Via this tweet by @webbedspace, this month I found myself watching a couple of streamers play through this absolutely wild Mario 64 romhack (streamed in 3 parts by spaghoner and videochess: part 1, part 2, part 3). If you take a look at this incomplete (and not entirely correct?) map of the game that they were trying to navigate by, you can maybe get a sense for why I was so taken by it. The way the hack turns the game inside out and duplicates rooms and hubs and has the player continually stumbling across new spaces that loop back to old spaces is just... It feels like someone binged Mario 64 over a couple of days, had intense, nonsensical dreams about it as a result, then turned those dreams into a romhack. I love it.
So there's no way I was going to create a vast, elaborate 3D platformer in the space of a week or so, but I thought I could maybe lean on that confusing, tangled map to create something with a similar sense of discovery and interconnection, hence a tangled land. It's far from the prettiest thing I've made, but if you play it it'll quickly become clear that the bulk of my time was spent on other parts of the game.
It's basically a map for you to uncover. You can travel between places using the number keys (usually; there are occasional exceptions to that rule). If you hit a number key that connects to another place, both the connection and that place will be revealed. And there are secrets.
The game will not tell you how many places there are, or give you any indication that you may have missed something in a particular area. I feel that numbers and checklists change how we experience games, they turn them into chores ("I still have this many things to do"). I want a tangled land to feel like you are stumbling across something unexpected. It's okay if you don't find everything; it's probably more interesting if that's the case.
That said, I had to build an editor to actually make the game, which is accessible via F1. So if you're interested in building something similar, you can use the built-in editor to effectively swap out
mapData.shh for a map of your own. Just bear in mind that switching over to the editor will reveal the entire map, so it does count as a pretty major spoiler.
Controls: escape: quit; number keys: travel to connected node; mouse wheel: zoom; right-click-drag: pan; /help: in case you get stuck; F1: edit mode
A horror story deeply rooted in the horror of modern Britain, Tell Me I'm Worthless very much deserves all the praise it's gotten.
I love the music from 6:41 to 8:45 in this MSX demo.
A fascinating essay on elves by Lyta Gold, spinning out from the machine elves that seem to appear so frequently in DMT hallucinations.
This Kathryn Joseph album lodged itself in my head this month.
"The question I am asked most frequently by hearing and sighted people is “How can I make my [website, gallery exhibit, film, performance, concert, whatever] accessible to you?” Companies, schools, nonprofits, and state and federal agencies approach me and other DeafBlind people all the time, demanding, “How do we make it more accessible?”
Such a frenzy around access is suffocating. I want to tell them, Listen, I don’t care about your whatever. But the desperation on their breath holds me dumbfounded. The arrogance is astounding. Why is it always about them? Why is it about their including or not including us? Why is it never about us and whether or not we include them?"
It'll be a new year when you read this, but I think we're all a bit wary of placing too much hope on the turning of the year by this point. 2021 was a hard year, and 2022 is probably going to be hard again. All the same, Spring will be here before too long, and despite our best attempts we've not managed to kill off all the plants yet. There's still bluebells and blossom and warmer days to look forward to. I'll write again soon.