Category Archives: Blog

A Lotta Dessert

Untold Entertainment produced A Lotta Dessert, a simple patterning game for preschoolers, for TVOntario’s TVOKids.com site.

The game design document, graphics of Lotta’s house and face, and her voiceover, were provided by TVO. Untold Entertainment produced the remaining assets and created the game based on TVO’s specifications.

UX Jr.

If you’re curious about the conventions of preschool game development, A Lotta Dessert showcases a few tricks:

  1. This is a preliterate audience. The only text in the game is the title, and absolutely everything is voiced over.
  2. There is no “play” button on the title screen. After a brief countdown, the game automatically begins.
  3. Mice are lousy input devices for preschoolers, who often struggle to use them, so the game doesn’t require any drag n’ drop actions. Everything boils down to a single click with generously-sized hotspots. (See Mouse Control for a game we developed to help small children practice using a mouse)
  4. Visual patterning is reinforced through sound.
  5. The “answer” is entered twice, to confirm comprehension (otherwise, the player could just be clicking around and “winning” coincidentally).
  6. Little-to-no chainsaw violence.

Untold Entertainment is an industry leader in preschool game development. Contact us to talk about your upcoming project.

F&$king Spellirium!

WARNING: Swears and general ribaldry

It’s really frustrating when you make a word in a game, and it’s not recognized by the game’s dictionary. It’s the worst when the word is a perfectly natural English word like “PUCE”, but a game like Jumbline doesn’t accept it. (Hear that, Jumbline devs? Ahem. AHEM.)

But in other situations, you punch in words like “bazooms” with a childish grin on your face, and when the game doesn’t recognize it, you click your tongue in mock outrage.

Bazooms!

How DARE they rob me of 150 points for BAZOOMS! It’s in the Oxford!

Triple Word Score for “BLEEP”

The Official Scrabble Players’ Dictionary prides itself on being the most complete and fair collection of words suitable for tournament play, but it ran up against some controversy when a player complained about the listing of non-capitalized “jew” as a verb, with the accompanying definition “to bargain with – an offensive term”. The Jewish Defamation League got involved, and the next version of the OSPD removed the offending word, along with a big list of other words for good measure, including (but not limited to):

  • boobie
  • cunt
  • faggoty
  • the almighty fuck
  • fubar
  • hebe
  • jesuit (i’m really not sure why? Unless there’s a pejorative verb form, as with “jew” … ?)
  • nookie
  • poo
  • wetback

The Seattle SCRABBLE® Club has a complete list of expurgated words in case you’re up for a giggle or gasp.

I Friggin' Love Ponycorns T-Shirt

(Of note, the word “frigging” was de-expurgated in OSPD 4, which is as good a reason as any to get it printed on a T-shirt.)

When the neutered list was released, the players revolted, many of them upset at not having been consulted. There were threats of event boycotting and … rioting? i dunno. What do Scrabble players do when they’re enraged? Spell “GRR”?

Revenge of the Nerds

If the 80′s are to be believed, retribution begins with underwear theft.

Caving to the pressure, the Scrabbleati released an unexpurgated Official Tournament and Club Word List.

Somebody Set Us Up the F-Bomb

All this to say, i’m at a point now where i’m considering the word list for Spellirium, and whether or not it should contain naughties. As i’ve said before, the game is not necessarily for kids, so we can take “WILL SOMEONE CONSIDER THE CHILDREN??” handily out of the equation.

The difference between Spellirium and Scrabble is that while you have the option to spell various words in Scrabble, Spellirium may actually require you to spell certain words. For example, you may come to a point in the game where you meet a character who won’t let you pass unless you’ve spelled every word beginning with “Q”. i think this makes a big difference in deciding whether or not to include certain words on the list. When the word list is all up in your bidness, i don’t want to force a player to spell a word he is uncomfortable spelling.

Point

Spell “nookie”. DO IT!!!

Degrees of Depravity

We can sort the expurgated words into these general categories:

  1. Swears
  2. Euphemisms for swears
  3. Racist/Prejudiced terms
  4. Puerile words for body functions/parts (impolite words that mostly kids would use)
  5. Crass words for body functions (impolite words that mostly adults would use)

So we could go a number of different ways with Spellirium. We could include these words, and complaints be damned. We could, as some have suggested, give the player an optional switch to flip that’s off by default – when you turn it on, you get the complete word list. And the “complete” word list could be everything but swears and racism, everything but racism, or even plain old everything … (but i have a gut feeling that of any of the words on the list, most people are most likely to take most offense at the racist/prejudiced stuff).

Racist

What do YOU think? Should we include a content switch? Should we include all the naughty words, or just some of them?

[poll id="9"]

When you answer, imagine yourself playing Spellirium, making one of these words, and reacting when the game does (or doesn’t) acknowledge it. And imagine your reaction if the game required you to make one or all of the words on the list.

Thanks, everyone!

Word.

Fettering Facebook: Should We Put a Cap on Capitalism?

Meaty arguments break out from time to time on Twitter, but the 140 character limit cramps my long-winded style. Most recently, UK game dev Iain Lobb and US game dev Adam Saltsman were discussing Adam’s article Contrivance and Extortion II: Clarifications, Feedback & Suggestions, in which he condemns certain game design styles as “unethical”. Iain countered by saying “I think we should save the word unethical for things like credit default swaps, MP’s expenses, etc.” (note to my non-UK readers: an “MP” is sort of a gnome-like creature that inhabits England’s Houses of Parliament). Iain continued, “I think to worry ethics over a few dollars amongst people who can afford it is over dramatic.”

But what if players actually can’t afford it? i referred both gentlemen to my article “Do Social Games Exploit the Mentally Ill?“. Iain posited one possible solution, to which Adam agreed:

Level Cap

Seventy years ago, that kind of talk would land you on a Communist Blacklist, and you’d never make games in this town again. (taps cigar)

Joseph McCarthy

Get stuffed, pinkos.

i mention the Twitter thread, because this very topic came up at IndieCade 2011 a few weeks back, during the Ethics of Big Game Design panel. (Okay – admittedly, i brought it up.) Panelist Brenda Brathwaite spent an earlier part of the discussion talking about the disease of alcoholism in her family, and how banning alcohol would remove a lot of the temptation and social pressure surrounding alcoholics, potentially making life easier for them … but added that prohibition is a ridiculous idea, and that it’s not the rest of society’s responsibility to keep alcoholics from drinking.

Drunk baby

NO, Timmy. You have a PROBLEM.

During question period, i asked whether or not game developers (or the government) had a responsibility to protect players by preventing them from paying too much money in their games. i had asked the same question at GDC earlier in the year, and was met with a similar response here: no … that’s crazy … how would you even … what would the cap be … how would you enforce … is it really up to us … etc etc etc.

The discussion inevitably eschews corporate ethics and focuses on government enforcement. Just as the government enforces certain limitations on alcohol and gambling, and even stronger limitations on drugs, the question becomes would/could/should the government impose such a spending cap on games? Bar owners in Canada are required to deny booze to patrons who they feel have had too much. Companies that hold holiday parties are on the hook to provide cab rides to their employees, because if those employees drive drunk and something goes awry, the company could be liable. i’ve been told that in many places, casinos turn away townies. One of the panelists mentioned that, in fact, South Korea does enforce a game curfew on its citizens to help fight game addiction, one of its societal woes.

Uncle Sam

i want YOU … to clean up your room and eat all your veggies.

It’s funny to me that in a discussion about ethics, we turn to what the government mandates, legislates and requires of us. i’m no philosopher, but don’t issues of ethics supersede Earthly rule? i hold that certain things are right and wrong – that certain things benefit and damage my fellow members of society – and i hold those convictions apart from any laws my government may make. (Thankfully, my convictions are largely in harmony with my government’s laws.)

The Evil Get Richer

The suggestion of capping spending in a game no doubt flies in the face of ‘Murrican values of Freedom and Liberty and the Free Market System (a system which, as we’ve seen, has so thoroughly hosed a good many people in that country). But i wonder: do you think it’s a good idea? Have we come to the point that Korea must have reached, where the problem of overspending real money fo virtual goods is so widespread that a limitation is actually necessary? Should we nip it in the bud before the freemium model causes a problem? And do you think companies and game developers should act ethically apart from anything their governments require them to do?

Let me know which country you’re from in your response!

5 Cardinal Sins of Children’s Entertainment

i recently watched the Sesame Street flick The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland with my tiny little girls. i managed expectations by paying a requisite visit to MrSkin.com to learn that there are no nude scenes in the movie (although several characters spend the entire running time not wearing any pants).

Tickle Me Elmo

(tickle him where, exactly?)

With Jim Henson long passed, the Sesame Street and Muppet brands have really felt the loss. Some people feel Elmo epitomizes a Henson-less Sesame Street (in fact, Elmo was sanctioned by Jim, and even shared some skits with a Henson-performed Kermit). i’m not a big fan of modern-day Sesame Street’s more child-like Zoe, Rosita, Abby Cadabby, and Baby Bear (versus the old school street’s grown-up Herry, Kermit, Bert & Ernie, Sully & Biff and Grover), but the inclusion of more female Muppets is probably a change for the better – even if most of the new characters annoy the piss out of me.

Abby Zoe Rosita

Monsters beat princesses any day.

What i found unforgivable, though, was the flagrant rule-breaking the crew engaged in, where one hard-and-fast law of the Sesame Street Universe was trodden and sullied for fans everywhere (even as Sully himself was nowhere to be found). Outraged, I conjured up four other examples in which the “laws” of certain children’s entertainment brands have been broken, and the caretakers of those franchises have yet to be brought to justice.

1. Showing the Interior of Oscar’s Can

The crime committed by the Sesame Street writers in Elmo in Grouchland was filming the interior of Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can. Longtime fans (or anyone even casually acquainted with Sesame Street) can tell you that the magic of Oscar’s Tardis-like garbage can home, which houses (among other things) his pet elephant, was a silly unsolvable mystery and untouchable canon in Sesame Street lore.

Oscar's Can

Look away!

Why untouchable? Because if you show the inside of Oscar’s can, the elephant jokes of decades of Sesame Street seasons no longer work. Watch Elmo in Grouchland, and then go back and watch a gag where Oscar tinkers with his grouch jalopy somewhere inside his garbage can. You’ll say to yourself “oh yeah – that’s entirely possible. i’ve seen the inside of his can, and it’s quite spacious.”

It was a wretched, wretched idea to break this law, and worse – it was entirely unnecessary to the film’s fiction. As per usual, Elmo could have described the inside of the can in an echoey voice-over, and tell the viewer how he discovered a portal to Grouchland inside. But “show, don’t tell”, right? There’s apparently no room for imagination in a post-Henson Sesame Street.

Jim Henson

Just … dammit.

2. Poochifying Paddington Bear

The original Paddington Bear adaptation was an unbelievably charming and unique blend of stop-motion animation and classical 2D, where the very Pooh-like title character would interact with paper cut-outs of the show’s less interesting supporting cast. Here’s an episode, in case you don’t remember or have never seen it:



Recently, Cookie Jar Entertainment produced an unnecessary and awful Paddington Bear upgrade. They stripped out the narration, the stop-motion, the wit, the charm, and the Britishness. We’re left with a vanilla Paddington show that looks and feels like any other daytime filler material built to keep the little brats entertained. Watch, if you dare:


Rastafarianize him by 10%!

Ugh. After that, sticky Paddington and i both need a shower.

(For the record, the intervening Hanna Barbera take on Paddington was also crap.)

3. Naming the Man with the Yellow Hat

The Curious George series of children’s books chugged along for sixty bloody years being content to call the monkey’s friend “the man with the yellow hat”. When the film version came out in 2006, the geniuses in charge named him “Ted Shackleford”.

Why? God only knows.

The Man with the Yellow Hat

Anonymity is verboten in this post-911 environment. Let’s see some i.d.

4. Voicing the Peanuts Teacher

The adults in Peanuts teevee specials are voiced by a muted trombone. Is this a law? Yes. Yes it is. And is it a crime to deviate from this? Yes. It most certainly is.

Charlie Brown

Stop! In the name of the wah wah wah woh wah wah wah!

And why? Because we never see grown-ups in Peanuts, and teachers sound like muted trombones. That’s the way it is. The kids are important – the adults are not. This creative decision, paired with the decision to hire real kids to voice the Peanuts characters, cleverly conveyed that a child’s domain is often worlds apart from an adult’s, to the point where they even speak a different language. This helps to make the Peanuts characters’ adult-like antics, like Lucy’s psychiatry booth and Sally’s obsession with Linus, even funnier.

And … oh – what’s this? Here comes She’s a Good Skate, Charlie Brown to dump all over that.



5. Making the Cat in the Hat a Safe, Friendly Science Tutor

Dr. Seuss’s bastion of kid poetry, The Cat in the Hat, was recently adapted to television. The book is about two young children who are who are conspicuously abandoned by their mother, and who find themselves bored out of their skulls on a rainy day. They are visited by the titular cat who barges in and promises them a good time. He then proceeds to trash the house, alarming their neurotic pet fish who constantly warns them that their mother is going to lose her shit when she sees the place. With every destructive suggestion the Cat puts forth, he assures them that “your mother will surely not mind if you do.”

The Cat in the Hat

He certainly LOOKS like a respectable fellow …

And just when the kids think things couldn’t get any worse, the Cat unleashes his two frat buddies, Thing 1 and Thing 2, who demolish everything in sight. The Cat is not a nice, friendly character. For 3/4 of the book, he’s a villain, and the story builds towards this impending doom as we draw nearer and nearer to mom’s return. The Cat in the Hat is essentially a horror story for preschoolers.

Thing 1 and Thing 2

Lock the doors, honey.

Sounds like a fun concept for a teevee show, right? So what’s the premise for The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That?

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That

First of all, the boy is brown. Whatever. i’ll let it slide. i always thought that “Sally and I” were brother and sister. If you’re going to muck with race, why not make them both brown? Because it would alienate white kids? Then why didn’t they make the fish Asian? i dunno. i don’t care too much about it.

The Cat in the Hat

The Cat is an equal opportunity shit disturber.

What i do care about is that the Cat in the Hat, anarchist, tormentor of fish and destroyer of private property, is now a friendly character who teaches the kids about science. Naturally. The show is so-titled because the Cat is ever-so-knowledgeable about aquatic life, the water cycle, the seasons, and any number of other natural phenomenon.

You know what Seuss’s Cat knew a lot about? Flying kites inside the house.

The Cat in the Hat

Here’s what you need to know about science, kids: GRAVITY.

The most awful part of this show is that the kids’ mom is always home when the Cat shows up, and when the Cat suggests they “go go go go … on an adventure” to learn about colour theory or some bullshit, he says (as in the book), “your mother will surely not mind if you do!” And you know what the kids do? They ask their mom for permission. i can’t think of anything more antithetical to the spirit of the book than taking the teeth out of it and making it that safe. It’s a true testament to modern-day paranoid parenting.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 make an appearance in every episode, usually to help the kids when they’re in a jam. Because, as we know from the book, that’s what Thing 1 and Thing 2 love to do: help little children get a grasp on science.

The Cat in the Hat

Oh – thank goodness Thing 1 and Thing 2 are here to explain SONAR.

No. You know what? NO. Thing 1 and Thing 2 are not preschool science teachers. They’re here to FUCK SHIT UP, and that’s ALL that they’re about. If you want your kids to watch a kids’ show that teaches science, the pickings aren’t exactly slim. You’ve got Curious George (makes sense – he’s curious, and he’s a monkey, and we use monkeys in scientific experiments), Peep and the Big Wide World, Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train, Wild Kratts, and Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies. Thanks to a big STEM push by the US government (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), we have preschool science shows in spades.

If you’re going to teach anything using the Cat in the Hat, you might try ethics and morality as a more brand-appropriate topic. Or teach kids what to do when people – particularly grown-ups – put them in situations that make them uncomfortable. i’m not suggesting every episode be about molestation, but rather assertiveness, communication, and self-awareness. Here’s how Seuss ended his book:

Then our mother came in
And said said to us two,
“Did you have any fun?
Tell me. What did you do?”
And Sally and I
did not know What to say.
Should we tell her the things
that went on there that day?
Should we tell her about it?
Now, what SHOULD we do?
Well…
what would YOU do If you mother asked YOU?

The Cat in the Hat

i’d tell her about animal migration and the light spectrum!

The US government doesn’t have a vested interest in preschool shows that teach morality or self-awareness. Being tops in science helps the country subjugate the rest of the world and remain a superpower. But being a morally sound or independently thinking nation doesn’t pay.

Crapping on the Shoulders of Giants

Henson, Schulz, Bond, Geisel and the Reys. We can posthumously mess with their creations and make everyone completely forget what was charming, subtle, and valuable about their work to begin with. This is what we get when men and women in ties have say over the creations of men and women with pencils.

Sissy’s Magical IndieCade Adventure

Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure, the game i co-authored with my 5-year-old daughter Cassandra, was a finalist this year at IndieCade 2011. You’ve seen plenty of pictures from E3, GDC, Tokyo Game Show and other more well-known video game industry events, but what’s IndieCade like? Come with me – it’s my magical IndieCade adventure!

Ryan Henson Creighton of Untold Entertainment Inc. at IndieCade 2011

Our Arrival in LA-LA Land

IndieCade takes place in Culver City, a close suburb of Los Angeles California, the Most Horrible Place on Earth. i don’t care for it. Ever since getting dumped out of a cab at two in the morning somewhere in LA, and asking some nearby police officers to help point me towards my hotel, and being denied, i don’t much enjoy traveling there. Culver feels a little bit smaller and a little bit homier than LA proper, but it’s still carved up by vicious six-lane mini-highways threatening to Frogger you at every crossing.

i traveled to IndieCade with fellow indie game developer Michael Todd (@thegamedesigner), whose antics i hope you’ve been reading about on my Twitter account (@untoldent). In case you missed it, here’s a taste:

Michael Todd Goes to IndieCade

Michael Todd Goes to IndieCade

Michael Todd Goes to IndieCade

Good times.

Despite the chaos, Michael Todd managed to spot someone on the plane who was going to IndieCade as well, zeroing in on a guy who was playing SpaceChem on an iPad. That’s how we made friends with Matt from NVIDIA, who agreed to split a cab to Culver with us.

Michael Todd and Matt from NVIDIA

Michael Todd, looking like he’s going to set Matt from NVIDIA on fire.

Michael Todd and Matt from NVIDIA

Michael Todd, after setting Matt from NVIDIA on fire.

We stayed at the historic Culver Hotel, an early 20th century joint situated just up the street from the former MGM (now Sony) studios. Apparently Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley used to whoop it up there while filming Showgirls.

Culver Hotel by Day

The Culver Hotel by day …

Culver Hotel by Night

… and by night.

Travel-weary and hungry, our first order of bidness was to beeline for the nearby In-N-Out Burger, which certain folks on Twitter can’t stop raving about. My hopes were high for what many were calling the best fast food burger in existence. My concierge told me to order a “double double, animal-style” from the secret menu. This being LA, i made absolutely sure that we were both referring to a burger.

In-N-Out Burger

My meal. Thankfully, my chASStity remained intact.

Of course, no Earthly burger could live up to that amount of hype. You couldn’t find a more pedestrian burger. And American cheese sucks. i took special note of the burger wrapper:

In-N-Out Burger

If the very best thing you can say about a burger is that it’s been wrapped in paper since 1948, you’ve got yourself a shitty burger. Here’s a list of other bullet points the restaurant could have printed on the wrapper:

Since 1948, In-N-Out Burgers have been

  • round
  • legal in 48 states
  • made from 100% stuff
  • found only at In-N-Out
  • edible

Aim high, burger joint. Aim high.

Spectacles, Testicles …

The night we arrived, IndieCade held its big awards show. It was much bigger than i expected it would be. The invite suggested we come dressed in “cocktail” attire. This was the best i could muster:

Ryan Henson Creighton suited up

i’m ready for my cocktail, Mr. DeMille.

Many of the other indies, being primal savages, managed to squeeze themselves into pants for the event (which is more than i think most of us hoped for). At the awards show, we were met with a bona fide red carpet entrance.

IndieCade Red Carpet

Jim and emmie McGinley

Jim and emmie McGinley from BigPants games were agog … but not as agog as they’d become when they won the Audience Choice Award for The Depths to Which I Sink a few days later.

You never really get to see a red carpet photo from the perspective of its intimidated subjects, so here you go:

IndieCade Photographers

Rob Manuel

G4TV’s Rob Manuel does his best impression of an Oreo.

Inside, the place was lit up like a Christmas tree. A … Chinese-lanterned Chinese Christmas tree from China.

IndieCade 2011 Awards

IndieCade assembled a list of Hollywood actors from geek-related movies and shows to present the awards, which must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Freaks and Geeks actor Samm Levine (famous also for his leading role in Showgirls) brought his A-material, including “programmers never shower” and “gamers live in their moms’ basements and masturbate a lot”. i mean, granted, but i’m sure there were one or two folks in the audience who resented being lumped in with the rest of us.

Samm Levine

i swear this guy’s been cryogenically frozen since his show got cancelled.

At one point, two young starlets joked that they should start making out at the podium. i could feel the room bristle uncomfortably. Know your audience, kids.

Ponycorns got a few unexpected shout-outs from the mic, and was nominated for the Community Impact award, but ultimately lost to Johann Sebastian Joust. But it’s an honour just to lose bitterly.

As the party drew on tipsily into the wee hours, more than a few people asked me where my daughter – my five-year-old daughter – was. i had no response. My Twitter pal Ian Bogost cooked up an appropriate comeback:

“Fuck if I know. She got trashed and went home with some 8 year old.”

The Lay of the Land

Aside from the Santa Monica-staged awards ceremony, IndieCade took place within a 3-block radius of our hotel. In the parking lot across the street, they’d erected some neat puzzle buildings designed by a local artist, whose nearby gallery hosted some of the finalists.

IndieCade Puzzle Building

IndieCade Puzzle Building

IndieCade Puzzle Building

They’re cool and all, but i’d hate to see the IKEA instructions.

One of the venues was the Ivy Substation, a local theatre:

IndieCade Ivy Substation

The park on the way to the Ivy had a really kickass climbing tree, if you’re into that sort of thing. i mention it in the off chance that you are:

Kickass tree

Most of the finalists’ games were on display at a nearby firehall which, to my surprise, continued to operate throughout the weekend.

IndieCade Fire Station

IndieCade Fire Station

In front of the fire hall, you can see people playing the cardboard box-based “real” game Ordnungswissenschaft.

IndieCade Fire Station

Alienware donated the equipment for the showcase. Somewhat unfairly, certain developers were assigned desktop machines with proper monitors, while others of us were assigned little 14 inch laptops. Ponycorns was squished on to one of these diminutive little screens, and shared a cramped table with an interactive geology textbook. “HELL naw,” said i, and grabbed an extra table. Then i proceeded to pimp my table out, Untold Entertainment style:

IndieCade Ponycorns Table

Thaaaaat’s RIGHT.

After the first day, the IndieCade organizers shut down my merch sales, claiming that i couldn’t sell anything because the firehall was a public place and i didn’t have a vendor’s permit. At first, i was asked to remove the two price tags from the shirts and plushies, and was later asked to remove the T-shirt rack entirely. It was kind of a bummer, but one day of T-shirt sales was enough to pay for my cab rides and meals at the event. i can’t help but think that if i had produced a valid vendor’s license for the organizers, they still would have asked me to shut down my merch sales … but that’s just conjecture on my part.

Patty Wagon

i was asked to speak on a Family Friendly Games panel on Sunday, which was a real thrill. Soon after, some of us piled into a car with my friend Joel from Riot Games (@lowpolycount) to hit up the rarified East coast burger joint Five Guys.

Five Guys

i washed the In-N-Out taste out of my mouth with a proper burger from this place.

Everywhere you go in California, there are these vague “shit be causin’ cancer” signs:

Cancer Warning

(They must be talking about Cinnabon?)

Conferences are exhausting, and IndieCade was no exception. After being on my feet for twelve hours on the concrete firehall floor, i was wiped. Thank goodness – three tall, frosty glasses of Cherry Coke came to my rescue.

Kids Play the Darndest Things

On Saturday and Sunday, the firehall was open to the public to just wander in, try out the games, and meet their creators. This was, by far, my favourite aspect of the festival. i just loved talking to Joe and Jane Community Member, and it was especially exciting whenever a little kid played the game:

Kids Play Ponycorns

Kids Play Ponycorns

Kids Play Ponycorns

Kids Play Ponycorns

i caught this girl petting each of the ponycorns in turn, giving their manes a test drive. Protip: Fluffybuns has the nicest hair.

Next to our booth was Johann Sebastian Joust, the game that edged us out in our award category. It drew large crowds with lots of clapping and laughter.

Joust

Okay, sure – if all you’re looking for in a game is for it to be fun and exciting for large numbers of people.

Each player gets a Playstation Move controller. The players must move around the arena in time to the Bach soundtrack – if you move too quickly, you’re out. So the game is all about swatting someone else’s remote to make it move too quickly and knock that player out of the game. It’s a neat idea, and people loved it.

i met a fellow wearing a paper tie whose father was the subject of Deepak Fights Robots, a Pac Man/Bubble Bobble mash-up that took home the award for best game design.

Deepak Fights Robots

They really managed to *curry* favour with the … no, never mind.

That’s a Rap

The festival concluded with the Audience and Developer’s Choice Awards. A stunned Jim and emilie McGinley accepted their Audience Choice award, but not before the crowd tried a few rounds of Local No. 12′s the MetaGame.

In the MetaGame, each player gets a deck of cards. Most cards depict video games, while some cards pose a comparison question, like “Which game is a better waste of ten minutes?” or “Which game deserves to be locked in a vault for 1000 years?” The challenger chooses a discussion card, and both players throw down a game card. Then they debate. It’s all very Socratic.

Myles Nye in the Meta-Game

Never debate a man in a moustachioed shirt.

i squared off against Myles Nye here on the left, who wound up trouncing all comers. He later brought down the house while defending Parappa the Rapper by freestyle rapping his rebuttal.


Indiecade 2011 – Dragon’s Lair vs Parappa the Rapper from Sokay Man on Vimeo.

IndieCade 2011 was capped with a backyard barbecue at Robin Hunicke’s house. Robin is a producer at That Game Company (Flow, Flower, and the upcoming Flowest: Flow Harder).

Robin Hunicke's backyard barbecue

Set phasers to “mingle”.

Robin's bbq

Ed from Twisted Tree Games (Proteus) toasts a marshmallow, while other bearded men and women make s’mores nearby. The non-bearded gentleman in the background was quickly expelled from the party.

Phil Fish and Richard Lemarchand DJ'ing

Phil Fish, developer of the Best in Show winner Fez, spun tunes with Richard Lemarchand, of Uncharted fame

i sat down next to Richard to reclaim my key drive, which Phil had borrowed to transfer some music. He introduced himself, and then said “i loved Ponycorns.” i had to admit that i got stuck somewhat early in his game when i was shot repeatedly in the face. He assured me i could play Uncharted 2 without missing important plot details.

Richard is a very nice guy. Very British. This is confusing, because his last name is “Lemarchand”. He makes frequent, almost self-conscious references to Dr. Who. i have a sneaking suspicion he’s an imposter – a Frenchman posing as an Englishman for some bizarre reason. You can’t fool me, Lemarchand. Blood will out.

The Voyage Home

It was an exhausting five days. By the end of it, Michael Todd had learned that hotels not only charge exorbitant amounts for in-room phone calls, but also for in-room death threats.

Michael Todd Goes to IndieCade

Michael Todd Goes to IndieCade