Imaginary Funerals

Avery Mcdaldno recently launched a new game journalism website, Imaginary Funerals. It has a diverse (and still diversifying) cast of contributors, and a candid, personal feeling which I think is really special.

Imaginary Funerals is a collection of voices, talking about story games, queer games, play, immersion, and related ideas. It’s a space to share personal experiences, new thinking about games, and free games that have caught our attention.

(from http://imaginaryfunerals.com/about/)

I had the pleasure of writing one of the site’s first articles, “The Secret”. Please have a read, and be sure to check the other articles—there have been some very insightful and beautiful things written there since.

Paintings

Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in cast iron (vegan)

Here’s my recipe for a 12″ Chicago-style deep dish, which seems to serve two or three. The crust ends up about 3/4″ thick on the bottom, and I can’t eat more than half of one without pain or regret.

It takes about an hour and uses a 3″ deep cast iron pan. You could probably use something else. I used vegan margarine and cheese, but you can exclude these, and probably most of the oil too, if you’d prefer.

Photo of a cheeseless pizza with golden crust and crispy browned veggie toppings

Preheat 450.

2 cups flour, 2.25 tsp yeast, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, almost 1 cup water, stir with a fork until you can pick it up without it sticking to your hands a lot. If it’s too sticky, rub flour on your face and put some salt in your eyes and go back in time to warn yourself to use less water.

Knead for a few minutes, slather the whole thing in oil, knead more, and flatten it out. I just picked it up and started flattening it with my hands and let gravity do the rest. Toss it around if you want. I won’t tell anybody.

Oil the pan and press and shape the dough all the way up the insides. Let it sit over the burner with the vent tube or near whichever geothermal features happen to be presenting themselves in your kitchen at the time to rise for a bit while you chop toppings.

When all the toppings are chopped, lightly spread some margarine on the crust put the pizza in the oven while you fry whatever needs frying in a different pan. 3-7 minutes?

For toppings I sauteed mushrooms, zucchini, spinach, garlic, chopped tomatoes, and slices of Smart Dogs chorizo (as pepperoni). I used a ton of capers too, but left them out until bake time.

Clear off a region of the pan and plop about a half-cup of tomato paste in the pan to warm it up. Cover the tomato lump in red pepper flakes, oregano and basil.

Pull the crust out of the oven, spread the tomato paste on the crust without squishing it too much, dump in and spread the toppings around, add a sprinkle of Daiya if you like, bake for 7-10 more minutes.

Cut and serve. Unless it’s really hot or it starts falling apart, if you see someone using a fork, you may want to keep an eye on them.

Another art post!

I just found a bunch of drawings I hadn’t posted here!

#1GAM: One Game A Month

I’m joining 1GAM: http://www.onegameamonth.com/lalanl

It’s a bit intimidating but very exciting!

Ludography

ludography

I’ve started a page to track my complete ludography.

Sorry About Forever

sorryAboutForever

Last Month, I submitted “Sorry About Forever” to the Ludum Dare 28 game jam.

The theme this time was “You only get one.” I expected to see a lot of permadeath games. Most games like this make you lose all progress when you fail. If you want to keep playing, you have to start from the beginning. I decided to try making one with a much stricter interpretation—if you fail, you can never play again. Ever.

You can play it here: http://lalanl-ld28.herokuapp.com
Use arrow keys to run(left & right) and jump (up).

The one-play mechanism uses a technique called browser fingerprinting, which can pretty reliably identify your browser without IP Addresses or cookies.

One-file Barebones HTML5 Game Example

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http://ivybaumgarten.com/html5/

I’ve been asked a few times by friends and family members to teach some programming, usually, but not always, for games.

I’ve always wanted to, but I’ve never been sure whether I could teach someone who doesn’t already program how to code a game.

But to get prepared, and to help any programmers interested in HTML5 games, I wrote a kind of one-file example thingy from scratch.

Also, with Ludum Dare coming up, I thought it might be useful for someone interested in trying HTML5.

And Now Imagine

Last weekend, I attended Darius Kazemi‘s Bot Summit (via IRC while watching the livestream).

I generally expect to feel out of place at Gatherings of Knowledgeable People, but everyone was so friendly and patient with me and my questions. I met a lot of really cool people there. I would have liked to keep going, but hangouts are limited to four hours.

When it ended, I felt inspired and thought I should try making a bot. My previous ones had all been either in Django or on AppEngine, but after Darius told me Heroku was free for single-thread apps, I really wanted to try it. 

I went with Node.js because javascript is my favorite language. That’s for another time, though. :)

My first idea was to use Markov chains to generate tweets from the text of any tweet that contained “fuck that” or “fuck you” and end it with “fuck that and fuck you”. I thought it would end up at least a little bit funny, but my searching yielded not much that I’d actually want repeated ever, so I’m really glad that one didn’t pan out. Except for some rare, obviously sarcastic tweets, it wasn’t really something I would have been okay with signing my name to.

I don’t want an angry bot. I want a happy bot. A bot like  hanging out with Mr. Rogers over one-too-many cups of warm sake. So I tried “Imagine” and received  a lot of happy, silly, or deep tweets. It felt like a really nice base to work with.

I got some really surprisingly good, funny, or deep results to begin with. Except after not too long, I realized I needed to exclude some really popular things to make sure the material was diverse (and slightly less graphic—One Direction and Bieber fans have REALLY active imaginations).

“Imagine your daughter in the future. Now imagine how perfect this moment was”

 

“Imagine the plot twist. Now imagine a single, dramatic tear rolling down my cheek as I stare lovingly at the charger”

 

“Imagine a ridiculously good looking so-and-so. Now imagine me naked”

 

“Imagine having a relationship like Mila Kunis and JT does in Friends with benefi ts :) . Now imagine Dragons”

 

Haha! This last one was just so non-sequitur. It was perfect. But then the dragons didn’t stop.

I didn’t know the AMAs were happening, and I had never heard of the band Imagine Dragons.

Image preview

So I thought I’d change the filter again, which should have been pretty easy to do.  I pushed a new copy to Heroku.

More dragons somehow.  Three publishes later… there are still dragons everywhere. What. WHAT. There’s no way I’m that bad with regular expressions.

/d+r+a+g+o+n+/i

 

 

 

Publishing the code to a new Heroku app took care of the pesky dragons. I was a little sad to block them entirely, but as soon as people stop talking about the AMAs, I would like to see some dragons flying around out there again.

It’s been running like that without any real problems since then, and some very nice people have said some very nice things. I wasn’t really expecting anyone but me to like it, honestly, so these comments came as an enormous surprise. It meant a lot to hear that yeah, some of my ideas are good sometimes. I remember thinking earlier today, “I really hadn’t planned on spending my lunchbreak happy-crying on Twitter, but I’ll definitely take it!”

I wasn’t sure if it was okay to feel so attached to my bot, so I felt guilty being so happy about how it had turned out. But it kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? My bot is a piece of my imagination, floating around on its own, going on and on about boy bands and fairy tales, and putting together things it finds in surprising ways and holding them up for me to put on the fridge.

 

So that’s the story of why the bot’s icon says Dragons. I have no good explanation for why I chose Penny, except that I was looking through some old G+ posts and found a picture I took while watching Inspector Gadget and thought it looked mindblown, as I hoped the people reading my bot’s tweets would be. I thought about changing it back once Penny’s dragon obsession stopped, but I left it because I like the idea of bots having personalities and obsessions, even if it is only because of my mistakes.


@AndNowImagine
#botALLY

Ghost

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My Halloween 2013 costume.

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