Misc

Stuff that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else.

2017 Year in Review

 Posted by (Visited 141 times)  Misc, Open thread
Dec 312017
 

As usual, I’ve promised to post more on here, and as usual, what used to become

Tiny Castle

blog-length posts instead become a bunch of individual and usually shallow Tweets instead. Twitter, what hast thou wrought?

But here’s a little bit of contemplation of the year anyway.

Almost everything I have worked on this year has been other people’s projects that I cannot tell you about. Which has been a bit concerning to me, honestly — it’s been quite a while since something of my own went out there for people to play. That’s something I plan to fix in the new year. Doing consulting, in particular, has taken up a lot of the creative bandwidth and space to think and work on things.

Board games

A lot of my project time has gone towards tabletop games. This year I only worked on four and finished one, which is a slowing pace for me. Over the last few years I have been making new abstract strategy games at a pretty steady clip. The new one that is actually reasonably finished this year is currently nicknamed Tiny Castle. It was originally a “tiny game” using only 16 tokens, but I took it in a bit of a sculptural direction; two players build a castle together, trying to satisfy one of several victory conditions. It’s a small game, with a decent sized possibility space, and it’s very bite-sized. I got to show it to Tim Fowers and he suggested skinning it with the Town Musicians of Bremens. I kind of like the castle though, as I suspect four stacks of animals may not really look as appealing as it seems on first blush. Continue reading »

Simple Maps improvements

 Posted by (Visited 307 times)  Misc  Tagged with:
Aug 112017
 

Map software drives me nuts, because it’s clearly designed only by engineers. I think all of these could be done with current data sets:

If current road segment is blue or yellow and next road segment is red: “Watch out, traffic is getting heavy ahead.”

If current road segment is red and next few road segments are clear: “Traffic is clearing up ahead.”

If past road segment is red, current one isn’t, but the one after is, “Don’t get your hopes up, traffic is still bad ahead.”

If current speed is significantly above average for cars in the next road segment: “Slow down, you’re about to hit traffic!” Continue reading »

Jun 272017
 

Some days I wonder if we are completely screwed. So today’s post is a perhaps slightly hysterical outburst.

The news is not paying enough attention to the Petya/NotPetya ransomware, and the effects it is having on the Ukraine and on a bunch of businesses worldwide. I think it may be a harbinger of how the Internet could kill us all.

Based on what little I have read so far… A piece of widely used tax software — one used by the Ukrainian government — did its usual “phone home” to check for updates. Instead of getting back a few hundred bytes of acknowledgement, it got a viral payload. Basically, this tax software served as a means of auto-updating the virus to thousands of targets. The result is not just accounting systems down, though. It’s gas stations and point of sale systems in grocery stores.

This kind of thing basically makes me wonder how long we’ll have the Internet.

Continue reading »

Some updates

 Posted by (Visited 1768 times)  Game talk, Misc, Writing  Tagged with: , ,
Feb 252017
 

Wow, I have been slacking off on the blogging. Not since October? Yeesh.

What’s happened is that I have been posting updates to Twitter, instead. Which this blog does notify (as well as Facebook), of course, but it does mean the site itself gets neglect!

So, to catch you up!

  • I am speaking at GDC 2017 next Friday, 1:30-2:30pm, on the topic “Still Logged In: What VR and AR Can Learn From MMOs.” This talk will be going over lessons painfully learned going clear back to the text mud days, on issues like harassment, governance, importation of bias to the virtual world, and much more. It’s cross-listed on the Design and Advocacy tracks; I think this latter means that I am allowed to be grumpy on stage.
  • The 10th Anniversary Edition of A Theory of Fun for Game Design goes to press in Korean next week! It looks like the picture on the right, and I hope to get a copy soon. Meanwhile, despite the book’s advanced age, it continues to get featured regularly in various places, such as this podcast.
  • I improved my “history of all videogames” arcade cabinet with upgraded robotic parts so that the monitor now smoothly auto-rotates from horizontal (for landscape arcade games and most home consoles) to vertical (for stuff like Centipede, Raiden, and of course, Vectrex emulation). I did a lengthy write-up of the process and am incredibly tickled that it’s now stickied on the ArcadeControls.com forum (the central hub for anyone building or restoring arcade cabinets) for reference for anyone else who wants to do the same. Video of the rotation is also at that link.
  • My 2014 talk on “Practical Creativity” also keeps getting attention, most recently as a GDC Video on YouTube (also on preceding link), which also has prompted folks to request a PDF of the slides, which was helpfully assembled by @B4ttleCat on Twitter. Grab it here.
  • You can also find an abridged version of my little piece on Games design and UX design in Portuguese now, thanks to Andressa Antunes. This is another one that seems to have legs, and gets cited a lot lately.
  • I managed to make it, despite a cold, to Doctor Cat’s amazing marathon “Gaming Legends” Twitch stream of interviews of developers. Video was posted up a while back. I encourage you to check out all the videos, if you have a full 13 hours of free time… there’s some amazing stuff in there. Scott Adams, Jordan Weisman, Steve Meretzky, Bruce Shelley, Lord British, John Romero, and lots more.

There’s been quite a lot more, but maybe I should just direct you to the Twitter feed (which is now working again in the sidebar).

Um, I’d promise to blog more often, and particularly, not just make it be random brags and updates about talks but back to meaty articles. But my track record hasn’t been great. Tell you what, once I get back from GDC, maybe people might throw me questions. 🙂

 Comments Off on Some updates

Books on writing

 Posted by (Visited 3607 times)  Game talk, Mailbag, Reading  Tagged with: , ,
Mar 052016
 

Hello!

I watched the recording of your lecture “Teaching to fish.”

At the end you recommend books for the different subjects, and you said that a lot of people start with Joseph Campbell, but that there are a lot more, interesting books, out there.

Do you have any books to recommend about creative writing?

 — Christoffer Lundberg

Sure. Starting most broadly, the top recommendation is to read. Read a lot. And read widely, not just in one sort of fiction. I could rattle off a host of recommendations, but there’s probably no point — there’s a huge universe of well-written books out there to look at as models and inspiration. So let’s move on to craft books instead.

To start, though it may be a tough hill to climb, you could go back to Aristotle’s Poetics.1 The amount of terminology and best practices that we still get from this book is hard to overstate. For general writing books, among many others I like John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. They perhaps tend a little more literary than others. I am tempted to also mention Babette Deutsch’s A Poetry Handbook, even if you don’t plan to write verse, because anyone who wants to master cadences of language, and the use of techniques of rhythm, assonance, and the like, would benefit from poetic training. Continue reading »


  1. All books in this post are Amazon Affiliate links, just so you know. That means I get paid a tiny bit if you buy them from here.