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  What’s Wrong With the World, Tom Waits?  
 
 
Posted 2008-05-21 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Tom Waits (long-time hero of mine) on Tom Waits (also a long-time hero of mine):
Q: What’s wrong with the world?
A: We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. Leona Helmsley’s dog made 12 million last year… and Dean McLaine, a farmer in Ohio made $30,000. It’s just a gigantic version of the madness that grows in every one of our brains. We are monkeys with money and guns.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Alternate Reality Band:  ‘The All-For-Nots’  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
While in Austin for SXSW, I caught the launch of The All-For-Nots, described by BuzzFeed as "a new web comedy about a fictional indie rock band," except that what I saw on stage was just a band--the comedy occurs offstage, apparently. As explained by a friend of mine at the event, the band's scripted between-gig antics are shot for webisodes, which you can check out on the band's official web site. Not entirely clear on the target demographic for this--I'm going to guess 12 - 24 year-olds (the project is going after both MySpace and Bebo users, which seems around that age range).

I suppose what I saw on stage was a salad comprised of alternate reality bands like The Monkees, Josie and the Pussycats, Jem and the Holograms, and Spinal Tap--a pref-fab band appealing to your love of music (if you like derivative indie-rock), comedy (via webisodes rather than on-stage), and presumably to your wallet as well (merch? albums?).

I kept waiting for something crazy to happen during the band's energetic set, but no. What would have been cool is for them to fire their drummer on stage... anything involving fire, actually. Oh well, will keep my eye on this project, maybe it'll blossom.
 
     
 
   
 
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  PSP Gets Skype Integration  
 
 
Posted 2008-01-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Sony will roll out Skype services for its latest PSP handheld game console (the slim, lightweight one) through a software update scheduled for late January. According to an emailed press release, the software update will allow PSP owners with WiFi access, a microphone, and a Skype account to make and receive free voice calls, manage contacts and presence, modify their Skype account settings, and make use of the SkypeOut (place calls to non-Skype phones) as well as SkypeIn (receive calls from non-Skype phones) services.

While this is fantastic news for anyone who already has a slimline PSP, I'm not sure it's going to push PSP sales in general. As the ill-fated N-Gage phone/game console showed us, there doesn't seem to be much interest in a game console which doubles as a phone. Skype services are only available wherever WiFi hotspots are, so coverage isn't exactly ubiquitous in most parts of the world. I don't really see how the inclusion of Skype helps the PSP brand, either--is it a game console (its game library is weak), a media player (its original movie format is dead or dying), or a communications device (only where there's WiFi)?
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Links for 2007-12-05  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-05 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  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.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Links for 2007-11-08  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  What’s ‘Fair Game’ In Alternate Reality?  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-01 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The 40th episode of the ARG Netcast features a great discussion about what constitutes "fair game" in Alternate Reality Game play based on what players are willing and able to do versus what the puppetmasters have planned. In my opinion as a contributing designer/writer to such games, the "this is not a game" conceit which largely defined the genre early on is a double-edged sword.

If, as a puppetmaster, you decide that "this is not a game," you had better ensure your not-game is sealed airtight against the deep digging some players are willing to do. Such digging (discussed in the netcast) includes brute-force password hacking, intensive sleuthing for the real-life people (game makers, actors) behind the scenes, or decompiling Flash executable files to search for revealing clues.

In my opinion, if you're making a not-game, you have to accept that this means there are no rules. I think players are entitled to use whatever means necessary to dissect a not-game for clues, provided they obey social contracts and actual laws. Like supervillains, puppetmasters often overestimate the sanctity of their secret plans due to conceit: Surely they're more clever than the heroes. And we all know how that turns out.

Continue reading: What’s ‘Fair Game’ In Alternate Reality?
 
     
 
   
 
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  links for 2007-10-20  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-20 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  A Little Toronto Gaming Action  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Here's a handful of local gaming items for my fellow Torontonians:

1) Three former students of mine have formed their own game development company, chiefly using Flash and Virtools as development platforms. They have recently finished two edugames and are looking for a business manager to help their startup get a foothold in the services market:
The ideal business manager will be an enterprising visionary with a strong desire to make a name for his or her self in the video game industry, be a rain maker able to develop business, and be a project manager able to coach a highly creative team toward on-time completion. On top of all of these hard skills, the right business manager will be an individual of superior character with a heart of gold.
This team is creative, hard-working, and driven--if you can help them, please send an email to photius at shannonware dot com.

2) Every Wednesday at the College St. Diner / Tiger Bar: Show off your Guitar Hero II skillz. "Super Cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon" and no cover. Scary.

Continue reading: A Little Toronto Gaming Action
 
     
 
   
 
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  Can Game Controllers ‘Make Awesome Music’?  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
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 :)

 
     
 
   
 
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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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