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Kara Stone

Built to Play 29: Vector-Based Romance

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Built to Play 29: Vector-Based Romance

This week on Built to Play, we went to the Vector Game Arts Festival, but first Steam sales for all!

Valve is now opening up the process for sales on its online video game retailer, Steam. Steam now allows the developer to create sales two weeks in advance, and opt out of weekly sales.

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Sony Santa Monica, meanwhile, looks like they won't have much to sell, as they cancelled their new intellectual property and laid off the team working on it. Sony Santa Monica seems to still be working on a new God of War game and whatever Cory "Balrog" Barlog's mystery project turns out to be. Also in Japan, Nintendo end Internet services for the Wii and DS, in the form of the WiFi Connection.  

Hollywood is working on a series of video game movies that are pretty dubious in content. Markus "Notch" Persson said that there's a Minecraft movie in the works, helmed by the producer of The Lego Movie. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, the writers of Knocked Up and Superbad are working on a movie based on the Console Wars. The Console Wars is an upcoming book by Blake Harris which tracks the 1990s competition between then console giants, Sega and Nintendo.

 In mobile news, King, the creator of Candy Crush Saga, has given up on the "candy" trademark in the US. Seth Fischer wants you to pay a dollar to let Mario jump a little higher. And Square Enix made a new Secret of Mana game for iOS, Rise of Mana, that's unsurprisingly riddled with microtransactions. 

Glitch Owl -  Rachel Simone Weil

Glitch Owl - Rachel Simone Weil

Last weekend, Vector was in the air, showing lectures and games that were oddly about love. It wasn't the plan for this week, but enjoy our final week of romance-themed interviews.

First up this week, we talked to Rachel Simone Weil on her lecture "Breaking out of 8-bit Hell: The Retropolitical in Game Design." At the Dames Making Games Social, she talked about the ways in which people romanticise the 8-bit era, and how that appears to be the default golden age for a lot of video game fans. This love of the 8-bit can mask some of the political and gender issues in the 8-bit era, particularly the marketing and types of narrative in those early games. Her final point, however, is on how we should avoid condemning each other for our childhood experiences. If someone considers the Playstation, the Colecovision, or even the Casio Loopy as a personal golden age, it's okay to feel that nostalgia. She talks about her lecture at around 24:50.

Sext Adventure.png

We called back Kara Stone and Nadine Lessio to the show to talk about the Sext Adventure. As part of the Feb Fatale game jam, a 48-hour race to finish a game, they created a text adventure based on sexy phone texts. You contact an anonymous android who attempts to satisfy humans sexually, but instead lapses into existential depression. Our sex-positive reporter, Daniel Rosen, dug deep into the jam game, and discussed with Stone and Lessio society's intimate relationship with technology, the eventual disharmony routed in cyborg theory and dildos. The tomfoolery starts around 36:57. 

By the way, it is not the actual world's first sext adventure. That honor goes to 1984's The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, since we are too embarrassed to name anything else. 

A Long Time Coming , Courtesy Nadine Lessio's blog.

A Long Time Coming, Courtesy Nadine Lessio's blog.

The Knife from  a Long Time Coming , Courtesy Nadine Lessio.

The Knife from a Long Time Coming, Courtesy Nadine Lessio.

Flashing back to last year's Feb Fatale, we talked to Sagan Yee and Nadine Lessio about their jam game, A Long Time Coming. A Long Time Coming is a visual novel, a genre of which we discussed in detail last week, about cheating on your boyfriend. In moments of high tension, you're given a timed choice on how to respond. You can confess that you're cheating, recover and act polite, or become hostile. To pick one of those three options you use a throwing knife. In person, you grab a throwing knife from the table beside you and throw it at a projector to pick one of the three options.  It is an unpredictable way to play the game which is part of the fun. As Lessio bluntly put it, "it's about metaphorically stabbing someone in the back." The game feels like it's a lot more than that as Lessio and Yee explore some of the implications of the game that asks you to do the irresponsible thing, and continue to lie to your boyfriend about your infidelity. The knife-throwing starts 44:18.


This weeks' show once again used music from the Free Music Archive. We used "Daniels Kruis" and "I've Got Nothing" by RoccoW, "Heartbeat" by Jake Allison,  and "Simon" by L'Homme Manete. If you feel your music was used inappropriately or without citation leave a comment or send us an email.  


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Built to Play 27: Distant Love

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Built to Play 27: Distant Love

This week on Built to Play, Supreme Commander asserts that "the holocaust never happened," thanks to trolls.

Valve added the ability to tag games on Steam based on consensus. Suggest a tag often enough and people agree, it becomes an official tag on the game. This tactic has led to tags like one attached to Supreme Commander, along with "Jews did 9/11." Valve's initial response was to claim it was a perception issue. From the Steam FAQ, "Often this is simply because there is some piece of information regarding the game that customers feel is missing from the store page."

Valve has since removed some of the more abusive tags like "not a game" and "hipster garbage" which were attached to Gone Home. But Farming Simulator 2013 remains tagged as a "roguelike."

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Across the Pacific, Nintendo is trying out free to play games with Steel Diver. And the Zero Escape visual novel series didn't sell enough copies in Japan to make the final game in the trilogy. The game's director Kotoru Uchikoshi says that the first two games, Virtue's Last Reward and 9 Hours 9 Days 9 Doors are in the red domestically and so he won't get a big enough budget for the third game. 

Finally, Flappy Bird went through a whole saga and then disappeared. After becoming the most popular game on iOS app store, critics, including Jason Schreier from Kotaku, lambasted the game for its simple design and addictive sensibilities. The creator, Dong Nguyen, who lives in Hanoi, Vietnam, was then attacked by people over twitter about the game's difficulty and by designers who felt that the $50,000 he was making a day through advertising was undeserved. Nguyen then removed the game from the app store for the sake of its players mental health, which is either a sick burn or genuine concern. The word is still out. 

Our interviews this week are all about love, the human heart and relationships.

Matt Hammill of Asteroid Base joins us to talk about Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. The game is a two-player co-op game about flying through space, fighting aliens, and giving each other intense "love dances." The game's title began as just an in-joke between the team, but soon grew to inform the game's design and some of their perception of outer space. In the game, space is a neon-bright version of the abyss filled with so much colour that the Powerpuff Girls would blush. It's also led to some interesting testing sessions, as the game seems to attract actual couples. You can find out more starting 26:18.

Then Kara Stone talks about her art project, Hand to Heart, which uses your hand as a controller, and your heart as a gameplay mechanic. Through a variety of different controllers based around the human hand, the player tracks their own heart rate. Stone's found that it inadvertently causes all four players heart rate to sync up, even in the chaos of say, the Long Winter concert in Toronto. You can hear her talk about it starting 37:20.

By the end, Jake Reardon and Justin Amirkhani discuss Always Sometimes Monsters, their cross-country adventure game. You have a week to make it from the east coast to the west coast to find a lost love. The game is mostly based on Amirkhani's experiences hitchhiking across North America, back in 2012. Amirkhani met Sam Rossi Harries who fell in love with a cyclist named Maya. Together they treked across the west coast of the US to meet her again in a random beach in Oregan. But that's not the only experience Amirkhani's drawing from, and Reardon has his own life to share. Starts at 42:50

Amirkhani photographs himself at a motel while Sam Rossi Harries and Maya talk in the background. Courtesy Justin Amirkhani

Amirkhani photographs himself at a motel while Sam Rossi Harries and Maya talk in the background. Courtesy Justin Amirkhani


This week had music from the Free Music Archive. That's Twin Sister - I Want a House, Supercute - Candy City, Pietnastka - School Boy, Johnny-Ripper - Your Heart with George, Chuzausen - Raro Bueno. There's also Gareusch's sound from Freesound.

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