Entries Tagged as 'aesthetics'

A Buncha Free Games, Vol. I

I’m mostly interested in writing about Things Worth Having, which make up for their cost in improved Quality of Life. I usually mean high-quality every-day objects when I say that but there’s also a bunch of intangible data worth having. Some people even give it away. Data (i.e. software) takes up no space, so when someone gives a piece of software away, it’s hard not to see it as Worth Having, even if it sucks. At first glance that’s how the math comes out. The cost, however, is the time you spend using it. And it is in that spirit that I give you A Buncha Free Games, Volume I.

Capt. Forever
I’m now officially belaboring this point, but it’s just so good. And now that Capt. Successor is out, you can play the original for free. Now. NOW. (Read the rest later, damn you. That link will open in a new tab.)

Cave Story (Doukutsu Monogatari)
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When Darwinia+ finally comes out I’ll try and explain how much I hate genre-boundaries, because I hate them. Books, music, films, and games that transgress and can’t be classified are lots more fun. Cave Story is a fast, pixelated platformer with RPG-ish NPC development, a nice big inventory, and a story that just goes on and on. (Disclosure: I haven’t completed a single game in this post because they’re all so satisfyingly long.) My point is that if you haven’t played it before, you haven’t played it before. Its not Mario or Metroid, Duke Nukem (THE FIRST ONE) or Commander Keen. It’s cute, the music’s excellent, and the controls are flawless. It’s clearly a labor of love by the author, and you can download it for free and keep it forever. I think you should.
Win – Mac – Linux

Knytt
03 Knytt
Every bit as atmospheric as Canabalt, but not nearly as intense. Well, that’s not fair. The little Knytt got abducted by an incompetent alien and now has to fix the broken spaceship without help. It’s a quiet, beautiful puzzle platform/adventure-thing that is massively cute in a way that makes the solitude of crawling around alone on an alien world seem all the more dire. Again, it’s an ingenious labor of love and totally downloadable, along with its extensible successor, Knytt Stories.
Win – and I run it on my CrunchBang Linux netbook through Wine

Monuments of Mars
Monumentsofmars
This game is so old! Do you even know what CGA graphics are? It’s amazing what you can do with two bits-per-pixel, provided they’re the right two bits. These ones give you Black, Red, Orange, and Green. Monuments of Mars is my favorite exploration of just how much awesome can be gleaned from four colors, and I just found out that all four chapters have been released into the public domain.
YOUR COMPUTER CAN’T RUN THIS GAME! You need to get DOSBOX first so you both can pretend it’s 1992.

ZZT
zzt
I know, I’m trying to run you over with my time machine. ZZT is another absurd blast-from-the-past. Think 4 colors looks primitive? ZZT is all ASCII characters. We care because Tim Sweeney released it almost 20 years ago, and now is still Head Morlock behind the Unreal Engine, which runs Mass Effect, BioShock, Dead Space, Gears of War, Borderlands, Mirror’s Edge, Deus Ex… It all started with ridiculous DOS text characters. In all seriousness, you don’t have to play this game, but it did have a really slick scripting system that made it really easy to build mods. The level editors in Lode Runner and Boulder Dash didn’t hold a candle.
DOSBOX

An open letter to my dad about my relationship with Apple Computer

When I showed you my Ubuntu-based netbook and the CAD software I was running through WINE last summer, you almost seemed hurt when you asked if I had given up on Apple. At the time I quickly dismissed the possibility but looking at the intervening months (even as I compose this on my venerable MacBook Pro) I think the honest truth is a little less shiny.

We got that Apple IIgs in ’87 or ’88. Its capabilities were broad-ranging and we used it in every way possible short of compiling new software. Looking back now, though, its most compelling feature for me was its ability to accept and run BASIC programs, even without disk drives connected. Like the old Sinclair computers in England, there was an understanding that the most basic function of a computer was to run user-created code.
[Read more →]

Artifice

On Friday I was mulling over an unfortunate habit of mine; whenever I feel stuck or otherwise inspiration deprived I have a tendency to lapse into a laconic sort of OCD state about presentation. As if by somehow creating the appropriate format, Content would miraculously fill itself in. In response a relative sent me this most awesome reminder:

periodic_table_of_typefaces
(Click for the full glory)

You’ve probably heard the phrase that “the medium is the message”, which acts as a sort of causal entreaty to the superiority of design (which is to say, it’s less important what you say than how you say it). But reverse the causality and assume that the message is becoming the medium, and things start to look a lot more interesting.

Link via Gizmodo (Thanks Liz!)

And It’s Elegance is matched only by It’s Simplicity

The newest issue of Wired turned up yesterday; and leafing over it with my coffee this morning I came across a couple phrases that I found to be truly jarring. Below is the excerpt from Wired’s Creative Director Scott Dadich (I’d link to the full article but they haven’t updated the site with the new issue yet):

Constraint offers an unparalleled opportunity for growth and innovation. Think of a young tree, a sapling. With water and sunshine, it can grow tall and strong. But include some careful pruning early in its development- removing low hanging branches – and the tree will grow taller, stronger, faster. It won’t waste precious resources on growth that doesn’t serve its ultimate purpose. The same principle applies to design. Given fewer resources, you have to make better decisions.

This gets me on a couple different levels. Given the economic climate, we’re all attempting to do this in one way or another. On another, Neko and I have had this up in discussion a lot lately. But the thing is, I’ve never looked at it from a design perspective though. Taking a more expansive view; if you treat your own life as a design of your own making, doesn’t it behoove you to make it the most efficient (and therefore the most minimal) that you’re able to? Isn’t it such that our boundaries present the greatest opportunities for growth?

**Update** The websites been refreshed, so the full article is Here

R.I.P Bettie Page

1923 – 12/11/2008


Its enough to make one want to throw over the covers and hide your head under the pillow.

Bye Bye Bettie from Coilhouse puts it in a great deal more perspective than I can today. She will be missed, and forever remembered.