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The Games Are Here! Announcing The 2012 HugoComp
Jan 4th, 2012 by Ice Cream Jonsey

Welcome! The games are released! Here is everything you need to know for getting the 2012 Hugo MiniComp games.

UPDATE! What the %!$# is this but more games? See below for the two other additions!

Hugo is a language you can use to make text adventures. Hugo games work on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. You just need to get the right interpreter. We are recommending the interpreter Hugor to play Hugo games. If you don’t have a Hugo interpreter, just click that link to download one for Windows, Linux or Mac OS X!

Here are the games for the Hugo MiniComp. Click each title to download the games individually.

Party Arty, Man of La Munchies by Jonathan Blask
World Builder by Paul Lee
The Hugo Clock by Jason McWright
Spinning by Rob O’Hara
Tales of a Clockwork Boy by Marius Müller
Retro-Nemesis by Robb Sherwin

And a game called Teleporter Test by Paul Robinson that introduces teleportation to Hugo players everywhere! Screw you, Cardinal Directions!

Perhaps you are on Windows and would like the Hugor interpreter and all the games packaged together? Download this.

If you’d like to make your own games in Hugo, there is a forum on Jolt Country where Hugonauts will be happy to answer questions and provide help. There is also a wiki called Hugo by Example that has lots of examples of Hugo code.

If you enjoyed these Hugo games and would like to play more, the Interactive Fiction Database is a great place to look. Click here for all listed Hugo games.

Thanks for playing the games!

Bull (2008) by Kent Tessman
Dec 19th, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

I am posting this like an entire year late. I loved Bull. I want you to love it, too. But I have to confess that I have spent every night for the last ten years using Kent Tessman’s game development system (“Hugo”) to make text games. So if Kent wasn’t so good at the one thing, I’d have written earlier about how much I enjoyed the other thing.

I am also troubled by the fact that my refrigerator has been broken for three weeks and I’m really running out of ways to combine the only things I have left: dry cereal and scotch. The refrigerator in Kent’s text adventure “Future Boy!” is the closest thing I have to one in my real life. (Kent not only wrote and directed Bull, he created a text adventure programming language called Hugo and made two of my favorite games with it.) I’m not capable of writing about the movie he made without this (waves hands) ALL of this becoming an egregious conflict of interest. But who cares. Journalism is dead, anyway. Bull is an engaging, gripping ride that gets better with every viewing. …And the fact that I code about text people saying horrible things to each other in the development environment he gave the world doesn’t affect that.

There are two problems with most independent movies. They are shot terribly and the actors suck. So I want to stress how nice, how professional Bull looks. The CG is just outstanding. (Kent not only wrote and directed Bull, created the programming language Hugo and wrote two of my favorite games, but did the computer graphics for Bull.) It’s well-lit. It’s filled to bursting with hot chicks. I would be happy if I never saw another movie set in Los Angeles or New York, so this one being set in Toronto is a pleasing change of pace. And the actors really aren’t aware that we expect them to seem like they are reading their lines off cue cards written in Comic Sans. The delivery is so good! Benjamin “Pinback” Parrish once said that all independently-made movies ought to have two small information boxes on the back of the DVD slipcase: The “running time” box and the “feels like” box. Most indie movies would go something like “Running Time: 88 Minutes, Feels Like: 244.” But Bull, Christ — it changes everything I’ve ever thought about an indie film. Everything. It’s clear before the conclusion of the first scene, where a desk falls out of a building, that Bull is a real movie that demands to be judged by the same criteria that all movies with budgets in the millions are regularly judged on. (Oh, Kent not only wrote, directed and did the CG for Bull, he created Hugo, the games Future Boy! and Guilty Bastards and wrote a video processing program called Alien Ray for his movie, for post-production VFX work.)

There wasn’t a single line of dialog that was awkwardly delivered. No scene had a distracting component that broke the “magic” of viewing. There was no part where the viewer suspects that something crucial was cut from the film, or that a scene was re-worked due to budgetary limitations. The most sincere compliment I can give it is that I “forgot” Kent wrote and directed it about fifteen minutes into it. This is the standard that all indie movies ought to strive for. That all movies ought to strive for.

***

I have spent a lot of time talking about the movie in relation to its peers. I’d like to stress that it stands on its own. The script is charming. For instance, I absolutely loved the following line, delivered by a guy on his deathbed:

“… I made so much goddamn money”

(Part of it is the dude’s delivery.) If I find myself in a stock scene in a movie, all I ask is that I’m given something new. People have been dying in hospitals in movies for a hundred years. Don’t look this up, but I’m pretty sure that there’s a bit in Birth of a Nation where a guy dies when the abacus keeping him alive locks up. But at no point while watching Bull did I think, “psh, I’ve seen this before.” Take Jay Valentine’s early speech about luck – I am easily led and agreeable, so I wasn’t expecting Valentine to come out against luck. I would have expected just the opposite. Even though that’s been my experience in life – all the advantages I’ve ever received have been due to luck and, geez, little else. So this scene was really sort of speaking to me. If I feel a movie is operating on the same wavelength that I am, even for just a bit, then I really buy in to the whole experience.

Craig Lauzon, playing Charlie (our protagonist) did the best job of any actor that I’ve ever seen in a production of this scale. I really hope that Craig and Kent get the chance to make movies together for a long time. His character has enough going on where he captures our attention throughout the entire piece. I really enjoyed the set design when Charlie meets Maury Chaykin. The way the camera was pulled back and the way the light streamed in reminded me of when the robot Sean Young gets the Voight-Kampf test in Blade Runner, but it may have been the video game that had the similar set, I can’t exactly recall. At any rate, I liked the set and I think the featurette showed that there was a lot of CG there, which blew me away. It was a fun scene, and reinforced that our dearly departed Mr. Chaykin could have been equally successful as an action screen star, with the beat-down he delivers in that bit.

Kent consistently nails scenes that draw from the shared consciousness of our culture. I happen to think that there isn’t much worse than going to an office party by yourself. It’s usually depressing and awkward. The experience that Charlie and Penny (Lindsey Deluce) have at their office party is depressing and they both show that they are quite susceptible to feeling awkward. And Charlie’s nearly-constant feeling of being in over his head at his job (and recognizing that fact) come across really well. We have every reason to feel bad for the guy and root for him no matter what happens.

One of the reasons this has taken forever to write is because Bull is a difficult movie to avoid spoiling. I really can’t talk in depth about what’s going on without ruining everything, and I desperately want you to see it. You can get it here through Amazon.

And I have to say that I loved the logo on the unturned cards in the Solitaire game.

Bull by Kent Tessman, on Netflix
Mar 21st, 2010 by Ice Cream Jonsey

My blog post about what Kent did with Bull is coming shortly, but you can add it to your queue here: http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Bull/70123250 – I completely recommend it. If I understand how it all works, if enough people queue it, Netflix will order it, which is a good thing because it’s a great film.

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