Learn About the Details Behind the Striking Design of Upcoming Game Firewatch

Trailerpaintover
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Firewatch is an upcoming game from Campo Santo, a small studio made up of a group of friends and industry veterans. Since the game is still in development material about it is stillpretty sparce, but this week they shared a post on their blog that is fascinating whether or not you've been following their progress. It's part two of a Twitter Q&A with fans where the developers responded to questions about the game's art and visual design, and it's an interesting look at what it takes to make a game look as striking as Firewatch.

There's a lot to take in (and some of the answers are admittedly a bit "inside baseball") but they're still an incredibly interesting read... Especially if you're looking for a little artistic advice yourself. For example, when asked if it's hard to design dozens of distinct rocks and trees, they write:

Continue reading "Learn About the Details Behind the Striking Design of Upcoming Game Firewatch" »

The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo is Not Your Father's (Brother's) Indie Horror Game

UWWFN
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Everyone had that friend... Maybe a friend of a friend.... A friend of a friend of a friend (they go to a different school, you wouldn't know them) with an uncle who worked for Nintendo. They knew things, they'd seen things, they'd played things that you could only imagine. They could tell you how to get a level 99 Mew as your starter Pokemon, how to play as Zelda rescuing Link, how to save Aerith -- oh, did they forget to mention he used to work at Sony too?

It might seem like a strange premise for a horror game, but The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo is guaranteed to send a chill down your spine. Here's why:

Continue reading "The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo is Not Your Father's (Brother's) Indie Horror Game" »

Iris Wants to Know: Second Life Designers, How Long Does it Take You to Work Your Content-Creating Magic?

Sadie brow raised
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

There's a big gap between the time and work that goes into an original Second Life item, and the time and the work that is often perceived to have gone into it. Take a look at some of the unfair SL Marketplace reviews designers often receive, and it's not hard to find customers talking about carefully crafted virtual content as though it can be slapped together in the time it takes to have a celebratory post-work pizza delivered. For some simpler creations that's not so far from the truth, but for the rest? Well...

Last week I asked Second Life consumers how much they thought went into a Second Life design, and the answers I received in the comments, over Plurk, on Twitter, and even via email varied wildly. Taking a standard piece of avatar clothing as an example, some suggested it might take a few hours while others suggested a few months. As much as time and effort involved depend on the specific item being made, it's clear that a lot of us really just don't know -- and there's no shame in that. There can be something of an aura around content creators, especially those who've found any degree of success, that obscures the reality of their work and makes it very easy to misjudge.

So now it's your turn, designers. 

Here's what I want to know: What do you make in SL, and generally speaking how long does it take you to make it? Do you think the general population of SL has a good idea of what it takes to do what you do, or do you think some of us shoppers need a serious reality check? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Continue reading "Iris Wants to Know: Second Life Designers, How Long Does it Take You to Work Your Content-Creating Magic?" »

This Second Life Fashion Blogger Turns Halloween Costumes into Everyday Style

Speaking of spooky seasonal cuties, you'll want to scope out Jade Composer's recent additions to Flickr if you're looking for some particularly adorable Halloween style inspiration.

Jade's pictures are immediately recognizable for their always adorable and often a little bit sexy avatars, placed front and centre and dipped in a lot of carefully placed details. Her Halloween pictures have been no exception, simply adding some holiday trappings (like menacing blackened claws) into the mix. Of her recent shots my favorite is absolutely the one above, which seems to take notes from guro kawaii while still managing to look ridiculously wearable. Jade Composer's October ensembles proves that you don't need to bury yourself in an over-the-top costume to get your spooky style across.

Check out "Spooky", along with Jade's other seasonally inspired fashion pics, over on her Flickr or her Tumblr.

Continue reading "This Second Life Fashion Blogger Turns Halloween Costumes into Everyday Style" »

Pokemon Art Academy Won't Make You Color Inside the Lines

BitBlock Pokemon Art Academy
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you read the late August round-up I wrote about the games I'm most looking forward to in the last quarter of 2014, then you probably have a very good idea of why you're staring down the barrel of a crudely drawn otter demon right now.

Pokemon Art Academy is due out this Friday and previews are already popping up to show what the game has to offer. For example, this video from The BitBlock (from which I grabbed the screencap above) is an entertaining example of what the first few minutes of play will be like. Even if you have zero interest in sketching up a Pikachu for yourself, it still might be a good way to get well-earned Monday laugh:

Continue reading "Pokemon Art Academy Won't Make You Color Inside the Lines" »

This Scarily Sweet Second Life Cyclops isn't a Reality... Yet

Eilfie Sugarplum Tsuclops
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

I'll be honest, when I saw this frighteningly cute cyclops avatar on Eilfie Sugarplum's Flickr this morning my heart skipped I beat. I was already opening Second Life, virtual wallet in hand, ready to pop over to her shop (The Sugar Garden) before I paused to read the picture's description and comments. Eilfie is know for her skins, eyes, and other assorted avatar customization items, so it was absolutely within the realm of possibility that she'd release this sweet cyclops in time for Halloween. But alas, it seems that the "Tsuclops" is just a fun snapshot edit and not the most creepydorable Halloween costume in all of SL.

At least that's how the situation stands right now, but that's not to say it couldn't change.

In the comments Eilfie clarifies that her tsuclops isn't a reality yet, but that if others are interested she would try to bring it to SL. If you'd like a tsuclops avatar of your own, be sure to check out Eilfie's original pic on Flickr and register your support in the comments. 

Continue reading "This Scarily Sweet Second Life Cyclops isn't a Reality... Yet" »

It's Critical to be Critical, Whether You Like This Hyper-Violent Game Trailer or Not

Hatred trailer
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Yesterday, a developer released a trailer for a game they're working on. That's not news. It's a very violent game. That's not news either. What is news is just how negative its reception has been among gamers and games writers; within hours, op-eds were springing up about how repulsive, tacky, and frankly pathetic the trailer for the game (bluntly and blandly named Hatred) seems. Of course the trailer has spread like wildfire as a result, and on YouTube it still has more "dislikes" than "likes".

There's a lot of grossness to deal with when you're talking about Hatred. It claims to be a response to the trend towards "political correctness" in games. Its developers may hold some very disturbing political beliefs. It depicts a mass-shooting days after Anita Sarkeesian and the school hosting an event for her were threatened with one. But if nothing else, the responses to all of that grossness have been very insightful and well worth reading -- especially if, like me, you've ever tried to reconcile your enjoyment of some violent video games with your utter distaste for others.

Continue reading "It's Critical to be Critical, Whether You Like This Hyper-Violent Game Trailer or Not" »

Return of the Deep Sea Dad: Octodad's Free DLC Doesn't Disappoint

Octodad DLC Shorts
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

As much as I enjoyed Octodad: Dadliest Catch when it first came out last February, I didn't expect to be anticipating its free DLC pack as much as I was 8 months later. I thought the game's charm and the glee I felt when I played it would fade over time as these things often do.

But it didn't.

I'd been awaiting the promised free DLC for months, and when it was finally released this week I leapt at the chance to play it. In short it does exactly what the best parts of Octodad did, placing the player and the titular cephalopatriarch in everyday scenarios and essentially "letting the magic happen". Take the screenshot above for instance, shared by @mattshea369 on Twitter. That patient sure did not start out wedged in a hospital vending machine, and yet here we are. If that's not enough to demonstrate what the Octodad DLC is all about, take a look at this stream I did on Tuesday:

Continue reading "Return of the Deep Sea Dad: Octodad's Free DLC Doesn't Disappoint" »

Lenna's Inception: Classic Gaming Style With a Modern Gaming Twist

Lenna's Inception
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you're into indie/alt games these days then you're probably already aware of itch.io, a streamlined indie marketplace that makes it ultra-easy for developers to deliver their games to customers. Itch.io has become host to a boatload of interesting games in the past year -- some paid, many free -- and deserves some serious coverage.

It's with that in mind that I'll be reaching into my own itch.io library much more often here on NWN, starting today with a retro-inspired story of a teacher's revenge: Lenna's Inception.

Continue reading "Lenna's Inception: Classic Gaming Style With a Modern Gaming Twist" »

Iris Wants to Know: How Long Do You Think It Takes Designers to Create Your Favorite Virtual Fashions?

LOGO Sadie vintage
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

When I read user reviews of products on the SL Marketplace, I'm often struck by how much of a disconnect there is between what customers think goes into producing an original product in Second Life and what actually does. It's a pet peeve, and something I have to struggle not to launch into a full rant about. I've even read comments that acted as though a fully modelled and textured item was little more than a sketch on the back of a restaurant receipt.

In general, there's often a tremendous lack of understanding for what many content creators actually do, even from the most respectful and reverent users buying from them. It's a big gap, and we need to bridge it.

This week, I want to hear from the consumers. I want to know how long you think it takes to develop original fashion content for Second Life. Of course it varies from item to item (and creator to creator) but lets talk about averages here. On average, how much time and energy would you say goes into a piece of mesh clothing, a skin, a hairstyle, and so on? Share your best estimates in the comments below. If you're a content creator, don't fret: You'll have your chance to respond next week!

Continue reading "Iris Wants to Know: How Long Do You Think It Takes Designers to Create Your Favorite Virtual Fashions?" »