Heart, complete.

Heart logo

Heart is finished. It is a short, bleak game that questions one particular human ideal/cliché.

Play Heart (Flash)

The game was created originally for the Ludum Dare competition, and polished during the following week. Coded in Actionscript 3, using FlashDevelop as IDE and compiled using the Flex SDK. For the graphics I used Photoshop and Illustrator, and for the audio I used LMMS and Audacity. […]

What (video) games are.

When I posted my entry for the Ludum Dare competition, Heart, I received mostly positive comments, though many of them were appended with something close to this sentence: “But it is not a game.” I was not too surprised. Indeed, when I talk to people about games, they normally think of them in terms of gameplay, interaction, challenge, fun, goals. Which is not wrong, as most video games can be accurately described with these words, but it is unnecessarily restrictive to categorize the whole art within these boundaries—doing so is an exercise in exclusivity. This ties directly with my previous post about expanding the scope of video games. Do we really need to keep a short leash on what video games are or can be?

I came across a definition for game today, by Corvus Elrod. It is the most elegant and explicit that I’ve found so far. Here it is:

Game is a set of rules and/or conditions, established by a community, which serve as a bounded space for play.

Where play stands for “the self-guided exploration of possibility within a bounded space”, which is a definition I feel to be accurate. I believe that Corvus is forcefully nudging the ‘community’ element into the definition, though (where is the community if one person creates a game for himself alone to play?), so I would actually simplify it into this:

Game is a set of rules and/or conditions which serve as a bounded space for play.

I can’t think of a single game that this definition does not embrace, including board games, sports, playground games, and, yes, video games. It also suggests that games can be entertaining or not, challenging or not, involve goals or not. By this definition, exquisite corpse is a game, which rings true to me.

The definition speaks nothing of the amount of interactivity that is to be expected of a game, but the mention of rules and conditions implies that choice needs to be present. In Heart, the player is required to explore, as the game does nothing without their input. They would discover that the right arrow key makes the character move in that direction. And the opposite key? It triggers a response in the avatar: he cannot go back. It is part of the process of discovery. In Heart, the player is the force that drives the character forward, for without their input, he would stay in place forever. Nothing would happen, the game would not be played, the character would not confront his fate. Is it not a meaningful choice that the player is making, then?

I didn’t mean this post to be in defense of my game, though it looks like it turned out that way. This subject is something that I consider to be relevant, as I don’t see enough game makers thinking about where to lead video games, so I feel the need to touch upon it. I hope to spark debate in some circles, frankly!

Heart & Hope.

What you see above is my computer screen during the past weekend (each hour reduced to 2.5 seconds), as I make two games for two events that were held concurrently. One is a competition called Ludum Dare, on which, during the 48 hours of its duration, participants are expected to create a game by themselves and ‘from scratch’. The week prior, participants vote on a theme. ‘Advancing wall of doom’ won this time, which is not one I’m too fond of, but I did participate and make a game. Or two, in fact, because for the other event, my usual two-hour Klik of the Month, I made a game based on the same theme.

Heart is the name of my Ludum Dare entry. The game is not final, and neither is the name, so let’s say it’s the competition version’s name. It was inspired by Stephen Lavelle’s Defect. It was made for Flash, using the Flex SDK and coded in Actionscript 3. I’ll probably post more about it in the future, when I decide that the game is finished.

Hope! is what I called my Klik of the Month. It was made in Construct, so it’s Windows only. You will need the latest DirectX to run it.

Viewpoints.

I’ve completed a new videogame—another entry in another TIGSource competition. The theme, this time, is ‘cockpits’. My game is pretty much on the fringe in the way it implements the theme, though. What I originally intended to make was some manner of car driving game, inspired by the original Out Run, since I’m such a big fan of the series, and because I love the aesthetic of that kind of low-tech 3D. I might do this in the future; we’ll see how creating such an engine will go for me. But the game I ended up conceiving, because I only had roughly a week to make it (until the deadline was extended another week), is not about driving anything at all, it is merely about looking; how much more simple can a game’s interface and set of verbs get? You are still in some kind of convertible sportscar, but you’re just sitting on the passenger’s seat.

I’ve coined the term ‘narrative exploration’ to describe Viewpoints, because the very core of the concept is about exploring, but not a physical space, like in, say, Metroid, but, instead, a space of different possible stories—a narrative space. The concept itself was shamelessly ripped from Terry Cavanagh’s Pathways —a short game I can wholeheartedly recommend—, though his execution is different from mine (I’m not quite that flagrant).

Viewpoints screenshot

Play Viewpoints in your browser (requires Flash)

Also, for this past April Fools’, I made a variation of Viewpoints and released it as if it were the finished game for the competition. I took the Out Run and Sega inspiration further, and created something quite ridiculous. I call it Winner. (It may be worth mentioning that some of the contents of this variation were taken straight from Sega-made games.)

An audio game.

Another Klik of the Month, and another game made in two (and a half) hours. This time it’s an audio game, no graphics. To tell the truth, the idea for this game seemed much cooler in my head than the result, but what am I going to do. I might make a more involved game with the general idea for this game in the future. If you play it, please, excuse my poor diction.

Download NSBD System Console (Windows, requires latest Direct X). The password is 5467.

Also, remember how Matt made music for my past two Kliks? Well, this time he didn’t, because he made a game himself. Nice!

Campodecolor got me out of college.

Español

As of today (yesterday), I am a professional graphic designer. My final project, which I now refer to as Campodecolor (Spanish for ‘Colorfield’), was the same videogame I have been talking about for some time, the one about visual composition. It’s not finished as a project, but an important milestone has been reached: its first purpose has been accomplished, which was to get me my degree. Of course.

Here’s my project report (in Spanish), which is a bit out of date and a bit incomplete, but I guess it shows the main arguments that support my project. I have touched on these a bit in past posts, and I might do it further in the future, because they are based on my opinion that videogames, as an artform, can be a relevant contribution to society.

For my defense I had to —evidently— show the game, and do a presentation of basically a recap of the same points already covered on the report. On top of that, during the past week I recorded some playtests, and edited a brief video with that material to show to the committee that graded my work. It was pretty funny to watch the testers stumble around and finally grasp the mechanics a bit, though some came to the conclusion that the game was more about the music than the visual aspect, which, I suppose, is a compliment to the sound design in the end.

Campodecolor, final presentation version

I have uploaded the version of the game that I presented today (yesterday). The algorithms are still lacking, I’m afraid, but I plan to make them my top priority now. The dynamic audio is created using the minor pentatonic scale, with the sound of a Rhodes piano, as recorded by Guy Cockroft. I’m glad it sounds as well as it does, considering the notes are selected randomly from the scale. Since it seems to be crediting time, I have to thank Stephen Lavelle and muku for their invaluable help and suggestions on all aspects of my game. Also, of course, my teacher throughout this whole process, Eduardo Castillo. […]

Infidelidad.

increpare (Stephen Lavelle) just released an entry for the CODEAR Single Boss Game competition that is currently running, called Infidelidad (Infidelity). Since the competition is held by the ADVA (Video Game Developers Association of Argentina), I offered him to translate it into Spanish, and so I did. The dialogue is brief but quite comical, and I had lots of fun doing the translation. The game itself is short, but sweet. Put a smile on my face.

increpare (Stephen Lavelle) acaba de lanzar su entrada para la competencia CODEAR Single Boss Game: un juego de nombre Infidelidad. Ya que el evento está organizado por la Asociación de Desarrolladores de Videojuegos Argentina (ADVA), le ofrecí traducir el guión, y eso fue lo que hice al final. El diálogo es breve pero cómico, y me entretuve bastante realizando la traducción. El juego es corto, pero me hizo reir.