Thursday, May 28, 2009

Video game movie fake trailers

A brief moment of link-spamming. Which we don't do very much here at the Gameshelf, because we're all into critical analysis and deep esoteric ludic discourse 'n'all. But occasionally, I have to say, these videos from make me die laughing.

Die! With metaphorical-nonmetaphorical irony!

But they're all videogame fake movies, so it's okay.

Note: it's the soundtrack, always.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Myst: the movie: the fan audition movie

I posted last year about a couple of indie filmmakers who are tackling the idea of a Myst movie. Sadly, Patrick McIntire and Adrian Vanderbosch still haven't made a film -- last we heard, they had a script of roughly three zillion pages and were trying to slash it down to feature-length.

I still think that's pretty awesome, but even more awesome -- at a slightly different angle -- is this: their project has inspired a different couple of guys to become amateur filmmakers, from a standing start. Isaac Testerman and Nate Salciccioli have produced what they call an "Audition Project", offering to help out with the Mysteriacs film.

Watch the Audition Project on their web site, or on the Mysteriacs blog.

Regardless of where it goes, it is great: a ten-minute clip, covering several scenes of the basic Book of Ti'ana story. Shot on the classic shoestring budget, on locations (seriously: real caves), and it looks terrific. Plus director commentary at the end! The story stands on its own; my only note is that the character Aitrus you're watching is the grandfather of the Atrus in the Myst games.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rule-based programming in interactive fiction

This past weekend I gave a talk on Inform 7 at Penguicon, an SF-and-open-source convention in Michigan.

The slides and the text (modulo the umms) are now up on my web site:

Rule-Based Programming in Interactive Fiction

This is not an Inform 7 tutorial. (You can find those on the Inform 7 web site.) Nor do I discuss I7's natural-language syntax. Rather, I try to explain the underlying programming model, and why it exists. I then go on to talk about my crazy ideas for a completely rule-based language, which is not Inform 7, but might be a future mutation of it.

The talk went nicely, in case you were wondering. About eight or ten people showed up, which is pretty good for a programming lecture at 10 AM on a Sunday.

And while I'm at it, let me recommend Penguicon as a darn good time. I've never been to a convention at which Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear argued about fantasy, John Scalzi lectured on people skills, while -- in a room party upstairs -- some guys tried to get Debian running on a DEC AlphaStation 200. I've also never been to a convention where I got to be in a panel discussion with Jane McGonigal, the ARG guru.

All these things were awesome! Except the Debian install -- they seemed to be having trouble with that. Mostly because the hotel's wifi network was utterly, utterly crushed.

Myst hits iPhone App Store

iPhone Myst was released this weekend. Six dollars. Search "myst" in the App Store to buy.

It's kind of enormous -- over 700 megabytes. (The install process needs another 700 megs of temporary space, so if your phone is super-full, you'll need to clear out 1.5 gig of free space.) Downloading it from Apple took about half an hour on my cable-modem net connection; transferring it to the phone took another fifteen minutes. (That was with the dock connector. I didn't have the nerve to try installing it over wifi.)

I've only played with it briefly. The port seems solid; tap to touch or move, edge-tap or swipe to turn. The only problem I've seen is that background music and repeating animations sometimes fail to continue through taps or scene changes.

I'm not sure that all the puzzles will play exactly the same. The original Myst introduced several subtle variations of the "click to do it" interface, as you played through the game. The cruder touch-screen system may not lead players to think outside the box in that way. Indeed, the info screen says outright:

Some objects (certain large valves or levers or switches) only respond to dragging - moving the object with your finger. Try touching an object first - if it doesn't seem to respond, maybe you can pull it or rotate it by dragging.

I am still waiting for an adventure game which is truly native to the iPhone interface... somebody surprise me?

So what next for Cyan? They haven't mentioned any product being in active development except for this one. My butt-estimate is that the iPhone app will pull in enough money to justify itself, but not enough to let Cyan expand beyond its current (very small) staff level. Even the best iPhone app success stories have been on the level of "Yay I am a successful indie developer", not "Yay now I can hire ten people and start a development studio."

The last word on open-sourcing Uru was mid-April:

The plans for opening the sources for UruLive is still intact. Unfortunately the schedule for it has been effected. Besides myself being busy with Myst, the ex-Cyan programmers that were going to help also had greater demands from their 'real' jobs.

So, I am trying to get the initial team together again and find out what has yet to be done and how much time and effort it will take to achieve that. I'll let you know as soon as I do. -- Mark DeForest, April 16

So, once again, who knows.