Alarmingly These Are Not Lovesick Zombies


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PatrickAlarmingly These Are Not Lovesick ZombiesJason Nelson, the creator of game, game, game and again game (GGGaAG), is back with Alarmingly These Are Not Lovesick Zombies (ATANLZ), his latest attempt to dissect abstract ideas through gameplay. Your reaction to that sentence should tell you whether or not to click away. If you're still with me, you should buckle up, its a zany, interesting ride.

The game itself is a basic shooter, you aim with the mouse, move around with the arrow keys, and shoot with a click. Your enemies are "zombies" of various types, spider heads, number trays, hubcaps; though for all their cosmetic variation they play alike. Each level, likewise is only distinguished by its background, the gameplay doesn't really change, which is something of a step back from Nelson's first "game". (It's important to note that Jason has a lot of work that is interactive, but doesn't qualify as a game.) What ATANLZ does do as well or better than GGGaAG is provide a smooth flow of sensory overload coupled with more coherent thoughts.

Each level uses the theme of its background, zombie art, bullet art and background, but very rarely its actual gameplay, to make some kind of statement about an aspect of how the game industry uses cheap mechanics to manipulate people into feeling good and want to buy their product. It is cynicism delivered on a plate of suitably shallow gameplay with a nice garnish of wit. Personally, I dig it, because it tickles my cynical game designer funny bone — but for the largest audience I still recommend giving it a play for the educational value. People talk about games having the power to teach by using specific processes, but here's a game that uses very general processes to teach about game design. I think that's interesting and worth ten minutes.

It also has a very pretty kaleidoscope effect to it.

Play Alarmingly These Are Not Lovesick Zombies

32 Comments

Anonymous October 30, 2007 4:15 PM

"They have families without arms!"

That is genius.

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Anonymous October 30, 2007 4:19 PM

Funny...

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Wow, I have quite the headache now. Pretty good game anyway, the videos were very funny.

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I must be to old to appreciate this. It's like the video game version of Tom Goes to the Mayor or something.

Meh.

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I'm confused :S

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Yumyumpuppies October 30, 2007 6:23 PM

"Let the bears get you:
Your house is too crowded"

Hehehe

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A little bit of Prozac and Thorazine should help bring Jason back to this happy little planet called Earth. (or maybe I should have him mail me whatever he's taking now)

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I feel like the victim of a scientific experiment :-)

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AreYouPonderingWhatImPondering October 30, 2007 9:51 PM

If you want to learn about game design, listen to Will Wright or Sid Meier. If you want to learn what some avant-garde artist *thinks* he knows about game design, play this confused mess.

This is creative, I'll give it that. Where it falls on it's face is where it tries to be oh-so-clever with its inter-level "theory of games" segments. The designer, Jason Nelson, tries to deconstruct games. Unfortunately, Mr. Nelson has no more insight into game design then the average high-school student. (And I'd think that the average high school student would be able to express his thoughts in a less muddled way.)

This game thinks that it's more clever then it is. A perfect example is the opening intructions: no matter what you do, the game makes you view the opening instructions twice. Because "No one reads the instructions, right?" Well, I read the instructions, and I'm sure a hell of a lot of other people did too. Having a "Did you really, *really*, REALLY read the instructions?" screen pop up would be clever. Popping up the instructions twice is just dumb.

Toss this one into the "poorly executed experiment" category.

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Can someone please tell me the music used in the level where 1. you can't move and 2. there are rulers being stacked in the background? It goes;

You should know what i'm thinking of
you may not like it but it's a great idea.

Someone tell me if you know. It sounds old; but I really love it.

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Fwee!! ++points for the ADD factor.
It's always fun when some image flies over your shooter and obscures half the screen.
To AreYouPondering: I don't think it's really trying to be coherent, just to poke fun at things.

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Somehow I don't think anybody's going to learn anything from this game. And although I liked the intermission videos at first, I soon found myself annoyed at the author on a personal level. As in: I would not like to share a room with him for long, because he is the sort of fellow who spends 90% of his time at the college pub, sharing his opinions with everyone at the table as though he were personally appointed by God to do so. Except that guy never has any wisdom or talent of his own, let alone any insight or originality, so his words quickly wear thin.

For a real deconstructionist game designer, who says miles more about the bonds that hold together the gaming industry simply by making games with all the BS stripped away, please see Cactus.

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Odd that everyone seems to think the "game theory" videos are actually meant to be serious. The videos teach absolutely nothing about game design and are merely there for humor (which I rather like). In fact, the entire game should not be taken seriously... it is full of items to be taken as humor.

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AreYouPonderingWhatImPondering October 31, 2007 7:14 AM

Trixie wrote to AreYouPondering: I don't think it's really trying to be coherent, just to poke fun at things.

Of course he's just trying to poke fun but... oh, crap! I guess I didn't make that clear in my earlier comments, did I? Good call. I should have wrote "The designer tries to deconstruct games in a tongue-in-cheek manner." I was being overly cranky.... and I was reacting to the main Jay-Is-Games' post that said:

"I still recommend giving it a play for the educational value... here's a game that uses very general processes to teach about game design."

I don't think this game really teaches anything about game design, and I don't think its all that funny, either. However... it is kinda funny if you approach it with the right frame of mind. Just look at the title and think:

"There are zombies coming at you, and they DON'T want to make love to you."
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Didn't even watch the games -- the graphics are just way too annoying. Couldn't stand to deal with it much past the first level.

Another crotchety, cynical old so-and-so, I guess.

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Odd that everyone seems to think the "game theory" videos are actually meant to be serious. The videos teach absolutely nothing about game design and are merely there for humor (which I rather like). In fact, the entire game should not be taken seriously... it is full of items to be taken as humor.

His use of humor doesn't mean he's not trying to make a point. The videos are very much meant to be taken seriously - not as game theory lessons, but as a skewering of modern gaming culture - and the humor is meant to make the whole thing go down easier. Whether he's successful or not depends on whether one likes his style of humor, and like I say, I got tired of it pretty quickly. Not enough substance behind it. All the best comedians are genuinely knowledgeable, and I don't think this guy is.

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Come on, this is art, ART, you know, this cryptic stuff that is supposed to produce controversial reactions.. well, I fancied the last video. Considering that everybody seems to be wanting to get rid of his prejudiced hypermoral opinion about game addiction.. Always enjoy trashy bits like this one

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Hey All,

I actually created this game. Normally I wouldn't want
to insert my ideas into the discussion, but people
are addressing what they feel are my intentions, so I thought I would explain some.

Really....this game is flawed in far too many ways. My
interest over the past few years has been creating net artworks. And this year i decided to branch into combining my artwork with game design. So my first work game, game, game and this lovesick zombies are not meant
as some overarching statement or preaching stance. Instead they are experiments, experiments in using the video game format as an interface for various types of content.

And based on the discussion both games have generated, and the fact that few games are exploring abstract art (there are of course many out there, but few in comparison to the thousands/tens of thousands).

What I am surprised by is the aggressive nature of many of the comments. Which signals to me that combining abstract art or poetry or whatever you want to call it with a game interface is certainly new and fertile ground to explore.

So again, look at this game as the experiment it is. It is both serious and sophmoric, moronic and goofy, pretty and annoying (or at least pretty annoying). Which, honestly, all good things in life are.

cheers, Jason Nelson

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Somehow, I found game, game, game, and again game more engaging. But I can't quite explain how. I enjoy these baffling, avant-garde-type game. But, then, I tend to be a baffling, avant-garde-type person.

And the videos made me chuckle a bit.

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I'm glad you took the time to clarify things a bit. I'm sure you're aware that there's something going a little askew with the work (or the way people are being exposed to it) when you have to explain it, but these problems work themselves out with experience. It sounds to me like Patrick's review here is already assuming a lot about the piece, and that review was my starting point into the game/art/thingummy, so I ended up assuming some unfair things myself.

But speaking honestly, and hoping that this will be useful for you in some way, Lovesick Zombies still feels like an aggressive - or at least very cynical - statement to me. Game Game Game etc. didn't feel quite so hostile, but it still seemed like a self-conscious attempt to take the piss out of something.

And I don't generally get that same impression from your other interactive work, now that I've had a chance to look at some of it. Each piece is its own thing, of course, but generally I get a lot more playfulness and experimentation out of it, and much less of the preachy thing.

Here's why: When you impose video game rules on something you create, you are implicitly entering into a psychological contract with whoever touches the controls. There are gaming rules that automatically erect themselves - not true in the case of the average grandmother on the street, maybe, but certainly in the case of people who regular a site like this - and when you break those rules, you can only do it on purpose.

There has never been a great abstract artist who could not also draw a competent still life. Even purely abstract work is still dealing with light, depth, balance, energy, and motion - because people are still going to be looking at it. You are still dealing with the language of eyes, and having a deep understanding of that language is always going to give the work a sense of fullness.

When you introduce gaming artifacts into your work, you are, like it or not, speaking the language of games. And your depth of understanding of that language is going to affect people subconsciously, and provoke the kind of hostility you've been getting, if players find it lacking. You are, after all, requesting much more involvement of people with a game than you would be with anything else. You are digging at their instincts. You are in their territory. You are breaking your contract with them.

If you work explicitly to develop your game design skills (it's just like figure drawing), you'll get a much less warped reaction, because that aspect of your work won't be as empty. But hey, I can't tell you what to do. Explore this however you want to. I'm just saying that the aggression isn't really that surprising.

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"And he has muscles on muscles on muscles on muscles...
...and you do not."

Hi-larious.

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Well, I for one didn't like the game either, but I don't think people need to be so openly hostile about their opinions.

@Jason: It does come off as preachy. A satirical approach can seem like you're taunting even your audience, and that's probably what makes people mad. "Just because you're watching this doesn't mean you're smart enough to get it." You gotta avoid that idea coming through at all costs.

Furthermore, for your next attempt, I would focus on making a good game and then integrating the art concepts into the game design. I'm not sure whether you had the game idea or the art idea first, but unless careful attention is paid to the actual game design both the exploration of the artistic idea and the game suffer for it.

What was the name of that game/art/exploration thing a little while ago, "Blue" something? I guess that wasn't really a game so to speak, but it was more fun.

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Also, for Patrick:

In future reviews please refer to this helpful mnemonic.

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Hahaha, good catch, elemeno. :)

I'll take blame for that as I did the editing of this one prior to publishing, and I usually catch those things.

To Jason, thanks for stopping by and offering your perspective. Seeing how your views differ from those offered by Patrick in the review, the resulting balance feels comforting. :)

And to Psychotronic, thank you for continuing to be a valuable part of this community. Your thoughtful analysis and crystal clear constructive criticism exudes years of experience that would benefit any budding game designer. :)

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Jason: you say this was an experiment, but what is your hypothesis?

I could never do something like this. Halfway between my bed and my comuputer a mental filter would engage and I'd forget it, or work it into something coherent. I just think that subconscious thoughts are subconscious for a reason.

I don't like the graphics. Maybe you think scribbles are an appropriate counterpoint to flashy, expensive graphics, but when I see them I think "that guy is too lazy to draw". There are many graphical styles which you can use which are not high-res but show that you have put some care into their execution.

As far as game design there is actually some interesting stuff here. Establishing a pattern then changing that pattern is at the heart of level design, and you've done that in some interesting ways.

The videos are weird and a bit awkward. Grandmother head.

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AreYouPonderingWhatImPondering November 2, 2007 6:38 AM

Hi Jason!

You seem like a level headed guy. You should join in the discussion more often.

My first comments were overly negative because I was looking at the game in the wrong frame of reference--judging an apple as if it were an orange, you could say. Also, I didn't know that the designer would be around to read what I wrote; otherwise I would have tried to give more constructive feedback.

That said, here's some constructive feedback:

I still don't particularly like it, but I'm glad it exists. And I'm glad that I experienced it, even though I didn't particularly enjoy the experience. And, though I still think that it's a flawed experiment, I think that it's a worthy experiment nonetheless.

Why? Because it is different in an interesting way. And, while that alone does not qualify it for "prime time", being different in an interesting way is what an experiment is supposed to be.

If it helps, I liked the overall structure and format of the piece (the sequences of levels and death-levels and intermissions and flowcharts and so forth), but I didn't like the style (too much aggressively annoying visual "noise"). But that's just my opinion.

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Jason Nelson November 3, 2007 5:20 AM

First, seriously, many thanks for the intelligent and honest feedback. Being rather new to the amateur gaming world, I'm trying to find the right space where art (and poetry) meets plyable game.

Perhaps I can offer some more background. My net based artworks, over the past few years, have had success in the artworld, with galleries and journals. But I've been frustrated with how small of an audience that is. For example there is a journal called Leonardo from MIT, They have brilliant content, but few visitors, maybe a few thousand at best. And then game, game seemed to explode on the net (at least in comparison to most net artworks, with millions of visitors.

I realized that as a net based audience, there is the chance to reach people that would normally never go to galleries or seek out art or poetry. The difficulty though, is that because people are expecting one kind of content when they click, and they get something very different, they are often confused and dismiss the game very quickly. And while I am not suggesting the community here have done this, I've certainly seen enough WTF or what was this guy on posts to see a pattern.

I think one of the reasons this game isnt as good as it could be, is that I tried to reach that audience. But I since I didnt really know that audience, I stabbed and only acheived a glancing blow.

I'm working on a new game, as well as a news feed visualizer. And I think with that game, I am not going to try to speak to an audience, to try to make it funny or gaudy or crazy for the sake of funny or gaudy or crazy. And instead just simply create a game/artwork that fits my voice or my goals as an artist.

game, game was created without any idea that it would be spread across the net. and I think that popularity tainted the lovesick zombies. so for my next game, I think I'm going back to creating what feels right, instead of what I erroneously feel might be popular..

hmmm..that was damn long.....again thanks to all for taking the time....

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Hey, I should've come by earlier, I was busy meeting the entire Argentine game industry. I should've noted, this is educational about game design in the same way that maybe Pulp Fiction is educational about film theory. It reinforces a particular attitude held by those who know about it already, rather than openly educating.

Also, yes, its a problem I have. It comes from a birth defect caused by flouride in the water.

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Dadaist gaming at it's best.

It may be a refreshing and self-proclaimed non-conformist "interactive" anti-experience, but a game it is not. Fun, for a while.

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Learner Author Profile Page April 7, 2009 8:23 PM

What the heck did I just do?!
What the living cat gut was that?!

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Learner Author Profile Page April 7, 2009 9:26 PM

For the zombie bear dead level, I actually got the neccesary score! With 89 health. You see, what makes you die there is the fact that you are surrounded by all four sides, and because of that, you die. (Although you are suppose to die there to advance early). So to counter this, all you do is hide in a corner and shoot at groups of bears to get plenty of score (30 for each bear I assume and the total score is 12000. . . ), now, when the screen goes black, shoot from one side to the next side and back, SLOWLY! If you skip to each side, you miss the middle area and then they get too close (they strangly become harder to kill up close). Sooner or later, the screen should come back and you can see again, so don't worry, your not left in the dark forever, that would be cruel.

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This is completely nonsensical - a throwback to asthetics.

I don't think I like this, but I keep playing this game because I really like one of the songs in it, I don't really know the words, but it's quite old-fashioned, it repeats the same four lines over and over again, the last one being 'But that's the way it is'...

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