It’s been a while, as usual. Well, here’s a major update for you. I’ve been working on the site for several days just trying to get it up to date, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the news portion.
Many of you may know about the two documentaries being made on the topic of online worlds. I was interviewed by both of them, as it happens. Avatars Offline will be screening at GDC–and that will be my first chance to see it, too! Daniel Liatowisch interviewed me many months ago and I don’t remember what I said. I hope nothing embarrassing.
The other one is called Real People, Virtual Worlds, and Tracy Spaight interviewed me for it at the recent UO Faire here in Austin. He’s got a video clip of part of my interview up on the website, retelling “A Story About A Tree.”
There’s also action on the print front. I got permission from Computer Games to reprint the interview with Mark Asher, so that’s up here now. But there’s also a question and answer I did for the IGDA website on junior designers up too. There’s a new book forthcoming, by Mark Stephen Meadows, called Pause & Effect which is on interactive design in general. I’m interviewed in it, as are other folks such as Harvey Smith. I also answered a brief interview for Eric Zimmerman (he of SiSSYFiGHT fame) and Katie Salen for their forthcoming book from MIT Press entitled Game+Design: An Interactive Design Handbook.
There’s more possible action on the book font, but nothing I think I can talk about yet.
In music news, once again, I’ve been asked if my music could be used on the soundtrack of those snowmobiling shows in Canada done by Lucas Productions Video. Once again, I said yes, sure! I also recorded a bunch of new pieces for them. No word yet on whether they’ll get used or where or when. Since the last update, I’ve gotten a full digital home studio up and running, so recording those new pieces wasn’t too hard. Audigy sound card, new mics to replace ones lost in the fire so long ago, new software–so I’m working on two CDs at once. One will be called “Longitude” and will feature all-new songs. The other has no title as of yet, but will be a collection of instrumental guitar work.
I should have updated the “Books Read” page because I have a backlog of literally dozens to include. But I didn’t just because I don’t know that anyone cares, and the backlog is so darn huge. Some of the notable things along those lines though–traded a few emails with Vernor Vinge after reading True Names and the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier, because he wanted to know about real-world antecedents to his story. I pointed him to the Online Worlds Timeline… also been trading emails with folks at the Oxford English Dictionary, trying to get Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer and Habitat credit for the VR use of the word “avatar.” the OED tried to credit it to Neal Stephenson and Snow Crash…
I’m in two writing workshops now. One is still Turkey City, birthplace of cyberpunk, yadda yadda yadda. The other is an offshoot called Tryptophan. This forces me to write fiction twice as often. However, since I’m going to actually try to publish some of those stories, I won’t be posting them on the website. What did get posted? Ah, glad you asked. Here’s a brief list:
- Gaming Links were updated to break up the “specific online worlds” section a bit, add a bunch of columns mostly over at Skotos, and add a recommended reading section.
- The Case For Art is a reprint with permission of an essay that was published on Biting the Hand last year.
- Junior Designers is the aforementioned piece on what a junior designer does, written for the IGDA.
- What Does It Take to Make a Successful Persistent Online World is the joint presentation from GDC 2001 that Rich Vogel and I did. (Not the design patterns one, the slides for that are already up).
- The Computer Games interview, as mentioned above.
- I updated the page on the USC talk with a scan of an article on it that has some photos.
- Added A Philosophical Statement on Playerkilling to the Essays section.
- Also added What My Job Is to the essays section.
- Many new “gaming snippets” covering:
- Is the future in smaller muds?
- Playing to bake bread
- “Cooperative games don’t have to be static…”
- The future of online worlds is “pvp”
- The evolution of UO’s economy
- SWG design process
- “Doomed, you’re all doomed” (my favorite snippet!)
- MUDs versus MMORPGs
- Playing as intended
- What is the appeal of MMOs?
- Should we pursue balance?
- Tabletop RPGing is basically dead
- Sex and violence in online games
- Content creation
- Database deflation
- The Online Worlds Timeline saw significant updates, as usual, as I cleared out six months worth of submitted material. Major new additions this time around:
- Much new info on TradeWars, courtesy of John Pritchett
- Much new info on the early days of Kesmai, courtesy of Kelton Flinn
- Finishes off the year 2001 with a lot of game closures… 🙁
- The year 2002 now has entries
- Publication dates for numerous books including “True Names”, “Johnny Mnemonic”, Shockwave Rider, Neuromancer, Otherland, and Wyrm
- Release dates for films including eXistenZ, Lawnmower Man, and WarGames
- The usual tiny trickle of people from PLATO days with minor corrections
GDC is coming up again, and I’m going to be there, running around like a checking with its head cut off. I’m doing a tutorial with Gordon Walton and Rich Vogel on running a Live service. I’m doing a panel with Gordon, Jessica Mulligan, and Rich Lawrence on 3rd generation online games. I’m doing a design lecture with Rich Vogel on “storytelling in the online medium,” and a production lecture with him as well. Plus there’ll be a MUD-Dev dinner, as usual, and I think also a storytelling designer’s dinner.
Which reminds me–that exact same dinner gathering at the last GDC led to hosting a two-day workshop on exactly that with a whole slew of folks here in Austin, in October of last year. Among the attendees: Steve Meretzky, David Perry, Ellen Guon Beeman, Particia Pizer, Eri Izawa, Warren Spector, Mark Terrano… and uh, more other folks than I can remember. It was great. I believe that at some point the transcripts of the sessions will be made public.
I’m sure there was more news, but if I keep going, I’ll have to change the date on the news post to tomorrow. So I’ll stop now… 🙂