Videogames

Aug 212017
 

Consumer Virtual Reality is kind of dead, and that’s great news… It’s as though an alien spaceship fell on earth and all the aliens died… and now we have to figure out how to use this strange technology for our very human desires. (From Stranger Playthings: Remaking a VR Counterculture)

VR is weeeird. So we made a weird game with it called Manimal Sanctuary. It’s a lurking simulator where you play a creature that’s part coral reef, part Cthulhu, who feeds off of the emotions of humans.

It’s also weird to exhibit VR games: “Hey, mind strapping this box to your head in a way that effectively blinds you and makes you look silly?” And it’s boring for the people who aren’t wearing the headsets.

We addressed those issues… by doubling down on the weirdness.

Continue reading »

Jul 282017
 

The last six months or so I’ve been writing and designing a VR game prototype:

Manimal Sanctuary is a lurking simulator. It leverages low-end VR technology to enable every player’s ultimate fantasy: to play a creature part coral reef, part Cthulhu, who consumes human emotions. Set on the Toronto Islands after the rest of the city is consumed by gibbering monstrosities, you eavesdrop on the survivors and their dramas involving things like bad potato crops and graffiti tags. And if those everyday emotions aren’t filling enough, you can always uncover some devastating secrets…

UPDATE: The free demo is available now for iPhone and Android phones that can run Google Cardboard apps.

Continue reading »

May 082017
 

Does your mom like puzzles and historical mysteries, and own an iPhone? Why not surprise her on Mother’s Day by installing Wonderland?

Wonderland is an audio drama game set circa 1914, in Toronto’s rough-and-tumble Junction neighbourhood. The end of each chapter poses a puzzle — solve it, and unlock the next one. Stuck? Just put your iPhone in your pocket and go for a walk… every 100 steps, one of the letters in the puzzle is filled in.

Just in time for the start of prime walking season, Wonderland is free for the month of May. Walking simulators are so 2012 — take our walking stimulator for a stroll instead!

Install it for free here

Oct 182016
 

Cover by Trish Lamanna

You're at Burning Man, with six choices to make before the world goes white.
 Choose wisely. Or wildly. The dust storm won't care.
 [ PLAY BLACK ROCK CITY ]

As a linear storyteller, branching narratives have been challenging for me. I usually have a story I want to tell, and in writing choice-based games I often found myself having to write a bunch of branches I wasn’t as interested in, and I always looped them back to converge with the main story. I preferred making parser games because it felt like I was giving the player more autonomy, even when new parts of the story were gated by puzzles.

But upon reading Sam Ashwell’s “Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games” I liked the idea of trying different structures, and was taken by what he calls Time Cave. In the past I think I’ve regarded this structure as inefficient somehow — inferior because it didn’t reuse writing in a clever way. But seeing a bunch of these typical structures side-by-side in the article let me drop the notion that there’s a “proper” way to do CYOA, and I decided to try the Time Cave. There’s something pretty beautiful about the way it spreads out exponentially. It does need a lot of writing, but I like writing a lot. Continue reading »

Jul 112016
 

Pretty Sure

I’m very proud to announce the official release of our interactive fiction authoring tool, Texture!

Logo design by Beehive Design

At the top of the post is Jonathan Wyke‘s cover art for Pretty Sure, the first game I made with it. It’s about parenting after Earth is colonized. You can play it on anything with a web browser but it’s especially nice on a tablet.

Juhana Leinonen and I have been chipping away at Texture for a few years, and it started with wanting to make an interactive fiction interface that was approachable and touchscreen-friendly. Continue reading »

Nov 092015
 

IMG_8426

My new iPhone game, Wonderland: A Solvitur Ambulando Mystery, is now on sale for $3.49 on the App Store! Check out the brand new website and trailer, which stars my mom. You can also listen to the first chapter there, which thanks to my collaborators is some fine, fine audio drama.

We launched the game on Saturday night at Junction Brewery with a nice crowd of well-wishers, including a lot of my fellow interactive fiction game makers: Emily Short, Will O’Neill, Sam Barlow, Jason McIntosh, Squinky, Doug Orleans and Christine Love. Check out some pictures here.