Game talkInteractive Mountain

 Posted by (Visited 3675 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Jul 102014
 

mountaingameEveryone is talking about Mountain.

Mountain is a game where you see a 3d mountain. It can be turned. You can play some notes on the keyboard. The mountain does things on its own. Trees grow, clouds, etc. It “says” things. Stuff falls from the sky. It’s pretty.

There is nothing you can do to affect the mountain, at least not that anyone has discovered.

Now, obviously this is the sort of thing that would get called “not a game.” And in fact, while praising it, some get perilously close to saying exactly that, in academic lingo:

Just to be clear: Mountain is not a text. It shouldn’t be treated as one. Mountain is best understood as an exercise in form — it’s a small, contained work that depicts and explores a mountain as an object.

At Critical Proximity I pointed out that the avant-garde/art/whatever games would have been called “formalist” in any other medium, so I like this observation.

Here’s Brendan Keogh reacting negatively to Mountain:

I thought I would write a piece about how it makes a point of nothing-ness in a really interesting way. In its menu, where it explains the controls, both ‘keys’ and ‘mouse’ are said to do “NOTHING” despite this being clearly false (keys play musical notes and the mouse rotates and tilts the mountain). It seemed like an explicit commentary on videogames and nothingness, and I thought that would be cool.

But I found it so boring.

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Game talkGamemakingPrivateer Online

 Posted by (Visited 4006 times)  Game talk, Gamemaking  Tagged with: , ,
Jun 192014
 

privateeronline7In the wake of the excitement over No Man’s Sky and its procedural worlds, I thought that it might be a good time to tell some of the story around the version of Privateer Online that I worked on, that never saw the light of day.

After I moved off the UO team, I worked on several MMO concepts for Origin. The mandate was explicitly “come up with something that we can make using the UO server and client pretty much intact, without big changes, because we need it quick.” This limited the possible projects enormously, of course.

So I started developing one-sheet concepts that fit the bill. None of them got farther than a few pages, and the idea was to give execs some choices on what we would go make.

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Jun 112014
 

Apple-looks-to-standardize-iBeacon-manufacturing-by-third-parties.jpgCreate a tiny computer using as small a chip you can get.

Stick a Bluetooth LE or equivalent transmitter on it. Even better if you can get GPS. Even more if you can get a low power cellphone chip.

Call this a node.

A node has a unique id. Nodes get stuck on objects in a non-removable way. So basically, you have a ThingID.

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GamemakingMonkey-X

 Posted by (Visited 4484 times)  Gamemaking  Tagged with:
May 132014
 

Monkey-X is my current favorite language for doing game prototypes and even full projects. It isn’t at all widely known, and has more than a few rough edges, but I still find it congenial and thought I’d share so that more people will give it a try.

When I went looking for something to code in, I had the following criteria:

  • Get stuff on screen in under an hour. Ideally, under ten minutes.
  • Output to as many platforms as possible.
    • Web, because that is useful for accessibility, Facebook, demos, and more.
    • Desktop, because that’s where midcore and core gamers still live.
    • Mobile, because the whole world is moving to touch.
  • Avoid porting. Porting is tedious and expensive. Yes, you get the advantage of maximizing use of the hardware, but the fact is that there’s a lot of headroom on hardware these days.
  • A community large enough to supply libraries for things I don’t want to write myself. I am no great shakes as a coder, you see.
  • Syntax that doesn’t make my eyes cross (looking at you, Objective C).
  • Garbage collection. Why? Because I always mess it up, and then it gets in the way of being productive.

Monkey-X met these criteria, though the community is still pretty small.

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May 112014
 

It has been a very long time since I posted a Sunday Poem. That is because it has been a long time since I wrote a poem. But here is one that popped out the other day.

047500-rounded-glossy-black-icon-sports-hobbies-people-woman-runner Afternoon Joggers

The way they run, struggling against invisible wind,
Great gusts in their chests buffeting them
Like hurricaned pines.

These flagellates billow out each afternoon,
Tilt up slopes I cannot see, at windmills I will not.
They sigh in each night.

This is their duty to themselves, their dream
Of spasms and joints and jolt, their Sisyphean journey
From wind sprints to wind sprites.

047485-rounded-glossy-black-icon-sports-hobbies-people-man-runner

This, however, saves you from the one that my mom found today, that I wrote for her for Mother’s Day in the third or fourth grade. :)

May 072014
 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the financial future of developers.

The supply chain for creative work

To go back a ways, back in 2006 I suggested that you could look at the winding path a piece of media takes to the public in this way:

086260-rounded-glossy-black-icon-business-dollar-solidA funder of some sort ponies up the money so that a creative can eat while they work. Sometimes this is self-funding, sometimes it’s an advance, sometimes it’s patronage.
020790-rounded-glossy-black-icon-symbols-shapes-thought-bubble-ps A creator actually makes the artwork.
066167-rounded-glossy-black-icon-people-things-people-securityAn editor serves the role of gatekeeper and quality check, deciding what makes it further up the ladder. They serve in a curatorial role not just for the sake of gatekeeping but also to keep the overall market from being impossible to navigate, and to maximize the revenue from a given work.
033343-rounded-glossy-black-icon-culture-castle-five-towersA publisher disseminates the work to the market under their name. A lot of folks might think this role doesn’t matter, but there are huge economies of scale in aggregating work; there’s boring tax. legal, and business reasons to do it; it serves brand identity, making the work easier, to market…
002953-rounded-glossy-black-icon-media-loudspeaker1Marketing channels make it possible for the artwork to be seen by the public: reviews, trade magazines, ads. This is how the public finds out something even exists.
040733-rounded-glossy-black-icon-transport-travel-z-truck25 Distributors actually convey the work to the store’s hands. This role functions in the background, but it’s absolutely critical. There’s a lot of infrastructure required.
086385-rounded-glossy-black-icon-business-tagStores then retail the packaged form of the artwork to the end customer. Stores have their own branding task, and likely serve as a curatorial and recommendation engine all over again, this time trying to find the right fit for the customer.
020767-rounded-glossy-black-icon-symbols-shapes-smiley-face1The audience then gets to experience the work.
009311-rounded-glossy-black-icon-arrows-arrow-circle-refreshRe-users then take the creation and restart the process in alternate forms; adaptations to movies, audiobooks, classic game packages, what have you.

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MiscIs this the future?

 Posted by (Visited 3110 times)  Misc
May 062014
 

Premise: Goods made of bits offer tremendous advantages to providers of said goods.

Therefore, any good that can be described in terms of bits will be.

Therefore, any good that cannot be described in terms of bits that can cheaply phone home will, in the name of better service, causing it to effectively be bits even if it has a physical manifestation.

Therefore, any good that can be described and experienced in terms of bits will cease to be owned and instead be a service.

Therefore, there will be ongoing service costs to all physical goods.

Therefore, because of economics, anything that is a service will eventually get the service turned off.

Therefore, the more we move to bits, the more we have the dead media problem for physical goods.

Observation: Anything with a service that is turned off will get hackers reverse-engineering a fake server to try to keep it functional. That said, I think in most cases platforms die. Hopefuly, a lot of stuff can function with a fake loopback of some sort.

So how long until the Doctrine of First Sale is obsolete entirely? Just wondering.

 

Game talk2048: Game Design Theory Edition

 Posted by (Visited 2187 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
May 022014
 

gametheory2048I have to post this here for posterity even though I already tweeted it yesterday. Anyone better at 2048 than I who can post the full list of everyone in it? I’ll update the post with the details. :) See below!

2048: Game Design Theory Edition. Made by Brian Upton.

I can’t get higher than Eric Zimmerman… my daughter saw Frank Lantz though.

Edit: the full list, as provided by commenters:

  1. Chris Crawford
  2. Greg Costikyan
  3. Jesse Schell
  4. Raph Koster
  5. Ernest Adams
  6. Marie-Laure Ryan
  7. Jesper Juul
  8. Eric Zimmerman
  9. Frank Lantz
  10. Ian Bogost
  11. Brenda Romero

Game talkGDC Next Call for Papers

 Posted by (Visited 1420 times)  Game talk
Apr 292014
 

headerIt’s that time again — GDC Next, the inheritor of the GDC Austin slot, is requesting submissions for talks. The high-level theme this year is, more or less, “after the game idea, what’s next?” We all know that the idea is in many ways the easiest part, and in this climate of maturing markets, knowing what else needs to be done to have a success is mattering more and more for people trying to make a living at games.

The tracks, and the stuff that we the advisory board want to get submissions on:

Community: including Live community, how and when to use social media, e-sporty stuff, games-as-experience, and everything else that touches on.

Discoverability: Early Access! YouTube! Twitch! How to get seen on the App Store! This section of topics has gotten incredibly important in the last few years, and there are a lot of things that successful indies are pulling off that are worth looking at.

Biz and marketing: Business 101 for game creators! How to tell a good offer from a bad one. How to manage growth. Crowdfunding postmortems. Is there an international market for your game?

Production: Cross-platform — obviously, but how? What are the tradeoffs of the various x-platform engines? And maybe even more importantly, which platforms and when in your game’s lifecycle? How to do test marketing! How to build an IP that a player remembers.

Design: The usual goodness. GDC Austin, and then Next, have historically had sky-high ratings for design talks, some of the best of any of the GDC’s. So game mechanics, stickiness, revenue, smartphone and tablet, all that.

So head on over to the site to get the full details and submit!