Thursday, January 18, 2007

NYC Games Salon

I was going to sum up the NYC Games Salon that I went to on 9 January, but: 1) I got into the Carnegie Mellon ETC in Adelaide, Australia which has thrown my schedule off-kilter with doctor's appointments, visa applications and the like, and 2) seeing as Gamasutra has already blogged it better than I would have been able to, I'll just refer you to that and point out two things that really, really bothered me:

The DWI Simulator's development started in Torque, until they decided it wasn't as good as they wanted, so they switched to a web-based Java app. What? As you programmers know, Java runs on OS X and Linux, and even Windows. As does Torque. The big difference? Java can run within a web browser, without installation. Torque, while required to run natively in a "full app" context, has significantly more graphical/input chops. It's better for full-fledged games, and could make the simulation that much more immersive, by not having to deal with the headaches of a browser paradigm.

As was evidenced when the Java-version of the game failed to run properly in his web browser. Now, he didn't say what, exactly, they didn't like about their Torque version, but I'd wager it has more to do with developer familiarity than any sort of defeciency in Torque. There's nothing wrong with being upfront about such unfamiliarity, but there is something wrong with asserting (without evidence!) that the pathetic Java3D toolkit could somehow make a better simulation experience than Torque.

And I realize that there was no actual Inspector Carbone game, it was still being designed, but I really don't like these non-material metrics for gameplay, we'll call them "Glue Points."

See, Inspector Carbone used a system of "Eco-Points" to represent several metrics: financial capability of residents, willingness to live greener, capacity for ecological responsibility education, et cetera. These nebulous points grew with time, but fell with upgrades. There's a flaw in the mechanics when a metric representing education falls after installing CFL bulbs.

I think that's just a symptom of the simulation being too simple. SimCity simulates urban development quite well, but it breaks simulation parameters up sufficiently to resemble real-life parameters. Taxes, energy, water, population, zoning. It all adds up to a realistic simulation, than if something like "City Life Points" had been used to "glue" several distinct aspects together.

Anyway, it was a great event and I wish I could go to another. Here's hoping one comes to Australia. :)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Off to Meet Jesper Juul

I'm heading to New York City to attend a game salon at The New School/Parsons, where Jesper Juul's a featured speaker. Expect a full summary here, but for now, just know that when flights are delayed at Little Rock International Airport, there's only one place I get my Cinna on: