I can't wait to try Champions Online, the MMO adaptation of Champions, my favorite superhero role-playing game (the kind you play sitting around a table). It looks like Cryptic, the developers behind the excellent superhero MMO City of Heroes, is using everything learned from developing good heroic character-creation and game play and fusing this with a time-tested, highly-flexible rules system--City of Heroes Evolved, if you will.
Nic Nova's "5 lessons about tangible user interfaces" presentation given at European GDC in December. Excerpt: "The starting point of designing TUI is to look at real-life counterparts… so let’s design guns for shooting games, a flute for musical ga
"Feel" is one of the most overlooked areas in studying (and teaching) game (and interaction) design, I think because it's a difficult concept to articulate. Thankfully, this Gamasutra article does a fine job.
Michaël Samyn relates Arthur Schopenhauer quote to game design: "Happiness does not exist. There is only suffering. Sometimes the suffering is reduced a little. When this happens, we call it happiness."
"I’ve found myself straddling the line between [game design and interaction design] more and more often. [...]" Can game design be considered a specialised sub-discipline of interaction design, or are the two equals with some overlap?"
Press Release: "This collection of rules for using toy replicas of war - soldiers, weapons, modes of transport - in tabletop games of strategy and tactics provides rules for nearly every conceivable conflict from the ancient past to the fanciful future." I think H.G. Wells got the scoop on this one almost a hundred years ago.
Joe Lamantia's slides from Italian IA Summit. Seems to me a this question came up back in 1984 along with Macs and desktop publishing. These days I see the question being relevant to sandbox virtual worlds.
Tenet #6: "Information should be social. Again, this has been one of the major arguments for a 3D virtual work environment that allows users to collaboratively access and edit information in real time."
Gaming Wikipedia: "...there are competing factions battling for control of the site, they conduct their battle by competing to make the best contributions to the site, thereby earning the respect of other Wikipedians..."
Five technology questions, four technology predictions. My favorite question: "If it went away tomorrow, would anyone really miss it within 3-6 months?" Most interesting prediction: "People will stop talking about Virtualized Environments in terms of 'avatars.'"
"...the FBI has announced a plan to begin using some 150 Clear Channel digital billboards in major American cities to show national security alerts..." Throw some game mechanics in there while you're at it.
"...within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today. Information and knowledge management professionals should begin to investigate and experiment with virtual worlds."
"We're in early stages on a feature film...pre-production stages...but it will still be a while," says 'Oddworld' creator Lorne Lanning as he heads towards 'Oddworld 2.0' business model. Whatever that is.
Fictional game shown on 'CSI' fails to be launched as actual game. Missed opportunity not just for gaming but for transmedial storytelling. Good opening for a "fiction-jacker" to create their own version of the game.
"This paper presents a survey of different kinds of interaction designs in movies during the past decades and relates the techniques of the films to existing technologies and prototypes where possible."
"Violence depicted on television, in films and video games raises the risk of aggressive behavior in adults and young viewers and poses a serious threat to public health, according to a new study." Panic on the streets of London!
Since 2006, I've been following the adventures of the team at Pure West--filmmakers researching and journaling MMO game culture for a documentary which would come to be called Second Skin. The team's blog gave a behind-the-scenes look at the trials of the documentarians and their evolving subject-matter, but I was fortunate enough to meet the filmmakers first-hand during one of their many journeys across the U.S., Canada, and overseas. These guys weren't just trying to cash in on the swelling interest in MMOs, or exploit players as objects of curiosity or ridicule--it was clear their mission was to seek out and reveal some compelling human stories at the intersection of real and virtual worlds.
The Second Skin trailer makes its debut today, and I'm not excited about it simply because of my brief on-camera appearance :) I feel like this will be a topical, socially-relevant documentary that will make a lasting mark. Something that may end up as course-material some day (certainly I'll be buying the DVD). The filmmakers clearly poured their blood and sweat into Second Skin, and at first glance, it really shows. Congratulations to the Pure West team and everyone (it seems like dozens) they interviewed. I think you have a hit on your hands.
A couple of projects I was involved with late last year are now fully operational. Although each project was for a separate broadcaster, each puts the player in the role of a secret agent. Must have been something in the air in 2007.
The Border: Interactive, which supports the new CBC TV series The Border, was produced by White Pine Pictures in association with Stitch Media, and is comprised of a series of narrative-driven mini-games. I'm pretty sure this is the first major project launch for Stitch Media, founded by Evan Jones, former Creative Director of Xenophile Media. As Game Designer on The Border: Interactive, I worked closely with Evan and his team during the pre-production phase, developing high-concept game ideas into executable design documents. Jam3Media worked with Stitch to develop the games in Flash.
M.I. High, a CBBC TV series, is now supported by an episodic web-game. I helped out as a game design consultant on the project, but I can't say more than that until I hear back from my client.
Gamasutrafeatures a fascinating rundown of what was involved in bringing World of Warcraft to the tabletop as a role-playing game. Written by Luke Johnson of White Wolf, the article identifies "content" as being the biggest challenge in extending Warcraft's world--apparently, Blizzard wasn't comfortable giving White Wolf freedom to invent their own Warcraft lore. Johnson explains the process:
We would write the books [...] making stuff up when necessary.
The good folks at Blizzard would check the manuscript to make sure that a) everything in it was consistent with both their vision of the Warcraft setting and the information that had already been presented in some other format (the video games, the novels, and the like); and b) that we didn't add anything that they didn't like.
The writers would then alter the manuscript as per Blizzard's requests, and we'd return to step 2.
Sounds painful, doesn't it? It's a shame a reputable game maker like White Wolf wasn't given more freedom to expand the Warcraft universe. Blizzard might own Azeroth, but that doesn't mean it has a grasp of what works for tabletop role-playing.
"Our ambition is to harness the power of video games in the service of humanistic principles, or human values, knowing that their work can have a tremendous and wide-ranging impact on our world." Yes, but will publishers buy in?
"Hint: Don't tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life." If true, most MMOs are preparing a legion of youth for future success
CNet.com: "Kids who are active members of virtual worlds are learning how to socialize, how to be technologically savvy, and how to be good little consumers." Last year, I did some concept-development for a consumer-driven kiddie-world. Feeling a bit sheepish about it now.
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)?
Download Nintendo content (and games) via your PC to SD Micro card which fits into DSvision slot 1 card. I'm already using a passthrough card to play music, movies, and homebrew apps on my DS: why would I want DSvision?
Steven Davis discusses cheating methods and tools for web-based word and math games--trivia games also noted. In short, it's easy to cheat. Designers should expect cheating, and players at best can hope for honorable opponents.