The Best Game

May 12th, 2013

Ian Snyder this weekend is hosting #objectjam, which challenges us to create games which instead of running on computers or game consoles run on “everyday” objects such as walls or chairs. I couldn’t think of anything myself, but I realized:

Java, our Shetland Sheepdog, actually invented a game you play with a piece of rope. He invented this game when he was about four and taught it to us by repeatedly forcing us to play it. I don’t know what Java calls this game because I’m not completely certain he has an internal concept of “language” or “names” so I’m calling it The Best Game because that is how he seems to think of it. If he were allowed to, Java would play this game and nothing else forever.

I hereby submit this game to #objectjam on Java’s behalf. Here is how you play.


Java, AKA Player One.

The Best Game requires:

  • A short piece of rope, say a little under a foot, preferably with one or more knots in it.
  • Two players. Player Two has to be a human because they need to have hands. Player One can be anybody.

The game is played in three phases, which repeat:

Phase 1: Keep-away. Player One starts with the rope (Java holds it with his mouth because that is how he holds things). Player Two has to try to get it. Player One should stand as close as possible to Player Two (this is not a hiding game), but if Player Two tries to grab the rope immediately dodge out of the way.

Phase 2: Tug-of-war. Player Two has now grabbed one end of the rope. However, Player One still holds the other end. Player One should hold on as tight as possible to prevent Player Two from taking it away.

Phase 3: Fetch. Player Two, now that they have the rope, must throw the rope as far as possible, so that Player One can run really fast and go retrieve it. Player One then returns the rope to Player Two’s position, at which point Phase 1 restarts immediately.

Tips for playing: Sometimes, people may not realize they are playing the game, or might think the game is done. In this case, Player One can try dropping the rope in Player Two’s lap; when they pick the rope up, Player One can immediately re-grab the other end of the rope at which point Phase 2 begins immediately. (This means you skip Phase 1 but this is okay because it’s a good way of teaching Player Two the game. You can ease in Phase 1 as they get the idea.) If Player Two doesn’t immediately react to having the rope dropped in their lap, maybe they didn’t notice you put it there. Try picking the rope up again and dropping it 3 or 4 more times.

How to mod my games

May 11th, 2013

My games (ever since “Markov Space”) are set up to let any part of the game be modded with just a zip file, and come with some mod-assistance tools built in. I never got around to documenting any of this. I guess I should do that. I’m gonna do that now.

If you’re not fascinated by technical details, I suggest jumping down to “An example: HOWLER?” below.

Overview

Any game based on my Polyconsole tools has a set of hidden developer’s features, mostly there to support my own debugging but also useful for modders (and sometimes players). Some of these features are not user-accessible in the release versions of my older games, but you can still get at them by either building a debug build yourself or in some cases brain-transplanting the media.pak file out of one game and into a more recent one.

Things you can do with these features:

Change the screen resolution
(Present since at least: The World Hates You)

By default, Polyconsole games use the whole screen and current screen resolution. However at startup they read a file named “settings.xml” that can be used to change this. If you open up Notepad (or whatever), paste in the following, and save as “settings.xml” in the same folder as the game .exe or .app:

<?xml version=”1.0″ ?>
<settings fullscreen=”false” width=”800″ height=”600″ />

It will set the fullscreen/windowed mode, height, and width as appropriate. You can of course change the specific width and height numbers how you like, or change fullscreen “false” to “true”.

Get a debugging console
(Present since at least: The World Hates You)

Polyconsole games also check at startup for a file named “debug.xml”. Actually, they don’t care what’s in this file. They just want it to be there. If the file is there, the game enters “debug mode”. There are three things that are different in debug mode.

First off, in debug mode you can access a Lua console at any time by hitting “tab”. Any syntax errors in the game code get printed to this console, and you can type lua code as commands here (for example, print() calls).

Second off, and maybe a bit more usefully, in debug mode hitting “esc” at any time reloads the current “room”— the current stretch of game, basically. This is very useful if you’re changing Lua on disk while this is happening. (In a few games the magic key is “F4″ instead of “esc”.)

Third off, in debug mode the constant “_DEBUG” is true. In some games this changes behavior slightly.

By the way, when you save these .xml files— settings.xml or debug.xml— make sure you really are saving them as .xml and not as .xml.txt.

Create a mod
(Present since at least: Markov Space)

With Polyconsole games, the .exe or .app is basically just a projector that usually contains very little “game”. The actual “game” (all the resources, shaders and Lua code) is stored in an innocuous-looking file named media.pak. You can find this in the Internal/ directory on Win/Lin and inside the app package on Mac. The “.pak” file is actually just a misnamed zip file.

When Polyconsole loads files out of this .pak file, it “shadows” them by looking in two additional locations:

  • The contents of “mod.zip” in the same directory as the .exe or .app
  • The files inside of a folder named “mod” in the same directory as the .exe or .app

The mod.zip is laid out the same way as the media.pak, and the mod folder is laid out as if you’d placed the mod.zip into the “mod/” folder and then unzipped it.

If the finds a file inside either the mod zip or folder (and it prefers the mod folder to the zip) it acts as if the file in media.pak is replaced with the mod version of the file. This allows you to overwrite any resource or code file the game uses.

Oh, and by the way: I only added loading from the “mod” folder/zip support around The World Hates You somewhere, however all the way back to Markov Space you can still do a mod just by renaming your mod.zip to “media.pak” and replacing the media.pak that’s already there.

Take a screenshot
(Present since at least: Sweet Nothings)

Press F8.

Another by-the-way: some graphics programs don’t seem to be able to open the screenshots made by Polycode. I find if I open it in a program that *can* open it (Preview on the mac works) and then save it again, the problem is fixed.

An example: HOWLER?

Let’s walk through doing this with HOWLER?, which is a little art toy where you push some colored discs around the screen and they warp and deform space around them. HOWLER? makes images that look neat, but they’re all a little same-y— what if we replaced the discs with some other, more interesting objects?

To start off with, you can download HOWLER? here. You’ll see:

In the screenshots I’m gonna do this on the Mac, but things will be about the same on Windows.

We wanna start just by making the files that tell the game to go to mod-editing mode. We want to make three things: A file named settings.xml, a file named debug.xml, and an empty folder named “mod”. You can make settings.xml and debug.xml in Notepad using the instructions I give above, OR you can just download a settings.xml I made here and a debug.xml I made here. You should now have:

Now we need to find the “media.pak” zipfile— that’s where all the game resources actually live. On Windows and Linux, this is easy— just look in the “Internal” folder. On the mac, you’re going to have to hold down “control”, click on the HOWLER app, and click “show package contents”. This opens up the app to let you see inside. media.pak is in “Resources”, inside “Contents”.

You want to COPY, not move, media.pak from that Resources directory (or on Windows, the Internal directory) and into the “mod” directory you just made:

Now we want to unzip it— the media.pak is actually just a disguised zip file. You should be able to just rename media.pak to “media.zip”:

Then double click it. You should now have a folder named “media” inside of your “mod” folder. We’re done with the “media.zip” file now, so go ahead and delete it.

If you look in the “media” folder, you’ll see, well, the whole game:

Right there you’ll see all the “color wheel” images from HOWLER?, plus an “audio” directory containing the soundtrack oggs. You’ll also see some other maybe-mysterious files. In order of descending importance:

  • A folder named “overlay”: The game’s source code files (Lua scripts) are in there— you can just open those up and edit them in Notepad.
  • A folder named “material”: The “shaders”, if you know what those are, are in there; in HOWLER?, the screen-warpy effect is in a file named FilterShader.frag. Like the lua files, you can edit the .frag just fine in Notepad.
  • “init.txt”, “game.txt”, “exit.txt”: These are the game’s three “rooms”. I’ll come back to this in a moment.
  • Several files with names ending in “_classes.txt”: These are just needed for Polyconsole to work; you should just ignore these. (Or you can delete them, and it will load the originals out of media.pak.)
  • Several files with names ending in “.svg”: These actually aren’t part of the game at all, and I apparently packed them in by accident!

Let’s go ahead and make a simple change to the game. Start by opening it up and letting the game start:

Because of the settings.xml file, the game is running in a window. And because of the debug.xml file, another thing changes: If you press “F4″, the current screen will reset itself. (In most of my other games this debug-reset button is ESC, but here it’s “F4″.)

Let’s leave HOWLER? open, and back in our “mod” folder open up “colorfull.png” in an art program. In this picture, all I did was pixelate the PNG a bit, scribble on it, save it again, then close and reopen HOWLER?:

So far, seems to be working! (Though, two little quirks I notice. First off, I *EXPECT* that pressing F4 to load the scene should have caused my newly-saved “colorfull.png” to be instantly loaded into the program. It didn’t, it reloaded the scene but left the textures as they were. I guess that’s some sort of bug. But that’s okay, because all I had to do was close and reopen the program and it loaded right. One other thing: You might notice I scribbled on “colorfull.png” with white, but in the screenshot— here’s the zoomed in version if you can’t see it clearly— it looks black. This is because the specific screen-warpy visual effect in HOWLER? doesn’t work well with images with semitransparent “alpha”, which the pen in this particular art program always uses. Annoying; I’ll have to make sure to use a different program for this next step.)

Anyway, this is a start. I keep going, and I make new graphics for all four of the orbs: colorfull.png, colorblue.png, colororange.png, and colorpurple.png.


Now it looks like:

I’m not sure if that’s an improvement, but it’s different! Playing with it though, I notice something weird— the images are now little squares, but they bump up against each other like they’re still big circles. This is because although the images themselves are stored in these PNG files, their “shapes” in a physics sense come from the source code.

We can fix that. Let’s edit the source code, to make the squares act like squares. If we go back to our “mod” folder, it’s time to look inside that “overlay” folder:

Each of the subfolders here is what I call an “overlay”— a hunk of scripts that go together. I split my games up into “rooms”, and each room is made of 3 to 5 “overlays” that combine together. “Overlay” and “room” are just words I made up, I don’t think any other game engine uses this exact terminology. Anyway this particular game has three “rooms”, the intro screen (“init.txt”), the outro screen (“exit.txt”), and the “game itself” (“game.txt”). If you look inside any of the “room files” back up in the media folder, you’ll find each one is just a list of names of overlays from the overlay folder.

But! We don’t need to worry about most of that, because HOWLER? is a pretty simple game, and almost all the important code is stored inside of “onLoad.lua” inside the “game” overlay. Let’s open up that game/onLoad.lua file in Notepad (or, well, I used TextEdit because I’m on a mac).

We want to change how the game treats our PNG files it loaded, right? So let’s look inside the lua file for the PNG file names. Sure enough, there they are:

Uh… well, that certainly isn’t very clear code! Did I mention I made this game in a single day? But if we know a little bit of Lua— or even if we don’t— we can see we’re calling this “makeAt” function four times with different numbers and the names of our four files. So what’s “makeAt”? Apparently it’s somehow making the four orbs on the screen. And if we poke around in the file we can find the code for makeAt, too:

If we look at this, we see a couple things. First off, one of the numbers being passed in to this function is named “scale”— it’s being used to set the size of the image. If we go back and look, it’s being set to 1.0 for the “colorfull” orb, and 0.5 for the others. If you go back and look in the original game, you’ll see the big rainbow orb is twice the size of the others— this is why. You’ll notice another thing in this code snippet here: All the orbs are being created as ENTITY_CIRCLE shapes. That made sense in the original game, but now three of the four shapes are squares.

Let’s make a few changes. I made the bits I changed bold and blue so you can see them more clearly:

Here I change the makeAt function so it takes one more argument— “circle”. Circle is either true or false, if it’s true, we make the object we’re making a CIRCLE, otherwise we make it a RECT (…angle). I’m also going to need to change the place where we call makeAt:

I added a “,true” for the “circle” argument on the one orb that’s still a circle, and I changed all those 0.5s to 1.0 so the pictures won’t be weird and shrunken anymore.

I reopen HOWLER? (or if I’ve left it open, I can just hit F4— the bug we saw before with textures failing to reload doesn’t apply to code) and here’s what I see:

Okay, now that’s actually getting kinda interesting! I think this is becoming something I can call a “mod” with a straight face.

I’m gonna change a couple more things before I call this done. First, just for the heck of it, I’m gonna redo the music. I make some quick loops using Drumcircle and Audacity, and save them over the oggs that are in the media folder now:

For some reason this only works if I save the oggs as stereo. I’m not even going to try to figure out why.

I’m also going to change the title screen (to note that I modded something) and the “exit” screen (since the Liz Ryerson music credit is no longer accurate). If you look in “init.txt” and “exit.txt” (remember, the txt files define the game’s three “rooms”) you’ll see those screens live in the “pre” and “post” overlays:

I go ahead and dig the around in those for the string to change:

I think my mod’s done! Now what? Well, now I probably want to show it to someone. Fortunately, if I want to let someone try out my mod, I don’t need to send them the whole big “mod” directory. The game will also accept one file named “mod.zip”. To make this, I zip up the “media” dir– notice, I’m zipping the “media” dir, NOT the “mod” dir:

This creates a file named “media.zip”, which I then rename to “mod.zip”. I can now clear out the settings.xml, debug.xml and my “mod” folder and put this zip in the folder with HOWLER.app or HOWLER.exe by itself:

And my mod now works in all its glory!

If you want to download the final mod.zip to try out the mod I’ve been putting together in this example, you can download it here. Again, just place the .zip file in the same directory with the HOWLER program (don’t bother unzipping).

(A license disclosure. The picture of Tunde Adebimpe I use in this mod is a GDFL image from the Wikipedia Commons, so that means this zip is GFDL and if you reuse this zip, you also have to follow the GDFL rules. If you replace colororange.png with something else tho this no longer applies.)

Some extra notes for modders

The above basically covers basic mods (change images, datafiles, constants). If you’re going to be doing any serious rewriting of the Lua in these games, though, here are some random things it might be useful to know:

I posted a writeup of Polyconsole some time back that explains most of how the basic engine works; there’s exhaustive but currently-out-of-date documentation of the “bridge” object and my lua util functions there, for example. The games are of course all written against the Polycode API and using its object system. I usually store constants in a table named “km”, room-specific variables in a table named “gm”, whole-game-global variables in a table named “fm”, and sound effects in a table named “au”. The ubiquitous a() and r() functions are part of my memory management, they cause the targeted variable to be deleted at the end of the frame or room respectively. The “startup” and “shutdown” overlays are also for memory management and you probably shouldn’t touch them. The main overlay for the game is usually named “game” and the library functions are usually in “pregame”. If there’s a title screen overlay it’s often named “attract”. In a couple of cases (Markov Space, for example) there’s at least some Lua hidden inside .svg files but I stopped doing that quickly. Scene() and scene() generally do something different, as do Screen() and screen(), the uppercase versions are constructors whereas the lowercase versions grab a shared room-global object (if it exists). Sometimes if there’s an error in onLoad.lua it doesn’t get printed to the console on first run, but it appears if you open the console and hit the reload button (esc or F4). The print() function in Polyconsole can pretty-print tables.

Anybody still reading?

Did you follow any of that? Either way, here’s one last cool thing for making it this far. Here’s one more HOWLER? mod I made. Place this zip file in the same folder as the HOWLER? app or exe and enjoy.

He Never Showed Up

May 4th, 2013

For the #PPHSJAM dating sim jam, I made a dating simulation.

Arrow keys to move, press “A” for hammer attack.

Download

Lesbian Spider Mars Queens

April 14th, 2013

Run Hello is proud to present a piece of video game history: an unlicensed port of Midway’s arcade hit “Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars”, released for the Atari XL in 1992 by Latvian developer Sveiki Atvyke. “Lesbian Spider Mars Queens” is noteworthy for, unusually, abandoning the arcade version’s top-down gameplay in favor of a “first person shooter” format that pushed the XL to its limits; this arguably makes it one of the first person shooters ever commercially released, predating Wolfenstein 3D by several months.

Download

This is an FPS version of Anna Anthropy‘s game Lesbian Spider Queens of Mars that I made for Anna for her birthday. She said what she wanted for her birthday was fanart, so I made this. My high score is 2100; see if you can beat that.

Every game I’ve ever made

April 4th, 2013

Here’s a Vine video fitting every game I’ve made for this site (30 games made over five years), including games I never released, into six seconds.

Transgender Day of Visibility 2013: Twine Jukebox

March 26th, 2013

This past Saturday I participated in an event called the Transgender Day of Visibility at the DeFrank Center here in San Jose. Part of the event was showcasing art by transgender artists, and for the second year in a row the organizer Lance Moore asked me to curate a selection of video games made by trans* indies. This year, along with Lim by Merritt Kopas and my own Sweet Nothings collection, I decided to set up a computer loaded with text-based adventure games made in Twine. We wound up with a collection of 23 games by 10 authors, covering adventure games, personal stories, poetry, porn, and at least one simulation of being devoured by a computer. The games all run in a web browser, so you can play them yourself right now:

Play

Big thanks to Porpentine for helping me assemble the collection.

“Kicked Out Of NASA” Game Jam

March 11th, 2013

This weekend I was really excited because NASA was going to host a game jam (on my birthday!) right by where I live. But then it turned out they were sold out of tickets. So instead I set up a “Kicked Out Of Nasa” Game Jam on Glorious Trainwrecks with the suggested theme of “games about being denied access to space”. A bunch of my friends met up at Anna Anthropy’s place to make stuff and it was awesome.

Here are the games that wound up getting submitted:

HOWLER?

I made this one! You can download it here:

This was originally going to be something wildly different, but I got so distracted messing with the video-feedback shader effect I was going to use that I just added music to that and made it the whole game. It basically just fills your screen with rainbows. The music is by Liz Ryerson who also did the music for Anna’s game below.

I posted some 6-second demo videos on Vine: Vine 1, Vine 2

Dirty Dishes

This was made by the lovely Amy Dentata, she described it as sort of like Tetris. It issues you a challenge: Carefully stack the dirty dishware in the sink without breaking it. This is REALLY HARD. Amy’s roommates must buy the cheapest dishes. It makes for an interesting challenge tho!

When Amy plays this she pretty much just seems to repeatedly spam the debug button to spawn extra dishware and cover the screen in broken glass.

Download on GloriousTrainwrecks

Typing With Hands

Loren Schmidt made this and he describes it as a simulator that allows you to experience what it is like to type using hands, like maybe in case you’re an alien or something and you have tentacles instead of hands. It puts a picture of some hands on a keyboard up on the screen, and when you press keys it shows the hands typing them. It makes this fascinating body-disassociation effect because you’re typing and you’re watching hands typing but they’re NOT YOUR HANDS (unless you’re Kim in which case they are your hands).

Download on GloriousTrainwrecks

FORBIDDEN SPACE

This was event hostess Anna Anthropy‘s game and probably the most on-theme entry we had. This is the kind of thing I really like to see people experimenting with– in a much more interesting enlargement of what I was trying to do with Shadowland Prophesy, this is a game which takes place outside of “game space” and mostly on your own computer. Aliens command you to never again use the space bar, after which the game minimizes itself and you are left to return to your daily tasks, using Firefox, whatever. Until you press the space bar, at which point the game pops back up and informs you YOU HAVE LOST and THE EARTH IS DESTROYED. This is the other piece Liz did music for yesterday.

Download on GloriousTrainwrecks

PRESS SPACE TO SHINY

Wade McGillis is the maker of a simple but haunting PC/iPhone game called AstroNOT where a little blue pixel person basically gets lost on a gigantic, baffling C64-y planet. Along those same lines he made this little 2-screen thing with an astronaut that jumps around and sparkes. Apparently he meant it to be longer at some point, as it is though it has pretty colors.

Spaaaaaarkle

Play online on GloriousTrainwrecks

Bonkers Space Patrol

Redbone submitted this to the jam over the Internet, I didn’t get to play it (no Mac version) but I watched someone else and it’s actually kind of hilariously chaotic. Anna’s description of the rules were “things from space are sent into space, things from Earth go back to Earth”.

Download on GloriousTrainwrecks

Horrible Mazes 3: No Space For You

Overkill describes this game thusly: “This game is horrible, and has some really uninspired mazes. Enjoy.” The graphics on this one are pretty and it made me laugh. I can’t figure out if I got to the end or not.

Play online on GloriousTrainwrecks

Science Jam

This one’s a Knytt Story. Knytt Stories 4ever

Download on GloriousTrainwrecks

Empty Void of Space

This is the most mysterious of the jam entries, and was the first one submitted. Again because of a lack of mac version I could not play it, but the author describes it as an “EXTREMELY REALISTIC GAME”. I think… I think someone actually made an accurate simulation of the empty, unmoving void of space.

Download on GloriousTrainwrecks

—-
UPDATES

Satellite Destroyer

Eli Brody submitted this a little bit after the jam. I cannot play it because XNA, but the idea is that you destroy actual satellites rendered in realtime from NASA’s publicly available tracking data. That is awesome.

Download on GloriousTrainwrecks

Out of Space

Another late entry by Chigbarg, who actually came to the in-person jam but his monitor got smashed on the drive over so he couldn’t do anything. Anyway after the jam he made this and I am not sure I understand it at ALL but it’s AWESOME and moody and gorgeous. The premise is you need to board the spaceship, but cannot.

Download on GloriousTrainwrecks

Sweet Nothings

January 31st, 2013

A collection of small art/music toys I’ve made over the last six months. Some are interactive, some are not. Included are “Brainfarm”, “CS/1″, “Devil’s Chord”, “A Cube for You”, “pxswap()” and “Sun Sets”.

Download

All of these are improved versions of things previously posted on my anti-games page. I made the collection to submit to something called the “Experimental Gaming Workshop”.

Customer testimonials

“WHAT IS THIS MACHINE” — Porpentine, Rock Paper Shotgun

“I wonder if second one is broken; I’m not sure what the expected behavior is but the sound is static and only part of the screen animates…” — Hannah Greenwood

“Please turn that off, it’s really loud.” — Diana Heideman

A Game of the Year 2012 Poll: Results

January 30th, 2013

CLICK HERE TO JUMP TO THE PRETTY COLOR-CODED FULL RESULTS

This explanation will look a lot like that of previous years, but:

Every year since 2004 I’ve been hosting this Game of the Year poll for the users of some forums I read. There are a lot of GOTY polls out there, but this one I think is kind of special. Most polls, you’re given a list of four or five options and you’re asked to pick the one you liked best. This poll, people are given a list of a couple of hundred options, consisting of every new game released in the previous year– and asked to rate their top ten or twenty.

This does a few interesting things. First off, we get to see all the information about what people’s second, third etc choices are. Second off, because the second, third etc choices count, people are more likely to vote for the game they want to win, rather than the game they think is likely to win– they’re less likely to engage in “strategic voting”. Finally, because we have all this information, we’re actually able to provide somewhat reasonable rankings for something like the top hundred or so games of last year.

The full results– showing the exact number of voters who ranked each game first, second, third place etc– can be found here. In the meantime, the final results were:

  1. The Walking Dead (3440) *** GAME OF THE YEAR ***
  2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (3022)
  3. Mass Effect 3 (2730)
  4. FTL: Faster Than Light (2676)
  5. Borderlands 2 (2671)
  6. Dishonored (1625)
  7. Hotline Miami (1551)
  8. Journey (1532)
  9. Diablo 3 (1480)
  10. Sleeping Dogs (1465)
  11. Mark of the Ninja (1436)
  12. Spec Ops: The Line (1352)
  13. Far Cry 3 (1313)
  14. Xenoblade Chronicles (1195)
  15. Torchlight 2 (1191)
  16. Guild Wars 2 (1113)
  17. Frog Fractions (1078)
  18. Assassin’s Creed 3 (994)
  19. Halo 4 (868)
  20. Legend of Grimrock (757)

The numbers in parentheses are the final scores each game got under the poll’s ranking system. Thanks if you voted, and some more elaborate analysis of the results (plus an explanation of the scores) can be found below.

NOTEWORTHY WINNERS

  • GOTY 2012:

    #1, The Walking Dead

  • Top-ranked PC Exclusive:

    #4, FTL: Faster than Light

  • Top-ranked PS3 Exclusive:

    #8, Journey

  • Top-ranked game for a Console Download Service:

    #8, Journey

  • Top-ranked Wii Exclusive:

    #14, Xenoblade Chronicles

  • Top-ranked Browser Game:

    #17, Frog Fractions

  • Top-ranked 360 Exclusive:

    #19, Halo 4

  • Top-ranked WiiU Exclusive:

    #27, New Super Mario Bros. U

  • Top-ranked 3DS Exclusive:

    #36, Kid Icarus: Uprising

  • Top-ranked Vita Exclusive:

    #71, Gravity Rush

  • Top-ranked Smartphone Exclusive:

    #91, SpaceTeam

  • Top-ranked RPG:

    #3, Mass Effect 3

  • Top-ranked “Indie” Game:

    #4, FTL: Faster than Light

  • Top-ranked FPS:

    #5, Borderlands 2

  • “Cult” Award (see below):

    #14, Xenoblade Chronicles

  • Top-ranked H-Game?

    #72, Katawa Shoujo

NOTEWORTHY LOSERS

  • Best game of 2012 which somehow nobody considered to be their #1 pick: #25, Penny Arcade: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3
  • Worst game of 2012 that at least one person considered their #1 pick: Three-way tie between three games tied for the #260 slot: “Carrier Command: Gaea Mission”; “OFF”; and NCAA Football 13. Each of these games got only one vote, but each of these voters considered it their game of the year.
  • Worst game of 2012: Two-way tie between the games tied for #331: “War of the Human Tanks” and Fingle. Both of these games scored only one vote each, each from someone who considered it their 20th best game of the year.

There were a whole 57 games on the nominations list that no one voted for at all.

ALTERNATE SCORING METHODS

The rankings listed above are based on a version of the Borda count voting method. Each vote cast for a game gives that game a certain number of points. If someone ranks a game #1, that game gets 20 points. If they rank it #2, the game gets 19 points. If they rank it #3 the game gets 18 points… and so on. I have a script that checks a couple of alternate ways of ranking the same data, though.

For example, if we rank games only by the number of first place votes they got, the top three remain the same but the rest of the list changes dramatically, with a whole bunch of indie games suddenly in the top 20. I bolded entries that are different in the first-place-votes count:

First Past the Post

  1. The Walking Dead (70)
  2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (48)
  3. Mass Effect 3 (33)
  4. Xenoblade Chronicles (28)
  5. Borderlands 2 (26)
  6. Journey (23)
  7. Dishonored (18)
  8. FTL: Faster Than Light (16)
  9. Hotline Miami (15)
  10. Guild Wars 2 (13)
  11. Sleeping Dogs (12)
  12. Spec Ops: The Line (11)
  13. Dragon’s Dogma (9)
  14. Crusader Kings II (8)
  15. Hexagon / Super Hexagon (6)
  16. Halo 4 (6)
  17. Far Cry 3 (6)
  18. Dustforce (5)
  19. Fez (5)
  20. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward (4)
  21. Planetside 2 (4)
  22. Kid Icarus: Uprising (4)

Most years when I look at the first-past-the-post list a “cult” game emerges that received very few overall votes, but where an overwhelming percentage of those votes were #1 votes (I think of this as the “Persona award”); this year the standout seems to be XenoBlade Chronicles, which was at a pretty okay #14 in the normal rankings but skyrockets to #4 in the FPTP rankings. Also of possible note here are Dragon’s Dogma, which jumped from #24 to #13, and “Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward”, a game I’ve honestly never heard of, which jumped all the way up from #57 to tie for twentieth place.

I also did two more ways of sorting the rankings: an “approval” vote, where nothing is counted except the number of votes a game received (i.e. a first-place and a twentieth-place ranking count the same– all the matters is if the game was on someone’s list); and an instant runoff vote. Your eyes are probably starting to glaze over at this point, so again I bolded the places where these two votes differ from the official rank.

Approval

  1. The Walking Dead (194)
  2. FTL: Faster Than Light (180)
  3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (175)
  4. Borderlands 2 (171)
  5. Mass Effect 3 (170)
  6. Diablo 3 (110)
  7. Dishonored (106)
  8. Hotline Miami (103)
  9. Mark of the Ninja (102)
  10. Sleeping Dogs (97)
  11. Journey (93)
  12. Spec Ops: The Line (93)
  13. Frog Fractions (89)
  14. Torchlight 2 (88)
  15. Far Cry 3 (87)
  16. Assassin’s Creed 3 (80)
  17. Xenoblade Chronicles (74)
  18. Guild Wars 2 (74)
  19. Halo 4 (60)
  20. Legend of Grimrock (58)
IRV

  1. The Walking Dead (3440)
  2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown (3022)
  3. Mass Effect 3 (2730)
  4. Borderlands 2 (2671)
  5. FTL: Faster Than Light (2676)
  6. Dishonored (1625)
  7. Hotline Miami (1551)
  8. Diablo 3 (1480)
  9. Journey (1532)
  10. Sleeping Dogs (1465)
  11. Mark of the Ninja (1436)
  12. Spec Ops: The Line (1352)
  13. Far Cry 3 (1313)
  14. Frog Fractions (1078)
  15. Xenoblade Chronicles (1195)
  16. Torchlight 2 (1191)
  17. Assassin’s Creed 3 (994)
  18. Guild Wars 2 (1113)
  19. Halo 4 (868)
  20. Legend of Grimrock (757)

FINALLY: PER-FORUM BREAKDOWNS

As mentioned before, this poll mostly exists for a handful of video game forums where some people I know post. Since a few years ago when I started posting the results on this blog, I’ve tried to actually run some extra results, in each case counting only those voters who– as far as one could tell from looking at the logs– had come to the poll from one particular forum or other.

So, here you have it– these numbers aren’t totally accurate because my logging method is not entirely trustworthy, but here’s an approximate by-forum breakdown of these results. Links go to color-coded full listings.

Penny Arcade Forums (306 voters)

  1. The Walking Dead
  2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  3. Mass Effect 3
  4. Borderlands 2
  5. FTL: Faster Than Light
  6. Dishonored
  7. Spec Ops: The Line
  8. Sleeping Dogs
  9. Far Cry 3
  10. Diablo 3
  11. Mark of the Ninja
  12. Hotline Miami
  13. Xenoblade Chronicles
  14. Journey
  15. Guild Wars 2
  16. Torchlight 2
  17. Assassin’s Creed 3
  18. Halo 4
  19. Crusader Kings II
  20. Penny Arcade OTRSPOD 3

Tigsource.com (33 voters)

  1. Hotline Miami
  2. FTL: Faster Than Light
  3. La Mulana
  4. Borderlands 2
  5. Spelunky HD
  6. The Walking Dead
  7. Journey
  8. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  9. Fez
  10. Diablo 3
  11. Legend of Grimrock
  12. Hexagon / Super Hexagon
  13. Call of Duty Black Ops 2
  14. Katawa Shoujo
  15. Dishonored
  16. Lone Survivor
  17. Spec Ops: The Line
  18. Rhythm Heaven Fever
  19. Frog Fractions
  20. Offspring Fling!
Platformers.net (34 voters)

  1. The Walking Dead
  2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  3. Borderlands 2
  4. Xenoblade Chronicles
  5. Frog Fractions
  6. FTL: Faster Than Light
  7. Mark of the Ninja
  8. Pokemon Black and White 2
  9. Kid Icarus: Uprising
  10. New Super Mario Bros. U
  11. Journey
  12. Sleeping Dogs
  13. Persona 4 Arena
  14. Dishonored
  15. Asura’s Wrath
  16. Diablo 3
  17. Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy
  18. Final Fantasy XII-2
  19. Torchlight 2
  20. Dustforce
My own personal blog and twitter (48 voters)

  1. Hexagon / Super Hexagon
  2. Frog Fractions
  3. Dys4ia
  4. Journey
  5. FTL: Faster than Light
  6. The Walking Dead
  7. Corrypt
  8. Mass Effect 3
  9. Hotline Miami
  10. Analogue: A Hate Story
  11. Thirty Flights of Loving
  12. Dear Esther
  13. Dustforce
  14. Dyad
  15. Mark of the Ninja
  16. Spelunky HD
  17. XCOM: ENemy Unknown
  18. Borderlands 2
  19. Tokyo Jungle
  20. Botanicula
 

Responsibilities

December 17th, 2012

This is a game I made with Liz Ryerson. I programmed and Liz did all the actual work. We made this for Ludum Dare 25, the 72-hour jam; the theme was “You Are The Villain”. I shall leave it up to you if it fits that theme or not. It is very mysterious. Only Liz knows what it means for sure.

Download

You can find the Ludum Dare competition entry page for the game here.

This game requires an OpenGL 2.0 compatible computer to run.