MailbagMailbag: High Seas

 Posted by (Visited 4041 times)  Mailbag
Dec 212012
 

Raph,

You probably don’t remember me, but I played Metaplace a while back. We talked a lot about your ship game and you shared a link with me of the music you made. I cannot find that conversation!! Nor can I find the music on your site (unless I forgot what it was called). It was epic and I want to listen to it again.

Also, I know that Metaplace is no more but is the High Seas game out there anywhere to play for fun? If not, you should host it on your web server. It would be epic to play it again :(

- Crystal

I am tickled that anyone remembers either the game or the music! Especially given that we are coming up on the third anniversary of the closing of Metaplace.com… hard to believe it has been that long.

The music is called “The Knyghte’s Daliaunce,” as it was not originally meant as a pirate tune at all. I posted it up on the blog (with a chord chart) ages ago. It is also on the general Music page along with links to my album (it’s not on the album though). I really should record a new version of it sometime. Anyway, here you go:

Continue reading »

MusicThe Sunday Song: Zombie Christmas Trees

 Posted by (Visited 9264 times)  Music  Tagged with: , ,
Dec 092012
 

We chop the poor trees down, then stick them in embalming fluid to keep them alive for a few weeks while we use them as our helpless servants; then we throw them away to wither in a landfill. If that isn’t a zombie, what is?

This little ditty came about because of something my daughter said — I don’t remember what exactly. But she rolled her eyes a lot when I said that it gave me this idea. If you like, you can think of it as a spiritual sequel to “Dead Cheerleaders.”

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-download here

I just wrote this yesterday and recorded it in a few hours today. I play it up at Capo VII, fingerpicked, but in the recording I added a couple more guitars to give it body and it sort of turned into a 70s country rock song. Sorry about that. The fingerpicked line is on the Baby Taylor, and the rhythm parts are on the Blueridge, and I just doubled it through an amp simulator to get some crunch and space in it. And added a bass part and a fake Hammond organ.

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Game talkWritingHelp me revise A Theory of Fun!

 Posted by (Visited 10765 times)  Game talk, Writing  Tagged with:
Dec 052012
 

Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the publication of A Theory of Fun as a book. The publisher is planning a second edition in full color!

The contract isn’t signed just yet, because I owe them an outline for the revisions. Needless to say, I get to do revised text, and this is where I would like to ask for help. The book is so widely used by folks in the industry that I want to make sure that it has all of the right stuff in it — updated science, latest thinking on game cognition and learning, new thoughts on game ethics — all of it.

I would love to get more eyes on the problem. So if you’re up for it, I would love for as many people as possible to

  • (re)read the book – hey, it’s short!
  • make a note of everywhere you want to argue, and tell me where and why. I’ll argue back in the actual text (well, I’ll try to make my case better, how’s that).
  • make a note of any useful or cool references, science, news, or whatever that fits with what is already there. A lot has happened in ten years.
  • any errata? (I already know about the mistake in the drawing of the go board… anything else?)

I realize this is a huge favor… needless to say, anyone who helps will get acknowledged in the new edition.

Another thing that has come up occasionally is use of the book in a classroom setting. If anyone here has ideas on how to make it better for that use, I’d love to hear about those too. Are you an academic who has used the book in a classroom setting? Do you have study guide questions or discussion topics? I am currently unsure whether this sort of material would land in the book or on the website, but given how widely it’s used for this purpose, it seems like a great resource to make available.

Finally, there’s the possibility of adding other new stuff. I don’t want to try cramming game grammar into a single new chapter, but… if there were additional material of some sort in the book, like a whole new chapter, what would you want it to be?

Feel free to add whatever you can in the comment thread here, or to use the contact form to connect with me on this (I’m not going to post an email address here, to avoid spam, but if you use the form, I can email back).

I’m excited about this — though I do expect that most of my time will be spent coloring the cartoons. :)

 

Nov 302012
 

How Games Think title slideI have finally gotten around to posting up the slides and the notes for my talk delivered in Shanghai just before Thanksgiving.

The notes are actually pretty representative of the actual speech as delivered — we had real-time translation going on, so I kept the pace very deliberate and avoided my usual rattle-stuff-off-a-mile-a-minute sort of delivery. If you go to this link you can see the slides as individual images with the notes interspersed.

If that isn’t to your taste, and you want just the slides, you can find a PDF of the slides here instead.

Afterwards, one of the Chinese attendees came up to me and told me it had been “a faith-building talk.” I can only presume that the folks working in the industry in China have the same crises of faith that we do here in the West. :)

There was some coverage in Chinese, I am sure, given that there were reporters there from a few sites. But the only article I’ve found from China is this one. However, Gamasutra was there, and wrote up an article.

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Game talkKeynoting GDC China

 Posted by (Visited 9554 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , , ,
Nov 132012
 

I’ve been sadly neglectful of this blog! In the last few weeks, particularly, because I have been fighting off some sort of nasty flu thing… still have a lingering cough, in fact, and it’s been more than two weeks!

So that meant that while I was flat out in bed, I missed the official announcement about the talk I am giving at GDC China this weekend. It’s been years since I was in Shanghai, so I am looking forward to this!

As far as what the talk is about… well, it’s sort of an extension of the lines of thought from the Project Horseshoe talk Influences and the GDC Online talk It’s All Games Now, and even a little bit from the Theory of Fun 10 Years Later talk. Basically, it’s about the patterns of thinking that games tend to encourage… and how these ways of thinking may be affecting us culturally. After all, if games do their work in large part via neuroplasticity, then that means that the cognitive habits we are picking up as gamers must be having an impact on how we think about, well, everything.

What might those cognitive habits be? And what impact might that have?

It’s a keynote, and supposed to be “inspirational,” so it’s in a lot of ways a rather light treatment of the subject… but I think there’s a lot to dig into there, and not all of it is unalloyed good… instead, it will be a picture of trade-offs. For example, just recently I read an article on how the neural pathways for empathy and the neural pathways of logical thinking seem to be mutually exclusive; you can’t do both at the same time. You have to emotionally detach yourself to be able to do true systems analysis, but if you are conditioned to approach the world analytically, does this mean that you are conditioned to avoid empathy? Pure speculation, and of course the answer will not be clear-cut.

Anyway, here’s the details on the talk:

Continue reading »

Oct 112012
 

Well, we basically winged it, but it was a blast. We told stories, mostly out of order; fessed up to bad code and goofy decisions and being painfully young; and lamented the loss of that sens of crazy freedom.

Luckily, Gamasutra has you covered if you weren’t in the full house.

In the alpha, the team had wolves that chased rabbits across the map as part of its emergent gameplay system.

In those early days, the rabbits would actually level up if they got into a fight with a wolf and managed to escape.

“People would wander off in the alpha and try to kill a rabbit, and pretty soon they were playing Monty Python: The MMO,” joked Koster.

The game was tweaked to disallow this, though Koster confesses that they left one monster rabbit in the world when the final game shipped.

I wore my original UO shirt… and forgot to point it out! Doh!

Basically, during the period when we were skunkworks and ignored by the company (it was mutual, we ignored them back) we did our own marketing. So that meant we made our own t-shirts with a made-up logo. And I still have that shirt, in surprisingly good shape for being from 1996. All credit to Clay Hoffman for making it, way back when…

 

 

Game talkGDCOnline: Online Game Legend

 Posted by (Visited 5256 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Oct 112012
 

20121011-084615.jpg

Last night i was given the Online Game Legend Award at the GDC Choice Online awards show. Rich Vogel gave a touching introduction. I think he was more nervous than I was!

This is a reasonable facsimile of the little acceptance speech I gave. The real thing was filmed and is up on twitch.tv or Gamespot somewhere… edit: Oh, here: http://www.twitch.tv/gamespot/b/335135808

I don’t feel like I deserve this, but i am happy to pretend that I do!

I want to thank all of those people whose credit I am taking, many of whom are here tonight. You know who you are. It’s 16 years worth of names and I can’t possibly say them all.

I do want to say some things that I have learned.

First, don’t make my mistakes. I’ve made many. You’ve played them. Make new ones.

Listen and learn, especially from your players.

Share it all back.

Don’t settle. Dare, instead.

Love what you do.

But a hard-won lesson here: Love your family more. Spend time with them too.

My mom asked me to say this: soy Latino. Most people don’t seem to know… So it can be done.

In theory I have more career years ahead of me than behind. I guess I’m going to have to come up with something new!

Thank you.

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Oct 102012
 

Here are the slides for the design track keynote I gave yesterday, as a PDF. Edit: thanks to Alexandre Houdent for providing a version of the PDF that works on all OSes…

Among the topics: a recap of Theory of Fun, discussion of what I would change about it today, and all the thoughts it led me to: game grammar, games as art, games as math, the ethics of games, gamification, etc. With a dash of Classical philosophy.

I had the shakes bad before I started… but it felt like it came together in the end.

Apologies to anyone whose face I rendered unrecognizable. And the unlabelled woman is Jane McGonigal.

The press coverage so far:

A challenge for you all: can you name all these people without peeking at the slides? Continue reading »

Game talkMailbagMailbag: I want to become a designer

 Posted by (Visited 19037 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with:
Sep 262012
 

Dear Raph Koster,

I want to become a Game Designer.

As a child I used to judge games very harshly on things like graphics and funness. Although as I’ve grown older I’ve seen there is a lot more to games then meets the eye. I don’t want to sound all professional and stodgy, I’ve just reached the stage in my life where I need to choose my path. Whether it is the correct one will be with the help of you.

I want to be a Game Designer. There are courses at Universities specifically for Designing games or Programming for games, (programming is what I would want to start doing in the industry) although it feels like I’m just the same as everyone else who picked up a controller or keyboard and said “I can do better than this”.

Simply put I was hoping you could give me some advice on how to achieve my dream. The fun is in the learning as a well written book once taught me (wink wink), and the Gaming industry is ever growing.

Thank you for your time,

H_____ P_____.

Sure.

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Game talkThe Gametrekking Omnibus

 Posted by (Visited 5369 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Sep 252012
 

A long while ago, I pointed readers of the blog towards Freedom Bridge, a notgame about Freedom Bridge.

I also later mentioned that the creator was doing a Kickstarter to go off for a few years and live in Asia and make games like these about his experience.

I just got email from Jordan Magnuson letting me know that not only was the Kickstarter funded, but he’s done!

I just wanted to let you know that the project was successfully funded, and as of today, is officially concluded… I’ve released a downloadable collection of all my Gametrekking creations (along with a brief retrospective) at http://www.gametrekking.com/blog/the-gametrekking-omnibus-and-a-brief-retrospective

I have not been able to dive deeply into all of it yet, but what I have played can only be described as poetic.
I hesitate to say “enjoy!” — so let me rather say, go look, experience, and appreciate.