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Author Topic: I am going to GDC  (Read 8826 times)

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James Edward Smith

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2008, 01:17:04 PM »

Oh, Fez. I still need to get to the floor and get some real time in playing it, but by all accounts it's fantastic. Phil's a frighteningly passionate guy about it, and while my first exposure to the thing was actually a product of the drama surrounding it, it was very, very easy to discard all that after a second of talking to the guy and seeing the game itself in action.

It was good to see them get an award last night. And even better to watch him bypassing the guest list at the Sony party by pulling it out and thunking it on the desk.

The award, that is.

Yeah, in all his interviews he is very passionate about the idea. I think I like his stuff because he reminds me a lot of myself and how I like to develop. Maybe I should be a designer and not a programmer...

He's in a bit of a feud with the guy who was originally doing the coding for the project. They broke up a while back and that guy still says that his idea is better and that Phil's idea for Fez is doomed to failure.

The other guy, the programmer, wanted to make it more of an origami sort of game. Very vector based rather than Pixel/Trixel.
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Zaratustra

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2008, 01:28:08 PM »

Quote from: Geo T. Hermal link=topic=88.msg2416#msg2416
  it looks pretty awesome, but many judges and other people have been critical of the actual gameplay.

Well DUH it's an INDIE GAME.

Niku

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2008, 04:00:05 PM »

everyone who thinks fez looks good plz play crush, and determine whether or not it works for you.

because fez is just crush meets cave story which is totally rad.
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Burrito Al Pastor

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2008, 04:42:05 PM »

So it's Echochrome, except orthagonal instead of isometric?

I'm ok with that, actually. I always have trouble with isometric controls.
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Niku

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2008, 06:00:44 PM »

Echochome is different.  Crush and Fez both have a world that you can rotate your view around, while Echochrome actually changes the world depending on what you can and can't see.

Also the controls in Echochrome aren't isometric.  Your little dude walks along by himself.
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Bongo Bill

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2008, 07:51:40 PM »

After nearly oversleeping before Day 2, I went and watched Soren Johnson talk about his experiences developing the AI in Civilization 4. He discussed the differences between AI designed to replace a human (which he called "good" AI) and AI designed to entertain a human (which he called "fun" AI). The differences between these two are pretty obvious, though he enumerated more subtleties than I would have. He said that a good AI doesn't cheat and a fun AI can't cheat, so what does that say about Civilization 4's, which is somewhere between good and fun (the snarky-comment-inclined in the audience may be tempted to say that it is neither good nor fun)? It was a fairly interesting exploration. However, I was more interested in the technical aspect of the AI. It instantly and automagically works with any mod that adds or removes tokens to and from the game, due to some good structure that I can only imagine must have been a pain in some intern's ass to bring to code. The AI itself is open-source, and compiles to a DLL which can just be dropped into the program, rather than being a part of the executable. Yeah, none of this is new for people who've ever played Civ 4 before, but this is a group of people that doesn't include me. Hearing him explain it made it into a very potent lesson in how to make a game modder-friendly. It also related greatly to this conference's annual buzzword, Democratization. This is not just a theme any more; it's a cliché. But as clichés go there are many worse.

After that I saw the keynote by Ray Kurzweil. Right off the bat this had me in a good mood. I like Ray Kurzweil. And the music was nowhere near as obnoxiously loud as it was during the previous day's keynote. I just wish the guy would write a different speech every now and then, rather than just giving a tangential introduction and then using the same one he always does and cutting material out to fit it into the time that he's given (in this case, an hour). Still, though, hearing from that guy is always a blast, and I got to show off how much I know about it, and quickly made notes about how more specifically to apply it to the various game-making professions.

After that I saw the (interestingly named) Rod Humble, and his colleague whose name I've forgotten, from Maxis, show off the latest spinoff of The Sims brand, The Sims Carnival, which is even more of a YouTube for games than XNA is. It's a flash game portal with an interface for making (apparently pretty broad) parametric variations on a handful of arcadey game standards, with user-supplied graphics or graphics taken from one of the Sims games (which, he says, represents about fifty million dollars in graphics in total, so that's neat). Also he showed off the more advanced interface, which is a separate program that implements a very simplified graphical programming language. I didn't get a good look at that; however, he says that after stripping away the presets it's a rather fully-featured programming language, which compiles to Flash games. Additionally your own Flash games can be uploaded there. It's looking like it will have a bright green but otherwise very YouTubey interface, complete with categories, tags, popularity rankings, five-star ratings, comments, and the rest. Democratization, my nemesis, we meet again!

Next I attended a roundtable about preserving old games and peripheral materials (design docs, prototypes, concepts arts, correspondence, contracts, etc.) related to them, in a manner that might become appropriate for use by Serious Academic Research. I think maybe it was a mistake for me to go there, rather than one of the other sessions, but they can't all be winners. I stuck around and listened to people who are obviously quite serious about mixing games and academics, and it was nice to see Warren Spector and Steve Meretzky hanging out in there. (Speaking of Steve Meretzky, I think I forgot to mention that yesterday he and Marc Laidlaw, Ken Rolston, and Richard Rouse III analyzed some of their favorite game stories. It made me want to play Loom)

I hung out in the expo for a little while, too, honing my schmoozing skills. Prospects: favorable! But it would be inappropriate to go into detail.

Finally I went to unwind at the Game Design Competition, where returning champion Alexey Pajitnov and his Remote-Control Dolphin Team Underwater Paintball were trounced by Brenda Braithwaite's  Dog-Having Facebook ARG and Steve Meretzky's Real-Time Bacteria-Exploding Strategy. Meretzky won by a hair. Frankly I think Braithwaite's design was the most likely to succeed, and she seemed to think so too because she registered a URL for it, but when the extremely subjective judging came along, I had to vote for Meretzky's. Meretzky's combined lasers and real-life cellular automata, making it the sixth coolest thing ever, whereas Braithwaite's consisted entirely of three of my five least favorite things: ARGs, Facebook, and dog ownership.

Everybody I know in town is out drinking right now, but I'm an underage teetotaler so instead I get to talk about it on the Internet.
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Sharkey

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2008, 10:28:07 PM »

Oh, spiff. Jenn posted a blog about the awards and the parties the other night.

Also, against all expectation, APB just made me shit candy.
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Thad

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #27 on: February 21, 2008, 10:35:42 PM »

God damn.

I need a part-time job.

(Full-time would give me no time to play online games.  ...Although maybe this time that WOULDN'T be the case.)
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Arc

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #28 on: February 22, 2008, 12:42:36 AM »

Whatever the official title, I'm labeling that project 'Sharkey's Machine' from now on.

Providing gameplay that can easily be launched within a moments notice would be ideal. Counter-Strike crossed my mind by the second paragraph, and I was as pleased as a punched chipmunk to see it name dropped later in. The virtual rush of dropping into a well-honed firefight cannot be overstated.

My 14-year-old self may become anticipatively unstuck in time.
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Thad

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #29 on: February 22, 2008, 07:57:26 PM »

I like the sound of FF: CC: MLaaK.  Cheap, innovative, and similar to ActRaiser are all things that get my attention.
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Bongo Bill

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #30 on: February 22, 2008, 09:38:05 PM »

Well, my first GDC ever ended well. Individual panels weren't terribly interesting, but the way they all fit together, I can tell there's something big going on. Sometime this weekend I have to write an unwieldy, pretentious manifesto thing about it. Nobody's controlling it, nobody made a specific decision, but it's happening all throughout the industry in a lot of little ways, and it's going to come together soon. If Ray Kurzweil is right about it, 2010 is the year to watch. That's when the hardware and the ultimate conceptual conclusion of these game design concepts will match up.

Went to a roundtable on tool development, and apparently the best-kept secret in the game industry is that tool development is the best place for programmers to break into the industry. It ain't glamorous but they always need programmers. Relevant!

I think while Sakurai was giving his Brawl talk, I was watching three twenty-minute panels, one on the Wipeout games on PSP, one about Wikipedia, and one about when Something Awful or 4chan raid MMOGs. Between the three of them it made me fully realize that Raph Koster was right two years ago, though I didn't know it at the time. More on this when I'm less tired, I guess.

Speaking of Raph Koster, the next thing I checked out was his "antemortem" on Metaplace. I was skeptical about it before, because what the hell kind of mumorpuger can you make with a browser-based client. The talk, though, was completely about the technology driving it. Anyway, each of the three days had somebody showing off something that could rightly be called "The YouTube of games," and each day impressed me more than the last. Metaplace is really more of a protocol than a game, and I look forward to being able to mess around with it. Hopefully not using a browser plugin.

I don't remember the rest of the things I did but I'll probably mention them eventually. I tried to find Eskil Steenburg but he was elusive.

I EXCHANGED BUSINESS CARDS WITH THE FAT MAN who really isn't fat (or at least his crazy coat distracted me from it). I am extremely impressed by this man. He struck me as insightful, generous, and an absolute blast to be around.
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Sharkey

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #31 on: February 22, 2008, 11:49:19 PM »

Kurzwiel's Keynote wasn't a hell of a lot different than any other time I've heard him speak, but it definitely set the fucking tone for the thing this year. Naturally, none of the enthusiast press really picked up on that-- even 1UP buried my story on the thing under AAA title announcements and other such shit.

But I think it's damn important. Independently of what he had to say I heard more than a few developers expressing similar sentiments. One in particular, at the developer's rant panel today was saying nearly the exact same thing. That as engineers of human happiness it's actually our damn responsibility to begin redefining reality. It was a heartfelt appeal, but wasn't backed by Ray's almost terrifying sense of mathematic inevitability. 

On one hand, it feels damn good to be assured that you're a part of something that will redefine human existence. On the other, if you believe it, it means accepting that your best, most concerted effort won't result in more than a slight anomalous bump on a graph.
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Bongo Bill

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #32 on: February 23, 2008, 01:38:24 AM »

Here's the abstract. I already read The Singularity is Near so I didn't really hear much new during that keynote. But the thing that really stuck out for me was the part where personal, always-connected, generic computing devices with basic augmented reality interfaces and robust text recognition are supposed to be around in 2010. This will be the platform to target. The interaction metaphor for this device hasn't been invented yet, but it's probably going to be based on its ancestors: smartphones, laptops, social networking systems, and handheld game devices. The lines between these things are blurring more every month - not only are games integrating social networking, but social networking is also increasingly revolving around games.

The reason that text messaging is so dumb today is because people got into the habit of only using them for stupid things, which in turn happened because the interface wasn't ready for the medium. It's not even a matter of Sturgeon's Law - people don't even try to be expressive in a text message, despite the fact that it's perfectly suitable for arbitrary communication.

Outside of music and photography, people only use social networking for trivial, personal bullshit, because that's the model it was based on. Somehow people got it into their heads that trivial personal bullshit was the entire purpose of social networking technology, despite the fact that the technology really represents an amazing achievement in terms of organizing information, determining its relevance contextually, and filtering it. This trend is already being reversed to an extent but it hasn't even caught up to blogging in terms of the richness to which it's been applied (speaking here only of the 10% that isn't crud).

And all of it, everywhere, is filling itself with games. Facebook games are the new hotness. Audiosurf has managed to even turn listening to music into a game. It's an inevitable side effect of the concept of the leisure class, combined with the trend toward becoming Internet hermits: people are desperate for games. There's enough demand for it that developers are realizing that the only way to adequately fill this demand is to let them make them themselves. Which is why people thought that the big issue is democratization. And it is - for this year. But this democratization is only building up to next year, and the year after, when these technologies start maturing and converging.

Let's make a goal of developing for the 2010 Device, the Ultimate Portable Internet-Enabled Augmented Reality Gadget. If we let the hardware guys make the games for this device, we'll be stuck with the same fucking ecosystem that cell phone games represent: Frogger clones and bullshit. We, the people who know how to design great games, the ones who can design efficient systems for processing player information in real-time, the ones who can make writing and art that goes beyond filler and banality - we, the game industry need to ensure that this platform is something that enriches people's lives, rather than just passing the time. We can't make all the games that will run on the 2010 device, but we can set the examples.

That's the short version.
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Sharkey

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #33 on: February 23, 2008, 01:52:03 AM »

Somehow people got it into their heads that trivial personal bullshit was the entire purpose of social networking technology, despite the fact that the technology really represents an amazing achievement in terms of organizing information, determining its relevance contextually, and filtering it. This trend is already being reversed to an extent but it hasn't even caught up to blogging in terms of the richness to which it's been applied (speaking here only of the 10% that isn't crud).
Well, hell yes. Some of us who don't use our phones as "phones" are a little fucking dependent on the things for just that. I had mine crap out for about a week, at the same time I had to recover an equally crapped out hard drive. Do you really know what that's like when pretty much all of your life that isn't eating, sleeping, drinking and fucking takes place online? Hell, an increasingly significant portion of all of those things already do for me. It was like being partially lobotomized. A whole fucking metacortex gone at a whack.

Quote
Let's make a goal of developing for the 2010 Device, the Ultimate Portable Internet-Enabled Augmented Reality Gadget.

There's such a thing as being too far ahead of your time. Remember Modem Wars? Neither does anyone else. Because three fucking people had modems.

Then again, if that log curve of tech advancement is accurate, you're looking at a week before initial introduction of that tech and wide acceptance, rather than half a decade. Hell, early adopters these days get about half a year of "hey, look what I got" before they start giving away iPhones as prizes in cereal boxes.


Quote
If we let the hardware guys make the games for this device, we'll be stuck with the same fucking ecosystem that cell phone games represent: Frogger clones and bullshit. We, the people who know how to design great games, the ones who can design efficient systems for processing player information in real-time, the ones who can make writing and art that goes beyond filler and banality

Very nice, but platform creators, and even originators have a stranglehold on that shit. Know why cell games suck in America? I'll pretend that you do. The way things work right this second the only people who'll enjoy that shit are the ones willing to download crap to unlock their retinal nanites or whateverthefuck.

Quote
- we, the game industry need to ensure that this platform is something that enriches people's lives, rather than just passing the time. We can't make all the games that will run on the 2010 device, but we can set the examples.

Great idea. Making games that appeal emotionally and intellectually rather than just "that thing moved, kill it" is something that can be done right fucking now.
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Bongo Bill

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #34 on: February 23, 2008, 02:11:31 AM »

Thanks for saying that. I want to know where my point is weak, so by all means, don't hold back that signature charm of yours.

The difference is that with this hypothetical machine, we game designers have a chance to beat the platform developers to the punch. Everybody knows that the 2010 Device (which is what I'm calling it, despite realizing it's a dumb name) won't sell unless there's games on it. If we have the games ready when it starts to appear, then the platform designers won't have to fill it with the bullshit they filled cell phones with. They need features - bullet points on the back of the box. They don't care if the games are good or not, they just need to have them. If we have these games ready for them - a wide variety of finished games, rather than the paltry uninspired remakes they'll turn up with - then we can establish a higher minimum of quality. That gives game developers much more freedom to exploit the new platform.

It's not that the average developer needs to make games that aren't about murder (that's another issue altogether) - it's that we need the ones who can do better, including the amateurs that will be drawn to the likes of Metaplace, to explore the space that the convergence of all the features on the new platform creates. It doesn't matter how bad we as an industry are - because the platform's owners are worse, and they don't understand or don't care why that's a bad thing. You can think of it like making sure that all of the competing 2010 Devices have excellent launch libraries. The reason this will be a challenge is because they combine all the features of virtually every platform that came before them, plus a few that don't currently exist.

Of course I say "games" but "applications" might be a more accurate term, since outside of a business context the difference between them is decreasing.

The platform is coming and everybody will be aware of it. Unlike cell phones, this is going to be a device that's suitable for playing games that are worth the designation. In addition to the ongoing efforts to bring people into games, this represents the best chance in decades for bringing games to people. It's where the convenience demanded by the mainstream and the depth demanded by the people who might be persuaded to realize that these game things aren't all bad intersect - for the first time off the PC. I see this as the place where all of the trends in the industry are going to converge. We can't let it happen by accident.
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Arc

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #35 on: February 23, 2008, 03:03:54 AM »

two years ago

Nevermind that his definition of what constitutes as a single player game is too narrow; the swipes at introversion were simply insulting. By his thesis, you would conclude arcade games were never single player since high scores were dumped into a leader board.


Kurzwiel's Keynote

Boiling this down to the perception of reality, I feel games will only remain a component (as they are today), even as our interaction via respirocytes or-what-have-you bring them closer into the fold. A true breakthrough in the gravity and repercussions of such games would need to be made, outside of the cultural mainstays so many other mediums also enjoy today. Taking a shot in the dark, educational development could be that gravity.


A whole fucking metacortex gone at a whack.

My online connectivity once went down for a month. I got more work completed that month than the previous six beforehand. The absence of interaction was productively fulfilling, but not comfortable or stimulating.


Making games that appeal emotionally and intellectually rather than just "that thing moved, kill it" is something that can be done right fucking now.

BUT THE NINTENDO INFUSED FUTURE REFUSED TO CHANGE.

Nice to see developers (small & gargantuan alike) beginning to understand they hold social responsibilities, even this late in the juncture. Not expecting any shifts as dramatic as cinema in the 1970's, but ripples can become tides.
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Mongrel

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #36 on: February 23, 2008, 08:39:43 AM »

I love it when people declare their inconsequential dismissal of the physical world, dismissing trees, water, ashphalt, smokestacks, sex (the real kind, har har), fists, bullets, and pandas driving combine harvesters at one fell swoop.

Also, props to Arc for mentioning the 1970's film revolution, which is a far more apt comparison for the level-headed optomist.
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James Edward Smith

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #37 on: February 23, 2008, 12:50:34 PM »

All of this seems to line up with a crazy idea for a sci-fi book that I came up with when my girlfirend at the time was an obsessive WoW freak who was more comfortable in the game than in her life (Well, obviously, she was going out with ME). I imagined a world where all percived poverty and resource allocation in justices were eliminated because the people of the earth didn't compete for better food and shelter and transportation devices, we competed for gold and loot in a giant world wide MMO where food tasted better and sex could never be anything but spectacular and there was always an other achre of land out there if someone just cared to create it.

And man was happy...?
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EmaWii

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #38 on: February 23, 2008, 01:18:46 PM »

The problem that people have been putting forth about it is this: The view point swapping looks really cool and makes the game very stylistic, but puts the player into too complicated of a situation to actually be used skillfully to solve a level. Keeping track of a 3 dimentional level/map when you can only view and interact with one viewpoint of it at a time is too confusing and doesn't really allow players to use it gracefully. Instead players too often find themselves just wandering around to the edges of their current view and then pressing the change view button a few times until the solution becomes obvious.

I watched half the demo and played the second half, and yeah, I did just kinda rotate the viewpoint to figure out what to do. I forget who I was talking to about this, but the same idea came up-- that you may just end up brute forcing your way through. That said, you could try to do the same thing in Crush (I think of Fez as Cave Story x Auto-Crush, since you never really run around Super Paper Mario style as a 2D thing in 3D even though the world is all 3D--no manual squashing of dimensions like in Crush) and I still got stuck a lot. If the level design gets complicated, I'm sure you will want to bust out the free-look and try to plan a bit.

APB just made me shit candy.

Yes, I think we all shit a little candy that night. Unfortunately because I posted my story in a flurry of happy hyper it wasn't quite up to snuff for our at times aggressive news editor, so while he changed some of it for the better, he kinda neutered other parts of it and confused me at least once.

My other favorite session was probably Masahiro Sakurai's talk on designing the character roster for Brawl. He was really well organized, and it was fun to watch him play the game.
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Zaratustra

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Re: I am going to GDC
« Reply #39 on: February 23, 2008, 02:04:44 PM »

The problem that people have been putting forth about it is this: The view point swapping looks really cool and makes the game very stylistic, but puts the player into too complicated of a situation to actually be used skillfully to solve a level. Keeping track of a 3 dimentional level/map when you can only view and interact with one viewpoint of it at a time is too confusing and doesn't really allow players to use it gracefully. Instead players too often find themselves just wandering around to the edges of their current view and then pressing the change view button a few times until the solution becomes obvious.

Off my mind I can think of:
1) Change the color of the ground where flipping may be useful. Blatant but helpful, and allows for very complex puzzles.
2) Use the fez gimmes to do the same signaling. Donkey Kong Country did this and it worked.
3) Have various scenery items, like 2d bushes that only look good when seen from a certain side, oriented in such a way to suggest where to flip.

Also helpful might be an instant top view of the layer you're standing on.
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