Monthly Archives: November 2016

Marketforce! – Free Download

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New free game to download from HUMUNGO Games!

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Marketforce! is a game is about fighting emails, solving a mystery, and getting to the fourth floor. I made it as a parting gift for my colleagues when I left a B2B conference company called “Marketforce”. Now it’s available to download!

It features an original score by Mungo Tatton-Brown.

Download the game here.

Any likeness to real people is coincidental. Comments and feedback are welcome.

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Why Video Games are Better than Reality

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Noisy bar.

In a noisy bar, I’m introduced to a woman who’s a colleague of a friend. We talk for a minute or so, she seems very nice, asks if I want to go outside and smoke. I consider going outside, bumming a cigarette, spluttering, then think this unwise. Instead say “I don’t smoke, but I’d happily go outside and stand next to you”. She then grabs her coat and goes outside.
 
I consider my comment to have been a bit weird and a social faux pas, so I imagine that her leaving was not an invitation for me to follow. Instead I relate the uninspiring story of what just happened to a friend, who says that her leaving was an invitation for me to follow. I then wonder whether I’ve made a different faux pas by not following her outside. Nothing terrible, but either way I’m now weird enough in her mind that I should probably make no attempt to speak to her again.

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Do you feel the faux pas?

These kind of social failures happen to everyone at times, especially during first impressions. Someone missteps, misreads, miscommunicates or mistimes something and then a possible human connection is lost completely.
 
When designing video games we try to avoid these situations in two ways.
 
The first is by telegraphing everything to the audience through as many channels as possible. In normal life you rely on listening to someone’s words, as well as their expression, their tone, their body language. If you’re a Mungo then you can read psychology books and books on gestures and expressions to prepare yourself for this. You can also draw upon your acting lessons. But the clues are not always obvious and you’re liable to miss some, especially in a noisy bar after having half a bottle of port and a pint of cider. So in the moment you can make a snap misjudgement.
 
In games, you don’t just have to rely on your senses to pick up the other character’s cues. The game designers can communicate with you directly. We can stick a massive arrow over that person’s head, and put a tutorial note on your screen saying “follow her”. Or we can give you a pop-up which says “she didn’t like that”. At crucial decision-points these kind of extra-narrative clues appear all the time. They’re SUPER USEFUL.
 
The second thing we can do is make everything reversible. Players hate losing stuff forever. Go back in time. Revert to checkpoint. Load a save. Just start the exact same conversation again and choose a different option. Easy. Not lost forever. No regrets. You can be the social interaction perfectionist you want to be in the outside world.

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The best conversations are like this photo. Except the camera’s band. That could still be neater. Gimme a sec…

And that is why video games are better than reality.

Romance is not a quest

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Good afternoon my friends.

In popular culture, romance is generally portrayed as a struggle and a triumph over adversity. Character A wants character B but can’t have them because x stands in their way. The story is about A’s battle and ultimate victory over x. When A wins we cry and smile and laugh and feel happy for them.

This basic story idea is appealing for a number of reasons that I will not go into here. It is also sometimes truthful – sometimes one must overcome obstacles to make a connection.

But while struggles within relationships can be real, our model of romance does not need to be based on struggle. Romance is not the same as drama. Romantic love is often calm. It does not need to constantly be moving forward. It involves listening, making time, understanding, and supporting another.

I worry that sometimes we build up a notion that love is a quest, like slaying a dragon, and this can lead to a number of failings, such as:

Rushing one’s self
Rushing someone else
Seeking out conflict
Perfectionism
Sticking it out unnecessarily in uncomfortable circumstances
Encouraging others to stick it out in uncomfortable circumstances

When such forcefulness doesn’t help anyone.

Instead, we should be at peace, and follow what feels pleasant. Or something. I haven’t worked that bit out.

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Jaguar – Free to Play Online

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Jaguar opens in busy London traffic.

Hi folks! I hope you like the new set-up! I thought you might be interested in checking out the first ever game I made, back in a two week rush in October 2015. It’s called Jaguar and it’s an interactive short story. Before you download, I want you to know that it is far from perfect and I am going to improve it. It’s best to set aside forty minutes and play it from start to finish all in one go.

Right. That’s enough of me! Play the game here. Download and it will run in your browser. Enjoy!

If you have any thoughts on the game, let me know!

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Go on. Click the link you sexy human.