Game talkReadingShaping Games

 Posted by (Visited 22894 times)  Game talk, Reading
Feb 142006
 

Shaping Things (Mediaworks Pamphlets)Here I am on a plane to Atlanta, and I just finished reading Bruce Sterling’s book Shaping Things. My MP3 player is at home, and I didn’t bring any movies, and I don’t feel like reading, and the in-flight movie is over. So instead, I thought I’d jot down some notes on what I just read.

To start with, this is a slim volume. It’s aimed at the design community — not the game design community, but what perhaps might be considered our cousins, the industrial design community. That alone is an interesting thing, because I don’t think that game designers typically read much in the area of design. We tend to think of ourselves as a discipline apart, or at best related to software design.

If game designers have read books on design, they tend to be interface design books, like About Face, or Edward Tufte’s books on the presentation of information, or perhaps Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. We don’t usually go for the books on the aesthetics of chairs.

Bruce, of course, is a science-fiction writer who is into design. Really deeply into design — enough so that he’s writing what he calls “design fiction.” And here’s where I see the overlap, because as I’ve remarked to him on more than one occasion, our job as virtual world designers is already science fiction.

As such, there were a lot of parts of this book that spoke to me, beyond the extracurricular concerns for things like design that doesn’t pollute the planet further. I imagine that this book will speak to different people in different ways; to many of you, it probably won’t speak at all, because it is quasi-academic, full of cute typography, and it coins a few neologisms. Some people are allergic to neologisms.

So rather than try to assess the book I thought I would react to some statements that I found within its pages, and try to think about the applicability of these statements to the game industry.

The first critical thing to talk about serves as the core framework for Sterling’s thesis about how design must progress. He describes a progression of types of objects over time. Older classes of objects do not go away — they are still available in everyday life — but they are legacy technology, essentially.

  • Artifacts are made by hand, powered by hand, used by hand. They are created one at a time, locally.
  • Machines are like artifacts, but have complexity and precise moving parts and use a power source that isn’t just human or animals. Machine users are called customers.
  • Products are mass produced, and call on vast economies of scale; in human history, these are a recent arrival, dating from around World War I. People using products are consumers and not just customers.
  • Gizmos are what we live in and around today: networked objects, highly featured and accreting more every day, user-alterable, and essentially interfaces more than objects. Those who use them are now end-users.
  • Sterling predicts the spime, which is an object that is transparently networked with everything else, that is constantly tracking its location, usage history, and environment, and which is used more by searching its dataspace than by actually using it. In his world, we’ll have to wrangle spimes.
  • Beyond that lies the biot, and it is both the object and it is us.

The provocation is, of course, where do games fall? In discussing the future of single-player gaming, in many ways I have been arguing the case that what are currently machines with a lot of artifact traits will inevitably become gizmos. Seen in this light, even our current MMOs have quite a ways to go before they are spimes; after all, we fail on the user-alterable test, we fail on the transparency test, we fail on the data metrics test… right now, MMO design has more in common with CompuServe and Prodigy and Lexis-Nexis than it does with Google, with Yahoo, and with Amazon.

I have no idea what a biot MMO looks like.

That said, MMOs clearly have more of the traits of gizmos than of products. Gizmos might also have been termed services; perhaps even walled garden services, in contrast to spimes, which are more like peer to peer networks.

The hand of the market was called “invisible” because Adam Smith, an eighteenth-century economist, had very few ways to measure it. Adam Smith lacked metrics… When the entire industrial process is made explicit, when the metrics count for more than the object they measure, then gizmos become spimes.

Our use of metrics in the game industry is nigh on nonexistent. We know close to nothing about how exactly people play our games. Despite the fact that we play on connected computers, running software that is full of event triggers that could be datamined, we still playtest by locking a few dozen people in a room and asking them what they think. Regarded in that fashion, it’s simply astounding that the games are working at all.

Again, MMOs are a little bit ahead of the curve here. We tend to datamine a fairly good set of metrics from our games, but they are almost all aimed at tuning the game, rather than being aimed at understanding the player. One of the comments that Bruce makes about gizmos is that they invite the user into the process: we don’t like gizmos that function flawlessy, we like ones we can hotrod a little bit. We like weblinks on our wine bottles so we can read about how wine is made; we like installing plug-ins in our browsers; we like reading the tech whitepapers about the new Cell chip so we can speculate on the ways it can be used. That’s geek life — sorry, “end-user life” — in the middle of the first decade of the new century. If Sterling is right, the folks who don’t do those things are effectively legacy people: they will be inevtiably and overwhelmingly left behind as the end-users appropriate public life. The passive consumer is a dying breed.

To be successful in this not-new-anymore model of gizmos, you must have a relationship with the end-user. It’s a bidirectional, symbiotic relationship, not the paternalistic relationship of a mass manufacturer/marketer and their consumer.

TV has entered the realm of the gizmo with the likes of American Idol (and Pop Idol and so on). It’s not hard to see the process of choosing Kelly Clarkson as being the process of understanding the passionate voter; by running their musical candidates through genres of music, an array of costumes, high pressure environments, they are effectively datamining the audience for a wide array of preference metrics…

How do we do that in games?

…understood effectively, history is a basic resource… history is information — information about the people and objects transiting time.

We suck at history in the games industry. Most importantly, we remember triumphs fairly well, but we remember the mundane things, the everyday games, the stuff that sat on bargain shelves, pretty poorly. We have no sense of back catalog, because we have been conflicted about emulation. We have been very tied to the glamor of graphics, and not necessarily observing the design underneath.

What this means is that we have been very good at forgetting our mistakes. How much have we set back the development of a common language by not having our new gamers progress through the games of the past, to reach a better understanding of the games of today? How do we teach new multiplayer designers without being able to sit them down to play Atari’s Warlords or Dani Berry’s M.U.L.E.?

The ability to make many small mistakes in a hurry is a vital accomplishment… What is intellectually different about the 21st century is its improved mechanical ability to winnow out the three good [ideas] among the 97 bad ones — and to keep the 97 bad ones around so that we needn’t do them again.

Bruce goes on to discuss rapid prototyping, which he dismisses as primitive. His real goal is something he calls “fabbing,” which is basically the apotheosis of the current 3d printers. But it strikes me that just as virtual spaces with user modeling are pretty good pre-visualizers, it’s objects in a virtual world like Second Life that are really true spimes: ‘fabbed,’ in his sense, by being created just by specifying them; often higher in detail in the spec than can actually be rendered; networked and capable of intercommunication, tracking their own history, and so on; and even possibly transparent, in the event of the ability to copy some of the script code off of one.

Being designery is what one does, as a practical measure, in order to overcome the reactionary clinging to the installed base of malformed objects that maul and affront the customer. What cannot be overcome with reason can be subverted with glamor. That’s what design glamor is for… [Raymond] Loewy didn’t mind assuming the public credit for the work of his collaborators and subordinates… if Loewy is publicly seen as a supreme visionary, hen his collaborators and subordinates will get more work… A conspicuous lack of charlatanry and pretension means that little is happening in the designer’s cultural battlefield.

The industry has a deeply conflicted relationship with star developers, and rightfully so. They usurp credit. They often don’t deserve nearly the credit or the fame they are given. As a gaming public, we of course love puncturing their inflated egos — and even their uninflated ones (if I had a dollar for every bashing of Warren Spector I have seen… and he’s really a very humble guy).

And yet, we see in Hollywood that were it not for George Clooney’s star power, we would not have Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck Grantedm the same power also gets us Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate, a movie that literally killed a movie studio, United Artists.

We’ve come to an awareness that it is talent, not process, that creates great entertainment. (Arguably, process can create good entertainment, but never reach “great”). But we’re a long long way from giving talent the kind of control they have in other fields; in most content industries, the middle tier of content creators have no real power, but the top tier is more powerful than the people who pay them. Is this a desirable state?

Also, another factor in glamor is that it selects for the folks who have the skill to glamorize, not necessarily the skill to make things. Bruce argues that these things often go hand in hand, because after all, the process of constructing a persona is fundamentally a design task. But it is also an act of performance — therefore, consider how vanishingly few are the number of folks who are balanced on that razor’s edge of performer and introvert creator… how much more likely are we to get the performer who is a design poseur?

And even if we didn’t, would we expect the wrong thing from stars? Stars are basically brands — although Sterling points out that a brand is nothing more than a label seared into a material, and therefore growing incresingly obsolete in a gizmo and then spime world. But brads do stumble — especially content creators, especially great ones, who may well have a higher ratio of failure precisely because they dare more. SimEarth wasn’t all that fun even as a software toy, because in the end, it rewarded your not interacting with it better than it rewarded your experimentation. The Sims Online dared try a lot of things, and fell Icarus-fashion. And these are from Will Wright, justly acclaimed as a true genius in the field. What batting average should we expect from the merely extraordinarily gifted?

The game industry has no aesthetic of noble failure. It’s debatable whether any entertainment product industry ought to. Uh, of course, we’re trying to evolve out of “product,” Bruce says… then again, in the culture industry, and in the gizmo-to-spime world, the noble failure is one of those extremely valuable bits of history to be datamined…

There is far more in this slender book. I’ve stopped here at only the halfway mark.

If you design, I think you should check it out.

  35 Responses to “Shaping Games”

  1. it a number of times. Like… *wow*. IGN: Good Clean Fun: A Parent’s Guide to Videogames Wordy, worthy, but worthwhile. BORN DEAD Warren scares the bejesus out of joss whedon fans. Raph’s Website » Shaping Games This is seriously fracking advanced thinking. HUGE.

  2. it a number of times. Like… *wow*. IGN: Good Clean Fun: A Parent’s Guide to Videogames Wordy, worthy, but worthwhile. BORN DEAD Warren scares the bejesus out of joss whedon fans. Raph’s Website » Shaping Games This is seriously fracking advanced thinking. HUGE.

  3. Spime Watch VI Raph Koster, author of “Theory of Fun.”http://www.raphkoster.com/2006/02/14/shaping-games/ “Our use of metrics in the game industry is nigh on nonexistent. We know close to nothing about how exactly people play our games. Despite the fact that we play on connected computers, running software that is full of event triggers that could be

  4. Cardio is something alot of us hate to do. Admit it. We all dread it… even I hate doing it, but at the same time, at the corner of our mind, we do realise that it is important and a must if you want to improve your fitness levels. Some of us do it to shed some pounds, and some do it to keep the fat off and the abs fully visible. However, how do we get the most out of our time on a treadmill/stepper, etc and at what intensity do we need train at?

  5. This is not in direct relation to this post…But I havn’t found a way to e-mail you :)

    I run a San Diego Futurist group and would like to invite you to speak to us. If you are open to such a prospect (it involves free food, but no pay) then I’d be happy to discuss details.

    Basic info can be found: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sdfuturists/

  6. [...] Comments [...]

  7. Bruce argues that these things often go hand in hand, because after all, the process of constructing a persona is fundamentally a design task.

    Hahahahahahaha. The talent of creating a glamorous persona does not necessarily imply any other talent, whatsoever. See: Paris Hilton.

    Stars are basically brands — although Sterling points out that a brand is nothing more than a label seared into a material, and therefore growing incresingly obsolete in a gizmo and then spime world.

    I’m not sure I agree with Sterling’s assertion. The iPod is a gizmo, but it is also one of the most powerful brands of our time.

    Compare the iPod to the Walkman. Walkman didn’t have a distinctive design. It was a boring black box, with “Walkman” printed on it. Anybody could make a boring black box. The brand became diluted rather quickly, as people referred to any small portable radio with headphones as a “walkman.”

    The iPod wasn’t even remotely the first mp3 player out there. However, it made improvements on the ones that came before, it quickly established a reputation for high quality, and above all else, it had a design you could recognize from across a room. Everyone knows what an iPod is, but no one would never call another mp3 player an iPod.

    The Walkman represents Sterling’s “label seared into a material,” but the iPod’s branding is inherent in its very design.

    (I haven’t read Sterling’s book, so I’m curious if maybe he was trying to make the same point, after a fashion.)

    If stars become obsolete, it is only because their power has been diluted by the trashy demi-stars of reality programming. The need they fill often has nothing to do with anything resembling actual talent. Let’s face it, many stars are really not that talented, and many talented people never become stars. The crux of it is: We don’t live in small villages anymore, so stars provide a sort of shared pseudo-village for us to gossip about (and occasionally witches to burn). Marilyn Monroe was our Homecoming Queen, and John Cusack was the boy-next-door.

    Are they brands? Sure, but they’re more than that, too. And some of them are made by gizmos, rather than facing obsolescence because of them.

    But brands do stumble — especially content creators, especially great ones, who may well have a higher ratio of failure precisely because they dare more.

    See: Star Wars.

    The game industry has no aesthetic of noble failure.

    That depends on what you mean by failure. We have a tragic number of noble sales failures — really good games that just didn’t sell enough copies. With respect to other failures, though, game fans feel deeply betrayed, if you do not live up to your promises. They can be extremely unforgiving and vicious, when they feel that a game has not lived up to its hype.

    I think that there may sometimes be a sense of noble failure in games that went well into production, but were never released. Fans who might otherwise be filled with vitriol, are instead overwhelmed with a wistful sadness over what might have been. For years to come, they’ll bellow, “If only they’d finished making XYZ!”

  8. I believe the mmorpg genre has some “noble failures” in the minds of the mmorpg communities. Possibly because the visionary strength of most (in the eyes of the gaming populace as a whole) failed mmorpgs has been alot stronger than the execution of the design.

    One problem here is however that almost all failed mmorpg’s appears to fail on project management and funding rather than by poor game design. (Not even a gathering of “Shining Geniouses” can make a successful anything if told to stop developing at halfway to finished. And the reason for project failure is rarely blamed on a design.) The big mmo publishers seem to have solved the project management issues at the sacrifice of risk mitigation. The indie developers just cant make pretty enough games (or screenshots) to communicate a visionary statement trought the networks.

    The power of “entertainers” in the mmo sphere is fairly obvious, but somewhat backwards. The users are more powerful than the designers, and they are empowered by having methods to communicate which are in synch with the games they play. Imagine if David Letterman himself was acting in all the movies his show promotes, and instead of having some other actor there saying how good the new movie is he goes:

    “In this movie I was some kind of Rambo-guy who lacked charisma and did several boring things, this movie kinda sux because its director lacked inspiration.” This is what most politcally powerful gamers say about most mmorpg’s after a few weeks of betatesting.

    (Okay, David Letterman would quickly stop being a popular entertainer, but online is a different medium as is well known here.)

    The mmorpg gaming networks also give you “inappropriate project managagement points” based on what your indie website looks like. Environmental awareness when it comes to filtering out poor mmorpg team management is important to the powerful gamers today since moving to a game that isnt a GREAT improvement compared to staying in the current game will damage your political power as gaming leader.

    By “buying” Tigole and Furor Blizzard makes the promise to alot of people that their game will be good enough for a serious move, these gaming leaders are a valuable resource (which generally isnt being mined yet).

    The “mmorpg” as brand is square in the middle of the Walkman analogy Tess mentioned, altho some people will think of the walkman as the black box, while some others will claim the iPod also is a walkman.

    (Right? If so Virtual Worlds need their iPod, and WoW is along the wrong axis to do that.) :P

  9. As a product designer, I’ll be watching this thread with interest. I would, however, point out that experienced industrial designers also don’t “go for the books on the aesthetics of chairs”; at least no more than any other interested consumer. Aesthetics are actually a rather small part of the actual job. If that was all there was to it, we’d be “sculptors” or (to use one of the verbotten terms among many IDers) “stylists”.

  10. [...] Well-known Sony employee and game designer, Raph Koster, discussing Bruce Sterling’s book, “Shaping Things” – Link to his blog entry. Might be of interest to the futurist crowd. [...]

  11. I don’t know about Sterling’s comments here. Brands can’t exist without cloth? What??? Brands are just names, names around which to rally your consumers, and can exist as .JPG’s just as easily as they exist with thread.

    Regarding “history”, from the quote it seems he and you are talking about different things. I think he is talking about history on a per-consumer basis whereas you are talking about history on a per-product or per-genre basis. I’m not sure we all need to know about games from 30 years ago (even though I can count myself among those who have played them). And it sounds like Sterling is more interested in the history of current consumers, i.e. what did they buy in the last 6 months. That some developers and genres have a good sense of history is enough. Other developers and niches will push the market other, newer directions. Overall the last 5 years is far more important than the preceding 25.

    I also think that we have people in our industry who spend their entire time trying to understand customers. They are called publishers and they choose products to fund based on how well they think they will be received by consumers. I believe that EA has a lot of data about consumer histories and cares about it far more than other “design” issues. Their conclusion, “take an idea that works and add 1-4 slightly innovative tweaks”, just isn’t very flattering for us who want to make innovative games. However, given their market dominance (and despite recent hiccups), they seem to have at least some insight here.

    I tend to think that history isn’t always that important and that often what is most important is the event that is completely contrary to past expectations, i.e. the creation of a new niche that was unexpected. And there is where talent is important. More than a sense of history I think that a talent and ability to think beyond “the expected” is required to take a market and reshape around something truly new.

  12. My wife studies history, and one of the big sayings they repeat like a mantra is that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.

    When you say that the game industry stinks at remembering lessons of the past I think that you couldn’t be more right. I wish it were an illness only faced by the gaming industry, as of late it is obvious hollywood isn’t paying attention to either what they are being told, or their failures.

    History is more than just a lesson of what not to do (hehe, like Smedly messing w/ EQ2 and SWG) It seems to me that if the industry would have a short talk with the ghost of the MMO not so recent past they’d have a better chance of making something that will move the world… at least for “sufficient” number of people who buy it.

    Now for my soap box, not everyone can be WoW; but if you are making a profit, enjoy it, build on what you have.

  13. I don’t know about Sterling’s comments here. Brands can’t exist without cloth? What??? Brands are just names, names around which to rally your consumers, and can exist as .JPG’s just as easily as they exist with thread.

    I think that’s exactly what he’s saying. Brands are(or will be) just names in a Gizmo/Spime filled world. But, like you, I think he’s probably off the mark there.

    I tend to think that history isn’t always that important and that often what is most important is the event that is completely contrary to past expectations, i.e. the creation of a new niche that was unexpected.

    In order to exceed or be completely contrary to ‘past expectations’ you have to have an understanding of what came before, you have to know a bit of the history leading up to your new creation. Otherwise, how would you know it was new to begin with? :P

  14. Chair Games

    Back in December, I briefly pondered whether there was an equivalent of the chair for game designers. After some discussions, I think I have an answer, which I

  15. Regarding “history”, from the quote it seems he and you are talking about different things. I think he is talking about history on a per-consumer basis whereas you are talking about history on a per-product or per-genre basis.

    Actually, he’s talking about it on a per-object basis, but perhaps more importantly, on a per-design basis, where each design may iterate on the previous design. Each spime tracks all interaction history, basically, and that data is all searchable, indexable, and trendable, used to refine the next spime — since each spime is “fabbed,” and essentially a custom creation tailored to the user, this is a critical step.

  16. FWIW, his argument on brands is that in a world where all info about a produst is not only at our fingertips, but broadcast by the object, making decisions absed on brand will fade. At least, that’s how I understand what he’s saying. (He reads the blog from time to time, so maybe he’ll comment).

    I don’t know that I agree with that either. If anything, the “designery” comments he makes add up to branding, to me.

  17. The Spime appears awfully hard to use, until it becomes a Biot I’m guessing the spime market will have be small.

    (Cellphones will try it but since you replace them so often they wont get a decent standar as spime.)

  18. Actually, he’s talking about it on a per-object basis, but perhaps more importantly, on a per-design basis, where each design may iterate on the previous design. Each spime tracks all interaction history, basically, and that data is all searchable, indexable, and trendable, used to refine the next spime — since each spime is “fabbed,” and essentially a custom creation tailored to the user, this is a critical step.

    I guess I meant on a transaction basis which is really what seems to be key here. You seem to be talking about different sorts of design features of M.U.L.E., i.e. how it relates to other designs. You are describing a design-design relationship. He seems to be describing a design-consumer relationship. We don’t really know what design-consumer relationships M.U.L.E. had. We might know how many units were sold but that’s about it.

    FWIW, his argument on brands is that in a world where all info about a produst is not only at our fingertips, but broadcast by the object, making decisions absed on brand will fade

    I’m not sure I understand spimes completely, but they seem to be a tool for producers, not consumers. Consumers, I assume, will be less interested in spime data and more interested in ads and “names” that they here from other people (consumers are capable of having far greater amounts of information at their fingertips right now — most simply choose not to exercise this ability). It’s not even clear to me why a producer would want a consumer to be looking at that info. If anything it seems like they will push consumers to brands even moreso as it will be easier to locate brands that are popular, and easier for producers to create brands with massive appeal. Branding and spimes seem to be mutually reinforcing.

  19. Well, M.U.L.E. clearly isn’t a spime. So we cannot use it as a spime.

    I think he’d object to the usage of “a design-consumer relationship.” His whole point is that the nature of the relationship changes. You are no longer a passive consumer, you are going beyond actively engaging with the dataworld of the object, as with today’s gizmos, but actively affecting it. Spimes are not a tool for the designer; the designer IS the wrangler, in a certain sense. Meaning, there’s a true designer, but there’s also heavy interaction with the wrangler that goes towards shaping the object in its future iterations.

    It’s not that the producer wants the wrangler looking at that info — it’s that the wrangler wants it. The most basic case is “where is this object?’ which is used to find it when you’ve lost track of it. “Who took my sweater?” “Who tracked in this mud?” “WHo broke this knick knack?” “what channels are preferred on the TV?” There’s really a zillion use cases.

    His argument as regards brands is that once the brand no longer hides all the nasty details behind the process of creating and using a given object, displaying the sweatshops in China where it was maybe made, showing the precise markup that the retailer charged, and so on, that many of the attributes of a brand get undermined. People will see the differences between two objects bearing the same brand much more clearly, for example.

    At least, that’s my interpretation of it. I’m not saying I fully agree with it, mind you… if you disagree, your debate is really with him. :) I personally think that brands are too powerful to go away — they are the “chunking” of attributes that we use to navigate an overly dense information landscape. An increase in info isn’t going to change that.

  20. At least, that’s my interpretation of it. I’m not saying I fully agree with it, mind you… if you disagree, your debate is really with him. :) I personally think that brands are too powerful to go away — they are the “chunking” of attributes that we use to navigate an overly dense information landscape. An increase in info isn’t going to change that.

    I think it would delineate it further. Since with the overly dense information you could query where the object / brand came from and how it was made. So the sweatshops in China would be a data point you can discern over and then the new designer of a new brand would have to take into account that spimes / biots of certain people don’t like that datapoint so there is a niche there.

    It is an interesting dichotomy in that the trends are there to search back into, but the true designer will be the one that sees the gaps and either exploit or provide something to fill them. Because from the consumers point of view they just are getting what they want.

  21. [...] Been reading this article by Raph regarding design and he is review a book by Bruce Sterling who is a sci fi writer and one that I like. It is like a double scoop of goodness. He has some interesting points on how the objects of the future are going to be designed. Should be intriguing to see if commercialism moves that way. [...]

  22. [...] Thanks Julian for pointing me on Raph Koster’s thought about Bruce Sterling’s Shaping Things. The blogpost deals with the connection game designers can draw from the book. Here are some exerpts I found pertinent: Gizmos are what we live in and around today: networked objects, highly featured and accreting more every day, user-alterable, and essentially interfaces more than objects. Those who use them are now end-users. (…) Our use of metrics in the game industry is nigh on nonexistent. We know close to nothing about how exactly people play our games. Despite the fact that we play on connected computers, running software that is full of event triggers that could be datamined, we still playtest by locking a few dozen people in a room and asking them what they think. Regarded in that fashion, it’s simply astounding that the games are working at all. (…) We tend to datamine a fairly good set of metrics from our games, but they are almost all aimed at tuning the game, rather than being aimed at understanding the player. One of the comments that Bruce makes about gizmos is that they invite the user into the process (…) The passive consumer is a dying breed. (…) Bruce goes on to discuss rapid prototyping, which he dismisses as primitive. His real goal is something he calls “fabbing,” which is basically the apotheosis of the current 3d printers. But it strikes me that just as virtual spaces with user modeling are pretty good pre-visualizers, it’s objects in a virtual world like Second Life that are really true spimes: ‘fabbed,’ in his sense, by being created just by specifying them; often higher in detail in the spec than can actually be rendered; networked and capable of intercommunication, tracking their own history, and so on; and even possibly transparent, in the event of the ability to copy some of the script code off of one. [...]

  23. [...] Raph’s Website: Shaping Games Raph Koster applies Shaping Things to games design. “It’s objects in a virtual world like Second Life that are really true spimes”. Regrets the lack of the “noble failure” in games – how big mistakes are dumped instead of studied and learned from. (tags: videogames books design) [...]

  24. I just finished reading the book, and while I admit that some of it flew over my head, and some of it seemed more like the rantings of a futurist, the one thing that struck me was the indication that the data generated by objects in a SPIMES world would eventually be more valuble than the object itself. That led me to the thought that perhapes in the future of games, and MMO’s in particular, the client would be given away or at least sold very cheaply because the data generated by each user would be of more value.

    Some of this is being used by players of MMO’s today. Plug-ins or GUI enhancements track a player’s information and they move through the game world and report trends back to the user. For example a World of Warcraft GUI records where a player collected a particular resource and then places a dot on the users mini map telling them what they found there. Using this information the user can spot trends in resources.

  25. [...] Shaping Games 2006-02-18 ..:: I LOVE BEER MATS ..:: [...]

  26. [...] To give you a bit of background, the room is full to the brim with what Tim O’Reilly calls alpha geeks: Dave Sifry from Technorati is onstage as I write this; Ray Ozzie and Esther Dyson are present, as are Waxy, three of the four BoingBoingers, Bruce Sterling. Web 2.0 is coughing and picking its nose right here in this room, and for the first time proper, games are beginning to pop up here and there on the ETech radar. Raph’s been musing recently on what should happen if Web 2.0 met gaming. I’m watching it happen, right here. [...]

  27. [...] Another update: Raph Koster on Spimes & Second Life… "it strikes me that just as virtual spaces with user modeling are pretty good pre-visualizers, it’s objects in a virtual world like Second Life that are really true spimes: ‘fabbed,’ in his sense, by being created just by specifying them; often higher in detail in the spec than can actually be rendered; networked and capable of intercommunication, tracking their own history, and so on; and even possibly transparent, in the event of the ability to copy some of the script code off of one. [...]

  28. [...] Recently work has got in the way, most particularly in relation to stuff I want to talk about. As such posting volume has gone down; apart from links which by definition can’t be anything other than commentary on what is already common knowledge. Yet I’ve been encouraged to keep talking about stuff, most especially stuff that ahs not relation to work and getting over the hump of talking about things is half the issue so I’ll give it a go. How many razors can a man want? The Economist considers. Some classic Basil Rathbone movies to download free and legally. Sherlock Holmes in Dressed To Kill and Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (yes Hannah, I’ll get you Charade). The social functions of location in mobile phone conversations (asnwer, it’s a lot). An insightful BBC article on BitTorrent and traffic shaping. Free (legal) download of the Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins album (from which the title of this post is taken). A brief pictoral history of hard drives (full of joy and beauty). You can apply Shaping Things (a very good book) to all sorts of things, for example, Shaping Games. You can be assured that I am also thinking about other places to apply it, however… [...]

  29. [...] a good example of what I’m talking about. So much for publishing early to avoid being scooped . . .(Post a new comment) Log in now.(Create account, or useOpenID) [...]

  30. [...] Back when I discussed my reactions to Bruce Sterling’s Shaping Things, I talked a bit about how virtual world objects are true spimes: Sterling’s neologism for objects that exude information. Well, here’s the 360, acting as a spime (minus the transience). Only it’s bringing something else to the table: personality. [...]

  31. [...] The better you target your news, the greater the number of interested people who will see it. Learn More (it’s free!) Logged in as demo. Login Feedback Discussion – Register (no email required) – del.icio.us demo accounts – CleverCS – Web 2.0 Everyone’sSubmitted Links (2374) My TargetedLinks (17) My TargetingLinks (61) My LikedLinks (99) My DislikedLinks (9) My SubmittedLinks (27) Link Surfing Mode Raph’s Website » Shaping Games – http://www.raphkoster.com/... design, videogames, toread, rpg, games, future, findability, brucesterling, books more like this / fewer like this – family – targeting – reply 0 points, submitted 62 days ago [...]

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