Shader’s First Night Out

The Images in this post are all things made in Shader by the people at the New Years party. Sorry for the bad quality iPhone videos, no screen-caps for this game!

Shader is playable! I wrote about this kinda weird project I’ve embarked on here and now it’s a playable thing, it’s not quite done but it’s pretty cool.

It’s a game that will only ever exist on a single laptop. I’m writing it on a cheap netbook I bought here in Buenos Aires and when it’s done I will destroy the usb/internet/bluetooth capabilities of the netbook and super-glue it’s harddrive in place so Shader can’t get off the netbook (at this moment it’s still un-saobtaged so I’m writing this blog post from it).

In Shader you manipulate an image to make some specific visual effect using buttons and sliders. It can also be played sandbox-style to make whatever weird, trippy visuals you want. It has about six levels right now that that kind of ease you into the experience. The sandbox mode works really well too, that’s my favorite way to play. I think Daniel Benmurgui and Agustín Cordes both like the levels more, it may depend on how much you’ve had to drink which you prefer.

Sarah and I celebrated new years 2014 in Buenos Aires at the house of Tembac with his friends. It was a great night and we didn’t get home until 6:00am which is the second time that’s happened to us in Buenos Aires, these people like fun! New Years in BA is a lot like New Years in Canada except that everybody spills into the street because it’s summer and warm then lights off fireworks. It was amazing to see all these little kids running around at 2:00am lighting off explosives. Most of the fireworks people were lighting off are illegal in Canada because kids are always blowing their fingers off, thankfully no one around us was hurt and everyone had a good time. Turns out fireworks can be a really lovely expression of community.

After the fireworks died down (3am or so?) we headed back inside and I pulled out Shader and nestled it onto a table among the wine and beer bottles. Everybody had a go, we always played in sandbox mode because that’s more fun for the audience of people watching. It worked a lot like the fireworks had, there was always something interesting going on on screen and when someone found a particularly good effect it elicited appreciative oohs and ahhs.

It was really cool that I was there, right next to Shader, and that I will always be right there. It’s fun to point to a button and tell someone “this makes it go faster”, like it’s a three way conversation between me and the player and the game. When you’re playtesting commercial games you have to never explain or give encouragement to the player because you won’t be there to do those things when it’s released. With shader I can suggest things and laugh appreciatively at the cool things they do, if they get confused I can steer them in the right direction.  It’s like I’m part of the game and I really like that. The joke is often made that you should ship a copy of yourself with every game, with Shader I’m actually doing it.

Maybe when you get to play it you’ll be able to feel that night when you press the keys, the carefree night of explosives and friends staying up late playing video games.


 

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