lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
It’s Yuri Game Jam season! A season to be especially queer in.

I know I mentioned before that I adore game jams. Deadlines tend to bring out my best work and I love the opportunity to potentially work with new people, not to mention I will jump at any opportunity to stretch my creative muscles. Yuri Jam is dedicated to stories centering queer female characters, which is familiar territory for me. The project I elected to develop, though, is something of a romantic comedy, which dips just slightly into camp territory.

Our protagonist is a self-styled mad scientist, a brilliant scientist who abandoned the world of academic research to recklessly pursue her own projects with no oversight. While she makes her living from the patents she takes out on her gadgeteering, she now faces her most ambitious invention yet. After years of romantic strikeouts, a phone-call from a concerned ex-girlfriend prompts her to take an entirely new approach to matters romantic, and she decides to build herself a robot girlfriend.

Yuri Game Jam is a two-month jam which takes place over the course of September-October 2017. I hope to complete the game, with three full romance routes, by the end of the jam. Accounting for last-minute complications, the estimated date of release is early-to-mid November. I will be posting progress updates on the Zinc Alloy Tumblr blog, and updating more regularly on the ZA Discord channel.

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
It feels odd to get started on a game, at least two years after it was first published. Still, it’s not as though Little Alchemy is ancient enough to feel outdated or irrelevant, and I can gladly report that it’s every bit as enjoyable and engaging in 2017 as it probably was when it was first released. The only downside is knowing that it’s unlikely to receive any more updates. Once you’ve exhausted the 500+ existing alchemical elements and their combinations, that’s it. And given the habitual nature of the game, you might find yourself marathon playing it for hours at a time, and end up running out of game within a day or two.

Little Alchemy is a lightweight and fun alchemy simulator. Beginning with the four classical elements, it allows you to combine two elements to create a third, sometimes with additional byproducts. Simple as that. To my great delight, it can be played out of any browser through either the official site or indie game outfit itch.io, and also has a mobile version. After messing around with the browser game for entirely too long, I downloaded the Android app and lost several hours of potential sleep to it.

Read more... )

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.

Purity

Wednesday, 9 August 2017 20:21
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
The more I write (and I've been writing for more than fifteen years, half my life or longer), the harder it is to ignore the murkiness of the writing endeavor. I write original fiction and fanfiction, and I also write reviews. The things I look at when I write reviews are sometimes the same as what I examine when I'm writing, but just as often totally different. That can create an absurd type scenario where I criticize a series of books or games for repeating variations on a certain trope, but still be writing that trope into my own original fiction. Not even (necessarily) to subvert it, and on the whole as a media consumer I prefer aversions to self-conscious subversions.

The most obvious case that comes to mind for me right now is a multi-chapter fanfic from years ago that I never finished. This included both a love triangle and an antagonistic, hate-to-love type romance, all wrapped up together. And this was at a time when I had an even stronger aversion to both than I do now. And these were the central threads of the plot, not some supporting B-plot. More recently -- I even wrote a DW post about it -- I was writing a nation of inhuman people as analogues of a real cultural group (my own, but still), which is a thing I've strenuously objected to in the past.

And now there's my Yuri Jam game, if it gets off its feet. When I was coming up with the concept, I was mainly thinking about a cutesy idea of "mad scientists", a kind of character trope that has lost all credibility to the point where it's automatically camp and humorous, in a self-aware way. At least in theory. It's impossible, however, for me to ignore the underlying creepiness of the story, even if I'm trying to tell it from a point of view that places value judgments on the protagonist's choices, and even f the game is built in such a way that it locks the player out of making any truly outrageous character choices. I have to find a way to write around and through it, and address it head-on while still allowing the game to be a little funny.

And I find myself wondering how it is that I keep finding so many corners to paint myself into.
lea_hazel: The outlook is somewhat dismal (Feel: Crash and Burn)
This week so far has been a chain of irritants that have put me disproportionately out of shape, more so with each one that came at me. I don't even wanna get into it because I don't want to enshrine that petty shit, which is one major way that I have changed for the better in the last decade. So, go me, I guess.

In better news: if you're at all interested in my game-writing effort check out my idea thread for a Yuri Game Jam entry I am hoping to gear up to this summer/fall.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
I've written before about the Dark Parables series of hidden object games. They're great games and I revisit them pretty regularly, especially since I started them out by buying the standard editions and was quickly converted to the more expensive collector's editions, which contain an impressive amount of additional content. I still haven't completed my collection, which means I haven't played all of the bonus games. Since my PC crashed and burned in March and I'm operating on a new laptop, I decided it was time to get back to the games again. New installments of Dark Parables come out reliably once or twice a year, and there had been two new games released since I'd last checked.

Read more... )

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.

Links of interest

Work.

Friday, 7 July 2017 13:39
lea_hazel: Typewriter (Basic: Writing)
My work agenda is getting complicated. For one thing, I want to finish my editing, proofing, changes and additions to my route on BookSLEEPer so I can pass it on to the rest of the team, finalized. I have some story drafts laying around gathering dust, which I need to decide what to do with and/or where to submit. I've started putting together an outline for another game, in Twine form, and it's looking good but still needs a lot of work before I can treat it as proof of concept. I still need to get Wreath of Roses to an editor, too, and I have a short story critique I need to make a decision on.

Then there's all the books and games that need reviewing.

All in all, though, having a lot of work to do is actually a good sign. I just need to keep reminding myself of this.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
I tried out the prologue for the new Voltage game. It’s technically a period piece, which is mildly interesting, and it’s prohibition-era, which under different circumstances would probably intrigue me more. Except that there’s already The Blind Griffin, and while it’s very short and has no female love interests, I enjoyed it tremendously the three or so times I played it through. Plus, the heroine of TBG is just fantastic.

Anyway, the new game. Only the first few routes have made their appearance, but the prologue handily introduces all the many, many (many!) love interests. A little clumsily, but at least it’s super clear on what’s going on. There are about seven or eight male love interests, and one woman.

This is the story of a brash and outgoing girl of indeterminate age (if I had to guess I’d say no older than twenty) whose overprotective mother was worried about her hard-partying ways. So she sent her to live with her stern uncle. In Chicago. Which is clearly the best place in which to protect a young girl from the seedier aspects of life, such a good place that they even named a musical after it.

The MC is full of vim, and is meant to be quite clever and qualified. She doesn’t super sell it, though. It takes her the entire prologue to figure out what was immediately obvious to me as a reader, which is that her temperance campaigner uncle is secretly running a speakeasy under his shop. But anyway, she’s a lively and strong-willed girl, and that has its appeal. Runs a little close to “feisty” for my tastes but it’s hard to tell from such a short sample.

Verdict: I don’t know if I’ll get into it. Then again, it’s definitely better than L&L and I read almost a dozen episodes of that before I gave up. The background art is beautiful. The sprites are nice also, a style much more favorable I think than L&L’s had. It also remains to be seen whether there’s an overarching story to the different routes. Bottom line is, Astoria is still the best. If you can’t get more of that, fanfic is the only way to go.

Crossposted to Tumblr.

FFS Jam

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 10:57
lea_hazel: Kermit: OMG YAY *flail* (Feel: OMGYAY)
So, rumor has it that some people other than me entered their games into FFS Jam on itch.io. so here are some carefully curated links to that for your entertainment.

1. Penguin Quest, a cute and silly game about a penguin looking for friends on their birthday so they don't have to celebrate alone. It's definitely in the style of something, but don't ask me what. Browser playable.

2. Corgi Snow Day is exactly what it sounds like, a fluffy cuddle game to brighten your day and warm your heart. It's ultra-short, so I would recommend playing it every morning before getting out of bed.

3. Mao's Adventure, an exceptionally weird game that has to be experienced first-hand.

4. Nature of Colors and Shapes is a strange little puzzle game that involves dragging colorful blobs in certain trajectories. I found it soothing to play.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
After having been playing it pretty regularly for about a month and a half, I believe I might finally be ready to make my review of Kisses and Curses. There are 5-6 routes (depending on how you count) and I played two of them to the end, then quit halfway through another. Now I'm dipping my toes into a fourth with hopes of clarifying something about the reasons why I DNFed the last one. I've been trying to review this game for ages so getting this out of my system will be real nice.

In other game news, I made a thread for Wreath of Roses on the Lemma Soft forums, the mythological birthplace of so many OEL visual novels and dating sims. My concerns about text games and game writing and etc. are more or less validated, but it's okay.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
The game's full title is Niche: a Genetics Survival Game, and thank Darwin fish for that, because "niche game" is the worst Google search term in history.

Anyhoo. Niche is an eco-bio-something sim that charges the player with raising a pack of vague mammalian critters, collecting food, breeding, fighting off predators, and exploring their surroundings. The game world's science is a biological grab-bag of sorts. Differently colored tiles represent different "biomes" with different physical characteristics. Each critter has its own genome, where some traits divide to dominant versus recessive, and others mix interestingly, like fur color. A "mutation menu" lets the player pick specific traits to introduce into their newly-bred nichelings, rolling the dice and letting the odds determine the outcome. "Immunity genes" exist to discourage consanguinity. Later in the game's life cycle, "alpha/beta" status for critters was also introduced.

Read more... )

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
The world of Fallen London was yet again enriched this month with the release of the long-awaited Zubmariner DLC for Sunless Sea. A stretch goal of the Sunless Sea Kickstarter campaign, Zubmariner promised to expand on the hints of sub-aquatic travel lore already present in Fallen London, and take players to a deeper and darker place than ever before. As the surface of the Unterzee already features sea-urchins from space who speak the language of stars, and a malevolent living mountain that’s can’t be permanently killed, it seemed a tall order. Still, the early promotional materials were intriguing to say the least, so as a KS backer myself I was very ready to be hyped.

Read more... )

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)

The Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation runs a yearly competition for interactive fiction called IFComp. Though it’s been flourishing for many years, I hadn’t heard about it before this year, and too late to be able to plan and execute a worthy submission. Still, nothing’s preventing me from browsing the 50-odd submissions and looking for something to catch my eye. As a novice to IF I’ve only had hands-on experience with a very few platforms for writing or playing it. IFComp, though, exposes a whole array of techniques and manipulations that I wasn’t previously familiar with. Needless to say, this affected my play experience significantly.

Eight characters, a number, and a happy ending – K.G. Orphanides

This was the first entry I played. Eight characters is a parser game, where commands can be entered in the text box or through navigation links. Some of the commands are helpfully explained in the in-universe manuals. Some are fairly intuitive, once you catch the trick of it – another effect of my being a novice player. I fussed for a long time over trying to open a simple chest before I learned to adjust to the game’s expectations.

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.


lea_hazel: Neuron cell (Science: Brains)
This is basically for my own reference and not meant to reflect as any kind of fandom meta, or anything.

Read more... )
lea_hazel: A frowning white theater mask (Feel: Sad Face :()
I have a couple of short blog posts queued for this week and next. No big, substantive reviews. Part of me still wants to get that aromantic post out of my system but I'm not sure how well I'd weather the process. Meanwhile I have been playing a lot of 7KPP and Affairs of the Court, which I probably still should review, at some point.

Other things in my tabs: Why Being a Writer is an Exercise in Cognitive Dissonance from Kameron Hurley's blog (via Goodreads). Coffintree Hill has a whole bunch of magazines and anthologies calls for submissions. I have been reading a fair amount of Asexual Agenda posts and links, lately.

Soon I will have a cellphone again.
lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Genre: Fantasy)
I’ve been obsessed with mermaids since I first watched Disney’s The Little Mermaid when I was six years old. Reportedly, after the movie I menaced my father with complex natural science questions like ‘what do mermaids eat?’ Fairy tales never really stopped having an appeal for me, even as a teenager when I grew frustrated with their simplistic and formulaic nature. It’s a good thing, too, because studying fairy tales taught me more about writing than almost anything else. To this very day, there are some words that, if I see them on a book cover, will spark an immediate interest: "dragon", for example. Or "mermaid".

Read more... )

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
Masques and Murder is a dark historical revenge fantasy taking place in Renaissance Italy. The historical setting lends the game a richness of language, combining with the art and music to give the game its particular aesthetic. The plot is as grisly as requisite. You play a young woman whose family was murdered in a power-grab, where the combined goal of the game is to extract vengeance, as well as escape the prospect of marriage to one of your family's murderers. The game's atmosphere is meticulously put together.

Read more... )

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.
lea_hazel: Angry General Elodie (Genre: Games)
Queen at Arms, a strategy and romance visual novel, first became known to me under the working title 'The Silent Princess'. Thankfully this title was dropped pretty quickly since, despite being accurate in the literal sense, it gives an entirely false impression of the game's content. Read more... )

Ultimately I would say QAA is a compelling game, although not an excellent one. What recommends it is that it tries to bring something new to the table, and in the experience it can offer to the player. Despite multiple romance paths, achievements and hidden secrets to discover, it has limited replayability value. Recommended with reservations.

Crossposted to hazelgold.net.
lea_hazel: The outlook is somewhat dismal (Feel: Crash and Burn)
The first half of February was pretty intense.

I had one exam at the beginning of the month which I very nearly fucked up, but managed to rally for on time and will probably be all right on. I missed the deadline on the last two assignments on my other class. Hopefully though I have still accumulated enough credits to sit the exam, which is in a week.

I started a part-time job.

And I'm starting another writing workshop.

And next month I start my next math class. Joy.

Meanwhile I have been plugging away at a few ongoing projects, a Twine game and a card game (yes, real paper cards in your hand). I have a project in Hebrew which I've been working on translating. And I have a blog post drafted that needs proofing before I post it next week.

I am reading Seanan McGuire's One Salt Sea and I got pretty close to the end before stalling for mysterious reasons. I've also picked up Inkheart, which I've had my eye on but hesitant about for some time. And I've been playing Queen at Arms.

This week, though, I've mostly been dedicated to Fallen London on account of the Feast of the Exceptional Rose. And the fact that I'm finally making progress on becoming a notable person. There's a certain unusual joy to playing an agender poet and detective who's "irresistible, compelling and sagacious" as the game phrases it. Hell, playing an agender anything is pretty compelling.

It is needful.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 16:07
lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)
This version is which links. It's like the fangirl trash equivalent of a bucket list.

This is literally an HTML table of 7KPP shipping options. That's it. )
lea_hazel: I am surrounded by tiny red hearts (Feel: Love)
I submitted another story today. Something pretty low-key, I had a story ready that just needed some hefty editing. Fortunately I keep a Word doc full of submission opportunities and their deadlines so now I can set myself another deadline. Since working under crunch time seems to be the only way to force myself to consistently produce new material.

I am still waiting to hear back from another publisher about another submission, and I have some feedback material I have put off going through while I was in an editing haze. And next week I am (hopefully) starting a part time temp job, which will take one load off my mind.

My most recent review got some pretty good attention! This pleases me a lot. I, uh. I also finished reading Sorcerer to the Crown. Yeah. Yes, it took about three days, maybe less. Thoughts forthcoming, of course, and I also have a post about Solstice due once I've edited it to my satisfaction. Also, I'd really like to post it on the day of release.

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lea_hazel: The Little Mermaid (Default)
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