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  Quick Links for 2007-12-31  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-31 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  DS Game Content Fueled By Wireless Hotspots  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Metro Wardive, a homebrew game for the Nintendo DS handheld console, reads the names of surrounding wireless hotspots and converts them into in-game enemies and levels. This allows the game content to change significantly based on the player's real-world location (I can only think of one mainstream game that does this).

Judging by the game's description, it seems that real-world travel is actually encouraged by design (at the very least, new game scenarios are revealed through travel)--with the right game mechanics, Metro Wardive could be used as an incentive for physical activity (walk or run from hotspot to hotspot) or urban exploration. The mind races, even if the feet do not.
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  Eleven Fit Teens Fail Wii Fitness Test  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
MedPage Today reports that Wii Sports, a game for the Nintendo Wii console, wasn't found to contribute to recommended daily exercise standards set in Britain, according to a Liverpool University study. Nintendo has been hoping its console would be seen as a fitness aid, releasing the Wii Fit controller and Wii game in Japan earlier this year (due out elsewhere in 2008). A number of academics, researchers, and consumers around the world have been looking at the console as a potential fitness device, with varying results. A Canadian hospital is even using the game console as part of a physical rehabilitation program.

The Liverpool study--ironically, funded by Nintendo's UK marketing arm--might have dashed the game-maker's health-hopes if it wasn't for the fact that only eleven subjects were reportedly involved. The teens--six boys and five girls--were physically fit to begin with, and were studied playing only two games: Project Gotham Racing for the Xbox 360, and Wii Sports. The study found that active games like Wii Sports burn about 50% more calories than passive games like PGR, but that ultimately this only represented a 2% increase in energy expenditure in a typical week.

I'm no scientist, but it seems clear that a larger-scale study might be in order. A more diverse, and larger group of subjects; a wider range of games, particularly some which could be considered more active than Wii Sports. In my own experience, playing 30 minutes of Raving Rabbids on the Wii reminded me how atrophied my spaghetti-thin arms are. While the Wii may not appear to affect fitness levels according to this study, I'd rather play an active video game than a passive one, and I suspect most parents would rather buy an active video game for their kids. Perhaps the next study will involve the Wii Fit peripheral, hopefully with more promising results.
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
  2008 Producers Institute At BAVC  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Applications are due February 1, 2008, for next year's Producers Institute for New Media Technologies, a 10-day program designed to give eight teams of documentary-makers a taste of new media, gaming, and cross-platform possibilities. Hosted and organized by the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) in San Francisco, the Producer's Institute is intense, energetic, and highly productive. The program runs May 30 - June 8: For complete information, or to submit an on-line application, please go to: bavc.org/producersinstitute.

I was a mentor at the 2007 Institute (held earlier this year), and thoroughly enjoyed working both with BAVC and the invited documentarians. It was a fantastic opportunity to teach, learn, and cross-pollinate, and I'm sure the 2008 event will offer more the same.
 
     
 
   
 
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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.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  2008 ‘Game For Change Challenge’: Second Verse Same As The First  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Microsoft has announced its 2008 "Games for Change Challenge," where students around the globe will submit serious games which address the theme "Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment." I didn't think much of the competition when it was launched earlier this year, based around the theme of global warming.

In both cases, I see the best solution to environmental rehabilitation as reducing (ideally eliminating) the use of Microsoft-created technology altogether. Stop making so many faulty consoles--or any at all, given that computing hardware such as the Xbox 360 eats too much energy and ultimately ends up in landfill or the hands of poor recyclers. If you must make consoles, ensure full backwards compatibility with previous software libraries and hardware peripherals such as controllers. Increase power efficiency, not power demands. Reduce packaging. Require contest entries to be presented remotely.

The ultimate test for these environmentally-themed games is whether or not the player does more good than harm in playing. Ideally, this means motivating a gamer to go outside and make a real difference, but it could be as simple as reducing household energy demands by turning off hungry hardware (such as the game console). The contest's mission is to have student technologists "actively contribute" to improving the world--I'm not sure this can be accomplished using Microsoft's proprietary game console as a platform.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Toronto Indie Games Conference Shrivels  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-10 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Toronto Independent Games Conference will not be going ahead in 2008 as was originally planned. Essentially, the conference was too indie for its own good--my impression as an occasional adviser to the organizers is that there wasn't enough motivation, time, or interest from behind the curtain to stage a robust event. Although it drew an enthusiastic crowd of developers, students, and academics last year, failure to hold the event annually will probably kill any momentum the conference might have been building.

Fortunately, TIGC is not the only games-related meetup in town. Unfortunately, I'm not connected with any of the local people organizing these things, and am often the last to know about indie game events in my own city. For example, GameCamp Toronto happened this past weekend, but I didn't hear about it until a day previous. How many other events like this are hiding in the shadows? I only know of one more--the T.O. Game Jam, which was staged last May--no word on a 2008 date yet. I'd be happy to publicize local events, but I can't do that if I don't know about them ahead of time.
 
     
 
   
 
  5 comments  
  ‘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 2007-12-05  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-05 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Are MMOs Killing The Planet?  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-04 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Are massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) killing the planet? A report released by environmental group Global Action Plan suggests that computer servers, such as those which are used for online games, have a hefty carbon footprint. In a summary of its report, the group says
  • A medium-sized server has a similar carbon footprint to an SUV achieving 15 miles to the gallon. Servers also require as much energy to cool them as they directly consume.
  • 1,000 PCs left on 24/7 without any power save settings activated will consume up to £70,000 of electricity per year...
Massive online games require massive server facilities--imagine, for example, how many always-on servers World of Warcraft must be running with over 9 million players around the world.

Given that MMOs are growing in popularity, it seems likely that an increasing number of servers will be needed to run the games. One can only hope that the efficiency (quality) of servers will somehow increase more quickly than the quantity of servers required. Because even if quality servers maintain today's levels, we're not doing the planet any favors by playing MMOs. We need to reduce gaming's ecological footprint.

Continue reading: Are MMOs Killing The Planet?
 
     
 
   
 
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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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