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The Snowfield
January 30, 2012 2:24 AM   Subscribe

The Snowfield You are a lone soldier wandering the aftermath of a great battle. It is the dead of winter and you won’t last long in the cold. But you are not alone.

Runs in the browser using the free Unity plugin on Windows XP and later, and Mac OSX 10.6 and later.

Via Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
posted by GallonOfAlan (25 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Ich kann nicht mehr!!"

...I grew weary of the conditions so I pulled a Titus Oates and walked as far as I could into the blizzard. Spoilerish:

On the plus side, I found one of the edges of the map. The bad news is that it's an impassable canyon and I died a few seconds after reaching it.

So it goes...
posted by lemuring at 3:08 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I grew weary of the conditions so I pulled a Titus Oates

According to the legend, Captain Oates grew weary of being a burden to his mates, he understood they were risking their own lives by caring for him, and he sacrificed himself for their sake by leaving the tent and disappearing undramatically into a blizzard saying only as he left "I am just going outside and may be some time."

That's not growing weary of the weather conditions; that's just plain old badass.

As Scott recorded in his diary "We knew that poor Oates was walking to his death, but though we tried to dissuade him, we knew it was the act of a brave man and an English gentleman".

Please kindly credit the man properly. He's earned it.
posted by three blind mice at 3:31 AM on January 30, 2012 [37 favorites]


This does weird things on my Firefox unfortunately: whenever I click on the game, it stops running. When I then click somewhere else in the window, it resumes.
posted by Zarkonnen at 4:19 AM on January 30, 2012


Chrome says: "No plug-in available to display this content."
posted by SNACKeR at 5:01 AM on January 30, 2012


If anything I was celebrating his last moments. Growing weary of the conditions and the referencing of the Oates walk into the blizzard were meant as separate clauses, but I used the wrong conjunction. The topic is definitely FPP-worthy.
posted by lemuring at 5:08 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I somehow got the first guy to follow me, after he dropped the rifle and booze I gave him. He's sitting by the fire, and I've stoked it. Other people just stand out in the cold... any other useful action?
posted by Meatbomb at 5:27 AM on January 30, 2012


According to the RPS comments, there are 6 people that it is possible to save Meatbomb.
posted by pharm at 5:34 AM on January 30, 2012


I ended up (I think?) ending the game by saving five people. Most of them just followed me, but the praying man wouldn't move until I found a crucifix and gave it to him. There was another man I didn't save who probably required some other object.

What's unique is the way the game was developed:
The Snowfield represents an attempt to make a simulation-based narrative game according to a special method for developing such games, a method designed to avoid the need for complex A.I. or massive content generation. The idea was not to relying on codified narrative theories or formulas – like three-act structures, etc. – but rather assume “what makes a good story” cannot be systematized and instead must be arrived at organically via extensive user testing.
So basically they put together evocative set pieces, watched how people interacted with them, and then tweaked them to make them more streamlined. It was an interesting little game, although it felt more like an experiment than an actual narrative. I did end up coming up with my own little stories about why the people I was saving wouldn't just walk ten feet to the fire on their own, which felt like a success for the project.
posted by Tubalcain at 5:45 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mmm. I got three folks so far, pretty happy with myself.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:45 AM on January 30, 2012


but it’s hard to know exactly how “inverting the traditional relationship between Design and QA” has impacted on the process

My thoughts too. The designer had to make the scene, and the guys, and the items. And the connections and actions are all pretty intuitive. If he needed a bunch of people to randomly click shit before thinking to set the parameters up as they are, well, I don't really know what to say...
posted by Meatbomb at 6:00 AM on January 30, 2012


"No plug-in available to display this content."

The Unity plugin-in: because flash games aren't enough hassle.
posted by bonehead at 7:02 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


You have to click, like, twice.
posted by Drexen at 7:13 AM on January 30, 2012


I don't consider myself a gamer, but I went to one of GAMBIT's open house focus tests this summer and got to try out a few of their games, including Snowfield. I thought it was beautiful but really frustrating because nothing I did kept me alive. I think I had a 2 item limit so I couldn't hoard the matchboxes and when I clicked on the bonfire I would drop the matchbox instead, which was damn frustrating when you're already in "freezing to death" mode. It's possible I just really sucked as the farthest I got to was a church and didn't see anybody. I can't get it running in Firefox right now, but I'm curious to see what the final product's like.

If you're in the Boston area and have even a passing interest in video games, GAMBIT's a fun place to visit. They usually have Friday afternoon talks that are free to public and I guess they've started livestreaming them (link).

Also of possible interest, GAMBIT's Looking Glass Studios podcast.
posted by zix at 7:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, what I'd really like to see is a version of this process taken to extreme levels and carefully documented along the way. Can you put a series of random objects in an environment, then watch how people play the game and turn it into a story that's actually interesting and will be experienced by most people in roughly the same way (i.e. everyone more or less will get something out of it)? Then, when it's done, you put up some descriptions and screenshots of all the iterations, like some kind of reverse telephone where order is manufactured out of chaos.
posted by Tubalcain at 7:46 AM on January 30, 2012


I grew weary of the conditions so I pulled a Titus Oates

...

That's not growing weary of the weather conditions; that's just plain old badass.

Please kindly credit the man properly. He's earned it.


Total derail, but I don't read that first sentence as implying Oates "grew weary of the conditions" at all.

lemuring "grew weary of the conditions" so he "pulled a Titus Oates," i.e. walked off into a blizzard.

i don't see the offence unless you're implying the subject shouldn't be referenced so casually, which is fine but also odd to me.

but everyone wants to be outraged about something, i guess.

posted by mrgrimm at 7:46 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


As Scott recorded in his diary "We knew that poor Oates was walking to his death, but though we tried to dissuade him, we knew it was the act of a brave man and an English gentleman".

Please kindly credit the man properly. He's earned it.


SPOILER ALERT

They all died anyway. And it was a hundred years ago.
posted by philip-random at 8:41 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


You have to admit, there's some comedy to be mined from the Oates story. From wikipedia: British comedians Stewart Lee and Richard Herring made frequent references to "Captain Oates" both in their 1990s television series Fist of Fun and BBC Radio 1 shows. An initial sketch parody implied that Oates only announced his departure in the hope that his colleagues would stop him leaving. Subsequent sketches depicted Oates in other social situations where he would announce his actions in the hope that others would understand the subtext. One such example depicted Oates offering the last potato to someone else at the dinner table when he clearly wanted it for himself. Following these sketches Lee and Herring occasionally referred to people displaying similar behaviour as being "Captain Oates-type figures".
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:47 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't make people stay in the damn house with the fire I keep tending. It's like they don't want to live anymore. I've even pretty certain the guy in the green's on the other side (not that you can tell in this snow), and I gave him a gun to show I wasn't going to kill him, and booze because maybe it would take the edge off, and all they do is cry in the snow bank.

Finally I died searching beyond the house for someone who had a wish to live. Hope killed me.

And now I'm genuinely bothered and I want to keep playing until I figure out where everything is. But I suck at navigating spatial locations that way, so I ended up sending the link to someone I know who's a skilled gamer just so he'd save the damn soldiers. AAAAARGH!

The sims invokes a similar doll house narrative, where you have to overlay your storyline onto what is otherwise just creatures slightly dumber than a hamster milling around in a pretty box. Dolls are such a powerful story telling tool.
posted by Phalene at 8:54 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is crashing my browser something fierce and is an unplayable slideshow. What am I doing wrong, apart from having 2Gb RAM in a Mac Mini?
posted by Happy Dave at 9:12 AM on January 30, 2012


Titus Oates: The Popish Plot and Anti-Catholic hysteria in late 17th century England. Oates' false allegations of an extensive Catholic conspiracy to assassinate Charles II, led to the execution of at least 15 people. Eventually Oates' intricate web of accusations fell apart, leading to his arrest and conviction for perjury.

Captain Lawrence Oates: The Antarctic expedition and "I am just going outside and may be some time". Nicknamed "Titus Oates" after the historical figure.

Carry on.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:24 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love loved loved Geraldine McCaughrean's The White Darkness. The description might make it seem a little simplistic, but it is really finely crafted.

Sym is not your average teenage girl. She is obsessed with the Antarctic and the brave, romantic figure of Captain Oates from Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole. In fact, Oates is the secret confidant to whom she spills all her hopes and fears.
But Sym's uncle Victor is even more obsessed—and when he takes her on a dream trip into the bleak Antarctic wilderness, it turns into a nightmarish struggle for survival that will challenge everything she knows and loves.

posted by redsparkler at 10:53 AM on January 30, 2012


Not a single person at that page, or here, thought it might be a good idea to link to the place where you can download the plug-in, upon which this post completely relies?
posted by danny the boy at 11:21 AM on January 30, 2012


Danny The Boy, it installed automatically for me under Chrome ....
posted by GallonOfAlan at 11:49 AM on January 30, 2012


Man that must be nice! I tried both chrome and firefox and they both only gave me errors. I had to google for the unity plug in and install it manually.
posted by danny the boy at 11:58 AM on January 30, 2012


Also from RPS, also set in the aftermath of a great battle, and also in-browser playable with Unity: 1916: The Unreported War. Once again, you are not alone...
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:52 PM on January 30, 2012


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