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Thinking In Play Symposium: Visual Design & Modding Passage

As you may have seen through various press reporting, the inimitable Jason Rohrer’s work has been the focus of a solo exhibition at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College for the past couple of months, culminating in a reception and a symposium around his work, entitled “Thinking in Play”. I was invited, along with the wonderful Leigh Alexander (who joined remotely) to be on a panel specifically about the visual design of Jason Rohrer’s work. The day then followed with subsequent panels featuring the also-wonderful Robin Hunicke and others reflecting on the game mechanics of his work.

It was an unusual format, certainly, but if you’re interested, here is the presentation I gave.
The Visual Design of Jason Rohrer's Games

PPTX (with notes) | PDF

The key part is that in the context of 9-years-ago games history, Passage and Gravitation were, along with things like Rod Humble’s Marriage, heralded as games whose minimalist visual aesthetics were discussed in certain circles as being a marker of the idea that they contained some ‘universality’ and ‘truth’. Certainly, they reflected parts of real, human experiences for real people, but at the same time, the games heralded as being part of this movement told the ‘truths’ of a narrow demographic; namely the interpersonal struggles of cisgender white men and their heteronormative relationships.

And yet, at the time, Passage did mean something to a younger version of myself; the idea of conflict and mortality is certainly a universal one, though perhaps not with the particular ‘skin’ that the game comes with by default. Not everyone has the privilege of having one of their central struggles as being around balancing relationships with creative goals, for instance (though this was, at one point my own experience, to an extent).

So, as a tiny experiment for the above talk, I did a quick (and I mean very quick) mod of Passage. It took me less than 10 minutes.

 

passage_mod

You can download it here:

Passage_ThinkingInPlay_Win || Passage_ThinkingInPlay_Mac

I did this for (at least**) three reasons:

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Announcing “Redshirt”!

I’m so pleased to be able to finally talk about what I’ve been working on these past months!

“Redshirt is the comedy sci-fi sim about social networking aboard a space station, starring the station’s most ambitious low-ranking peon:you!

Navigate the professional and interpersonal politics of the ubiquitous “Spacebook” to curry favor among friends and colleagues. As intense intergalactic conflict rages around you, it’s up to you to accrue those all-important “likes” on your status updates! Whether you’re looking for love, opportunities for promotion, or even a chance to play Zero-G golf with the captain, you can schmooze your way through social circles and claw your way up the career ladder. Perhaps you too can finally achieve the dream of an off-station transfer, or even the Redshirt’s opportunity of a lifetime: being sent on an away-mission!”

So basically, it’s about a future (as represented by many of your favourite science fiction franchises!) in which we’re all still obsessed with social networking. The game is due out sometime in 2012, and is being published by fellow UK indie Positech Games.

For more information, visit the website, or, if you’re feeling really meta, you can also like the Facebook Page!

Keep an eye on this blog, and the Facebook page for more information shortly. I’ll start posting a series of (really, quite cheesy but informative!) dev video blogs soon.

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The Tiniest Shark’s Biggest New Project

It’s been a very exciting few weeks for The Tiniest Shark. I scribbled my signature on something quite exciting a couple of weeks ago, meaning that The Tiniest Shark is working on it’s first big official project (codenamed “Project RS”). Nothing is announced just yet, though today marks DAY ZERO.

(Also, thanks to George Kokoris, I now also have a fairly-small-but-not-tiny shark mascot on my desk, pictured here.)

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