Second City

I was hoping for things to calm down, but this Monday brought the opposite trend all up in this business.

Spent a lot of time climbing hills and chasing butterflies (quite literally) in San Francisco. San Francisco is fun to visit but I’ve safely confirmed now that I made the right choice: not for me, don’t want to live there.

I wish it wasn’t so awkward to sing in a hotel room.

I’m going to pour my heart into something bigger than I alone can build. Going to try, anyways. Have to see if anyone else wants to build it.

I’m glad it wasn’t raining when I left the airport to get on the train home

GDC

Today I played a game about going on a date with a woman. The point of the game seemed to be to go on a nice date with a woman and successfully save her from trouble. It was a choose-your-own-adventure story-tree visual-novel kind of game. I am not sure what is supposed to happen in the plot when the date ends. Imagination: engage!
When I was asked where I want to go for dinner, I chose tacos of course. I figured at that point I was off to a good start. I took my virtual date to a seaside spot and then suddenly, there were dolphins.

Death by dolphins. Whoa, I did not see that coming.

I played the game several times through because it is very easy to die very quickly. It was not clear to me how to discern what the best answers were to pick, so I died many times. Oh, how I died.

The guy who’s game it was repeated this to me while I played it:

"Dating is hard."

While true probably true for many people, the hyperbole of having to save a woman from sudden death in a wake of dolphins or vehicle crashing into the restaurant is a bit further along the spectrum of difficulty (and mortality!) than dating. C’mon.

Playing these games, we’re looking at selves expressed in digital art. This is now a way that people experiment with their feelings and their impressions of our world, sometimes even when galvanized with fiction. So I’m playing this game, and this guy is trying to play off this ‘dating is hard’ relateable anecdote with an absurdly abrupt death of a woman over and over. I’m not going to conclude he’s homicidal. I was definitely questioning his relationship to women and his idea of women and dating women though.

I, the protagonist never died, and my date had no agency, needing to be perpetually rescued. This was the entire thing. The game. That’s it.

Up for an award. Yup.

Someday someone who’s played the game (or the creator, who knows, this IS the internet after all) will find this post and probably say, “Oh, well, you didn’t play the whole thing through so you who are you to criticize? You don’t even know what happens and it’s not that bad.”

Whether or not that’s true, the point I’m making right now is all that is relevant to take away, no more and no less: I don’t think I’ve ever had a game so quickly turn me off as that one. I’m just not into damsel women dying over and over again, I kinda want us to move on from that as a culture. I’m hoping that I don’t need to explain why.


So, I dunno - maybe don’t lead with that? Maybe there was going to be good stuff in there, I’m never going to know.

Anyhow. I’M AT GDC!

It’s pretty cool. I never thought I’d be at an event like this. I’m learning a lot about how people ‘do video game business’. It’s a lot of high-level posturing. I’m only something like mid-level on a good day, but I can answer technical questions like a pro so I figure I was alright hanging around the booth a lot of the time. Note to self: level up posturing, get posturing coach, end goal should be to blend in order to observe them more. You might think from this paragraph that I’m being derisive, but no, actually I am very just very fascinated.

I met the creator of Papers, Please! which is a pretty fantastic indie game. Bureaucracy and moral conundrums made surprisingly entertaining while being, at times, very dark. You should go buy this game.

I wanted to meet the developers of Risk of Rain, but they weren’t there today. I’ll try again tomorrow. You should buy this game if you like roguelikes and punishingly difficult platformers.

I also wanted to try the Oculus Rift, but there is no way I’m waiting in a line that long.

In one of our game demos at the Mozilla booth, you can drop two chickens with gatling guns out to waddle around and shoot zombies. This is, of course, my favorite weapon in that demo.

The performance of our Epic, Unity, and Trendy demos at the booth has been phenomenal.

"Is that really in a browser"?

*unhides the browser chrome*

I guess we’ll see what happens from here. Incidentally, Nintendo is doing the opposite of what were doing. They had a booth for their Web Platform so that HTML5 developers can write games for the Wii U, and sell them through the Wii U store. So, they want to bring HTML5 onto their platform, rather than bring their games off of their console into the web. I suppose that makes a lot of sense for Nintendo since they do manufacture consoles, but unless they make another hit console soon I am afraid they’re securing their own obsolescence. Trying to drum up more compelling games by appealing to a specific set of indie developers makes sense as a move, but I don’t think it’s going to drive more people to the Wii U, just entertain those that bought one and aren’t satisfied with the breadth of titles. Spoiler: it’s the same franchises over again, not all done as well as you’d hope given the limited options. I was kind of disappointed in this because having a giant DS-like experience is kind of neat. No title has really compelled me toward getting the console, though I do enjoy some of the platformer titles when playing with others at their house.

Come on Nintendo, you’re the golden brand from my youth and then again my university years. You have to make a comeback. You’re due!

Someone I met in Medellin, Colombia found me at the booth today! Another person, who I’d been talking with from Poland on Twitter also found me there! I miss home a lot when I’m traveling, but the feeling that you can have friends and acquaintances over such long distances that serendipitously meet at undetermined places on the earth at the same time is such a neat feeling to have.

Alright, that’s a sufficient amount of nervous procrastination out of my system - it’s time to eat some delicious bibimbap and work on my slides and rehearsal.

PS: The weather in San Francisco is, predictably, much warmer than Vancouver and so I feel smug in being here, the same way I felt while in Florida in December. Only until I have to go home, of course, and then I’ll wipe the smug grin right of my face. But for now.. :>

Now it’s time for another installment of: Good idea, Bad Idea

Good idea: Get to San Francisco early to spend a weekend being lazy and catching up on random internet

Bad Idea: Read some comment threads
Good Idea: Support a friend who spoke up about some pretty obtuse and terrible things.

Bad Idea: Read Hacker News comment threads about said issue
Good Idea: Serendipitously end up at a butterfly conservatory

Bad Idea: Humid rooms on a 24 degree day

Good idea: Ice cream at 2am, not caring that I’m lactose intolerant

Bad Idea: Ice cream at 2am, suddenly caring that I’m lactose intolerant

Good Idea: Prepared my slides for GDC in advance

Bad Idea: There is no downside to this one

Good Idea: Kiva Chocolate Bar

Bad Idea: More than 1/4 a piece of a Kiva chocolate bar

Good Idea: Didn’t check work e-mail all weekend, which is how it should be

Bad Idea: No downside to that last one, it’s almost like I’m learning my lesson

Good Idea: Finish this post and work on my slides some more -