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...

Continue reading...

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

Continue reading...

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...

Continue reading...

Surviving video game journalism (another post on journalism’s aversion to accountability, and addressing concerns about “the precedence” that humanizing sexual assault survivors sets)

Surviving video game journalism (another post on journalism’s aversion to accountability, how this abuse was NOT factually accurate, and addressing concerns about “the precedence” that humanizing sexual assault survivors sets):
Journalists have a responsibility to protect vulnerable people. The way you write about this can impact someone’s ability to have a life afterward. It should not cost us a suicide in this space for you to finally acknowledge that.

Continue reading...

Tetrageddon Games now on Github! (the entire project and all Flash games are open source again…)

Here’s a small but meaningful update. I’ve been working on-and-off for a while now to put Tetrageddon.com on Github. Now that it’s been re-built and re-launched, with a new direction, it’s appropriate that it stays with the open source nature. I always advertised it as an “open source arcade”. That said, you can download the entire thing from github here: https://github.com/alienmelon/TetrageddonGames It includes all audio assets, art, animated gifs, code, smaller HTML pages, various JavaScript… There’s a lot to it. I am not at all sure what use this will be for people. It’s super specific to this project. A...

Continue reading...

Talk Transcript: The browser is a creative playground!

This is the transcript of a talk I gave for the Web Art Jam. A jam that will start at midnight tonight (March 19, 2021), hosted by @Synodai and @tomagotchidad. You can join through discord (as of writing this it’s currently running). Thank you for having me! My name is Nathalie, I go by “alienmelon” online and in my work. I make experimental software, experimental games, and basically love exploring experimental creative stuff on computers. I’ve done A LOT of interactive web art in the past. I started as a net-artist in the late 90’s, so this is a topic...

Continue reading...

New templates for the Electric Zine Maker and more on what’s planned for it!

Yesterday, The Guardian published this really beautiful story by Sarah Griffin on how her using the Electric Zine Maker recaptured her creativity during lockdown. The article is just beautiful. To myself, it’s tremendously encouraging that I made something that helped people… It’s also so much more than that. It’s kind of like a very touching account of zine culture, and captures why zine culture is so special. “Last year, I sent almost 2,000 envelopes full of zines to people who wanted to read them. Something else happened, too: people I didn’t know sent zines back to me. Their children made...

Continue reading...

The inspired brilliance of Katelabs, a foray into glitch tools, and what zine culture has taught me about games & software dev…

Here is an inspired find that’s… just… an amazing encapsulation of everything good about freeware tools. Trust me. You need this one! It’s a level editor of sorts, reminiscent of old school tools like Nickelodeon Director’s Lab, mixed with what feels like a very personal approach to what it means to create on a computer from the developer that made it. Katelabs “In KATELABS, Kate Barrett (Ready Player F**K, Flamingo Quest) brings you her most advanced tech yet… But with a twist! YOU get to be let loose with it! It’s a deep level editor with lots of features including...

Continue reading...

“Relax, babe. It’s just business.” – Game Journalism

Contexts… i am still asking @kotaku, and game journalism, to please care about this.your treatment of sexual assault survivors (the vulnerable people you said you "believe" and "stand by") almost killed people.you have ignored it to no end.even when i gave you actionable things to do- https://t.co/OwuWrk8MSH pic.twitter.com/sagufCh2Nr — Nathalie Lawhead (@alienmelon) February 5, 2021 Gonna vomit. pic.twitter.com/oj7cCg1CBb — No Escape from Shitposting (@noescapevg) February 5, 2021 This post is a reaction to the news of Stephen Totilo’s leaving Kotaku, and why everything about how Kotaku, Totilo, and game journalism, has treated this situation is beyond… words. I write this...

Continue reading...

Games are giant weird story machines! (video games, their stories, and building stories for systems)

Entomorph: Plague of the Darkfall was a 90’s action-adventure role-playing game that… I still struggle to describe today. It’s a wildly “all over the map” type of experience somehow pulled through by the very nightmarish storyline. I played it when it first came out so now… I paraphrase the following heavily and try to recall this from memory: I remember the game starting on a beach-side village, the place being swarmed by undead and giant insects. You have to go do something to save the village from this invasion, something dark that’s falling over the world… You eventually do, pretty...

Continue reading...

Exploring the beautiful world of indie horror games (why work from smaller devs, and indie devs, is so meaningful)

When we talk about “narrative” or “storytelling” in games, the conversations really fascinate me. I think the same for any aspect of working on a game. Writing for a game is SO RIDICULOUSLY fundamentally different from writing a traditional story, that it takes a whole different type of mindset. Every game is different. Every context of the writing is unique. You can’t just think linearly. You have to look at context, atmosphere, restrictions of the system, the randomness that comes with having something interactive… The same for music in games, art in games… Games are very haphazard, roughly strewn together...

Continue reading...

New Tetrageddon.com is here! (Cybermonkey has died, a broken desktop haunted by skeletons of the past, and more…)

At the beginning of this year I relaunched a brand new Tetrageddon Games (the web version… not to be confused with ARMAGAD, the desktop version). I did this because I waited till basically the absolute last minute to see if Flash emulators would be up to par to be able to run the games. The majority of these games are Actionscript 3 based. The ones that are Actionscript 2 based don’t run well on emulators yet… long story short, emulators aren’t really exactly ready yet. So I went with the alternative plan of releasing all games as desktop apps, and...

Continue reading...

Killing us slowly – When your allyship stops short of doing the hard thing, when your solidarity turns against the people you once said you believe

For the last year I have been daily Tweeting at Kotaku, asking for accountability for how they treated me and other sexual assault survivors for their stories. I’ve gone over this so often. I’m on repeat. I’ve written blog post after blog post carefully explaining the situation. Showing proof of what was done in the form of screenshots. Sharing the account of others abused by this same journalist. Explaining that this nearly killed people. The harm that it caused to those vulnerable people exploited… Over and over and over again. I don’t know how else to say this. It placed...

Continue reading...

why are the lives of those that spoke up so worthless to you, but you so readily protect the abusers? (commenting on everything)

I’m am writing this post for a number of reasons. I don’t really know how to summarize it yet. I’m tired. It’s also partly a pre-emptive defense on the fact that a Youtuber, who had ties with Gamer Gate, made a video defending me. I think it’s fair to state that I have exhausted every possible option to bring attention to this, and what is still an ongoing struggle that feels like I’m fighting for my life. When I came forward about my assault, A LOT of people professed their support for me. Some pretty big and influential people reached...

Continue reading...

“I want shorter games with worse graphics made by people who are paid more to work less and I’m not kidding”

This post is about stuff that’s been on my mind lately. I had some game recommendations that I wanted to write about, and then I suppose it grew into more… – image credit and title inspiration go to @moshboy Recently I’ve started playing more AAA open world games because it’s been helping me cope with self-isolation. Stuff like GTA 5 and the new Spider Man game (the Miles Morales one). I don’t really have much to say about these games, and would rather not give them more attention than they need because they are AAA and enough people talk about...

Continue reading...

Start making tools! (on making experimental art tools and why it’s valuable for indie game devs to make them)

This is the talk transcript that I gave for the ENJMIN Game Conference, about the practice of making small tools and why it’s valuable for indie game developers to do that. Thank you for having me! – — – — – — – — – — – — – — The topic of my talk will be about making experimental art tools, or just tools in general, and why tool making is such a valuable contribution to this space. Links in this slide: * Cool Tools on itch.io * Open source, experimental, and tiny tools roundup * The wonderful world...

Continue reading...

The Flash game movement, my early Flash work, and how Flash games informed what we have in indie games today…

This post is the transcript of the talk I gave for the MacKenzie Art Gallery and their “Gone in a Flash” livestream series about Adobe Flash and digital art archiving.
My talk is going to be about my work but also the historic context, in terms of digital culture, that all this falls under.
It’s about Flash games, early Flash work, and how that movement informed what we have in indie games today…

Continue reading...

Cecilia D’Anastasio’s journalism is rape culture in a nutshell, and you all really need to start giving a shit about what this has done to survivors…

I’m writing this because today Cecilia D’Anastasio won another award for her journalism (Forbes 30 under 30), and no amount of information about how she has abused vulnerable people (her sources) is enough to make accountability happen. I said that I would write another post detailing what she has done to others. I would make this vague, and anonymize things, so that it doesn’t cause harm on those abused by her. This is that post. I hope this will serve as more information about why she should not be awarded for nearly killing people. Although I doubt it at this...

Continue reading...

Opening Electric Zine Maker on macOS guide (I downloaded the Electric Zine Maker but it won’t open on my Mac. It keeps getting blocked…)

I’m publishing this page so I have an official guide to send to macOS users that have this problem. Thank you for downloading my work! Here is why this happens, and what you can do to open it… This is a Gatekeeper issue. Newer versions of macOS, starting with Catalina, introduced measures to block non-notarized apps from developers. Notarizing an app means that I have to pay Apple a yearly fee of $100 to be able to sign my work with them. I have to keep paying this fee, else the certificate expires. Long answer short, I cannot afford this...

Continue reading...

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...

Continue reading...