A good friend of mine has had two Xbox 360s die in the classic "red ring of death" fashion. The second one was refurbished (not refurbished enough, apparently). Hope the third one's a charm.
Anecdotally, about half of my friends who own a 360 have gotten a dud. Even one of the colleges at which I teach got a red-ringed Xbox. Every time my own console grumbles during DVD playback a shiver crawls up my spine.
Certainly there are far more important things in life to complain about, but Holy Helen of the Hand Grenade, what a wobbly piece of crap the Xbox 360 hardware is. I swear the only reason I bought one was for professional reasons.
A plastic guitar or drum set might be an obvious choice for a music-game controller, but not everyone's ready to shell out for one-shot items ultimately destined for landfill. A smarter play might be to design music games for standard controllers instead--the challenge for users here is to squeeze great music out of an unfamiliar instrument.
My brother Joel has started doing some practical R&D towards the goal of "allowing anyone to pick up a game controller and make awesome music with it." A newcomer to game development but an experienced musician and audio engineer, Joel's got a great sense play, a brain for making things work, and a passion for sound. He's posted his first YouTube video. In it, he's using a PS2 controller as a MIDI device (musical instrument), triggering sounds and breakbeats through a combination of audio programs. Wild stuff. Can't wait to follow Joel's adventures in game development, but of course I'm biased :)
Throw away your keyboards and mice: Second Life avatars may now be controlled directly by the brain, thanks researchers at Keio University Biomedical Engineering Laboratory. According to blog Pink Tentacle, which translated a news release from Nikkei Net, a user wearing an electrode-studded headpiece can control an avatar in 3D space simply by thinking about moving. Based on a YouTube video of the process (below), control over the avatar is very precise--not what I pictured based on early brain-computer interface experiments.
Everybody and their dog wants to be the go-to hub for metaverse metrics. Phase 1: "[identify] standards for key activity and economy metrics, and [publish] technological information." Plus, solicit funding.
Fantastic, ongoing success story of Toronto-based indie game developers Metanet, a 2-person team whose highly playable Flash-based platformer "N" paved the way to mainstream console / handheld game development.
Quick 'Habbo' stats: 80 million registered users in 7 years (most aged 13-16); 7.5 million unique visitors / month; $50 million in virtual goods sales in 2006; userbase comprised of "rebels," "achievers," "loners," "creatives," and "traditionals."
University of Wisconsin-Madison research team lead by Constance Steinkuehler investigating collaborative problem solving, literacies, leadership, apprenticeship, and "pop cosmopolitanism" in MMOs and VWs.
Low-cost, fan-less PC. Uses less than 10 watts of power. Purportedly saves "a tonne of carbon emissions per year when compared to a PC." Does the average PC generate over a tonne of carbon emissions annually?
Musings on how we're tricked into executing repetitive, boring tasks through game-play. I think casual games are better at this than MMOs, which is why I find 'Puzzle Pirates' so appealing (it's the best of both worlds).
Brian 'Psychochild' Green gives us his lessons learned from WoW: Outspend your rivals; Have a known name; Have an existing, committed fanbase; Enjoy total freedom (release game when it's ready); Know how to lie with statistics.
Hollywood Reporter columnist Paul Hyman interviews Andy Nulman, CMO of Airborne Entertainment, maker of branded mobile phone games. Nulman plans a shift in gears for Airborne based on his realization that mobile devices offer more game-play options than small screens typically allow. This quote says it all:
"We believe in inside-out gaming, where the phone becomes a tool to interact with things that are happening all around you. In that way, your phone becomes more of a mouse than, say, a desktop."
Location-based gaming isn't exactly new thinking, but I haven't heard too many mainstream mobile game developers talking seriously about it before. Having a handful of next-gen mobile games ready to go, Airborne's main challenge now is figuring out how to communicate its new strategy to carriers that still barely understand the first wave of mobile gaming.
David Fono introduced me to Kameraflage, a display technology that takes advantage of the fact that digital cameras can "see" infrared light. Content rendered in infrared light--normally invisible to the naked eye--can be viewed and photographed digitally.
The Kameraflage web site indicates the technology will be used in cinemas, facilitating per-person subtitling (viewers watch the movie through their camera-enabled device), but I don't think much of this application. Why watch a movie while sitting in a theater through a cameraphone? In my view, the killer app for Kameraflage is in stamping cinema screens with a geo-temporal watermark so that pirated copies of movies can be tracked more effectively (or obscuring the screens completely to digital cameras). I'm not sure why Kameraflage technology would be needed for this--if there's such a thing as infrared lasers, it'd be trivial to use existing technology to paint over the screen.
Having spent the majority of last week in a hospital with my wife and new baby, I had lots of time to observe a few different types of medical devices in use. In most cases, I noted a gap between operation of a device as planned by its designer and the practical application of the device as executed by hospital--various minor failings transpired within that gap. I thought I'd file a couple here for future reference (these seem to be pretty typical issues--I look at these as interactive design issues, personally).