Leon's Microblog – May 2018

(Once again I typed Tanaka instead of Tezuka, thus completing my descent into irreversible ignomity.)
By 2100, medusas, mermaids, sirens and harpies will be merged into a single Greco-Roman "ur-monster" species, comparable to vampires in sheer number of abilities.
That the games most strongly associated with "narrative focus", RPGs, are also the ones so fixated on persistent stat/inventory progress is an unfortunate twist of fate… and that other games aiming to be "story driven" look to RPGs and replicate this persistence without need.
I think one of the big leashes tying games to linear, single-character-viewpoint narratives is simply the requirement that the same inventory and stat points carry over for the entire game, with no breaks.
(I suspect SMB3's brief level length was a big contributor to the Shoe and the Sun and other splashy one- or two-offs being remembered so strongly – only getting a few minutes of taste from them, not offering a long quenching draught like a DKC or an SMW would.)
Special mention to 5-🏰2 and its "ceiling lava", which the game brings out in only this one long room and then coolly never mentions again – just letting it sink into memory, much like certain shoes or flying beetles in this same world.
The tendency to deploy levels like this that break entrenched idioms, in later worlds that thematically emphasise danger, reflects a confidence in design, an awareness that the unfamiliar and illegible evokes as much a sense of danger as the difficult and challenging.
OK folks, what's your favourite SMB fortress or castle? I'm going with SMB3's 7-🏰1. Just a few empty rooms with no enemies, including this room that visibly should have Rotodiscs and Stretch Boos but does not… truly a Tanaka level, a proto-ghost house.
I may've mentioned before about Everything2's (https://everything2.com/) node names as an idiosyncratic prose form, but I also recall that they form rather pretty structures in the "related node" tables at the foot of each page - their common themes usually lending them synergy.
*reads this card's description* Who named it this and not Lotus 1-2-3, tend sweet
By the cruelest twist of fate imaginable I was linked to the "Lost/missing RPG Maker games" thread (https://rpgmaker.net/forums/topics/4667/?p=47) and now the clouds of gloom perpetually skirting me have swelled to monsoon proportions
*I learn that the "mox" in Mox Pearl, Mox Diamond etc. is short for "moxie"* I Can't Freaking Believe MTG Is Literally Kingdom Of Loathing
"Comics are the ultimate medium. It uses every art discipline: writing, illustration, rectangles, page layout, and fonts. Nothing of value is left out."
Pixiv update: what just a few years ago was originally the fav button (then a 1-10 star rating) and the bookmark button have now in 2018 become the word "Like" (meaning "Like") and an unlabeled heart (meaning "Bookmark").
I do like how mana and life seem to naturally complement one another, and how a few later cards explore that relationship with lines like this, which are designed to loosely maintain their affordability throughout the game:
All the original broken cards (and even several new ones) misunderstand these currencies and their relationships, by assuming easy linear conversions between them like 1 life -> 1 draw that are actually only fair after several turns have passed.
* Mana, which starts high and reduces in value (akin to most strategy game currencies used to buy units) * Life, which starts low and increases in value (you don't need it in early game and can invest it for later returns) * Cards drawn, which usually remain high
From how I loosely understand articles about MTG's famous broken historical cards, MTG play has three major currencies whose values evolve differently as the game progresses:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFxJuq3FRgI – In this video, the position of a buoyant platform becomes incorrect due to IEEE 754 imprecision, and I just want you all to know that it's literally a Floating Point Error.
"OK, what is THIS tea brewed in? Alien hair? Comet ice? Bark from the Vine-Clenched Moons? Silk strands from the Cocooned Sun itself?" "Miniature gas giants." "Miniature. Gas. Actually, forget it, I just KNOW it'll still be delicious somehow." *swigs* "GOD I hate being right."
"I can't imagine the pressure I'd be under if I ever had sex with someone I cared about." *takes deep swig* "I mean, if men get to equate sex with utter contempt, who's to say I can't?"
Now that the word "chiptunes" has mostly dropped out of the online zeitgeist, what do you think we'll call them when they make a second big comeback in the mid 20's
"Like, listen: imagine an electric stove. Now imagine this electric stove has a natural gas-powered temperature light. That's what all software is."
I'm not even going to link it because it's simply too horrifying.
I was looking at some old Bloodstained backer updates and I read what I didn't yet realise was the April Fools update and its sheer nightmarishness made me lose consciousness for 5 seconds.
1988 brain: complaining that a NES-style indie game's background has parallax 19888 brain: complaining that a NES-style indie game's scrolling uses non-linear easing functions ("Leon they could've used a lookup table" Would they? Would they really?)
How many T.B. donation messages do you think there'll be at Summer Games Done Quick now
I actually sincerely feel each Mario sub-series that markedly departs from the mechanic of SMB1 should've had its own IP. I feel Mario 64 should've had its own IP. (Though Miyamoto would still be director, and the last time he directed a non-Mario IP, we got Link and Zelda… lol)
(You're probably thinking this alt-history speculation is too hazy, given one basis of the Mario RPG series is the sprinkling of Super Mario real-time jumping into turn-based combat. Yet… timed hits really aren't that big a deal in TTYD, compared to everything around them.)
If these games had been made with entirely their own characters, even outside of whether their designs were better or worse than Mario, they'd no longer be tied to this cultural monolith that is the Franchise, only visible as one of its branches, only discussable on its terms.
A thought that preys on me often: every Mario spinoff would, in a less brand-driven world, be improved by having been an original IP. I think of my favourite things in, say, Thousand Year Door, and basically none of them require the protag be Mario, the enemies goombas, etc.
Here's the only tweet I will make about the videogame "A Hat in Time": I watched a bunch of footage of it and the writing initially aspires to be Thousand Year Door but depressingly just turns into Sticker Star (a flat continuation of itself with all hint of nuance deflated).
Here's the only tweet I will make about the videogame "God of War 4": I watched a bunch of footage of it and the vivid mythology-themed world design made me want to play Kid Icarus Uprising. Which isn't bad for a game that isn't Kid Icarus Uprising, really.
OK, it's been seven years, and I think we've all had time for it to sink in, so let me say: how the FRICK did Super Bogus World have a fully functional parody of Descent coded in Game Maker in it
Every so often I rattle out a Javascript idiom that doesn't comfortably fit K&R C-inspired indentation intuitions. Like this: which of these four options do you feel is the Most Correct Indentation?
For the first time in awhile I'm feeling content and peaceful *someone offscreen yells "Touhou outfits are just femme versions of dapper gent gamer avatars"* OOOOOOHHHH *I start snorting and rolling up my sleeves for a full three minutes*
I tuned into some streams of CotM and this is 100,000% a backer avatar boss. I don't even care if it actually isn't, because it is.
"How can Curse Of The Moon be a prequel to Bloodstained if it came out first" and other cases of the Very Trivial Temporal Paradoxes Agency (down the hall from the one chem classroom with gas taps)
"The dirigible or "sideways balloon" proved the power of sidewayisation, paving the way for the downhill up-staircase–" *footage of people walking horizontally up steps* "–and the vertical boat." *footage of sideways cruise ship departing a cheering wharf and sinking like a rock*
"Much like how a microphone can be used as a speaker if you plug it in the wrong slot–" *squelching noise as another wire is shoved into one of your brain's lobes* "–the human tongue and ear can swap roles by just flipping–" *even louder squelch* "–🍇🍎🍇🍇🍓🍇 🥕🍑🥕?"
"The botnet has hacked over 20,000 IoT lightbulbs, flashlights, plasma balls and lava lamps, redirecting vast amounts of sparkles and glowiness with which to power its evil magical cyber-avatar it calls "Doomsday Princess"."
Reading about this game's to-and-fro suggests its biggest spice is the risk-reward stakes, where multiple boxes holding traps or treasure tantalyse you… which is also the spice I adore in 868-HACK (a game I've read was designed in NR's shadow but intentionally differentiated).
I really love this interleaved guidebook's choice to write the Corp player's rules with we/our pronouns… the double readings of "we" as inclusive or exclusive depending on the reader's side… the historical power imagery of the Royal We… just amazing.
*extremely 2013 indie game twitter's voice* I'm finally reading Netrunner rules, cuties
OoT really could've easily done so much more with its bad-future premise… I sadly believe that if, like MM just after it, it had ever shook off its Hero's Journey sopor long enough to include multiple NPC character arcs, I'd actually like it.
Literally the only character in Ocarina Of Time I still find interesting is Ingo… I'm very interested in the archetype of the grumpy self-absorbed character who, when the dictatorship takes power, seamlessly trades fervent, passionate fealty for power over his community.
https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=63210213 – This feels like an old-style Perry Bible Fellowship, one of the ones without the increasingly dated edgy morbidity.
I think this is cute! I like the aesthetics of this as a hidden, utilisable breakdown in the abstraction, where one class of thing can be surreptitiously parlayed into another with nary a rules line batting an i.
When the card is in your hand, it represents the spell. When the card is on the battlefield, it represents the creature. When the card is in the graveyard, it represents both (and can get there by being discarded from hand or killed in combat, with no tracking as to which).
Looking at MTG, one of its more interesting unstated design assumptions is that a creature card sometimes represents the creature's physical body, and other times represents the spell used to summon it.
RPGs and tabletop games where participants routinely spend HP with the intent of earning it back later are just investment games, and killing is just forcing bankruptcy. Now where's the game that makes this theming real and which isn't called Monopoly
I'm gonna become a gamer but for webcomics. I'm naming my first-born son "Archive" and buying a shirt with "don't POINT AT ME unless you want to READ MY ALT TEXT" on it.
I'm going through the recent MTG parody card set and seeing what sort of joke combos were hidden in its design. Pretty confident about this one.
"You think you've won? You think this is the end? By dispelling my undead armies, shattering my ring, cutting off my head, and using it as a bowling ball?! Hah! This is just the beginning!" *proceeds to gutter-ball ten bowls in a row*
Ancient Greek programmer cursed by the gods to constantly rewrite "class Medusa extends Basilisk" into "class Basilisk extends Medusa" and back and forth forever
Can't believe it's soon going to be Kindred Spirits On The Lam
"There's no bad morning vibe that can't be shaken off with a bonus cup of tea, some protein-rich yoghurt, and two large glasses of that sweet cloud blood we call "water"."
My verdict on this is now to not use + to join changers and links. The + operation persists in requiring identical types.
I used + because changers are first-class values (you can (set: $variable to (font:"Skia")+(color:red)) but hook are (currrently) not. Links are currently also first-class values (that you currently can't do any operations on).
The issue is that currently, attaching a changer to a hook looks like (font:"Skia")[Text] and attaching two changers to a hook looks like (font:"Skia")+(color:red)[Text] and I don't whether links and (link-goto:)s (one desugars to the other) are hook-like or value-like.
Twine 2 tweet: I'm designing new Harlowe syntax and I'm losing my mind trying to decide which of each set to use: (t8n:"dissolve")+[[Text->Name]] (t8n:"dissolve")[[Text->Name]] (t8n:"dissolve")(link-goto:"Text","Name") (t8n:"dissolve")+(link-goto:"Text","Name")
Garbage collection algorithm that frees memory based on whether or not it could probably remember the gist of what it contained, should it turn out to actually still be needed.
"Piddlepa: the footsoldiers of the Grugnaguff Army. You'll see these puny grunts everywhere on your quest. [SIX PARAGRAPHS OF PIDDLEPA HISTORY AND CULTURE DELETED] Bigpid Revivalists walk off platforms, but Holistics turn around. 100 points; 200 while they do the Chant of Mercy."
"They're coming!! Leave me! Save yourself!" "Heh…" *smirks, flicks hair back* "I'll do one better." *somersaults backward, kicks off wall, lands too hard on one foot and keels over in pain, letting both of them get captured*
"Transparent shutter-shades denote that the character is open and honest about 80s nostalgia. Opaque shutter-shades denote that the character is either foolishly invoking 80s nostalgia, or else is using 80s nostalgia as a cunning and deceptive façade."
Cloud Five Nines (five mana) Prevent all damage by flying creatures. Note: Since this card is only available online, you must display it on your phone, then shuffle your phone into your deck before playing. It's no longer a phone. This card cannot be answered if it rings.
"Humans believe they invented the inclined plane, which naturally grows on the ground – and they also believe they invented the wheel, which is just an inclined plane plucked from the ground and wrapped around a block, to make the ground slide down it instead of vice-versa."
2024: All websites have been replaced with one social media site that solely contains algorithmically ordered promoted posts, whose "Buy" buttons have also replaced all storefronts.
"Your card deck, in this game, represents your brain and your memorised spells. Your opponent looking at and rearranging the top 7 cards of your deck represents a "mind kiss", a highly erotic act of wizard intimacy."
One dreadful thought has been preying on me lately, and that's the bleak knowledge that when Miyamoto dies multiple people will call him "the Hayao Miyazaki of games" based almost entirely off post-OoT Zelda branding, when just on a philosophical level he's the exact opposite.
Both SNES titles being apparently just Tezuka is actually the funniest clarification for me, since it potentially explains why they both have wonky one-off enemy designs and occasional sharp breaks from level design expectations (ghost houses, overworld/dungeon integration, etc).
This checks out because the Mario enemies associated with famous Miyamoto anecdotes (Chain Chomp, Boo) are Mario 3 debuts, and I'm much more willing to believe Aonuma and Koizumi authored Majora's Mask than him.
Games he did not direct that I misbelieved he directed: -Super Mario World (Tezuka) -Link to the Past (Takashi Tezuka) -Doki Doki Panic (Kensuke Tanabe) -Ocarina of Time / Majora's Mask (Tezuka, Eiji Aonuma, Yoshiaki Koizumi, Toru Osawa)
Went to MobyGames to check which console games Shigeru Miyamoto is credited as director/designer instead of just "producer", and got Mario 1, Mario 2J, Zelda 1, Mario 3, Mario 64… and that's it?
I'll be honest, the yawning chasm of creative impoverishment of the Mario series between Sunshine and 3D World makes this feel even less likely than the Philip K Dick references in Gimmick!.
Are you serious
http://alcottgrimsley.com/comic/cvicover/ - This comic (a spinoff of another in a different genre) is about a Turkish carpet merchant who becomes a vampire. Though a little slow-paced, it has fittingly artful paneling and designs, and indubitably human emotions.
My home's internet cable broke so I'll have to squeeze a whole week's takes into my last 2MB of phone data. First: don't call it a "T-pose" unless the palms are down!! Second: Red shouldn't be the MTG colour of "chaos" when directly damaging the opponent is the most straightforwa
*is presented with first-person VR* Boy, those kooky size fetishists must be having a ball right now *is presented with the fact that people can pretend to be other people by just acting different* Boy, those kooky demonic possession fetishists must be having a ball ri
Red: Small government Blue: Meritocracy Black: Social Darwinism Green: Laissez-faire capitalism White: The authoritarianism necessary to enforce libertarian policy
I actually did read the "philosophy" wiki section for each MTG colour, and am now reasonably convinced each colour has had someone somewhere argue that the colour is libertarian. Including white, somehow.
MTG players casting spells to summon monsters who then cast the spell the player actually wanted is just the Socrates tweet in game form. Thanks, I just signed a book deal for this take for $1M.
(I personally encountered sentiments resembling the above in response to the MooTools .flatten() compatibility issue, which, if you're unfamiliar, was a heated programmer battle over a seven-letter word.)
"If a website can't afford a maintenance team then browsers should break it on purpose to set an example." – 2018 programming ethos, unrelated to any other 2018 ethos in any other industry or society
I feel like my feed's "photos" regularly shake out to 40% photographs and 60% screenshots. Ironically, as software, games, drawings and cartoons became just as much locations and objects to "photograph" as physical locations, apps proceeded to optimise away from them.
Hello and welcome to day 20 billion of every social media site referring to any kind of image file as a "photo", and *sticks head out window, then withdraws it converted to JPEG* yup, everything still sucks.
1990s: "Someday, every game plot will be crafted on-the-fly to suit the player – a unique, unrepeatable experience." 2010s: "I accidentally skipped over two boxes of dialogue so I'm restarting the whole chapter in case it was quotable."
In the 90s, everyone was all "by 2020, you'll be able to shoot any game NPC and the computer will instantly rewrite the entire remaining plot to fit" and now we're all "if I don't roll the good Tracer/Widowmaker random voice banter during THIS match's setup I'm going to scream".
This tweet is written in script format but has only 7% actual dialogue. If movies had been invented before novels, the first three decades of novels would all read like this.
Me, whenever an artist applies awareness of abyssal gigantism to make their mermaid pictures include size kink: *shy whisper* thanks Everyone: *turns around because instead of shy whispering I actually spluttered it loudly* Me: …… *pretends to sneeze* TH-THOONKsmthmth
"OK. I summon Magdelelel. That's an angel with not one but three "el"s at the end of her name, providing tripled stats."
Duckmonkey Software presents a Bloodskull Shareware production in conjunction with ZOMG Studios BULK PNG TO WEBP CONVERTER *Matrix raining code background*
Pulling out a mysterious large plug in the ground, only for all Earth's atmosphere to gurgle down it, leaving only cold space.
"It's always good when developing a game in a new IP to leave a few dangling pointers." "Dangling plot threads." "Yes, hanging threads."
Rowhammer adapted to work on human brains by inducing 200 shame flashbacks per second
Things Formerly Thought To Ward Off The Contagious Song: - Salt - Crucifixes - Singing a different song (the Song assimilated it) - Plague doctor masks - Filling your mouth with peanut butter - Just choosing not to sing it - Holy water - Running away (singers never get tired)
"Hi, I want a succubus who just does the pressure stim part, so she just sits on my chest and plays Switch games for 6 hours." "First, you're thinking of night mares, second, how'd you get this number?" "Phonebook." "They still print p–" *the din of wailing souls drowns them out*
That's also why I feel strongly that the plot needs to "get into" the puzzles, so that this step rhythm is somewhat smoothed over, more than it necessarily needs to "get into" platformer levels (though I also feel most every extant platformer would be improved by that too).
The contemplative nature of a puzzle is such that the flow of a series of puzzle levels is stepwise – stay in one place until you step forward to the next – so the speed of environmental progression – that is, new world information – is fairly limited.
You may ask why I'm concerned about level puzzle games' narrative approaches more than, say, action platformers like Kirby. Mainly I feel the act of advancing through a level, its environments and structures, provides a narrative baseline by itself that single-room puzzles lack.
Whether Half Life style narrative is that good for games in general is another question (IMHO it continues to overcentralise on the PC, and encourages bloated one-thing-after-another plots) but I feel it has a better grip on what game narrative could be than level-based games.
I kinda feel like puzzle games are in sort of the same narrative doldrums that western AAA FPSes were in before Half Life 1 came out… and, unfortunately, The AAA Puzzle Game (Portal 2) still used closed test chambers for most of the game (albeit for mostly legacy world reasons).
I've taken to heart the idea that a game's plot is the totality of its experience - every mechanic, environment and interaction in a game is, in some way, narrative - and that every part should be just as "written" as every other - every part contributing to the whole.
Puzzle "boss battle" levels, such as in Braid and Portal, are another narrow glimpse into this possibility space, albeit motivated by wanting the puzzle to resemble an action game climax, rather than merely wanting to portray a tense character conflict.
A few end-of-chapter chambers in Portal 1 and 2 unexpectedly force the player to escape, but I don't even mean subverting the whole act of solving it, or even the general idea of characters "interfering" with the puzzle, rather than being elements in themselves.
But more importantly, there's even more narrative expressiveness available by selectively breaking a puzzle's "bubble" for plot or character purposes. Having the plot advance during the puzzles is to fully internalise a lack of distinction between the two.
Firstly, even with deterministic puzzles, there's a lot of narrative expressiveness available in just the mechanics and context. The definitive example is Portal chamber 16 (the turrets room), whose placement, pacing and framing has a very focused narrative purpose.
3) Level-based puzzles are usually deterministic and information-closed - nothing will unexpectedly change until you solve it, and everything you see is as it seems. People think this is A: strictly necessary, and thus B: the plot can't advance during puzzles, but only between.
It's very important, I feel, that by keeping the plot in the same "space" as the puzzle mechanics, players aren't encouraged to mentally section off one from the other, or view them in opposition. This leads to a further point:
Even if the puzzles are abstract to the point that navigation/PC embodiment requires separate mechanics, the rift between them can be bridged. Consider how The Witness uses the line-drawing mechanics for basic switch and panel interaction, using it as a basic navigation verb.
People look at their coded puzzle games and just see the levels, with no interstitial elements, and don't imagine any greater structure for them than a linear sequence, nor imagine any non-puzzle content or navigation that uses the puzzle mechanics.
2) Moreover, if you look closely at how p&c adventures interleave their puzzles with plot and environment, you notice how necessarily little separation there is between them. Specifically, there isn't usually a "puzzle mode" vs a "plot mode".
People don't relate p&c adventures (or text adventures) to level-based puzzle games because the former's puzzles mostly test awareness of plot or environment instead of deeply exploring a set of specific mechanics, but the same writing principles can be applied.
Moreover, despite having discrete named puzzle levels, 3 In Three's writing and use of characters is closer to point-and-click adventure games, which are also "puzzle games" in that progress is usually puzzle-gated, but are remembered for plot or dialogue over all.
Personally, when I think of narrative puzzle games, in addition to Portal, which had one NPC hosting the whole game, I think of 3 In Three, which had various NPCs hosting puzzles and which filled out the game's world, as well as a few recurring characters.
Sometimes people think up extra characters, but feel they have to also be playable in some way, which sharply constrains the relationship said characters can have with the PC, and affects the tone and pacing of the puzzles.
This fallacy is seductive because, when writing the plot, people usually code the game, then glance at all 1 recurring characters in the game's mechanics, decide that the game world looks "complete" because it resembles the above, and start writing.
1) I feel Braid, by being a famous game with an allegorical narrative, lured an entire generation into believing you can "just" write a compelling puzzle game story with only one character, and Portal lured people into believing you can "just" write a comedy with one-and-a-half.
Thinking about approaches to writing in level-based puzzle games… by which I mean games with discrete levels consisting of one puzzle using a shared constrained set of mechanics, like Sokoban.
You approach the flower. Sure enough, it seems to have a human hand instead of petals. You reach to pick it, and it clenches into a fist. You abruptly switch to a fist as well and peaceably bump it, before retreating back to the path.
Model-View-Vodel-ViewVodel-Montroller framework
The MTG colour pie is just commercialised Six Thinking Hats, which itself is just commercialised Plus-Minus-Interesting brainstorming. Send tweet and give it the gold foil "good take" background.
*shouting at a bunch of prehistoric animals eating the cactus ancestors that haven't evolved quills* "You fools!" *a small desert rodent starts nibbling a shoot* "You don't know what evil you're unleashing!"
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