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Talk Transcript: Spring 2021 #OSSTA Lecture Series (my talk on tiny non-commercial tools, fantasy consoles, and tools-as-games)

For the past few months the Electric Zine Maker was part of the STUDIO’s OSSTA Residency Program (at Carnegie Mellon). They have been funding and supporting development of the Zine Maker. They are to thank for the comming UI re-design, and all the new features that have been coming to it. You can follow them on Twitter here (they host some amazing things). As of writing this I just finished giving my talk in their OSSTA Lecture Series. Speakers included Everest Pipkin (who just published this vital repository of Open Source tools), Marina Kittaka (of Zonelets), and Kate Compton (who...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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“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...

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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...

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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...

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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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Code share: a javascript image gallery, javascript & php countdown timer, and a very basic javascript & php email form…

It’s been a while since I shared code of things I’m working on here. Since one of the projects is not yet announced (a secret!), but the code for it is useful, I thought it’s about time that I do one of these again… My last little code project was to FINALLY make a vanilla-javascript based image gallery (just plain javascript, no jquery or anything). I’ve been putting this off for years, and the last one I had was just a hacked together thing. I got around to making one that’s extremely simple, no massive features, and easy to customize!...

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More from the wonderful world of tools by small devs, shareware, and freeware (art tools, music tools, and toys to create with)

This is a followup to my first post where I talked about the wonderful world of tools and art toys that exists outside the mainstream. Some months ago I asked if there was interest in another one of these, and yes. There was interest! The level of interest that exists for freeware and shareware tools (in general, tools made by small creators) is really exciting to me. We see genuine enthusiasm for quirky artistic tools… things that you could basically call a creative “toy”. These things are like a breath of fresh air. To me, they remind me why it’s...

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About desktop pets & virtual companions: discussing the inhabitants that fill the void of our digital spaces

Here is a hugely passionate area of creative interest to me: desktop pets, screenmates, screen buddies, desktop buddies, desktop mascots, screen crawlers, virtual pets, virtual companions, screen wanderers, digital pets… (those are all the things they are called, ur welcome!) I love designing them and think they are intrinsically fascinating. I make maybe one a year, and this next project I’m working on will involve one as well. There’s something special about filling the virtual void with warm, silly, supposedly pointless simulated companionship. It’s like having a fireplace lit in the corner of the room. It’s weirdly comforting. Image of...

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Comments on today’s announcement (Flash)

After today’s news, and because I will probably be getting junk directed at me, I’m writing this to explain what this means for my work, and what I will be doing… First of all, if you want to read more about what this means for AIR (the runtime teams have given their commitment to keep supporting it) then visit these links: https://forums.adobe.com/thread/2362234 https://forum.starling-framework.org/topic/air-roadmap-update I have been moving all my stuff to AIR for quite a while now. Tetrageddon has fully transitioned to a desktop app. The games will be playable in the browser for as long as browsers support the...

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“Everything is going to be OK” early access

My new not-a-game game experimental art experience “Everything is going to be OK” was showcasing at IndieCade E3 this week! This was an amazing privilege, and the other indies in the showcase also had amazing games. The overall feedback was encouraging. So many people commented that they had never seen anything like it. This was probably the most common comment. I would love to talk about this more, but I have a pressing announcement & favor to ask… The game is out on early access here: http://gamejolt.com/games/ok/263066 If you would like to support me, my work, or the development of...

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Game design notes: “Everything is going to be OK” (talking about personal things/experiences is easy, making a game about them is not)

As I develop I take lots of notes. I figure I’m due another blog post, so I’m sharing some thoughts I’ve had while making “Everything is going to be OK”… also that’s the official title now. It was a placeholder, and now it’s stuck, and everyone knows it by that so… I’m ok with that. The game is called “Everything is going to be OK”, ok?? (p.s. excuse the grammar, i’m very tired and there’s lots to do) Notes… Talking about personal things is easy, making a game about them is not. It feels almost invasive, but at the same...

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Everything Is Going To Be OK (Progress Update #6 & Artist’s Statement)

I’m creeping up to 15 mini-games done. There is good variety! I’m so happy. Some interesting developments on direction… Once I reach 20 I’m going to hide the 20 (or so) other mini-games inside these games. So you are presented with these “pages” and then discover that the “pages” have lots of depth to them. Kind of like matryoshka dolls (you know, those Russian dolls). You can get lost in these vignettes, and they’ll layer over eachother. I feel like this will give it a lot of depth. It will also be less predictable. You click on something, and more...

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