Tuesday, September 25, 2007

DiGRA 2007: Tuesday Game Design

DiGRA 2007 is off to a great start right now, with paper and poster presentations, as well as symposia and panels. I've been attending the game design track for the most part, and it's fun to hear all the different theories. There are some good, relevant topics that my old Core III students would really enjoy, like generally defining the avatar, or the Magic Circle.

The most interesting topic so far was the "Playing Music" paper, which was a survey of the many music-centric games in our industry. He makes a distinction between games that quantize player action (like Rez) and games that make the player perform in rhythm (like Amplitude). What's most interesting about that is how my current project at ETC straddles that distinction quite easily.

Pictures of Japan forthcoming...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Off to Japan

Alright, I'm off to Japan!

I'll be blogging about noteworthy talks and exhibits at Tokyo Game Show and DiGRA 2007. Weird stuff I see in Japan will most certainly merit blogging, too.

Stay tuned, this will be a busy week at Knee of the Curve!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The New Vienna

There's a new version of Vienna, the open source RSS reader for Mac OS X. While I haven't been keeping tabs on the progress of previous updates, this new one rolls out a brand-new interface that rocks severe.

If you're using Vienna, you owe it to yourself to upgrade.

If you don't use Vienna....you owe it to yourself to upgrade.

Humor in HCI

I think it's hilariously appropriate for the iPhone Dev Team's anySIM to operate via Apple's "slide to unlock" mechanic.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rez HD is Coming

Oh, now isn't this just super-exciting. Microsoft just announced that Q? is porting Rez to the Xbox Live Arcade, in high-def and with 5.1-channel sound.

What? Oh, sure, I could say more, but what could make you more excited than Rez HD? That's right, nothing.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bioshock's Great. Not THAT Great.

The past few weeks, for many gamers, have been devoted to playing Bioshock, a graphically beautiful first-person shooter with some truly exciting gameplay. The game also came with a lot of hype surrounding its take on morality and Objectivism, Ayn Rand's philosophy which is outlined in her literary works. Specifically, 2K Games billed Bioshock as a treatment of Atlas Shrugged, a look into the effects on society, should an entire class of productive workers abstain from contributing.

Sadly, the game didn't live up to these lofty expectations (and the inherent hype of it being the spiritual successor to System Shock 2). Throughout this game, moral choices seem to be in abundance, but the game's design consistently fails to enable the player to make important gameplay decisions, or removes the pros and cons of the few that the player actually can affect.

If you don't mind spoilers, this is a nice, to-the-point critique of Bioshock's defusal of any morality in the "Little Sisters" mechanic. While the Little Sisters serve as the most fundamental aspect to Bioshock's morality, just look at Ars Technica's breakdown. It's virtually a zero-sum game.

It's a shame that such a fun, beautiful game tripped and fell on what should have been another bullet-point, but the hype machine seems to have taken hold. If you're looking for moral choices in games, I propose you look no further than Deus Ex. You can get it for pretty cheap on Steam now.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Scrabulous on Facebook

Scrabble is an awesome game. It's strongly emergent, multi- or single-player, accessible to many skill levels and most of all, loads of fun. If you're on Facebook then you owe it to yourself to check out the Scrabulous application, which will let you 'scrab with up to four of your Facebook peers. Give it a go!