Game Designers Make Us
Jenova Chen again, this time from Eurogamer: I believe that very often it’s not really the player that’s an asshole. It’s the game designer that made them an asshole. If you spend every day killing one another how are you going to be a nice guy? All console games are about killing each other, or killing one another together… Don’t you see? It’s our games that make us assholes. Yep.
Writers or Designers First? →
Squibs for Squids in response to Leigh Alexander’s piece for Edge Magazine: The way we do it now, which seems to be to develop the premise of a game in terms of gameplay before the story is given fair thought, produces content that has zero narrative value and ultimately produces a hollow tone when it’s supposed to have a dramatic resonance. Gaming narrative is touchy, because the...
Gruber's Thoughts on The Talk Show →
I want to thank Dan Benjamin for doing both of the previous incarnations of The Talk Show with me. Dan’s a natural born co-host, and we did an awful lot of good (and occasionally, dare I say, great) shows together. Two years ago, Dan had the idea to launch and grow a podcast network targeted not necessarily at the biggest tech/nerd audience, but rather the best tech/nerd audience. He was right,...
An Alternative to Learning Code
Rands on the alternative to learning code: However, there is a language you could master that teaches many of the same lessons, appears far more forgiving in terms of syntax, and has immediate broader appeal. The language you can learn is your own. As I tell my students, you may speak English, but that does not mean that you use it well. I will challenge the notion that the readers...
John's Tumblr: Computers = Trucks →
I’ve been living with just my tablet and phone recently — it feels clearer & clearer that many people will just skip the computer phase altogether. I think many people believe that means that we’ll have a world of consumers, since tablets and phones so far aren’t great creation tools. But I think that is changing, and quickly. Apps like Paper, from Fifty-three, and Diet Coda, from...
The Facebook Phone that Should Never Be →
MG Siegler: Facebook still needs to build their own phone (or at least phone OS) if they truly want to succeed in mobile. This isn’t the first time Siegler has mentioned this idea. While I agree that Facebook may be ready to bet the company on mobile—as evidenced by its new mobile apps and the Instagram purchase—I’m not sure that a Facebook phone OS is the right course of...
7-inch iPad Likelyhood
Jim Dalrymple on the possibility of a 7-inch iPad: When you look at a 7-inch iPad, or any other Apple product, don’t look at how it affects its competitors, but rather how it fits into Apple’s product strategy. Doing that will make things a lot clearer. I’d say this goes for the new iPhone as well. The rumors are rampant that it will feature a larger screen. If I apply the Dalrymple...
What happens when Facebook stops pretending that mobile doesn’t matter? Facebook Camera happens. In only a few moments with the app, it becomes clear that the social networking giant means business. The design clearly reflects the purpose of the app, sharing photos with your friends. The home screen allows the user to simply browse and read until the opportune moment arises, then the photo...
Unreal Engine 4 and Development Time
Stu Horvath for Wired on Unreal Engine 4: For example, when lighting elements are altered, computers have to parse the data and figure out how to render the changes. Depending on the extent of those edits, this process, sometimes called baking, can take half an hour or more. UE4 removes that bake time entirely. The effect it could have on studio workflow is staggering. That staggering...
Taekwan Kim for Gamasutra: Indeed, what is meaningful gameplay anyway? Personally, I would say that anything that forces you to deal with failure, loss, and internal turmoil is meaningful. In the rest of the article, Kim compares the make-your-skin-crawl model of companies like Zynga to developers who intentionally hide rewards behind a timesink wall. He’s not sure there’s a difference, but...
Diablo Sells 3.5 Million in One Day
If you think that’s a big number, imagine this: total mouseclicks since launch. Via: The Loop
Neil Gaiman's Commencement Address
Neil Gaiman’s commencement address has been making the rounds, and most of the posts say something to the effect of “best commencement speech ever.” It’s certainly in the running, though I’m partial to the Stanford address made by Steve Jobs in 2005. From Gaiman: So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom, and if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone...
Preaching to the Soprano Section
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote in response to John Siracusa’s discussion of gaming and its barier to entry: skill. Since then, Kyle Steverwald writing for Medium Difficulty made some comments of his own on the same topic (though, as far as I know, the two aren’t intentionally connected). Steverwald: It isn’t the same knowledge; skill in games resembles critical understanding in...
Tall Drink of (16:9) iPhone 5
Marco Arment: The rumors about a taller-screened iPhone are piling up so much recently that it’s looking fairly likely. I’ll reserve final judgment until I use an iPhone with this display shape, but tentatively, I’m skeptical. Couldn’t agree more. These “larger” iPhone rumors seem to have some credibility at this point. But something still doesn’t seem right. Holding...
Not Player Types, Appeal Types
Jason Tocci writing for Gamasutra: Consider here, then, five categories of game appeals: 1.) Accomplishment: Appeals involving extrinsic and intrinsic rewards. 2.) Imagination: Appeals involving pretending and storytelling. 3.) Socialization: Appeals involving friendly social interaction. 4.) Recreation: Appeals for adjusting physical, mental, or emotional state. 5.)...
Facebook 2012 is Windows 1997
Ben Brooks with the single most salient point concerning Facebook that I’ve read from any pundit, ever: To me, Facebook is currently the Microsoft Windows from 1997. Everyone used Windows and everyone complained about Windows. I don’t like Facebook. I have never liked Facebook. It’s awkward, obtuse. Security is mysterious, over complicated, or both. It’s sometimes...
Considering the Linear as a Part of the Nonlinear...
Over at Kill Screen, Darshana Jayemanne addresses the importance of the term, ”nonlinear” in gaming and whether or not it’s presence precludes the medium being defined as art. Though the entire post is certainly worth the read, one section tagged in at the end stood out in light of Diablo III: Escaping linear thinking also works the other way: games have often contained linear elements...
What I Wish John Gruber Had Written. . . →
This goes well with my post from yesterday. Actually, I would be surprised if one of the parties doesn’t write something like this when the dust settles.
The Talk Show, Gruber, and 5by5
I’d be lying if I said the inspiration for this site wasn’t based on the work of John Gruber at Daring Fireball. Also, I spend nearly the entirety of my morning (and afternoon) commutes listening to podcasts on the 5by5 network. Many of the stories I post have some connection to one of these two sources. Obviously, I link and quote from a variety of places which are unrelated, but...
The Accessibility of the Familiar
Seth Godin: Of course, I don’t care much about parking meters. I care a lot about using digital shadows of real world devices because we don’t have the imagination to reinvent them. Parking meters may not be the point, but they make a decent example. The parking situation remains as it is not because we lack imagination, but because human beings tend to cope poorly with change...
Dragon Age Question Session
Stephany Nunnely for VG24/7: Today, an update on the game’s official website states the time for feedback is now, and a series of questions and discussions around Dragon Age has started on the forums. I find it hard to believe that Bioware can be at once so adept and floundering from one franchise to another. Though, I suppose alternate Mass Effect endings qualifies as a flounder. The only...
Amy Henning on Linearity
Amy Henning in an interview with IGN: Wide linear design and layout can encourage exploration and problem-solving while still guiding the player along a pre-determined course. and Ideally our job as game designers [is] to set up a game world with rules and limits, and equip the player to explore it. As much as I love open experiences like Skyrim, a well-crafted linear (I refuse to...
Are Tablets the New Laptop?
Tim Bajarin for PCMag.com on whether all-in-one desktops and tablets leave no room for laptops: I have heard this case repeated a lot lately by tablet users. Many find themselves spending more time with the tablet since they can do as much as 80 percent of their work on it and thus they are relying less and less on the laptop. The story revolves around a trip to CITA where the audience...
The Sorkin Announcement
Shawn King: This announcement alone guarantees the movie will be better than anything Ashton Kutcher stars in. I like The Loop and I like the Social Network, but doesn’t this seem a little shortsighted? Couldn’t it be true that both Jobs movies will be interesting in different ways? I know I want to see both, if only to compare and contrast.
Changing the iOS App Switcher
In an intriguing forum post on The Verge, user brentcas makes suggestions to improve the iOS app switcher. The core idea revolves around making the switcher area taller, which I found extra-interesting because it was another forum post on The Verge which suggested the iPhone would grow in height if the screen size were to be increased.
iCloud vs. Dropbox
Though I wholeheartedly agree with Ben Brooks that much of Apple’s future depends upon iCloud (and rightly so), my opinion differs concerning iCloud and Dropbox: This should scare Microsoft and Google, but more than that I think it should scare Dropbox. As much as I love Dropbox, iCloud is easier. I would argue the opposite. Apple is usually the company of “it just works,”...
Diablo III Release
Diablo II came out a long time ago. I was still in high school; now, I teach it. There had never been an African-American president (there’d only been one Bush president). There was no such thing as American Idol or South Park. My friends and I played most of our games on a Nintendo 64, but we were psyched for the coming of the impossibly powerful Playstation 2. Direct3D was a bullet-point...
One More Low-Hanging Fruit
I’d add one more thing (heh) to John Gruber’s low-hanging fruit list for iOS 6. Here’s his number one: iOS is by no means feature-complete. But it’s getting harder to identify the low-hanging fruit — the things you just know Apple has to be working on, not just the stuff you hope they are. The biggest one left is mapping. His others are spot-on as usual. Mine, some might...
Marco Arment in an interview for Wired’s Gadget Lab: “Pagination is obviously an artificially bolted-on construct on the iPad and iPhone, especially when the source content is unpaginated web articles,” Arment says.“The most ‘authentic’ web-article advancement method, to me, is just scrolling. But I can’t deny that I like pagination better. Scrolling through long articles just feels...
Bartender for Mac
Bartender is a Mac app that manages items in the menu bar. Up until the release of the Mac App Store mine had only Caffeine and Dropbox icons in addition to the stock Airport, volume, battery, and date. Since then, hanging things from the menu bar has come into fashion. For better or worse, many apps place a menu bar icon for constant access and monitoring. Bartender collapses the running menu bar...
Republique achieved its ambitious $500k funding goal today. Thanks to all who participated and tolerated my reminders about the project. Hopefully the game and the inspiring development team at Camoflaj make an impact on the iOS gaming market. Whether you’re PC centric or Mobile, more great games are always better for all of us, regardless of platform. As they say in the campaign,...
If the User isn't Like You, Then Who
Whitney Hess on user experience: The user is not like me. Mustn’t we acknowledge that most of us don’t work for companies who serve anyone like us? Should designers follow such a principle? My gut reaction is no, they shouldn’t (but one of the main points in the post is to avoid following one’s intuition). Isn’t this what is wrong with almost every single classic design...
Republique Kickstarter Ending
With only one day left, I would be remiss to not mention the Republique Kickstarter project. If you missed my links from the beginning of the campaign, the premise is that of a person trapped in an oppressive society. The main character, Hope, is not directly controlled by the player, rather guided and assisted, through a stealth-action series of obstacles in order for Hope to escape. The...
About 10 years ago, I started following technology news on the web daily. It became part of my routine and is something that I enjoy as much today as I did back then (maybe even more). Many websites have come and gone from the rotation, Digg and Slashdot come to mind. But one that has been there from the very beginning is Ars Technica. From incredibly detailed OS X reviews by John Siracusa to...
The Great Moves that Made iOS
Dalton Caldwell, whose blog is a part of the gorgeously designed Svbtle Network, tries to pinpoint the two greatest decisions in the iOS development process. His observations on what he calls “market segmentation by Moore’s Law” are particularly on-target: Getting back to Apple, right now you can go out and “buy” the flagship iPhone that was originally released 3 years ago...
Physical Skills are the Barrier to Art
On episodes 64 and 65 of Hypercritical with John Siracusa, the topic of games appreciation resonated with me as both an intellectual curiosity and on a personal level. Siracusa’s general thesis is that games represent a different type of art which can only be appreciated by someone with a minimum level of skill. For dance, visual arts, and literature, appreciation can be taught through...
The Mapcalope on the Forbes “confirmation” of the new iPhone specs: Does “confirmed” no longer mean “to establish the truth or correctness of something previously believed or suspected”? Is the Macalope having a seizure? Do you smell burnt toast? I’d go with “the meaning of the word confirmation is now new and different.” Enjoy the new world, Macalope!
Arkham City (or not)
Subject: Nate Barham Situation: Arkham City, Play-Session #1 Report Follows… Games for Windows Live sucks. Three times through the first 20mim or so of the game and Arkham City won’t save. Why is that? If I have to see Dr. Strange’s ugly (in the best way, Rocksteady) polygonal face blathering at me one more time I’ll…. In no way is the saving interface even visible....
Diablo III: Skills and Abilities
With the release date fast approaching, I’ve been meaning to post something about Diablo III. After playing the beta and seeing the sort of changes that Blizzard has made in the last couple of months, the topic which remains on the minds of many players (and soon-to-be players) is the skill system. However, not until I read this article from David Sirlin did I feel that I could clearly...
Jenova Chen on Wasting Your Money
Though I’m not sure I agree that two-hour experiences are the future of gaming, this comment from Journey developer, Jenova Chen makes me want to give my money to ThatGameCompany as often as possible: When we make games we assume that the gamers are adults. They’re paying us money to experience something. We shouldn’t put them in a grind to waste their time because time is...
Murderfest of the Flies
In an extensive piece on Jonathan Blow for The Atlantic, Taylor Clark explores more than any one commentary could possibly cover. If you want to get lost in a scathing critique of the mainstream gaming industry for several thousand words, I encourage you to read it. Also, Braid spoilers abound, so proceed with caution if you haven’t played and/or finished it yet (I haven’t). What...
Better iPad Text Editing
From iDownload Blog: If you’ve ever spent any kind of time editing text on the iPad, you know that there has to be a better solution. Placing your cursor in a certain spot in a sentence or paragraph can be difficult. And between letters? Forget about it. Yep. I want this. Via: @siracusa
The Elder Scrolls Online Announced
The Elder Scrolls Online I’m not sure I want this to be true. I might be happier with simple co-op for the next entry in the TES series.
Runic Games CEO on Interface and Features
Penny-Arcade Report interviews Max Schaefer of Runic Games: If we find something that’s annoying, and that you’re doing repetitively, we’ll find a way to remove it. and It’s going to be a struggle to keep out people’s good ideas. Interface and feature creep can kill a beautiful gaming experience (or any software experience, for that matter). Include features at only the highest level...
@counternotions: Scott Forstall, VP for iOS software, selling 95% of his AAPL holdings is an odd move. Yeah it is. Interesting. Forstall still has shares in the company and more coming that vest in a few years, but still.
parislemon: The Subsidized Xbox 360 For $99 you’ll get an Xbox 360 plus the Kinect and an Xbox Live Gold account provided you pay $15 a month for the next two years, as Tom Warren scoops for The Verge. This seems like a pretty smart move by Microsoft — even though basic math shows that the current full-price Xbox 360 + Xbox Live subscription is a better deal. People are going to...
BlackBerry 10 OS: Too Little Too Late?
Let’s take a positive outlook on RIM for a second, starting with BlackBerry 10 OS features of interest: The Cascades SDK provides a full set of native UI elements which can easily be added to your applications: buttons, fields, text areas etc. The screens look nice, like a point set somewhere betwee Ice Cream Sandwich and Windows Phone 7. If nothing else, the design is modern and...
Gemmell on Quasar
Matt Gemmell on the Qasar jailbreak hack: “Because I can” isn’t a design, and nor is “it’s familiar”. Assessment of context and suitability is always required. The “because I can” philosophy plus “it’s familiar” is what brought us ten years of Windows tablets. Only with the iPad did the industry see that the tablet experience could be different (and more...