Games

Celebrating some beautiful jam games <3

There is no greater joy as a game developer (and general fan of video games) to just browse random game jam submissions and get lost in a sea of work. There is so much stuff being released every day, you could isolate all releases for just one month and it would probably take a lifetime to play through everything. From all that, only a small sliver is ever really seen. I don’t think that’s bad. I think that abundance is brave. “Amateur” work is and always was at the heart of video games. I say this because browsing random jam...

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A curation of beautiful thoughtful poetic silly and queer zines made with the Electric Zine Maker

~ tiny literature capturing forgotten moments, queerness, silly illustrations, and random poetic thoughts ~ It has been a good while since I last shared anything to do with the Electric Zine Maker, so I thought I should highlight some of the work people have made in it recently. Making an art tool is a humbling experience. I’m constantly blown away by the beautiful work people make in it and the fact that they would choose the Electric Zine Maker to make something in the first place. Many of the zines use the tools in unique ways that surprise me. I...

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The open-source no-code world of GDevelop (if you miss browser Flash games, this is keeping that dream alive!)

(This is a cross-post of my recent itch.io blog post which you can read here.) I’ve seen GDevelop mentioned here and there and have been meaning to write about it for some time. I was invited by Marcos Codas to check it out and I’m grateful for that! The more I dug into GDevelop for this post, the more I was blown away by this tremendous tiny space of beautiful browser games all made in this open source game development environment. What is worth highlighting is that GDevelop boasts easily making things with “no-code”. This makes it perfect for people...

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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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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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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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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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“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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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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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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