A few months ago, I announced that my friends at Pandora’s Fox were launching their weird and whimsical urban fantasy card game Anklebiters: Pixies Verses Gremlins. Unfortunately, at the time, they ended up having to cancel their Kickstarter Campaign.
However, they promised to relaunch their Campaign with a few new additions, which they have already done. A lot of the information in this Reblog is still relevant and accurate to Anklebiters, save for the Kickstarter Campaign, whose link you can find here:
In addition, I’ve done some writing for the game and even helped create two of the new Hero characters as part of this Project’s stretch goals. As I said before, if you like card games please consider taking a look and/or backing it.
Hello all. It has been a while since I’ve written here: something that I find I’ve been saying a lot. I have a few things going on, including some original creative work that I finally have formulating in my mind. And I can’t wait to see where I go with that.
It might be a while before I say anything about some of the other things I have planned. However, I would like to take the time to plug a card game in here. It’s not just any card game. Imagine a world, our world, where small creatures unnoticed by the rest of us dwell in the corners of the detritus we create everyday and wage wars for sacred leylines and land to summon a powerful being that will make them dominant over their fellows. Pixies use misdirection and magic to get their way, their whimsy just a mask for…
Hello all. It has been a while since I’ve written here: something that I find I’ve been saying a lot. I have a few things going on, including some original creative work that I finally have formulating in my mind. And I can’t wait to see where I go with that.
It might be a while before I say anything about some of the other things I have planned. However, I would like to take the time to plug a card game in here. It’s not just any card game. Imagine a world, our world, where small creatures unnoticed by the rest of us dwell in the corners of the detritus we create everyday and wage wars for sacred leylines and land to summon a powerful being that will make them dominant over their fellows. Pixies use misdirection and magic to get their way, their whimsy just a mask for their adamant defense of Nature, while Gremlins cobble together siege weapons, and alternatively sabotage other machines, mechanisms, and places to secure power for themselves.
That is the setting for Pandora’s Fox’s Anklebiters – Pixies Vs. Gremlins: an urban fantasy card game where you play as either Pixies, or Gremlins in an attempt to seize areas of the land — including forests and junkyards — in order to get possession of sacred rune stones that will allow you to unleash the power of the Wolpertinger and gain you sovereignty over your small world.
The people at Pandora’s Fox, the company creating this card game, are my friends Noah Marton, the game designer of Pixies Vs. Gremlins, and Claire Beard, its graphic artist and video designer for the Kickstarter Campaign. For anyone of you that are interested in card games, or card games set with magic, and whimsy on the fringes of human society, I would recommend you look at the Kickstarter Campaign that I’ve linked into the title.
My friends at Pandora’s Fox will do great things with any support that you can give them. In fact, I suspect they already have. Please take a look at the Campaign link, Pandora’s Fox Incorporated website, and its Facebook page. Please buy a game if you are interested and/or Like and Share it on the social media of your choice. After all, we need more eyes on these small beings, and I for one would definitely like to know what they will be up to, and what they are already doing. You can’t let it, or them, out of your sight. 😉
I wrote this for The Hoard of the Dragon Queen Campaign for Dungeons and Dragons. As such, there be SPOILERS here. You have been warned.
This is the full speech that my Dragonborn sorceress Nilthene Silvermine delivered to the Blue Dragon Lenethon inour last session in order to get him to leave the Governor’s Keep of Greenest alone.
It began when Nilthene utilized her Message Cantrip, and addressed the attacking Dragon in the Draconic Language.
“Great Dragon, Draconic Elder. I am the Dragonborn Nilthene of the Clan of Silvermine. On behalf of the people of Greenest, and in accordance to the Ancient Ways, I wish to make parley with you. Please meet me on the parapet of this Tower, if you would be so inclined. Thank you.”
Then, surrounded by Greenest’s terrified archers, the Dragon rose up to meet with Nilthene, and her Druid companion who had been brave enough to risk instant vaporization from lightning breath.
“May I ask whom it is that I have the honour of addressing, Great Dragon?”
At this point, he said “You may,” and he revealed himself to be the Blue Dragon Lenethon. The rest of my speech, which I delivered in part, and kept to the spirit thereof is the following.
“Lenethon, I would like to thank you for your patience as I make my case, and request that you withhold your judgment until I say my peace. Is that acceptable?”
For the moment, it was. The rest is as follows.
“I am born of the Silver Dragon Alesandra’s line, and while I know that the Chromatic and Metallic Dragons clash in many ways, our blood does agree on one thing. Dignity.”
“The people of Greenest have little to offer you — and you personally. They have some baubles, a few minor trinkets, but most of their wealth comes through trade and agriculture. But I suspect you already know this or, if not, it is unimportant to you.
“The Cult of the Dragon has always trade to seduce Dragons of … lesser stature and hoards into becoming undead abominations: animated idols that they worship to fill their own empty lives. They have never truly respected the blood of a true Dragon.
“This … new Prophet of their, Severin Silrazrin, and his lieutenants Fulram Mondath and Langedrosasyrith seem no different. In fact, they’re even less worthy. You see, I think the ‘Prophet’ actually leads a breakaway sect of the group, worshiping Tiamat. Or he has not consolidated his power as much as he’d like others to believe. You’ve surely noticed how his Cult relies on the services of mercenaries, hungry only for gold instead of glory, and mindless kobold slaves.
“In fact, I am fairly certain that the only reason this fledgling order even took Greenest, and the other settlements in the area is because of your power. Your majesty.
“And they offer you … what? Small trinkets and farmland? It’s barely enough to fill a Dragonborn’s hoard, never mind a Great Dragon’s … or that of Tiamat herself! It is an insult! I’ve spent my whole life trying to learn about the progenitors of my line and race, to come towards the greatness of the true Dragons — of yourself — and I know that this is all petty and beneath us. Beneath you.
“You could have destroyed this town many times over. You could have killed myself and my group: whom Mondath wants dead. But that is also beneath you. You know your power, and I think that you know theirs.
“I know I’m also not a Dragon. I am not of Tiamat either. I have an attachment to these humanoids: as a parent to their hatchlings. But I know you do not.
“So, I beg your indulgence once again, and ask you: why do you serve a sect that can’t even raid small villages without your help? And is there a way that you may be persuaded to spare Greenest, or at the very least leave those who would worship grotesque undead mockeries of beauty, and pay lip service to Draconic powers that they will never understand?
What can the Cult of the Dragon do for you? And what can we do to change your mind?
We await your answer, Great Lenethon. Thank you.”
In the end, after he nearly took offense to the first part of the speech, I shortened it to saying that the Cult was unworthy of him and had nothing to offer him. Then I asked what we could do to convince him to leave the Cult and Greenest. He gave us our quest. Now I hope to fulfill it … and not die for over a thousand years. And who said Level Two characters had boring adventures.
Perhaps it isn’t fair to compare Lilith Limited’s Allison Road to Hideo Kojima’s P.T. and the Silent Hills game that could have been, but the parallels are there. From vengeful white-clad ghost onryōwomen, locked doors, a ruined sense of domesticity, a slow building of dread and suspense, eerie radio broadcasts, to even so far as referencing “Dad was such a drag” there is definitely some overlap between Allison Road‘s prototype gameplay and the late and lamented Silent Hills demo.
Credit: Playthrough by TacticVisionz.
However, the comparison ends there. Whereas P.T. was a demo with a closed reality of cyclical torment that slowly reveals its gruesome and surreal nature, Allison Road is an upcoming game with a house filled with a first-person voice-over perspective, some Christian iconography, odd noises becoming more frequent, a property you can survey from the outside, and eventually mysteries you can explore during the day … if the horrors of the night do not destroy you first.
But while Allison Road might have started off as a small fan project by Chris Kesler and eventually the endeavour of the expanded team Lilith Limited, its prototype gameplay has taken the YouTube Let’s Play community by storm and become a green-lit phenomenon on Steam.
And now Allison Road‘s path has branched out into a Kickstarter Campaign. While Silent Hills would have been on the PlayStation 4, Allison Road is planned to be on PlayStation, XboxOne, Mac, Linux, and PC: while having an Occulus Rift interface. Kickstarter rewards include designing a scare for the game, and a standalone Lucid Dream PC game set in the Allison Road universe.
Currently the Kickstarter Campaign is receiving a massive amount of support and rewards are disappearing fast. It is hoped by Lilith Limited that their nightmare will commence in 2016.
It always seemed clear, at least to many Five Nights at Freddy’s fans, that Scott Cawthon was not finished with Five Nights at Freddy’s even after stating that his fourth gamewould be the last in the franchise. Yet what has always been striking was the fact that while the premise of the games was that the animatronics of Bonnie, Chica, Foxy, Freddy and friends were possessed by the spirits of dead children, the animatronics themselves seemed to have personalities and history beyond just being haunted.
When you also consider how much time Scott Cawthon put into designing these animatronics and their toy selves, it isn’t really surprising that he wanted to create a new game like FNAF World.
The main indication that FNAF World was going happen was through Cawthon’s constant website updates. Cawthon’s fanbase got to watch as his page changed from a thank you tribute with all of its motley antagonists, into a shinier version of its former self replete with new additions and cartoon “Adventure” character makeovers.
It was during this transition, from horror into fantasy, that Cawthon informed his fans on Steam of his intentions to make FNAF World as a role-playing game: in which all of the animatronics, formerly nightmarish enemies, will become its player characters.
This transformation from Five Nights at Freddy’s horror into FNAF World‘s adventure is not unlike watching Disney create cartoons from the grisly nature of early folklore. Still, early Disney always had a dark and adult sensibility and with Scott Cawthon’s storytelling abilities, FNAF World will have its own intriguing story premise.
Scott Cawthon’s Five Nights at Freddy’s series has taken Internet imagination by storm this past year or so. There has been so much speculation as to what is going on in the story line. For games where you must survive five (or so) nights against stained and rusting animatronics trying to stuff your frail little fleshy body into a suit filled with pistons and wires — if not worse — it has a very complicated plot that is spread across narrative fragments of 8-bit mini-games (often only accessible when after you die), newspaper clippings in the background, easter-eggs in the games, and even code on Scott Cawthon’s own website.
It’s insane: in a very good and deliciously evil way. Much like this cupcake.
All of the games have been talked about and analyzed: from gaming journalism sites, to professional YouTubers and Let’s Players, and all over Reddit forums. It is also no exaggeration to say that the series has its own dedicated community of fans: many of them attempting to dissect the game as if they are playing a warped and twisted totenkinder version of Halliday’s Easter Egg in Ready Player One. But one particular Five Nights at Freddy’s Game is getting a lot of attention right now.
Five Nights at Freddy’s 4: supposedly the final game of the series.
The fact is, Scott Cawthon could have ended the series with Five Nights at Freddy’s 3: where the fate of the murderer of all the children that he, might have, stuffed into the animatronics at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria was finally revealed. But Scott couldn’t leave it at that. Each game reveals a part of the puzzle, of the story, that we didn’t know about before. And everyone is scrambling to figure out the significance of what happened in Five Nights at Freddy’s 4.
This is all the more poignant due to the fact that Scott Cawthon went on on record as stating that while the community fanbase seemed to have solved most of the mysteries in the previous three games, they still didn’t get everything in Five Nights at Freddy’s 4. He then rubbed some salt in the wound by saying that the October 31 update for the game will not include the opening of the locked box included at the completion of the game’s Night 7.
So aside from an obligatory Challenge Accepted meme across the Internet, I have my own theory with regards to the story of Five Nights at Freddy’s 4: and what the game may have really been about.
The issue is taking details literally. Here is what I think happened. People went onto Scott Cawthon’s website and saw the source code for his page while waiting for Five Nights at Freddy’s 4. They looked at the source code and saw the number 87 repeated over and again in chains. 87 was believed by many to refer to the Bite of 1987 in the game’s lore: where apparently an animatronic bit off the entire half of some poor unfortunate’s frontal lobe.
There were no other details provided aside from that and so, when people saw 87 in the code of Scott’s page many people believed Five Nights at Freddy’s 4 would either be set during that time, or would at least explain what happened via some mini-games.
And it seemed so clear cut. The game even ended, initially, after Night 5 with an 8-bit rendering of the crying child protagonist getting his head chomped down — seemingly by accident — by the Golden Freddy animatronic: know known by some to be the original Fredbear and possibly the first animatronic in that franchise. We thought we saw the Bite of 87 in action and the events that led up to it.
But some things just didn’t add up. The YouTuber MatPat, in his two Game Theory videos on the matter, explained that the game itself — which seems to take place in the nightmares of that comatose child’s mind after his bite — had inconsistencies if he had been the victim of the bite. For starters, missing his frontal lobe would have affected his fear responses and even his subconscious perceptions. And there is also that fact the person who lost their frontal lobe, according to FNAF lore, actually survived while this child does not.
And then there is that fact that if you find an Easter egg following Night 3, you will realize that there is a cartoon playing on the crying child’s television that is Fredbear and Friends: with the date of 1983, not 1987.
Yet here is the thing. At one point, before Scott changed his webpage to create a chain of nightmarish animatronics asking, “Was it me?” and seemingly referring to which of them caused the Bite of 87 — a major point of contention in the FNAF Community — he had an image of Freddy Fazbear’s top hat lying by itself on the stage: making it unclear as to whether or not he would continue the series past the third game.
Musicians like the singing animatronics aren’t the only ones that perform on stages, however. Stage magicians also perform on stage. They traditionally wear top hats, and they are known for their misdirection and slight of hand.
Scott Cawthon is no less an entertainer of that caliber. Mostly everyone was so distracted by the idea that they might be seeing the Bite of 87 unfold and the mystery of whodunnit finally solved that other possibilities were not as prevalent.
Look at it this way. In the first Five Nights at Freddy’s game, Scott added an update after being asked about the Bite of 87 so often. There is a Custom Night menu where you can program the difficulty level of the animatronics that you are dealing with. If you type in 1-9-8-7, Golden Freddy will automatically appear and “crash” the game. Many took it to be that Golden Freddy caused the Bite, while others thought that Scott was just trolling them after being harassed about this question for so long.
But what if the code chain of 87 in on his webpage was actually there to tell everyone that Golden Freddy was central to Five Nights at Freddy’s 4? And what if that reoccurring question “Was it me?” in all the subsequent images that followed on the same page had nothing to do with the Bite of 87 at all? 87 was a red herring, or at least a way to make you possibly more aware of Golden Freddy: of Fredbear.
What if the real question wasn’t who made the Bite of 87, or how? What if the real question is which spirit was impetus in making the events in all of Five Nights at Freddy’s possible?
MatPat and other YouTuber theorists believe that the crying child in the fourth game becomes the Puppet: the animatronic who reanimates the spirits of four other dead children into their current animatronic forms in all the games. But he doesn’t rule out that the crying child also becomes Golden Freddy: that in terms of the story it would be much more satisfying given what happened in the third game.
Here is my understanding of the situation. In the second game, we see a child get murdered outside of what might be the first Fredbear’s Family Diner: and he becomes the Puppet. Then years later Fredbear’s expands into a chain of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzerias. We see the crying child in 1983 get tormented by his older brother in a Foxy mask, and also the fact that he is deeply terrified of Fazbear’s: as if he saw something happen in there he shouldn’t have. On his birthday, his brother and friends stuff his head into the Fredbear animatronic and it accidentally chomps down on him. The Puppet, sensing a kinship with another tormented child who didn’t even get to enjoy his last birthday, takes action. He doesn’t have his body, but he makes the child is first attempt to restore life: and makes him into a Golden Freddy ghost as that was how he had been fatally wounded and rendered comatose.
Then the murders of the children start to happen. Everyone thought that the Puppet was reanimating the children through the animatronics of Freddy, Chica, Bonnie, and Foxy to get revenge on their murderer. But if you play the secret mini-game in Five Nights at Freddy’s 3, you have the opportunity to set the spirits of those children free. If you are successful you get a final scene where children wearing the Puppet, Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, and Foxy masks give a cake to another child in a Golden Freddy mask. Then they pass on.
Scott Cawthon used to create Christian games before he set out on his adventure into horror. One central tenet of Christianity is redemption. Perhaps, when it comes down to it — though not in a purely transparent C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia fashion — the question of “Was it me?” was really which animatronic’s spirit motivated the Puppet to set everything into action: that it was more than vengeance or blood lust but an actual need to set things right. And it would only be fitting that Golden Freddy, possibly made after Fredbear the first animatronic, would be so integral in beginning and ending the series.
There are a lot more details I haven’t gone into of course, but I will leave that in more capable hands. We may never know what is in that locked box, of it is as simple as whether or not the Puppet or Golden Freddy started all of this. But remember: the narrative above the box, and in Scott’s Steam message didn’t say that the secret would never be revealed. The text above the box reads: “Perhaps some things are best left forgotten, for now,” while Scott himself states, “maybe some things are best left forgotten, forever.”
Based on the fact that Scott Cawthon has released the Five Nights At Freddy’s series relatively more quickly than most people expected, while releasing the fourth game earlier than his originally stated Halloween date, and his history of playing with assumptions, I think he is kind of a tease and I take everything he says with a grain of salt. I would not be surprised if there is more to this story one way or another.
And now, more than ever, I am looking forward to Halloween.
It was 1995. I was finishing elementary and headed for high school and I had a major need to fill myself with epic fantasy. I remember going on yet another shopping spree through Coles and I came across a book. It looked like a battered brown notebook with a strange crest in its centre. For me, Myst: The Book of Atrus contained all the elements of a brilliant world: a universe with Descriptive Books that led to alternate worlds — called Ages — linked to by the imagination and skill of a writer through the lost art of D’Ni writing. Just the idea of a civilization that could create worlds through writing books was enough to get me hooked: that and the character of Atrus as he deals with the intrigue behind his family and the reconstruction of an entire way of life.
I was hooked. As I read The Book of Ti’ana and discovered just why D’Ni fell and then The Book of D’Ni in which we get to see an adult Atrus attempt to rebuild D’Ni and uncover more than he bargained for, I was left with many more mysteries. Then I played Myst. Oh yes. I played Myst and Riven and kept writing in the notebooks thoughtfully provided by Cyan as I found alternate amounts of wonder and frustration in navigating my way through both games. I got to discover what happened to Atrus, his father Gehn, his grandmother Anna, his wife Catherine, their children, and the fate of D’Ni. I had a very different experience playing the games after reading the books and it made me both sad and curious to know more: to interact with the world that Cyan created.
I didn’t play the other games due to technological constraints, but I followed what happened in them. I was on a forum about Riven and I always wanted a Book of Gehn: to know about the years between the fall of D’Ni and his own travels and his fateful meeting with his wife Keta. I even created a fanfic idea: a lost Age and enemy as it were.
Myst is a world of possibility. I was lucky in that just last year I backed the Unwritten: Adventures in the Ages of Myst and Beyond Kickstarter and got to write a scenario for that table-top version of the universe I love. Just once, for a moment in time, I got to be part of the D’Ni Guild of Writers that I dreamed so much of joining when I was young. I got to make the Age I dreamed of making so many years ago.
I also wanted to see more of Myst. I’m one of those people still waiting for The Book of Marrim to come out: however long it takes. And I’ve heard about the Mandalay Television Pictures program, the Delve Films DVD movie adaptation of The Book of Ti’ana, and even the Dark Horse comics prequels to Myst that never materialized or simply didn’t work out.
But they are trying again.
Legendary TV & Digital Media has made a deal with Cyan Worlds to create a Myst television series and make a companion video game: perhaps to make the show more than just a viewing experience, but an interactive one as well. I’m not entirely sure, but I’m guessing that they are making the game a mobile app to interface with during, before, or after the airing of the program. Or hopefully something that can be on a computer as well. It is definitely an interesting idea and something that I would very much like to see happen.
When you think about it, we live in a world of linking now. The Internet is all about hyperlinks and mobile apps only increase the experience. In Myst, traveling into other Ages through Descriptive Book is called linking. Hopefully, if all goes well, we will all soon be able to link to another world of Myst.
A little while ago, there was a game design document called GAME_JAM, an interactive process and living document that was hijacked by marketing directors and, ultimately, abandoned by its own collaborators when the proposed program threatened great and unacceptable corruption of personal space and creator integrity. GAME_JAM was ultimately Ctrl + Alt + Deleted and its game design document, as much as kind of commercial and social contract analogue can be, returned to the drawing board.
At the end of the day, GAME_JAM was considered to be a worthy concept but its execution was flawed: a special glimpse into the process of creation inside a game jam with YouTube Let’s Players marred by an industrial bigotry and lack of understanding as to what a game jam actually is, and changed into a failed attempt at a generic reality show. I myself honestly thought that after everything that happened, the original idea would sit on that drawing board and gather dust.
My most tangible takeaway is probably this: I want to run a game jam. Not now, but after pax east and after I’ve recharged a bit. I’d like to find charismatic Let’s Play people, a couple of video cameras, a huge + cheap rentable house, and a group of indies. I’d love to have the LPers do what they’re so often so brilliant at and bridge the gap between the games and the audience, and do it super low-tech, low-budget, documentary style. Capture the inspiration, the hard work, the 3am delirium and the dumb jokes that come with it. Show people how we all band together and support each other through the deadline. That’s what I want to show the world about game jams. That’s the ambassador I’d rather be.
And so PAX East has passed. And, evidently, Zoe Quinn has recharged as well. In fact, she seems to have been at work on this concept for some time now. She continues the process of working on the GDD of REBEL JAM: a Return of the Indie counterpoint towards The Industry Strikes Back that inadvertently came from A New Jam.
Another bad, if somewhat geeky analogy aside, the concept behind REBEL JAM’s funding is the idea that this game jam will be “sponsored” by crowdfunding as opposed to corporations or industries. Zoe Quinn and those like her seem to be in the process of making some excellent additions to this living document that we will be allowed to see: and perhaps participate in.
In my GAME_JAM Ctrl + Alt + Delete article, I mentioned that–if nothing else–GAME_JAM was a game and a design that taught its collaborators how to create, and how not to create game jams.
During the period of 1991 to 2004, the White Wolf Gaming Studio created The World of Darkness.
It was a dark urban fantasy, or cyberpunk near-future version of the modern world, in the form of a table-top role-playing game. In this world you could play as a vampire struggling with your inhumanity, a mage discovering the esoteric patterns underlying reality, a werewolf fighting to regain environmental equilibrium, a fae being navigating strange and treacherous faerie courts and urban decay, or a wraith exploring the realms of the afterlife. And these are only a few prominent examples of what to expect in the World of Darkness: a role-playing game created for mature players with disturbing and, conversely, intelligent and philosophical themes.
Now imagine all of this made into a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
It’s not too much of a stretch to consider. Crowd Control Productions Games (or CCP Games), along with White Wolf, were planning to take Vampire: The Masquerade and use its emphasis on in-character or player politics to create an interesting dynamic with the rest of the dark world as a backdrop. Essentially, you as the player would know what it would be like to be an individual vampire attempting to interact with and understand undead existence amid the mortal world. It very much sounded like a multi-player expansion of the Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines game.
Unfortunately, CCP has been forced to cancel this project that had been in the making since 2006 and CCP Atlanta is currently in a process of staff layoffs and internal reassignments within the company. So the World of Darkness seems to have been foiled in its attempt to spread throughout the Internet. Perhaps that is just as well. MMORPGs tend to lose cohesive story development and meaning, becoming a repetitive item-drop and annual enemy killing cycle over time. Of course, I could definitely be wrong and I admit that perhaps there were different rule mechanics in this game project that might have been different from generic MMORPG game-play.
Who knows: they might have even expanded on it and added other denizens from the World of Darkness as well in a very cohesive and well-rounded manner.
I suppose we will never really know for sure now. Above is some of the first in-game footage. Tell us what you think.
Imagine you are making a game. So, for the purposes of this crude analogy, think of yourself as a game developer.
Now, you have a game design document or GDD: a document made as an outline for a team in order to put a specific kind of game together. You, or a group of people supporting you, can add different additions, adjustments and clauses for the purpose of customizing your GDD and expanding it into a game that is your own.
All right, now imagine your GDD, the source that you are working from, is a Game Jam. And what is a Game Jam? A Game Jam can be seen as a space where various people–graphic artists, audio makers, programmers, and even writers–come together and with a prompt, or no prompt at all, make a game of some kind in a small amount of time. More often than not, groups of developers and creators pair themselves up before the event and have known each other for a while: creating close-knit relationships with each other ranging from working together all the way to the point of friendship. The idea of a Game Jam is to have a small window of time in which you not only get to experience spontaneous creativity in an inclusive and friendly environment but also potentially reaffirm relationships and even make new friends and contacts with a game-making community.
Now, bear in mind that every Game Jam is different. It either has a different theme, or it’s sponsored by external sources, or it is run from the houses of friends who decide to get together and make games while socializing and sharing ideas. While some Jams can theoretically have anyone of any experience level, including newbies, as participants other Jams require creators to have prior expertise before attending. One such group of the latter, with the assistance of YouTube companies such as Polaris decided to create a special Jam that could illustrate, to a larger viewing audience, exactly how some of this “spontaneous creative process” might work and, hence, demystify and even fascinate people with how ultimately a Game Jam can work.
So keep thinking of this idea of a reality-television Game Jam, called GAME_JAM, as a GDD. Imagine that some marketing directors, having never made or played a video game before, decided to add their own additions and clauses into the GDD and overrule the original creators (which, unfortunately, is a common occurrence within the industry at least). Think of these additions as analogous to the contracts with GAME_JAM participants that, if signed, would force them to–among other things–allow themselves to be “misrepresented for dramatic purposes” ala “reality-television,” not be able to promote their own independent work based on the show during this time, and always having to promote their sponsors such as Mountain Dew to the point of needing to drink it in front of the cameras that were everywhere save for bathrooms and bedrooms.
Think of what the presence of “dramatic misrepresentation” can do as well. Basically in this case, it attempts to take the spirit of cooperative gaming, and turn it into a player verses player situation with neither warning nor consent. I think, even if you aren’t a game developer, it can be safe to say that this structure is jarring and very self-contradictory: to the point where even if the clauses are tweaked, the original flaw in the messy structure that was the original conflict still remains.
But these elements in themselves didn’t necessarily mean that GAME_JAM would end. Many of the participants and group leaders such as Zoe Quinn the creator of Depression Quest, Davey Wreden of The Stanley Parable and others were and are creative enough, when motivated, to work with production: to collaborate in order to make a more unique “game” as it were.
But now think about this already inherently unstable game structure which already compromises the spirit of open space of creativity due to a certain degree of production micromanaging.
And then, something bad happens. And this something bad occurs long after the Game Design Document of GAME_JAM becomes a program in its own right.
It comes in the form of one of the more boisterous and obnoxious market directors. This Trojan virus in consultant’s clothing as it were, decides to place utilize and push for Digital rights management software or DRM that compromises the operating system that the game will be run on. It may have even seemed like productive software at the time and helped GAME_JAM and its sponsors. Even the production companies know that this particular form of DRM, in the form of one Matti Lesham of Protagonist’s attitudes, is potentially harmful but they have always tolerated it: a creative consultation program that is really a commercial program that gets clicked on and fills your computer with incessant ad ware, and intrusive spyware and worse: virulent malware.
It is this malware; composed of deceptive queries such as “Do you think you’re at an advantage because you have a pretty girl on your team?” and “Do you think the teams with women on them are at a disadvantage?” that completely corrupts the original GDD’s ideal of an open, safe, and inclusive space of creation.
And this was what ultimately caused GAME_JAM to crash.
And when it comes down to it, its participants let it crash.
Perhaps anyone else would have let the computer downstairs languish with its offensive pop-ups, its hostile injection of lag between creative processes, incessant ads and its corrupted programming except none of these other people would have been game developers or game makers. More specifically, none of these people would have been professionals.
And GAME_JAM was filled with independent developers and makers–friends and professionals of quality art–that didn’t like to deal with having their space impinged upon, or being told what to do, or dealing with someone attempting to create conflict through antiquated, misogynist hate-speech spam. Perhaps a home owner might ignore the virus on the computer they are forced to use, but a programmer would go after it and delete it mercilessly. What GAME_JAM ultimately became as a result of all the above was an unplayable mess and an extended and non-consensual trouble-shoot. The system that was GAME_JAM, even with the overt flaws removed in the form of Matti Lesham’s dismissal, was still too corrupted and buggy to prevent anything like the contradictions that allowed the infection to begin with: a whopping $400, 000 assessment.
Nevertheless, this mistake of a game taught its players and creators something. It made them go back and look at the original Game design document that was intended from the start. And they looked at it. They really looked at it, and themselves, and what they were capable of. It taught them how not to create a game and how to make a game–or a game jam–that hearkened back to its GDD: one of mutual cooperation, acceptance, friendship, and an intolerance for conformity and bigotry. GAME_JAM might have become unplayable but those involved with it will hopefully not only play other, better games but even allow themselves to make them: with everyone on-board for its conceptual phase.