Wednesday 2011.11.23

Making More Noise

Just a taste of some of the synthesis we’re doing. Please excuse SoundCloud’s wack compression – I’ll figure out how to get better results next time I upload something.

Monday 2011.11.14

J.E.U.X Panel: The Mechanics of Knowing

About a week ago, on a Friday evening, Richard took part in a panel as part of J.E.U.X, entitled “The Mechanics of Knowing”. The panel was put together and moderated by William Lockett, an MA in Communications and Art History at McGill University. Fellow panelists were Bart Simon (Director of TAG at Concordia), Stephen Ascher (Co-founder of the Mount-Royal Game Society) and Salvador Garcia-Martinez (PhD student in Educational Psychology at Concordia). Panelists first gave a 5-10 minute presentation on their perspective on learning in games (or some variation thereof). Salvador went first, and talked about intuition in games, then Richard talked about how to hopefully create meaningful experiences for players in games. Stephen presented a different type of game, Opera Omnia, and Bart finished up by presenting one of TAG’s new games, Propinquity. After everyone was done, it was opened up to discussion with the panel and audience. It led to a pretty heated and impassioned debate, discussing the role of the designer in communicating messages in games, the value of those messages as educational tools, and challenging the way those messages are ultimately presented. Thanks to Will and the fellow panelists for an invigorating and thought-provoking discussion – we’ll have it do it again, but next time over beer!

Monday 2011.11.14

FRACT OSC1 at J.E.U.X

Another awesome event that we got to take part in this month was J.E.U.X, an exhibit put on by Eastern Bloc and Studio 303, which took place between November 3-5. Conceived as a “transdisciplinary exploration of the relations between spectator/player and creator”, the exhibit presented games governed by different rules which explored these mechanics and dynamics.

The other games presented in the exhibit were Ce que j’ai aimé (Soufïa Bensaïd), B-CYCLE (Collectif in-média), Jeux de promenades pour 2 (Compagnie 2Minimum), Reality Check (Raphaelle Frigon), Cabinet des cartes (Elise Massy), Double your chances (Nathalie Quagliotto), MPII Gotchi (Marie-Pier Théberge), In Transit (Jacqueline van de Geer), and the always fun Johann Sebastian Joust (Douglas wilson & Nils Deneken). The exhibit aimed to “explore the notion of the game, to discover new interactive mechanisms and to question our place as spectators” – heady stuff indeed! And really, it was also a great opportunity to try out some really cool and different games. FRACT was lucky enough to get its own room (or rather, they might have sequestered us to block out the inevitable sounds), and once a minor equipment issue was resolved, was able to have the new FRACT OSC1 build for people to try out on Friday and Saturday. Thanks again to the Eastern Bloc and Studio 303 for letting us be part of such a cool event!

Saturday 2011.11.12

Prince of Arcade / Arcade Royale

Last Wednesday was the triumphant return of Prince of Arcade, brought to you by the excellent fellas at the Mount Royal Game Society, capping off MIGS and giving everyone a chance to shake their hair out, drink some beers, and of course, play some excellent indie games. The games presented at the event were Hohokum (Honeyslug and Richard Hogg), Hokra (Ramiro Corbetta), Johann Sebastian Joust: JOUST OF CANADA Edition (die gute Fabrik), Pico Battle (Les collégiennes) and PoleVaulter (Bennett Foddy).

There was also an amazing indie arcade cab, put together by the Buttonmashers, which featured not one, but TWO games from our very own, very talented and brilliant Henk Boom: Fuzzer and Pax Britannica. Other games in the arcade cab included Commander (Ephemere Games), Game Game Videogame (Joachim Despland), Thrustburst Arcade (Umlautgames), and Verteidiger (Kenny Backus). I have to say, my heart was bursting with pride at all the awesome local indie talent we have here in Montreal. Here are some photos from the event, as well as a video – or check out the recap from Montreal Indies.

Fuzzer:

Pax Britannica:

Friday 2011.11.11

FRACT OSC1 Submitted to IGF!

One of the main deadlines we’ve been working towards, aside from trying to get a release of FRACT out by early 2012 as we had always hoped, was submitting the new FRACT OSC1 to this year’s Independent Games Festival Main Competition. The deadline was October 17, so it’s been a lot of hard work and was pretty hectic leading up to then (and doesn’t look like it will let up much). There’s a lot of stiff competition in this year’s IGF, with almost 570 entries in the main competition, up more than 45% from last year. We were lucky enough to be chosen as part of the student competition last year, but it will definitely be a lot tougher this time around. Fingers crossed.

Though we managed to get a build in, it would have of course been nice to have a bit more time to work on it. Ahhh, time – if only you were an infinite resource. Though we technically started “production” back in mid-May, there’s definitely been a learning curve and there’s also been some pretty major shifts in our direction and approach that have put us back somewhat from our original (and admittedly naively construed) projected timeline. It’s all part of the process though, and it’s been really valuable in teaching us what to do and what not to do – not to say that we won’t keep making mistakes and learning from them, but at least we’re moving in the right direction…. we hope!

Some of you may be wondering why it’s been so difficult to get to where we are now, especially when we already had the “beta” out at the beginning of 2011. Well, that’s been part of the challenge. FRACT “beta” was more of a proof-of-concept of what was originally envisioned for FRACT. Due to some pretty practical constraints (ie. lack of programming knowledge/skill), it was only a slice of the original vision for the world. Now that we’re trying to expand it out to its full glory, and with Henk (our ninja coder) on board, it’s opened up the playing field, while managing to create its own new challenges. Figuring out how to do sound has been a big piece of the puzzle (more on that to come in the future, we promise). Also, the fact that the “beta” was literally held together by toothpicks didn’t help either – so we’ve essentially had to start from scratch. But we’re hoping it’s going to make the game even better, keeping the things that made FRACT cool in first place while making it even more awesome.

So what’s the deal with FRACT OSC1? Well, it’s the first world of three that we have planned for the FRACT universe. We debated what the best way was to go about releasing the game. We’re hoping that by getting out the first world soon, we can test the waters before we delve into making the next two worlds. Also, it’ll give us a chance to get valuable feedback from players so we can make the next one even better. If anyone has thoughts on that, feel free to send them to us through our feedback form. A big part of the original FRACT vision was to Explore, Rebuild and Create. So each world will explore a different instrument or sound from electronic music and in the end the player will be able to put these sounds together to create their own music. So what’s the deal with FRACT OSC1? Well, if you haven’t guessed already, here’s a clue: synthesizers. Oh, and lazer beams :)

Thursday 2011.11.10

Fantastic Arcade "Recap"

There’s been a lot that’s happened in the past couple of months – one of the highlights was being showcased as one of the eight Fantastic Arcade spotlight games in Austin, Texas, which took place between September 22-25. It was a little bittersweet on our side, because we weren’t able to make it there in person (although we were there in spirit, huzzah!), due to bevy of previous obligations and important deadlines. We were pretty sad to miss out on all the fun, the chance to hang out with some awesome indies and play some amazing indie games. Bummer. But – there’s always next year! In any case, it sounded like it was a great success, hats off to the fantastic organizers for putting together a great event. Thanks also for bestowing the illustrious Mandelbrot Award on FRACT! To live vicariously through other people’s recaps, check some out here and here.