The Return of CYOA

Inspired by Ben Abraham’s instigation of the recent Far Cry 2 Permadeath playthroughs, TheAutumnalCity and I have decided to go old school and jump into the seminal and nostalgic Lone Wolf series of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure (CYOA) books.  In the summer of 2007, Project Aon made the entire series of 28 Lone Wolf books freely available online.  That coupled with some stat tracker software and a heady air of nostalgia has made this foray into CYOA-land all the more enticing.

Travis and I both played/read these as kids and I’m excited to go back and see how they’ve held up.  We’ve agreed to play a book a week and post our summary/thoughts on either Sunday evening or Monday morning.  We’re not quite going to stick to Ben’s strict permadeath rules as there are some deaths in CYOA that you just can’t anticipate.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to explore the nature of the CYOA as a game and literary format.  This oft-dismissed hybrid deserves some serious reflection and failing that, at least it’ll give us some hilarious situations.

Let the games begin!

(from 555 KubiK is a project by UrbanScreen with art direction by Daniel Rossa, 3d design by Daniel Starmann and sound design by Jonas Wiese. The project was realised with MXWendler mediaserver used for mapping multiple projections. Visuals were made using 3D Studio Max.

this is awesome, of course, but why not make it interactive? why not make it respond to the visitors? or react to data pertaining to the gallery? anyways, it doesn’t lessen the awesomeness of this installation. Besides the sheer hilarity of Guile bouncing about like a

Besides the sheer hilarity of Guile bouncing about like a hyper-active Tokyo pre-teen, the really interesting thing to me, is that this seems to show that the animations are controlled by a skeleton independent of the model/skins.  Granted, I don’t know anything about the current SF’s architecture, but the implications seem pretty clear.  How much more surreal could you make this?  Swapping all the big/small characters to maximize the distortion? How are the backgrounds handled? Can the animations be swapped between background characters, too?

TF2 Sunday?

Just finished a nice lazy evening of TF2.  There’s something about this game that is tickling all the right places for me lately.  Given certain maps, the variety of classes & the chaotic nature of it’s spawn-system, TF2 is strikes me as more strategic than it’s tactically driven cousin, Counter-Strike.  It’s like a chess game where the pieces aren’t out for the entire game, just for 15 seconds.

Counter-Strike is tactical because it’s always concerned with the present engagement. Each round is a distinct contest between both sides.  One that is only concerned with the present engagement.  Whether or not that engagement should happen is not even a concern.  Chess is the same way.

TF2 on the other hand, is strategic.  Certain maps become wars fought over potentially endless periods of time.  Capture points become the scenes of titanic struggles.  A near perpetual balancing act, always in flux.  The non-linear level design and capture system creates the potential for strategic thinking.  Players do not have to progress across the map from A to B to C to D, ad nauseum.

Certain points must be taken before others are opened, but, as is the case with Blackmesa, the back-and-forth between these points, the ease in which they’re won or lost is always in motion.  Sometimes it makes more sense to capture a point two steps removed from the linear progression in order to lock out the caps closer to your end cap.  This type of level/game design rewards non-linear thinking.  It’s always better to find the weak points than to try to a brute force solution.  This is exactly the difference between tactical and strategic thinking.

Also, I wanted to mention something about the achievement system.  There’s been a lot of moaning and bitching about the internets about how achievements encourage grind and kill the fun.  I’m sure this is true for some, but for myself, I’ve never cared.  I was in it for the play.  Though, I was happy when Valve opened up unlockables with their random, time-based algorithm.  It makes things a bit more even.

In the two months or so since the update went live, I’ve collected/found/achieved a large number of the unlockable weapons which has gone a long way to making me feel on equal footing with the mob of TF2 regulars that eat&breathe this game.

Anyhoo, these were just some thoughts I was having about why I’ve been so infatuated with TF2 lately.

another quick note?

Ok, these aren’t really questions.  I just do that in order to enable tumblr’s feedback option.  I want to take a quick moment to layout what I’ve got going on in the near future:

At the end of July I’m taking part in a group show with some friends at the Bancroft Gallery here in town.  Mid-August I start teaching at the Metro and UNO and then sometime near December I’ll have a show here.  That show will be similar in material, not execution, to my show here.  Not a ton of stuff, but enough.  Oh, Mon and I are also planning on attending PAX in Seattle, but more on that later.

And I’m cooking up some new pieces.  I’ve already started on the framework for my next installation.  I’ll be my first real collaboration.