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Episode 1

Chris' Play

Notes A

Episode 2

Chris' Play

Notes B

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5


























00:00   Introductions

00:13   “The Nextwork” was Game.Play.Critique's temporary name during the development of the Starseed Observatory.

00:21   Daniel's game analysis blog, Daniel Primed.

00:32   The book is called Game Design Companion: A Critical Analysis of Wario Land 4. The bookazine is called Adventures in Games Analysis.

00:50   For more information on Chris and his portfolio of games

02:26   Prior Knowledge of Starseed Pilgrim

02:38   GDC 2013 Experimental Gameplay Workshop

02:47   Jonathan Blow's Twitter comment on Starseed Pilgrim

03:11   General Thoughts

04:55   Interpretive quality

05:00   Horse ebooks reference

06:09   The thing you most liked

06:25   Camera tracking

06:56   Chris guesses what Daniel thought of the game

08:00   Daniel responds to Chris's assertion that he doesn't like hard puzzles.

08:59   Chris guesses right. Daniel explains why he loathes Starseed Pilgrim.

11:06   Dan ties their different learning styles to Final Fantasy VI.

12:06   Learning styles and game preferences

12:40   Connection to Antichamber.

13:20   Learning histories. Humanities vs the sciences.







#level design





































Notes by Chris Johnson written after recording Play Session 1 in video playlist above.



To recap what I know now.

- There appears to be two worlds, one world seems to exist inside the structure I'm growing(alternate world) the other is on the outside of this structure(normal world).

- If I jump into the black squares then I swap from the normal world to the alternate one.

- As I plant things hearts are left in the structure. I can only access these hearts in the alternate world.

- The black squares seem to be slow eating away at the normal world.

- The player has several seeds, when planted these have different results

- I am a bit foggy but:

    - Orange seeds seem to grow out in one direction from where I plant them. The blocks that are cleared around the orange seed or/and the position from which I plant the seed seem to influence what direction it grows.

    - The green seed grows out into the free space around it. It kind of looks like it uses a flood fill algorithm but only fills to a limited extent

    - The camo green seeds halve the players jumping height. The seem to grow out in pairs from one axis depending upon what space around them is free

    - The blue seeds allow you to jump higher

    - Not entirely sure what the red seeds do. I think they enhance the effects of the existing seeds. Some combinations of red seed and other seeds make the world swap to the alt world.

- When I enter the alternate world I can collect keys, these keys seem to be placed in the lone black blocks. So it seems to be in my interest to link all of these black blocks together even though they eat away at the world.

- When I enter the alternate world there seems to be no way to swap back. Instead I must return home.

- It seems to be the case that in the second screen of the game, the number of pink tiles I clear has influenced the number of seeds I have

- The distribution of seeds is randomised but I get a queue of the next three which are known

- I wonder about the first screen. I wonder if there is a way to actually get out of the level confines by walking across the top of the level or something like that.































00:00   Play Session 1 see video above

00:17   Initial hurdles

01:00   Chris identifies harvesting seeds from pink blocks as an early stumbling block.

01:25   Chris's initial struggles with understanding the flipworld

- Play Session 1

- Becomes trapped in a box (3:28)

- Falls to death because of scrolling in flipworld (7:30)

- Finds a 3-key lock, but no keys and screen scrolling problem again (8:45)

- Forfeits progress in flip world because of fear of scrolling death (11:56)

- Sent into the flip world by detonator block, but has no keys to exit (15:05 and 17:05)

- Richard's article, The White Abyss (Teaching and Tutorials), discusses the roots of Chris's learning problems in more detail.

02:00   “Key warp” is referred to as a “star block”. see glossary.

03:23   Negative reinforcement

03:50   The affects of randomization on learning. Richard's article, The White Abyss discusses randomness in more detail.

04:34   Picking up patterns in the design.

05:10   Is there enough tutorial?

05:28   Consciously making games difficult to learn

07:05   Adaptation skills. (see "DKART skills" in glossary)

07:15   Directed learning vs. self-discovery

08:27   Artists are immune to criticism

08:56   Bad design vs. vision

10:45   Seed Design and Randomness

11:19   As discussed in Jonathan's articles, Pilgrim's Progress, seed growth is random, but within certain constraints.










































Notes by Chris Johnson written after recording Play Session 2 (NOT shown in video playlist above).



- The darkness looks like it continues to stretch out across blocks that I've previously removed. It does this straight away so you can't remove yourself from it.

- I noticed that there was a different black box with stars in it. This one had smaller like 5 smaller stars, looks like it just transport you to the other world.

- The red block is a timed switch that flips you over into the alternative world. You can set it off yourself without planting seeds into it.

- The spawning of the star blocks appears to be random

- The arrows on the blocks appear to be important. I think they enhance the growth or suggest a pattern of growth for some other seeds

- If you plant seeds into the pink soil then the plants won't grow.

- Strategically it's good to plant the pink seed as far away from the darkness growth as possible but you need to remember that it will eventually be consumed.


- So far this game is still pretty confusing. I think I'm reaching out further but it's hard to say. I have 10 seeds now I'm not sure if I had more than that before. Maybe the keys increase my seed count.


- Currently wondering if something is grown out of sight does it work better, doesn't appear to be so

- There is a sign in the alternative world with 3 key holes. I think I need to collect three keys and then get there which seems quite tricky

- With the bomb block. If you set it off and then run away and are a certain distance from it then it doesn't swap you over to the dark world

- Destroying blocks doesn't seem to be that useful

- The purple block can be destroyed if you are just near it, I think.


- There isn't much instruction with this game. I'm quite lost about what exactly I should be doing and what I'm doing right.


Maybe the interactions are too subtle for me. I'm not sure. Will keep playing for another half an hour but I'm finding it tricky to know if I'm actually getting further with this game.


Notes written after recording Play Session 3 in video playlist above.


- I think it's a pretty good session of gameplay. This is shortly after I've discovered how to get more seeds.

- One thing confuses me here. I'm not sure on the best way to destroy a block to my left or right.
















00:09   Droqen ended up contributing significantly to the observatory. Yay!

00:10   Why Chris didn't record all his play sessions. (See tab Chris' Play Notes B)

01:11   Should harvesting pink blocks have been made more overt?

02:11   Filtering out the people who don't really care.

02:32   Increpare website

03:07   Playstyles, strategies, and building horizontally vs vertically Jonathan's articles, Pilgrim's Progress, covers horizontal and vertical seed strategies in great depth.

07:45   Metaphors and the tension created by the void

08:50   Handling pink seed growth when moving out horizontally

09:33   Pink seed strategies: pink stairs and pink ladder

11:07   Crutch strategies

12:25   Chris refers to the Orange pilgrim

14:13   How does the void divide its energy over several strands of blocks. I presume that it just splits paths and continues at the same rate dependent on the blocks?






















00:00   Play Session 3, Play Session 4, Play Session 5, and Play Session 6.

00:10   Do you blame yourself for failing?

00:55   Reckless vs conservative playstyle

Examples of Chris's more reckless playstyle.

Play Session 2

DIGGED to death (2:30)

Careful of those tan blocks (7:03)

Retreating to the void (23:47)

Careful of those tan blocks 2 (24:25)

Play Session 4

Retreating to void 2 (2:00)

Play Session 6

Forget about those pink blocks (0:50, 1:20, 1:42)

03:03   Can't fault the artist, but random elements derail learning, so whose fault is it when the player doesn't understand?

04:27   In Richard's piece, The White Abyss Randomness, he argues that Starseed Pilgrim has too many random elements.

05:55   Player's responsibility over their own learning.

08:36  The joy of finding your first island.

09:11   Consciously pursuing the 3-key locks.




















00:00   Play Session 7, Play Session 8, and Play Session 9. We ended up letting Play Session 9 run for a bit longer instead of separating it out into its own video.

00:12   Chris's large haul of starseeds (in Play Session 8)

00:12   Tutorial protracting game length.

01:34   Challenge Rooms.

03:56   Advanced Techniques.

04:04   Chris riding the pink towers was cut from the recording.

04:27   Leaving hearts in pursuit of the 3-key lock (in Play Session 8)

04:52   Burrowing through red block cluster.

08:04   Other Pilgrims.

08:46   Pilgrim's and preferences.

09:26   Chris falls one seed short of surmounting red block cluster and then wastes the subsequent orange seed.

10:39   Challenge Rooms.

11:58   Speeding up process to reach challenge rooms.

12:31   Main Takeaways.

14:19   Starseed Pilgrim as a reflection of our differences as players.

15:11   Starseed Pilgrim 2.

15:36   Chris is referring to Richard Terrell's Critical-Casts.

15:57   End




















00:18   Chris's background in games development.

00:18   Chris's portfolio of games.

00:36   Chris's Flash/Actionscript games.

00:42   Said game is called Polution Solution.

02:07   Expand website.

02:32   The Cave later became Moirai and went on to get more than 10,000 downloads and significant press coverage. A post-mortem on the game.

02:37   Vision and artistic interest in games.

03:34   Jonathan Blow Wikipedia page and Alexander Bruce web profile.

05:28   The Indie mindset.

06:00   The Swapper and Antichamber.

06:14   Different, personal, and interesting.

06:37   When you play, do you have a designer mindset?

08:20   Picking up smart ideas

08:54   Sticky Note Shooter.

09:45   Cactus's games website.

10:13   Smart Ideas in Starseed Pilgrim

10:47   Terry Cavanagh Distractionware blog.

11:38   Subconcious influences.

12:56  Is Starseed Pilgrim artistic?

15:16   Looking for artistic value and meaning in games.

17:15   Going in with an open mind.

18:40   Presenting Starseed Pilgrim to the public.

20:15   Teaching as fascism and drawing the line.

23:29   End.

Twin Perspectives

by: Daniel Johnson & Chris Johnson

March 3, 2014

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