Friday, July 29, 2005

Lack of updates and spam

I still have to post the second part of the NTI* conference report. However, I have been quite busy lately, and I am getting lots of spam posted as comments in this website.

If anyone knows how to limit comments to registered users or delete them easily using geeklog, please, post a comment here.

Thank you.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Non-game: Fridge Magnets

Fridge Magnets is a multiuser non-game where you share magnetic letters with other players in a sort of collective writting.

Developed by FlashComGuru

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

NTI*: Films and Games at the BFI - Part 1

Last Saturday I attended two sessions of the Non Trivial Interaction conference at the British Film Institute, in London: Peter Molineux: The Trailer and Playing with Games.

Both talks were very exciting, since I am particularly interested in creative play and mods.

Peter Molineux started his talk with considerations on next generation games, and compared three different moments of the industry:

1989 - Games presented abstract concepts, took a team of 2-4 people and generated 2-3 billions in sales.

2005 - Games start using mass market concepts, taking 100-200 people to make them. The industry seems to generate, now, around 35 bn.

2006+ - From next year on, games will adopt unique mass market concepts, more than 200 people and generate 60+ bn.

Next Generation games, Molineux added, will feature clear concepts, accessibility, ease-of-use, deep interaction, be adaptable to the player's preferences and agenda and have morphable gameplay. They will also give the player the ability to create something.

Plus, the games (or game worlds) will be always online.

He started, then, talking about his next games, The Movies and Black & White 2,

while his assistant played the games in the projection screen. The Movies, as Molineux demonstrated, is very simple game to play, where the player basically has to drag and drop characters and elements in buildings to run his studio (and the game has a very transparent interface, indeed). You can also play it as a more typical sim/manager game or use it to make your own animated movies, taking advantage of lip-sync technology. Summarizing, The Movies featured almost every desirable next-gen concept presented by Molineux.

He also used the opportunity to show movies made by lionhead testers (several zombie movies and one homoerotic production), and stressed the quality of the movies mad by people with no formal education in the area. Apparently, some movies festivals will accept submissions of short films made with the game.

Black & White 2 had a more discreet presentation, where the emphasis was more on the morphable gameplay that allows the player to change his play style from RTS to god-game.

By the end, there was a round of questions from people in the audience. Someone asked if The Movies could be used in schools, to which Molineux said that "it would be nice". I agree. In act, as in many games, there is an unexpected educational value in The Movies.

During the questions, "The Room", Emily Dickinson's based game presented by Molineux at the last GDC was running in the background. When asked by someone what was that, Molineux said that he wouldn't say much about it, but told people to "not expect the obvious" from games and game design.

Finally, Molineux said that he is a great believer in modding and in the use of game as creative tools. Plus, according to him, the player has to have immediate feedback on his actions.

It was a very interesting session, and I was glad that creative play is being taken this seriously by the most successful game designers around.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Book: Art & Science

Developers are often very keen on the "art and science of making games". To read and understand a little more about the relationship of art and science and how they are overlapping, a good book is Art & Science, by Sian Ede.

Buy it from
Buy it from

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Façade is released!

An interactive drama by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern, Façade, probably the most anticipated independent game around, is now ready to be downloaded. Instructions here.

Friday, July 01, 2005

A new taxonomy for interactive entertainment

Types of Play, an article by Evan Robinson published at Chris Crawford's Erasmatazz proposes a new classification system for computer entertainment systems.

Among the definitions presented by Robinson, the one that better applies to nongames would be "Unstructured Play"

Unstructured Play: Interaction with a system in which the primary goal of the user(s) is examination of the system's behavior. Also called 'Exploration'.

This definition indicates an interesting characteristic of the genre.

Even taking in consideration that, as put by Robinson, "one user's Toy is another user's Puzzle and yet another user's Game", it is fair to say that this kind of Unstructured Play is often meant to be a sort of toy. Toys offer a kind of freeform play often refered to as "Paidea" (as in Frasca's MA thesis), where there is not a 'win' or 'lose' situation (which would be present in games better defined by the term "ludus".

"Ludus", then, suggests a set of defined rules and game mechanics that don't give the player the impression of being manipulated arbitrarily by the system with no palpable explanation inside the game rules. In "paidea" (and therefore in toys, nongames and unstructured play in general), the absence of the system as a foe might liberate it to surprise the player more often and unexpectedly - something even desireble when exploring the system's behavior.

The "interesting characteristic" is that, since there is no struggle for control of the game state and outcomes between the player and the system, the player might as well abdicate his "mastering" of the system more often during play.
Copyright, Chico Queiroz