I like thinking and talking about stuff, but when try to I do so I often suspect that I don’t know enough to say something genuinely interesting. It’s not impostor syndrome (though I totally suffer from that). It’s a fear that if I talk about a complex subject that I don’t fully understand then I will come across as foolish (and therefore provide no benefit) to someone who knows it better. I’ve experienced this from the other side: seeing people write naïve things that aren’t even wrong about how software development works.
There are a few topics that I’m comfortable discussing because I know my limits in them:
- Computer science and software development
- Game design and development
- Creative writing
- Social justice, maybe?
While there are plenty of topics that I’m sure I don’t know much about (beekeeping), there are a few that I consistently hesitate to write about for fear of creating a naïve argument. Some examples are Discordianism (due to my uncertainty with postmodernism and theology), economics, and narrative. I’m not even sure where to start to learn more; I don’t have much time for learning outside my focus fields, and I don’t even know enough to optimize that time. I don’t want to waste time reading a bunch of poorly-written texts before I gain enough understanding to tell what the good sources are.
I’m part of a mailing list that deals with art in games, and I often feel like one of the least-informed members. There are academics with years of theoretical underpinnings talking about complex things and I hesitate to spend an hour crafting what I think is insight only to discover that I’ve wasted the time and attention of an expert who recognizes my thoughts as that of an underinformed beginner.
Short of learning more (which I’m trying to do, despite the time it takes), I’m not sure how to deal with this dilemma. Any advice? How do you know when you’re well-informed enough to discuss something outside of your comfort zone?
I’ve been playing Hadean Lands by Andrew Plotkin, a parser-based interactive fiction game that I backed on Kickstarter in 2010. It was just released; almost four years is a long time to wait for an IF game, but with this game’s complexity I can understand what took so long.
The game is an exploration of alchemical processes. It follows the tradition of steampunk and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, among others, by examining a society in which a form of magic exists from a speculative fiction perspective: it’s set on a “marcher,” an alchemical spaceship, where you are a mysterious “swabbie” after a mysterious accident. At the same time, it’s a stunningly well-implemented work of IF programming.
Continue reading Hadean Lands
Bioshock 2 is the best Bioshock. It has the best gameplay and story, yes, but it also is the best at being Bioshock. Bioshock games share a fundamental DNA. A lighthouse, a man, a city — okay, sure, but it’s more than such a banal recitation of symbols. Bioshock is about extreme philosophy, parenthood, and the subversion of flesh, mind, and environment. Bioshock 2 is the purest instance of this formula.
I’ll be discussing Bioshock, Bioshock 2, and Bioshock: Infinite. I won’t be discussing DLC/expansion packs, although Minerva’s Den is excellent and Burial at Sea is impressive if eventually disappointing.
There will be spoilers.
Continue reading The Sublime Bioshock 2
If you don’t follow our posts over at Future Proof Games, we released a free little tabletop roleplaying game earlier this month.
“Awaiting the End” is a GM-less story-focused game for as few as three people where you play people trapped in a Place awaiting a Doom and you tell stories about how you got there. It requires minimal preparation and the rules fit on a tri-fold pamphlet.
If you’d like to get the game for free and read some more about the making of it, check out the release post on the Future Proof Games blog. If you’d like to give us a bit of money, it’s available as Pay-What-You-Want on DriveThruRPG.com.
Over the past year, I’ve put up a single post on this site that’s not directly related to our company Future Proof Games. Everything else has been FPG related, mostly promotional stuff for Ossuary.
I’ve been asking myself what I want Ludus Novus to be for. In the past it’s been rather focused on game design, but I think it’s time to expand that a bit. Games are my life, but I’ll be writing a lot about them for the FPG blog as well. So I hope to use this space for a bit more eclectic set of stuff, including:
- Personal news
- Posts about other things important to me like polyamory, feminism/queer issues, and nonviolent communication
- Feelings about games I’ve been playing
- Podcast episodes (hopefully!)
- Brief FPG updates and crossposts
In general, I want to take some of the pressure off of myself, to encourage me to put up stuff that’s less polished and more frequent. I may still post more theoretical game design stuff, but a lot of that will show up on the FPG blog instead.
Is there something you’d like to see in this space that’s a better fit for Ludus Novus than Future Proof Games?
Some games feel inspirational. They do something so different or clever or well-crafted that they make you want to learn from them, to use the same techniques in your own work. Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are big examples: they helped inspire everything from Knytt (still one of my favorites) to, surely, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Half-Life did this for the entire medium, to the extent that we are still feeling the meager aftershocks every time we watch a scripted game event while we wait for an NPC to open a door.
Gone Home gives me that itching sensation of inspiration. I want to make a game like this, one that depends on exploration and exacting observation. One that feels calm but also ominous. One that explores themes like love and family, however sentimentally. Unfortunately, the game is singular enough that I have trouble imagining an inspired work that isn’t hopelessly derivative.
Continue reading Inspiration and Gone Home
On Wednesday, Future Proof Games released our first game for money, Ossuary. We’ve started getting cool attention from cool people, but something that I’m reading a lot is that people aren’t quite sure what to make of it. What exactly is Ossuary?
Personally, I think part of the experience of the game is finding that out, but in the interest of letting people know what they’re paying for, here are some more details about Ossuary.
Continue reading What Is Ossuary?
Melissa Avery-Weir and I have created a company called Future Proof Games, and we’re almost ready to release our first commercial game, Ossuary.
We’ve decided on a release date: November 27th, this Wednesday. Ossuary will be available for $5, with the ability for you to pay more for it if you’d like!
For more information, you can:
@Commissar64 requested the source to my recent Twine game “The Whispering Thing.” We’ll do that sometime soon, but for now I can easily share the modifications to the CyclingLink macro necessary to make it work with the Sugarcube header without creating JS errors.
The code follows. It’s basically just a modification to how the anchor element is created. I can’t guarantee that this will do everything you want it to, as it’s a bit hacky.
Continue reading CyclingLinks in Twine SugarCube