can’t shut up about because it’s ASCII art) BUT ALSO because it clearly defines the tone of the overall program…more than before imo. So far...

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IndieCade Europe Keynote: Addressing abuse in our communities and how can we move forward (full transcript)

Following is the full transcript of the keynote that I gave at this IndieCade Europe. I wrote everything out that I intended to say because this is a difficult thing to coherently talk about. The message is very important. Thank you so much to the IndieCade Europe organizers for making this happen and giving this message a platform. About this talk: This talk is about abuse in our industry. The necessity of providing a safe space for survivors to come forward about abuse. The equal importance of our community to constructively create accountability for those that cause harm. —————————- Hi...

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Design notes on the Electric Zine Maker’s Tool Update! (and general life update + overshare)

Earlier this September I released the tool update for the Electric Zine Maker. Yay! You can download it here. You can read the devlog about it (a list of all the new tools) here. It’s not a complete tool update. I released it because I’m kind of in the middle of a lot of uncertainty about the future right now, so (to get around that), I’m changing the release schedule to be more frequent instead of what I planned. I originally wanted to release tools in larger chunks so that it stays interesting to people… You know, if you release...

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my follow up post

To start off, I would like to thank all my friends, and supporters, who have reached out to me. I’m also sorry that I’ve been very bad at answering texts, emails, and DM’s. I’ve been trying to stay off social media and lay low. Thank you all for your support. As you can imagine I didn’t expect this. In a recent Twitter thread I said that I would do a follow up post hopefully clearing the air and dealing with some of the misconceptions, or less welcoming theories about my intentions, that have been coming my way. Before you go...

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calling out my rapist

On November 4 2008 I was contacted by a studio in Vancouver to design and build an ARG for their new IP. I talked about my experiences of working with this company before. For example, in this post. What I didn’t share, when talking about my experiences, is that I was raped by Jeremy Soule while I was working there. I’m writing this post to honestly, and openly, explain what I have been through. I am sharing emails between myself and my bosses (and others that I worked with) to provide proof of the abuse that I went through. I...

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on UI design & using UI as a means to tell a story, convey emotion, create personality… an in-depth look…

Throughout development of the Electric Zine Maker I’ve been trying to find some time to finally talk about UI, and how important it is to view it as part of your “world building” rather than just UI work. All of my work heavily relies on UI to convey the message of the game, or further build on it. To me UI is just as important as, say: dialogue, music, design… if done right it reinforces the themes of your game, and even builds on it in a way that you might not be able to convey anywhere else. So, OK,...

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