Recent Comments

  • Marz: The guys at Game Informer are doing a Super Replay of this game. It's hilarious. read more
  • Blaine Christian: I finished all 16 courses in 18 minutes. If you want a hint, it might be that never once did I use all of the read more
  • Glen O'Neill: Thank you for the coverage. Expect to see a lot more game related beards to come! read more
  • Alc: "Is it just me or does this look like it's from a game? If so, anyone have any info? Apologizes if I'm being super clueless read more
  • Ryan D.: Wow, I've been waiting a while for this game. To be honest, I didn't think it was ever actually coming out. o.o Good luck, Rohrer! read more

About GameSetWatch

GameSetWatch.com is the alt.video game weblog and sister site of Gamasutra.com. It is dedicated to collecting curious links and media for offbeat and oft-ignored games from consoles old and new, as well as from the digital download, iOS, and indie spaces.

Read More

The Making Of GDC: The Game

Special: Introducing Jim Munroe's 'GDC: The Game'

May 4, 2009 12:00 PM |

For this year's Game Developers Conference, we at GameSetWatch (yes, owned by the same company as the GDC folks, but they had no idea we were doing this!) decided to try a little journalistic/interactive experiment.

We recruited Canadian author and game creator Jim Munroe, whom, as his Wikipedia page explains, is a former editor at Adbusters Magazine and a HarperCollins-published author ('Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask').

In the game field, he founded the Artsy Game Incubator project, and his poignant illustrated text adventure, 'Everybody Dies', took third place at IFComp last year and picked up a number of other media honors.

So, we got Jim -- in exchange for a press pass to the event -- to write his experiences at GDC and what he finds out, and use that as inspiration to write a text adventure with some kind of Game Developers Conference theme, and that's just what he did.

Here's his brief explanation before you get into playing what is, intriguingly, more of a social simulator (very befitting of GDC!) than a traditional IF work:

"I wanted to try something that was more of a "text game" rather than "text adventure game". Think of it as a round of cards rather than an immersive and colourful narrative. If you don't like the hand you're dealt, you can always reshuffle with a restart. If you find you're playing "guess-the-verb" (IF's most infamous minigame), restart and read the beginning carefully."

You can now play 'GDC: The Game' in your web browser using Java [UPDATE: If you don't have Java, try this Parchment link], or, if you'd like to download the Z-Machine file to play it on your computer, here's 'GDC: The Game's zcode file - go check out the IFGuide's Wiki for info on an interpreter.

In addition, if you'd like to read the process whereby Jim experienced GDC, thought through the game creatively, and then made it, we've archived his GameSetWatch.com posts made during the event and afterwards, with lots of insight into what he considered, and how that birthed the game.

GDC - The Game - Part 6, Post-GDC: 'My Game, My Rules'

April 19, 2009 4:00 PM |

[Every day during GDC, Everybody Dies creator Jim Munroe blogged for GameSetWatch discussing the creative process for the GDC-related text adventure he'll be building for us. Here's a post-GDC update, following Monday's, Tuesday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's and Friday's entries during GDC.]

Skeletons are scary. I'm about 60 hrs into making the GDC text game -- which should be done in the next couple of weeks -- at this point.

There's a bunch of randomly generated convention-goers wandering around the Moscone Center, annoying and impressing each other, talking about things they know about and things they know nothing about, and as the player character you can stand there and watch it happen or jump in.

But because I haven't written more than one or two actions/behaviours for each situation, they still feel pretty robotic. I just try to keep in mind something Raigan and Mare told me -- when they were making N, adding the animated ninja at the end of the process immediately made it much more fun. Up til then it'd just been a physics simulation.

So I'm still keeping the faith. I think social interactions will be compelling in a text adventure context because prose can communicate a haughty look or an adoring gaze way better than the most advanced 3D model with the most talented face puppeteer in the business.

I've also been thinking about the creative authorship that goes into the creation of systems.

GDC - The Game - Part 5, Friday: Infectious Design

March 28, 2009 8:00 AM |

[Every day during GDC, Everybody Dies creator Jim Munroe is blogging for GameSetWatch discussing the creative process for the GDC-related text adventure he'll be building for us. Here's part five, following Monday's, Tuesday's, Wednesday's and Thursday's entries.]

I heard some of the Mirror's Edge guys talk today about how they achieved the feeling of first person running.

At first, they simply attached the camera to the head of the model, but this lead to a very jerky, motion sickness inducing perspective. They eventually animated it by hand -- it was less real, but it ended up giving the effect they were looking for.

This idea of verisimilitude, or the appearance of reality, is an important part of storytelling -- you don't need to detail every pee break in a person's life to make it come alive for the reader. I'm wondering if this holds true for systems as well.

GDC - The Game - Part 4, Thursday: Systematic Socialization

March 26, 2009 4:00 PM |

[Every day during GDC, Everybody Dies creator Jim Munroe is blogging for GameSetWatch discussing the creative process for the GDC-related text adventure he'll be building for us. Here's part three, following Monday's, Tuesday's and Wednesday's entries.]

What I took away from Hideo Kojima's keynote was the following: the genius part of Metal Gear came from a technical constraint, and the flaws come from being technically unconstrained.

Originally, Metal Gear was supposed to be a combat game, but the hardware wouldn't allow for enough sprites for the bullets and enemies, so he worked around it by creating the stealth game. The oft-criticised cinematics in the game, on the other hand, were made possible by increases in disc storage space.

While I like the idea of making this GDC text game have thousands of non-player characters with individual interests, introversion/extroversion levels and social connections, I know there's a technical processing limit even for text games.

But I expect I can get a pretty interesting result even with a limited amount of non-player characters. Here's a sketch of the basic, rule-based system I'm imagining, before I layer in the colour and detail.

GDC - The Game - Part 3, Wednesday: Funeral Plot

March 25, 2009 4:00 PM |

[Every day during GDC, Everybody Dies creator Jim Munroe is blogging for GameSetWatch discussing the creative process for the GDC-related text adventure he'll be building for us. Here's part three, following Monday's and Tuesday's entries.]

I ran into Ernest Adams yesterday, top hat and all, on my way home from the Ten Bit party. His thoughts on interactive narrative have strongly influenced me.

I'll rant to anyone who will listen that interactive andnarrative are not this simple thing to combine -- they're not the chocolate and peanut butter that people seem to imagine. The more the player tells the story the less the author tells the story, and the inverse is true.

So I've been trying to come to terms with the idea that as a fiction novelist a lot of the tools in my toolkit aren't that useful to bring to bear on game making. I personally believe that a linear plot doesn't suit the medium.

Despite that, my recent well-received text game has a completely linear plot. While I spared Ernest the role of Father Confessor while we chatted, I have a weird feeling that this linearality is a kind of backsliding on my part. Linear plotting in games is just wrong.

GDC - The Game - Part 2, Tuesday: 'Fear of Focus'

March 25, 2009 12:00 AM |

[Every day during GDC, Everybody Dies creator Jim Munroe is blogging for GameSetWatch discussing the creative process for the GDC-related text adventure he'll be building for us. Here's part two, following Monday's entry.]

I loved Petri Purho's graphs yesterday. His candid post-mortem on Crayon Physics Deluxe detailed how he used player testing to fine-tune the difficulty between the levels, after having discovered that players continued to improve on levels with similar difficulty.

I think his craftmanship is laudable because testing and refinement is underrated in not just indie games, but indie arts in general.

While "It didn't test well in focus groups" is a tool marketing uses to bludgeon things they don't like in big companies, doing thorough playtesting and responding to what you learn is not tantamount to diluting your artistic vision.

Getting feedback and doing testing -- so long as you feel like the creative control is in your hands -- can be a hugely useful part of the process. Just because you can say "fuck the audience" doesn't mean that you should: and even if your intent is to frustrate or irritate the player, it's a good idea to see if people get pissed off to the pitch you expected.

I was talking to Farbs, the creator of the great Rom Check Fail today about player experiences. He was saying that everyone talks about the first ten minutes of a game, but not the last ten minutes.

I wonder if this is because most games aren't finished, except by the hardcore that simply care that they beat it (and that it was too short/easy). I'd be interested in stats that compare completion of movies to books to games.

I also think that few game designers put a lot of thought into when a player quits, maybe because the ideal player in their head never does.

It's one last opportunity to connect with the player -- sometimes there's a little funny jab at the player, or some variant on that, but it's usually a static stock response.

I'd like to make some use of the player data that the session has collected in this GDC text game. Even if it's just letting the player know how far along they are, or some other interesting stat. Something a bit more thought out than "Are You Sure? Y/N"

GDC - The Game - Part 1, Monday: 'I'm Stuck.'

March 23, 2009 4:00 PM |

[Every day during GDC, Everybody Dies creator Jim Munroe is blogging for GameSetWatch discussing the creative process for the GDC-related text adventure he'll be building for us.

He says: 'This is the first of my daily dev diaries for the text game set at the GDC. Needless to say it is an honor and a privilege, and I hope I don't fuck it up too badly.']

At lunch today Erin Robinson (who made the excellent adventure game Nanobots) mentioned that she was stuck at a point in my last text game and she couldn't figure out the right verb.

While I would like to claim that "guess-the-verb" is a bonus minigame, I largely consider it a failing of my own when people get too frustrated to continue -- especially due to parser limitations, but even due to making the puzzles too difficult.

In Erin's game, one of the nanobots is a built in hint system, and unlike most hint systems, I used it.

GameSetIntroduction: Jim Munroe's GDC 2009 IF Experiment

March 22, 2009 4:00 PM |

Ah yes, so with the start of Game Developers Conference 2009 just hours away, we promised that we'd reveal our guest blogger for this week's conference, and just what they'd be up to.

For those who recall, for last year's GDC, we recruited Waxy.org's Andy Baio, who reported in a a guest 'Web 2.0/geek culture/game culture crossover' observer stylee - Harmonix Vs. Jonathan Coulton, and all that good stuff.

Well, this year, our guest blogger - who will hopefully be posting daily on his GDC experiences - is Canadian author and game creator Jim Munroe, whom, as his Wikipedia page explains, is a former editor at Adbusters Magazine and a HarperCollins-published author ('Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask').

Nowadays, he works on DIY interestingness under his No Media Kings outlet, and does a lot of neat things in the video game area. For example, he runs the Artsy Game Incubator project, which combines non-game artists with easy to use tools to make really neat art(sy) games.

In addition, his poignant illustrated text adventure, 'Everybody Dies', took third place at IFComp last year and picked up a number of honors, including being named by Variety and Gamasutra in game of the year countdowns, and an A review from The Onion AV Club.

Anyhow, what's he doing here? The deal is that Jim is going to write about the things that happen to him at GDC and what he finds out, and then he's going to use that as inspiration to write a text adventure with some kind of Game Developers Conference theme, heh.

(We're imagining that this week's regular posts might give him the germ of the idea, and then he'll post irregularly in April as he puts it together, and then by the end of that month, it'll be ready to play and we'll post it online. Or that's the plan. Keep checking back to see how we do!)