Game talkMy GDC and SXSW schedule

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Feb 282007

Well, here I am doing a whole bunch of talks and panels and stuff next week at the Game Developers Conference. What’s more, I go straight from there to SXSW Interactive, where I’ll do two more panels.

Here’s the short form, and the long form is after the jump.


Alas, this means I will miss this session which may be of particular interest to some readers here. I know it has some inspiration from the talk I gave two years ago, and can’t wait to finally see what they have developed!

A Working Notation for Game Design (Sponsored by ITI Techmedia)
Speaker: Paul Sheppard (R&D Programme Manager, ITI Techmedia), Andrew McLennan (Metaforic), Chris Walton (Metaforic)

Session Description
Making games that play well is an uncertain business, widely regarded as a black art. This session proposes a working notation for game design that can be used to understand games and why they work or fail. Real examples will be shown to illustrate the notation and its practical application.


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Game talkAreae’s still hiring…

 Posted by (Visited 5931 times)  Game talk
Feb 282007

But for all-new jobs! What we’re looking for:

  • An Art Director/Manager: someone who will be doing artwork of all sorts (3d, 2d, textures, concepts, models, etc — a versatile type basically), and managing artists remotely.
  • A Senior 3D Client Engineer to build a crossplatform 3D client. Gotta be someone who enjoys making killer tools, too.

We’ve got benefits, stock options, all that jazz. Drop a line to if one of these people is you!

Game talkStar Traders

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Feb 272007

Star Traders screenshotFor some reason, today was “REALLY retro” game day here at work. And after we moved from Star Raiders to the TRS-80 version of Space War, I remembered another oldie game I loved: Star Traders, which I played on an Osborne I running CP/M.

A quick Google later I find bsittler’s Home Page, which has some very familiar source code on it (scroll a bit down). I remember trying to port this very same source code from MS-BASIC to Atari BASIC…

And then, a bit later, I’m playing it. Grab it here (tiny ZIP file). The “ntrade” version no longer works, but the old classic version still does. Eridani Outfitters has merged with Betelgeuse, and there was a 2 for 1 stock split…

Feb 272007

So a little while back, Jeff Freeman said (in his inimitable politically incorrect way):

MMORPGs are real close to being like the Special Olympics already, but I think we ought go the other way with them. Away from everyone is special.

…while still allowing everyone to be special in their own way (or one of eight ways).

And I was reminded of it today, because I read an article over on CNN that says that students taking the Narcissistic Personality Inventory have shown a huge increase in self-centeredness.

…students’ NPI scores have risen steadily since the current test was introduced in 1982. By 2006, they said, two-thirds of the students had above-average scores, 30 percent more than in 1982.

So I just pose the questions: should we be thinking about whether our games are teaching people the wrong thing here? Can we even make a successful MMO that doesn’t lie to people and tell them they are all special?

Game talkThe meteor finally makes the news…

 Posted by (Visited 5943 times)  Game talk
Feb 272007

BBC NEWS | Technology | Game profitability ‘under threat’ basically just says what my Age of the Dinosaurs talk said, only now it’s a news item.

It’s interesting to see this in the wake of the shake-up at EA that happened over the last few days: long-time CEO Larry Probst is moving out of that role. John Riccitiello, who was managing partner at Elevation Partners (the private equity firm that put together the Bioware/Pandemic deal) is returning to EA to become CEO.

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Game talkKaneva comes clean

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Feb 272007 has the scoop on Kaneva. Definitely worth a read.

Kaneva had first announced quite a while ago, but then they seemed to go away to retool for a bit. Now they’re talking about being fully launched this summer. In short: a marriage between social network and virtual apartments, with stuff on your MySpace-equivalent page easily pulled into your virtual apartment.

Game talkThe Sheep get funding

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Feb 262007

Clickable Culture reports that The Electric Sheep Company gets (more?) funding to the tune of $7m. As part of the article, there’s a quote from Sheep competitor Millions of Us saying that the market for third-party services of the sort these two companies provide is pretty sizable — that the estimate of $10m worth of projects in development is “pretty low.”

For those who don’t know, what these companies do (and others like them) is act as third-party content and systems creators for virtual worlds. If you want to have a presence in Second Life, or make a pile of clothing for IMVU, or build a Virtual Laguna Beach, you call one of these companies and they will make the stuff for you.

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Feb 252007

I am running out of bits of the Jungle Book poem to post. 🙂 There were only seven segments that I finished, out of many more planned. Ah well, I doubt I will ever resume the project, given that it’s from 14 years ago. I was discouraged from proceeding with them by my thesis advisor, actually, who disliked the style — basically prosy, observational and imagistic.

The way these developed is that they were actually written based on room descriptions I had done for the LegendMUD Seoni Jungle area. When I read them now, they read less like poems about the original Kipling stories, and more descriptions of a place, a setting that is somehow a fantasyland, an ur-version of the Seoni, as if it were a real place that Kipling and I both dreamt of. That’s what gameworlds try to pull off, often, so it’s unsurprising that these read to me like poems about a gameworld with trees larger than possible, civilizations more ancient than history, and so on. And of course, often our gameworlds are greatly incomplete — lacking in solidity. As this poem says, “…everything is shaped… like the spaces between plants.”

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