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

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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Part 2: In support of Wren (the abuse she continues to endure, Fight Knight, and publicly ridiculing her trauma)

This is a continuation of my original post “In support of Wren (the abuse she endured while working on Fight Knight)“. More things have happened since I originally voiced support for Wren and I think it’s really important to discuss how this is all unfolding, in order to hold those responsible for this abuse accountable. I will do my best to be as concise as possible. I am still shook up. TW: severe content warning for all this. Hello, I'm the "writer" of the Dangen Warning and the former writer of Fight Knight. I feel it's important for me to...

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ZineCamp Workshop – using tiny open source tools in your own work, the values of preservation, and building your own tiny tool box

“There are countless tiny tools scattered across the internet, all made with love from independent developers. They might not look like much at first, but if you start using them in combiation with your Professional Everyday Tools, you open the doors for wonderful, unique, and beautiful art. This workshop will demo a tiny handful of these tiny tools, using them in combination with the Electric Zine Maker to make a zine! My hope is that you will leave inspired, and start collecting tiny tools of your own… to regularly find use for in your work.” Cool Tools itch.io collection Open...

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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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