So there’s, like, this new “Dan Destroyem”  game coming out or something? And it’s supposed to be this over-the-top HURR HURR BOOBIES explosionfest like the last game, and that’s supposed to give angry feminists like me something else to complain about on the Tweeters? And apparently, this guy working on the game — I think his name is Pitchfork or something? — apparently “welcomes” feminist outcry over the game? And he thinks anti-oppression awareness is good for the world and all, and that we should totally use their game to “further our agendas” and such, but meanwhile, that Pitch-whatever dude says he’s such a nice guy and he just wants to entertain people, right? Besides, the whole franchise is all just a satire, anyway. See, it even makes fun of men too by turning them into pigs! Because all you feminists think men are pigs, right? HURR HURR.
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First off, the Border House has just published a thought-provoking interview that my friend Denis did with me on the subject of Life Flashes By. It touches on feminist and anti-oppression subjects — it IS the Border House, and all — as well as a bit of interactive narrative theory. Here’s a short excerpt:
It was always in my head that Charlotte had to be a person who feels real, with a complex personality that includes both positive and negative characteristics. Honestly, it’s such an obvious thing to me that I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. I mean, I see a lot of well-meaning male creators in various media who aim for what we call Strong Female Characters, and while that’s way better than using women as decorative set pieces or not having any women around at all, I keep feeling like there’s too much idealizing going on at least in comparison to the variety we have in sympathetic male protagonists. It’s been my personal experience that I can relate better to a socially awkward nebbish protagonist like Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island games than I can to, say, April Ryan from The Longest Journey — and I say this knowing that April’s still one of the best Strong Female Characters we’ve got in gaming. Something’s got to give. (Read the rest…)
Second, I wanted to show off a new project I worked on at my day job: a short animated film called We Used to Sing. It’s a symbolic interpretation of climate change in the Arctic, based on stories told by Iñupiat human rights lawyer Victoria Hykes Steere. I’ve never worked on a proper animated film before, with most of my rudimentary animation experience coming from my game dev work, so it was great to have the experience, and I’m proud of how it all came out. You can watch the video here and read more about the project here. Enjoy!
There’s been a bit of a poopstorm over the internet lately involving Penny Arcade and a comic and t-shirt they made that’s triggering to rape survivors. I won’t go into details — there’s a good summary as to what’s been going on here, and the fabulous Kirby Bits has been writing a lot about the issue from a more personal perspective  — but suffice to say, I’m pretty damn disgusted with PA’s childish, insensitive handling of the situation.
To be fair, Penny Arcade is known for its occasionally offensive, tasteless humour. Which they have every right to express; it just means I don’t read their comic.  There are much funnier places on the internet worthy of my time and eyeballs, after all. The problem, as I see it, is that they also happen to run a certain convention with a reputation for being a welcoming environment to all gamers. Yes, all gamers, even those who happen to be survivors of rape and other forms of abuse. Except… it’s actually not terribly welcoming when a bunch of people at the convention — including at least one of the guys in charge of the whole thing — are now going to start wearing t-shirts that effectively say “team rapist”. So, quite understandably, a number of friends and online acquaintances I respect are putting their money where their mouth is and refusing to attend PAX or provide them with content.
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- Don’t read the comments section unless you have enough of a stomach for creepy personal attacks and bad reading comprehension, though. ↩
- I will admit that I’ve laughed at some of their stuff I’ve seen linked around, but the ratio of not-funny to funny is still way too high for me to pay them any mind. ↩
A friend of mine suggested I put up some gameplay videos of Life Flashes By. I’m slightly ashamed to say that when it came to thinking up ideas as to how to promote the game, putting up videos completely slipped my mind… maybe it’s because I generally have more of a face for radio, I don’t know. But once I thought about it, I figured, why the heck not? Putting videos up on the internet has gotten so much easier since the last time I finished a game this size, after all. Hence, I found some reasonably-priced screen capture software and started recording away.
I might do a proper trailer for the game sometime in the future, but since that, you know, requires editing and stuff, it’s a task I’ll be putting off for a little while. For now, you’ll have to content yourselves with unedited gameplay footage.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s a clip from the party scene, behind the cut!
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I’ve just updated the Life Flashes By executables to use the latest (i.e. out of beta) version of the SLUDGE engine. If you’ve previously had problems running the game on your machine, they will most likely now be fixed. If not, well, don’t worry about it.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
EDIT (2011-01-28): As Rikard mentions in the comments, there was a bug in that engine version in question, so I’ve just updated it again. Whee!
At the urging of more than one friend, I finally went and made a Facebook page for Life Flashes By. I waffled on doing so for quite a while, since Facebook isn’t exactly what I’d call a company with ethics in line with my own.  However, given that it’s the place all the kids are going for their social networking needs these days, and Diaspora still isn’t ready for general public consumption, a Facebook presence will have to do. It’s a lot like how I have a Windows version of LFB available even though I don’t particularly like Windows and have hardly even been using it in recent years.  At this point, I care more about getting as many people to play the game as possible than anything else, and to do that, you’ve got to be where the people are, as they say…
Anywho, if you’ve always been hankering for a way to easily declare to the world that you’re a fan of this wonderful game I’ve laboured over, look no further! And tell all your friends about it too, while you’re at it! That’s, er, what this whole “social networking” thing is all about, right?
- Okay, so I thought the site was kind of neat back when I was still in university and it was just for students — and by “neat”, I really meant “at least it’s not as ugly as Myspace” — but then it turned into this ubiquitous cash cow with dubious ideas about privacy and increasingly poor usability. I do continue to maintain a presence on the site, but I try to mitigate my discomfort by only sharing information that’s already available elsewhere on the internet. ↩
- Well, to be more precise, it’s probably more like the fact that I used to write all my games in Windows because I didn’t yet have access to easy-to-use dev tools for Mac and Linux. But yeah. ↩
Since an update’s in order, and now’s as good a time as any, here goes:
First off, I’ve started writing the “commentary track” for Life Flashes By, as a special gift to those who get the upcoming collector’s edition of the game. This isn’t going to be just an audio commentary, but more of a “Commentary: The Game”, where you get to have interactive conversations similar to the ones in-game with an avatar of yours truly,  talking about some of the thoughts and experiences I’ve had that made the game what it is. I’m still trying to hash out a bunch of details regarding the collector’s edition itself, but it’s coming along nicely and I’m pretty excited about it, having never made a physical product out of one of my games before.
Second bit of good news: I’m going to be attending GDC this year, for the first time since 2008!  This time around, though, I’m going to be doing volunteer work and wearing one of the accompanying garishly-coloured shirts — a first for me, but I’ve heard a lot of great things from friends who’ve volunteered at GDC in the past, so again, I’m quite excited. Hopefully, I’ll see some of you there!
- The same one, in fact, as featured in DREAMING, considering that my physical appearance hasn’t really changed a great deal since then. ↩
- For you see, that was the last year before they made press passes invite-only. ↩