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  ‘PaRappa’ Creators Team For Wii Game  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Masaya Matsuura and Rodney Alan Greenblat, creators of the surreal and endearing rhythm game series PaRappa the Rapper, have reunited under the Majesco banner to produce a music game for Nintendo's Wii console. According to a Majesco press release, the game is due out next fall, and seems to be aimed at the same casual market as PaRappa and Majesco's hit Cooking Mama series.

PaRappa was delight to play (particularly the first installment in the series) and the paper-doll aesthetics were great fun. A Gotland University student even did a thesis project which addressed the idea of how a game "feels" through the live reenactment of one of game's levels. I'm counting on Majesco's upcoming Wii game to involve performance elements using the motion-sensitive Wiimote controller, allowing me to kick, punch, block, and chop to the beat.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Silent Hill 5’:  Now With Jiggle-Physics  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
‘Silent Hill 5’:  Now With Jiggle-Physics
I've been a fan of survival horror game series Silent Hill since the first installment in the series, not so much due to the game play, but because of its inspirational creative elements. The visuals and soundscapes featured in the series are haunting, distinctive, and memorable.

One of the most recognizable monster-types in the game series is a sort of "zombie nurse," a faceless female creature dressed in medical garb which shivers and shimmies through darkened hospitals, looking for a handful of your flesh. When the Silent Hill movie came out last year, I was disappointed that the zombie nurses seemed to be re-imagined as slightly more sexualized monsters. Basically they became less "zombie" and more "sexy nurse." A pity, since the original creature designs seemed to be far more ghastly (and far more scary) than the ones shown in the film.

Sadly, the upcoming Silent Hill 5 seems to turned the zombie Sex-O-Meter up to eleven, turning an exquisite walking corpse into Nurse McBoobs, complete with a nipple-exposing wardrobe-malfunction. Jeux France has the full-sized pics. If the game features jiggle-physics, I'm going postal.
 
     
 
   
 
  3 comments  
  Quick Links for 2007-11-28  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-28 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  In-Game Advertising Data A Double-Edged Design Tool  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Next Generation reports that in-game advertising firm Double Fusion believes player behavior data collected by in-game advertising systems can help the level-design process. Such systems monitor player location, gaze, time spent in a given 3D area, and other such details used to measure the effectiveness of an ad placement. The idea is that this data could be leveraged to tweak, tune, and build better game levels. I agree that aggregated in-game ad data could be considered in the level design process, but I don't anticipate games would necessarily be improved as a result.

As in-game advertiser Massive (now owned by Microsoft) has shown over the years [1, 2, 3, 4], game play and narrative is often ruined by ad-placement rather than supported by it. I believe that level design will ultimately be constrained if collected advertising data is used as a design tool. Will level designers be given the freedom to design what suits a game the best, or will they be forced to design levels using templates or methods proven to maximize advertising effectiveness? If anything, I can see levels becoming homogenized across a variety of games (due to adoption of ad-biased design strategies), rather than game levels becoming more interesting or artistic.
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  ‘Mass Effect’ Pre-Play Impressions  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Last night I attended the Toronto launch event for Mass Effect, the latest Bioware-developed blockbuster game for the Xbox 360. A dozen or so journalists were plied with appetizers and drinks at Atom Egoyan's "Camera Bar," where Mass Effect project director Casey Hudson walked us through a game demo in the bar's swanky screening room. I haven't yet received a review copy of the game, but here are some quick observations based on what I saw during the demonstration...

The Good:
  • Epic space opera adventure in the style of classic science fiction literature.
  • Above-average in-game cinematics feature a variety of camera angles and depth-of-field effects.
  • Vangelis-style synthetic soundtrack inspired by sci-fi movies of the late 70s and early 80s (odd choice, if you ask me).
  • High production values in alien species design, architecture, and interface design.
  • Extreme detail in character models.
  • Appears to feature the same sort of character progression and item accumulation as previous Bioware titles--fans of the developer or detailed RPGs aren't likely to be disappointed. Not so sure the game is going to excite casual gamers, though.


Continue reading: ‘Mass Effect’ Pre-Play Impressions
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  Do Gamers Make Better Baggage-Screeners?  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
"Security screeners at airports might do a better job spotting weapons if they spent their downtime playing video games - specifically, wasting aliens in lurid first-person shooters like Halo 3," The Boston Globe's Christopher Shea wrote yesterday. The 3-page online article resonates quite well with my quickly-written 2006 proposal "Airport Screening Is A Badly-Designed Game."

Specifically, Shea finds, as I mentioned last year, that even trained security professionals have trouble distinguishing harmful from safe objects; the human people have trouble finding exceptional objects (like guns) amid a sea of common objects (like toiletries). Additional information Shea gleaned from scientific sources shows that moving objects are easier to spot--yet X-ray scanners show stationary objects; first-person shooter gamers erred less in threat-identification tests than non-gamers. A number of interesting solutions are summarized in the article, none of which seem to involve making airport into an MMO (that was my semi-serious proposal), but some of which suggest that gaming might not be as unrelated to crucial security tasks as we might have thought. Sweet, sweet validation.

Also see my proposal for turning prison surveillance into an MMO and Dave Edery's article "Using Games to Tap Collective Intelligence."
 
     
 
   
 
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  Bitmappy Events In NYC And Montreal  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
A pair of pixelated events, unrelated in all ways but aesthetically, rasterize in Brooklyn and Montreal this month.

"B I T M A P: as good as new" runs as part of the 4-day Blip Festival. Matteo Bittanti reports for Videoludica that the group exhibition celebrates "the history of the digital image, the, aesthetics of early computing and early video-game consoles. Expect pixels, old monitors and 8 bit sounds!" A reception for the group show, which runs until February, 2008, will reportedly be held Saturday, November 24th 2007 from 7pm - 10pm at vertexList.

Meanwhile, in frosty Canada, the Kokoromi Collective launches its "Gamma 256" show, a game design event where submitting creators were constrained to game space comprised of 256 pixels square or smaller. Should be some really innovative stuff on display given the constraints (more info on the official site). The show launches Wednesday, November 28, 2007, at Société des arts technologiques. The event coincides with the 4th annual Montreal International Game Summit, so if you're in town for the conference, there's really no excuse not to go!
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Links for 2007-11-14  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Punking Games  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-13 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Jeff Murray of Fuel Industries doesn't just ask "Whats wrong with the game industry?" He longs for a rebel movement in games:
"...just as punk said anyone with a guitar could make music, I want anyone with a keyboard to be able to make games. I want more radical speaking in the industry and more radical thought outside of academia. I want argument and discussion, then perhaps a fight in the car park afterward … in effect; I want some rock n roll attitude in games. I don’t care if someones game is un-original, just as long as it does to my senses what voiceover guy said it would on the trailer!
[...]
If you want to make games, don’t even bother about the rest of the industry and what they’re doing… just get out there and go for it. Punk style!"
Hey, as long as you're punk-rock enough to live off beans on toast and bargain beer, that's a great plan. Seriously: if you're young and on fire, why not go the risky route and churn out the games you always wanted to--screw what everyone else is doing! Speaking from a post-punk parent perspective, that's not the most practical route, but it sure is nice to dream about while I sniff the leather of my old biker jacket.

Incidentally, Murray's not the only one riffing on rock'n'roll and interactive entertainment these days.
 
     
 
   
 
  6 comments  
  Quick Links for 2007-11-11  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
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5224 comments
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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