Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Game concept for the Round Table

A videogamic adaptation of the Christmas Tune Little Drummer Boy:

Lyrics:

Come they told him parum pum pum pum
A new born King to see parum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring parum pum pum pum
To lay before the king parum pum pum pum
So to honor him parum pum pum pum
When we come

Little baby parum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too parum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring parum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give a King parum pum pum pum
Shall I play for you parum pum pum pum
On my drum

Mary nodded parum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept tight parum pum pum pum
I played my drum for him parum pum pum pum
I played my best for him parum pum pum pum
Then he smiled at me parum pum pum pum
Me and my drum


Game Concept:

A rhythmic game for Nintendo Wii. Using the Wiimote as drumsticks, play along the Christmas tunes and adlibs, providing a soothing environment for everyone in the nativity scene.

Missions:

  • Calm down animals in the barn
  • Help the Three Wise Men to find their destination
  • Do not attract Herod`s soldiers

    Features:

  • Beautiful environment reproducing the nativity scene
  • Great collection of Christmas songs
  • Auto-mode: sit back and enjoy

    Merry Christmas everyone!


  • Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    The Icon + request

    The Icon:



    Request:
    Does anyone know where I can find a good model for an End-User License Agreement? You know, the text that apears before the installation, which we usually skip saying "I agree with the terms and conditions"...

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    Required reading for later

    Jonas Heide Smith's thesis on How Videogame Goals Shape Player Behaviour.

    From the Abstract:

    "Games shape player behaviour by presenting goals which players attempt to fulfil. This is the most common “folk” theory of the relationship between game design and player behaviour. It is also one central to most game design literature and to much work within the game studies field.

    In this dissertation, the simple idea that players try to win is explicated through a “Rational Player Model”, a tool for understanding the relationship between game goals and the behaviour of players who try to reach these goals."


    Jonas Heide Smith


    Thesis available here.


    (via Ludologist).

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006

    (more) new screenshots

    The game looks the same as the previous screenshots. No visual changes have been made since last version.



    Still, pretty flowers, huh? :)

    Monday, December 11, 2006

    An article of mine at the Game Career Guide

    I´m pleased to inform that my paper Playing with the Other: Alterity in the Work of Peter Molyneux just got published at CMP´s Game Career Guide. The article is not exactly new, so they were very kind to run it on their website:



    So, in case you haven´t read it yet, here´s a new opportunity. Just follow the link.

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Thursday, November 30, 2006

    PS3 priced. Guess how much...

    Weeks ago, when the Xbox360 price for the Brazilian market was announced (around U$ 1440), I asked:
    The question is: how much will they charge for the PS3?
    Well, I´m pleased to inform that in Brazil you can buy, from this site,
    the PS3 (20 Gb HD version) + 4 PS2 games (no typo here: 4 PS2 games). The price?

    R$ 7980. Equivalent, today, to something around US$ 3.670.
    Wow.

    Wednesday, November 29, 2006

    Early game progression x backstory

    Disclaimer: If you really want to learn in-depth, insightful thoughts on gameplay progression, you should read Lopez' article on Gamasutra, instead. Myself, I´m just reporting a (not so meaningful) case in which the game's backstory is changed due to early gameplay issues.

    If you´ve seen the screenshot I´ve submitted weeks ago, you probably know the game I´m working on is about maintaining flowers. The initial plan (and backstory) was to give the player a completely empty terrain, so he could start his garden from scratch. That, I thought, would emphasize the player´s freedom.

    However, given the game´s pace on early tests, we´re thinking of starting the game with a single specimen already planted. Reasons for that include (a) giving something the player can care about right from the beginning, not being subject to (b) a long period of time without any flowers around.

    As result, the storyline would have to change from something like "start a garden from scratch and create the flora of..." to something like "save the last flower and recreate the flora of...". Personally, I think players would be more captivated by the second line.

    Any thoughts?

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Homebrew Flash Wii Games

    Yes, they are a possibility! Play some at:

    WiiCade.com

    I am not sure they use every Wiimote functionality, but that´s a start!
    (via GameReporter.org)

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Driving Game inside Google Earth

    Still on different uses for Google Earth:

    I haven't tried it (and probably won't, at least for now) but here's a video of a driving game made for Google Earth available here.

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Non-games and Toyplay: Preliminary list - Part IV

    Just a quick update, suggested by a work colleague who really enjoyed the game in question:

  • Sim Tower

    Curiously released by Maxis under the `Sim` series (not the Sims series, mind you), but developed by a Japanese studio.

    Have a nice weekend, everyone!
  • Interface Retouch

    Note the new 'stats' button (I won't tell you which one it is - I hope it's obvious enough).


    I don't know what you think, but I guess it looks better than the previous version.

    That was a good advice from Corvus. Thank you, again.

    Maybe next week I'll have a new version for the music as well...

    Very Serious Games

    As reported on Slashdot, Google Earth is being used by Indians (in this case, natives from South America, not India) to monitor and protect Amazon (in this case, the forest, not the bookstore)

    ...In Suriname, Brazil, and Colombia are combining their traditional knowledge of the rainforest with Western technology to conserve forests and maintain ties to their history and cultural traditions. Indians use Google Earth to remotely monitor their lands by checking for signs of miners and GPS to map their lands.

    Damien1972

    I´ve posted before about Google Earth, which I find an excellent product for many reasons, such as the fact it "[blurs] the line between the application it is and the game or toy it is used as". After reading the news above, I wonder if applications like this could turn environmental challenges into collective games that culminate in real problems being issued and possible solutions being presented by its players - who would actually discover the challenges themselves.

    Since we live in a big planet, this game could have exploration and housekeeping elements (to borrow some terms from the book 21st Century Game Design).

  • Original Slashdot post
  • Google Earth
  • My previous post on Google Earth
  • 21st Century Game Design book
  • Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    Mafalda on evidence?

    I´ve noticed that many visitors are reaching this website when looking for Mafalda comic strips (your might remember I have posted, so far, four notes about game design based on Quino´s creation).

    First, I would like to apologize for the broken images - I´ll try to fix that as soon as possible. Also, I´m getting a sense that, suddenly, there´s a lot of people looking for Mafalda material. Even some stores around here started to sell merchandise based on that character. Does anybody know why this could be happening? Is that just a coincidence?


  • Mafalda on Game Design and Theory I
  • Mafalda on Game Design and Theory II
  • Mafalda on Game Design and Theory III
  • Mafalda on Game Design and Theory IV
  • Friday, November 10, 2006

    The U$ 1,400 Xbox 360

    I´ve mentioned, some time ago, how much the Wii would cost in Brazil: something equivalent to U$ 1,120.

    Now, you might remember me posting about the Xbox 360 coming to Brazil. Here´s a passage from the text:

    I am curious about the price. An import costs from U$ 950 to 1400 (!), so it shouldn't be difficult to make it cheaper than that and attract more buyers

    Well, according to Gamereporter.org, Microsoft´s console will cost R$ 2999,00 - equivalent to something like... U$ 1400.

    The question is: how much will they charge for the PS3?

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    The blurb

    If my upcoming game had a cover, this is more or less what would be written on it (formated as proposed by Chris Bateman):

    Garden Game Project

    Wind, Water and DNA.

    Control the force of nature: keep your garden and customize flowers down to genetic level.

    * Plant and nurture your garden.
    * Design your own flowers from millions of possible DNA combinations.
    * Export pictures of your creations.

    Ages: 4+
    Players: 1
    Ease of Learning: Suitable for Beginner
    Difficulty of Play: Easy-Medium
    Play Time: 5 minutes (2 hours total)


    I´m not sure about my Play Time accuracy, though. It could be completely different.

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Non-games and Toyplay: Preliminary list - Part III

    How could I forget...

  • Little Computer People(!)
  • Sim Earth(?)
  • Sim Ants(?)

    An anonymous poster suggests Intellivision Lives . Apparently is a compilation of Intellivision games, including some prototypes. I´ve never played this one before, but there is a particular demo called "Hypnotic Lights", which could be a Llamasoft-esque demo. Does anyone knows what is that about?
  • Monday, November 06, 2006

    the soundtrack

    Ok, we've discussed the visuals, so here is the music:



    You might remember I was thinking of using only percussion. That's the whole track played only once (although it feels like a loop already).

    Again, would you like to comment, please? Your help is being very, very useful (in fact, I did replace the stats icon, as suggested by Corvus. It's much better now).

    Sunday, November 05, 2006

    Saturday, November 04, 2006

    Screenshots - good idea?

    I really would like to hear some opinions on the game demo visuals, but I'm not so sure I should do it. We're 1 1/2 months from finishing the demo.

    PRO:
    - It could generate some useful feedback (some of which I could use)
    - I feel I need to ask if the visuals are up to par, regarding other casual titles around (specially the ones made with flash)

    AGAINST:
    - Revealing the game too soon(?)

    What do you think? Should I post it?

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Oh, that much for the Wii?

    You might remember me asking if the Wii would really cost R$ 1500 in this country (something around $ 690). Well, the price has been now announced. And it's even more expensive.

    According to GameReporter.org and Inside Games, the Nintendo Wii will cost R$ 2,399 which is, today, equivalent to 1,120 American Dollars.

    Apparently, the most expensive PS3 version will cost $599 in the U$, where you'll be able to buy the Wii for $250 and the Xbox 360 (including 20 Gb HD) for $400. Total: $1250.

    Only $130 more than a Wii bought in Brazil.

    I can't wait to see the line-up titles prices...

    Friday, October 27, 2006

    Non-games and Toyplay: Preliminary list - Part II

    Ok, so we have new additions to the list. Thanks Chris and Ulrik for contributing with:

  • Seaman (Dreamcast)
  • Trip-a-Tron
  • Deus Ex Machina
  • Harvest Moon (?)
  • September 12th
  • Madrid

    But there is more! How could I forget the Petz series?
    Including:

  • Catz
  • Dogz
  • Babyz
  • Oddballz

    Have a good weekend, everyone.
  • Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Soundtrack considerations

    Since we´ve discussed tutorials and missions, why not step out of design for a bit and enter the sound department? More specifically, let´s talk in-game music:

    The game I´m working one won´t have space for several tunes. In fact, we might have only one tune for the opening and another one (probably a variation) for the game itself.

    Yes, only one. A short one. That´s not much, I know. So how do we make it suitable for the game?

    My personal experience is that repetitive melodies get listeners tired pretty quickly. That´s probably more true with casual games. That´s why I am considering to use only percussive sounds in the soundtrack.

    First, it would fit the game style. Secondly, it´s very economical. Finally, I believe this kind of music can be more easy on the ears and last long, since listeners tend to create the other music elements in their head while listening.

    Am I forgetting something? Is there anything wrong with this line of thought?

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    To task or not to task

    Having learned some tricks about tutorial modes (with a little help from my friends), I'm now undecided about including or not a "mission" feature. Would it be a invaluable feature or just harm the game's simplicity?

    The Mission feature could, it's true, add a great deal of replayability. At the same time, it might turn the game into goal-oriented too much. Plus, a new verb (and new buttons for the interface) would be needed.

    My game has, so far, two main verbs that can be combined with two nouns each. Would it be sensible to add a third verb? Let's keep in mind that the audience I have in mind is the one from casual game portals - which is another way to say it's a casual (non)game - if 'casual' means anything at all, that is.

    At the same time, something tells me that a well-balanced Missions feature would please players, who are avid for tasks.

    Maybe a "Quick Challenge" feature would be more suitable. A simple window saying something like "Can you make X?", that would set a mini-goal for the player to pursue, if he feels like it. Yes, this could be a simple and effective solution...

    What about you? What do you think about it? Is it possible to make missions transparent yet appealing?

    PS: I'm sorry I'm being so secretive about the game. One of these says I'll post its game blurb, Bateman style.

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    In-game tutorials checklist

    Love them? Hate them? Any good examples? Any advice?

    You see, because a game is not so simple as I would like to be, I have to design a tutorial stage. I will:

    • Break it down to digestive bits.
    • Make it skippable.
    • Reward the player by the end of it.
    • Teach about every needed verb.

    Am I forgetting something? That's never been my strong subject.

    More experimental gameplay

    This post could suit Casual Game Design better, but let´s go anyway...

    Kloonigames is a blog mantained by Petri Purho. He says:

    The point of this blog is I try to crank out an experimental game every month. I was inspired by Experimental Gameplay Project, so I try to follow their rules. Basicly this means that every game I create I have to make within 7-day limit, they have to made by me alone and they have to test some new form of gameplay.

    I´ve played two of his creations, so far: Jimmy´s Lost His Marbles and my favourite, Slimy Pete’s Singles Bar. I really like the visuals and mood of this one.

    If you have some free time, you might want to check it out.

    (via Ludologia)

    Unrelated note:
    Thanks Chris and Ulrik for the contributions to the list. I´ll update it as soon as I can.

    Monday, October 09, 2006

    Non-games and Toyplay: Preliminary list

    Ok, so I am terribly busy at the moment, but still trying to put together a list of software games and products that explore toyplay and paidia over ludus experiences - less goals, more play, well, you know my usual yadda yadda. No time for that again right now.

    So here is what I could get from previous posts. I'll welcome contributions and also arguments against specific names on my list (I'm not so sure about some of them).

    • The Sims
    • Sim City
    • Elektroplankton
    • Warioware DS's Toy Room
    • Roller Coaster Tycoon 3
    • Experimental Gameplay Project (Tower of Goo)
    • Nintendogs
    • Animal Crossing DS
    • Psychedelia
    • I, Robot
    • Colourscape
    • Second Life
    • Talkman
    • Neon
    • Brain Training
    • Fridge Magnets
    • Façade
    • Google Earth
    • Ragdoll Bush
    • Insular
    • BlockCad
    • Make-a-Flake
    • Mario Paint
    • Comic Book Dollhouse
    • Sand (Java web-game)
    • The Joy of Painting
    • Ms Flight Simulator
    • Ken Perlin experiments
    • Sim Tunes
    • SoupToys
    • Lego Digital Designer
    • The Movies

    Any thoughts?

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Juggling

    A skill-based nongame.

    It´s hard to keep the balls in the air, and although you can count the number of times you do that to set yourself a goal, I think the fun of the game is more in the state of flow one can achieve when juggling. It´s also a test of resistance and focus.

    Also a great metaphor for times you´re too busy with many things at once.

    Verbs: throw ball, catch ball
    Nouns: Balls (3 to 4 - Pros can handle even more)

    Friday, September 29, 2006

    Desktop toy

    This could also figure the non-games list I'll try to set up as soon as I have some time:

    (From Souptoys website)




    The Souptoys are a collection of more than sixty toys that you can play with directly on your computer desktop. Build intricate castles, create fantastic contraptions, decorate your desktop, design your own puzzles or just fling the toys around - they're your toys, play with them how you want to. Once you've built your elaborate playsets save them for later and share them with your friends.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    Still on that wiki about Toyplay and Gameplay

    I have posted some days ago about Knights, a wiki containing a list of interesting links and articles on freeplay, toyplay and related subjects. Well, the Wiki is no longer restricted to those who can read Danish: Astrid Madsen, Rasmus Harr, Morten Svendsen and Ulrik Limkilde - the four MA students who keep the website - are now updating it in English, so the rest of us can take a look at their ambitious and very interesting project, plus learn a little bit more about the subject.

    Thanks for sharing your findings with us, and good luck!

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Ace of Mythology

    Kindly responding to my call for participation, Corvus Elrod, from Man Bytes Blog, presents his Six Tags: an impressive companion of mythological tricksters.

    Thursday, September 21, 2006

    Rewards - Game Design Conventions

    Free, morphable gameplay, opposed to clear, static, mandatory goals are clearly the game design conventions this weblog should be more inclined to discuss. However, since GregT has brilliantly done something similar in his post, I decided to take on a game convention that often puzzles me: Rewarding the player (often described as positive feedback).


    Rewarding the Player


    Any game design resource will tell you that you need to constantly reward your player for his good deeds and right gameplay decisions. That would reinforce his confidence and keep his interest in the game. True. As a gamer, I can see that. Sound and graphical cues inform me I'm on the right path - which is great, isn't it?

    As a designer, I must say I was never concerned with rewarding as I should be. I recognise this as a personal weakness, not as an artistic statement (and maybe that's the real cause of my discontentment). Still, I feel this constant rewarding and punishment should be questioned in the name of experimental game design. The problem, as I see it, is that instant gratifications like those might lead to a conditional behaviour, much like Pavlov's dog, from the player. Maybe we should let the player investigate and decide on his actions` positives and negative effects for himself.

    Maybe a more open-ended scheme should hint the player more about his possibilities, and be less judgemental. Yes, rewarding is very helpful at teaching the game basics, but the player shouldn't play all the time just to feel he is doing things right and being appreciated - he should be the one appreciating things, once in a while.

    Although I can see its importance to game design (just think of most casual games - they probably wouldn't work so great without this reinforcement), I think this approach is related to the traditional win-lose scheme of games. What we might need (as I suggested here) is more ambiguity, less certainties, so games, as the art form they are, can be more freely interpreted by the players. Sure, this advice is to be taken from a minority of game genres and styles. Still, the current model of reward and punishment is something I feel could be challenged more often.

    Tuesday, September 19, 2006

    6 Tags: Play and Games Symbols

    I was invited by André Carita and Pedro Silva to play 6 Tags, a viral game going on the blogosphere. Apparently, all you need to do is post a list of six inter-related elements - the subject of the list could anything you want. Then you have to ask six more people to do the same - which is probably the hardest part.

    Here is my participation:

    Tags: Play and Games Symbols (in random order)

    #1 - Dice: In a general way, they represent Alea, games of chance. Also, they remind me of classic board games and RPGs. They come in many shapes, but I´m using the traditional six-sided one, here.

    #2 - The Knight: My favourite chess piece stands for Agon, games of competition and strategy. Why is it my favourite chess piece? because of the way it moves, of course. It makes easier to capture the Queen or threat the King and a Rook simultaneously (I know, you can say from my tactics I´m not a strong player).

    #3 - Spades (the suit): Card games - and there are many of them - suggest a balance between chance and strategy. Plus, cards (traditional or not) are a very interesting material to play and work with. I was undecided between Spades of Clubs - but I thougth Spades would have more dramatic appeal.

    #4 - Tetris L-shaped Brick: The only video game here, Tetris is one of the most powerful representation of digital games there are. It´s abstract, it´s fast, it´s natural to its medium and fit to represent it. Plus, it´s hugely successful and easy to recognise. Why the L-shaped? Probably because it reminds me of the Knight´s movement.

    #5 - Lego Brick: Standing for free and creative play, the Lego Brick is a symbol of Paidia, opposed to (or complementing)the rule-based goal-oriented ludic play previously represented.

    #6 - The Go Board: For its simple rules and complex gameplay that lead to an infinity of possible outcomes, the game of Go is considered by some (including Will Wright) as the greatest game ever. The Go board itself is very simple, and seems perfect to illustrate the countless possibilities that can emerge from the rules of a game.




    6 invitees - probably the only people I know that I was not too embarrassed to invite:

    GameReporter, King Lud IC, Only a Game,Mushroom Corporation, Man Bytes Blog and Casual Game Design.



    Illustrations:
    Dice: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/6/6a/Dice.jpg/150px-Dice.jpg
    Knight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Chess_ndl44.png
    Spades: http://www.urc.ac.ru/cgi/gb/ico/spades.gif
    Tetris: http://www.ping.be/~tlammens/tetris/geschiedenis.html
    Lego: http://media.peeron.com/ldraw/images/2/3004.png
    Go: http://people.albion.edu/gad10/GO%20board.GIF

    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Article + Wiki + Lists (on free playing)

    The Article

    It's amazing how I managed to ignore this article for so long.

    Playing and Gaming: Reflections and Classifications, by Kampmann Walther, discusses the differences and connections between those two distinct kinds of ludic activity.

    Here is a selected passage (the emphasis in bold is mine):

    "(...) gameplay should work to assure the circularity of different orders of complexity without doubting its own make-believe. Gaming should not be troubled by playing. Rather, we should be concerned about finding the most sufficient and entertaining way to proceed appropriately."


    Interesting. Could we say that, in a way, playing should also not be troubled by gaming?

    The Wiki

    I found about this article on this Wiki, which kindly links to nongames.com and my MA project at Gamasutra, amongst other articles on toyplay, creative play and related subjects. The wiki is called Knights and seems to be a Scandinavian educational resource website. If anyone knows more about it (I can only guess the obvious words, such as Kalender and Artikler) please let me know.

    The Lists

    Well, that wiki is a great resource for play and non-games research, so I thought I should place a similar list on this website, which is now located on its right side. It lists books and articles on the subject (some links were borrowed from Knights, and I hope they borrow some from me as well).

    I am also thinking of adding a list of non-games - I have posted on many during this months, so it shouldn't be hard to start it.

    I will welcome any suggestions from you, both for the resources list and the games list.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    On the Montreal tragedy and defending games

    First, let me start explaining that my two last posts were published before I realized it could have a bad resonance due to the tragedy in Montreal.

    I've just read this post by Bogost on Water Cooler Games, in which he makes an excellent analysis of the fact that the press is emphasising that Kimveer Gill, Montreal's tragedy Gunman, used to play lots of games, including Super Columbine Massacre RPG.

    As Bogost brilliantly explains, it's obvious that the game can not be held responsible in any way for that man's actions.

    If I've previously expressed my concerns about the way we, gamers, often defend our media based on loose evidences, that's because I prefer takes such as Dugan's view on the aforementioned game, or Bogost's latest piece itself.

    They provide a more solid defense, but I am not sure they are enough to fight back anti-games press sensationalism. So maybe I was wrong in my last post, and Jesper was right in his comment: It's needed to stress that video games are not to blame. Specially in moments like this.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    As much as I agree with you, this does not prove much

    Ok, so I'm still playing devil's advocate here.

    I do not believe games significantly stimulate violent behaviour. I don't think a teenager (or even a child for that matter) will start killing his peers just because she/he has played too much GTA. That's just my personal opinion, which is based on my personal experiences. As any other game enthusiast, I am not pleased to read about suggestions of links between video games and violence.

    Still, I would never defend violent games based on the graph below:



    Taken from The Economist, it first caught my attention on a Ludologist post entitled The Diagram that Says it All. I immensely respect Juul's views on video games, but there is no way to convince me that this diagram says anything more than two disconnected pieces of data. It does not serve as pro- or anti-games evidence. If so, it would prove that games stop violence from happening. It actually encourages game detractors from making cynical comments like:

    - Hey, maybe if the US government spend $4,000,000.00 in games during the next 9 years, then the criminal rate would drop to zero.

    If games cause any violent act, the numbers would be so low that it would not show in this kind of diagram. It's not so much a quantitative matter.

    - If so, what would have caused the violence raise from 2002 to 2003? Duke Nuken Forever being delayed again?

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    WoW controversy

    ... pointed out by Koster.

    The article, from Newsweek, seems to be aimed at nongamer audiences, but it is still an interesting read for the way it portrays the game and its reflexes and consequences in 'real' life.

    Comments at Koster's website have been mostly, so far, filled with a certain sense of outrage about the way the game is negatively depicted by the journalist. A passage from the text:

    "Are you getting the idea that "Warcrack" (as some call it) eats up a lot of time? "Of all the games that my [addictive] clients are involved with, World of Warcraft is the most popular," says clinical psychologist Kimberly Young. Mostly, trouble comes in the form of kids who fall asleep in class, and furious spouses."


    Do videogames need safety nets?

    Could the article be accused of having sensationalist tones? Maybe. Could it be exaggerating its focus on the dark side of the spectrum? Yes, maybe it could. From the game's 7 million players, how many have pathological behaviours over it? I have no idea, but I guess it's a minimal percentage.

    However, when players are willing to confine themselves to addiction clinics and some others are falling dead after long game sessions, you can not escape a justified dose of suspicion and criticism over the whole MMOG business.

    Gamers have long learned to defend their medium from (unfair) accusations of stimulating violent behaviour. The problem is that, now, almost any accusation of anti-social behaviour caused/stimulated by games can be instantly dismissed as "unfair" and "prejudicial" by a mass of gaming advocates. Normally, I would be among them, but I guess all this unanimity around "games are good for you - no matter what" is not helping us understand some real issues surrounding games, and how the industry could improve their products.

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    LEGO digital designer

    I have posted about BlockCAD here before, so here comes another related tip: If you want to play with LEGO but don't have any room left (on your house, not your HD), you can download their software counterpart: Lego Digital Designer.

    Plus, you can upload your creations to their website. LDD takes up to 100 megabytes of Hard Disk space - which is big, but probably less than your living room. How long will it takes till someone integrates it with Google Earth?

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    For a non-excluding theory of game design

    "So then what videogame designers really do is create digital worlds that invite play.

    What does this theory buy game designers, or anyone else in the community for that matter? For starters, it allows us to see many of the things that folks from Callois to Crawford, Koster to Costikyan, and Bogost to Juul have variously considered essential features of videogames—things like uncertainty, conflict, fun, competition, and goals—as part of a palette of strategies for luring gamers into playing in their worlds rather than simply manipulating them."

    Aaron Ruby

    The quotation above is from the article A Theory of Games For Just About Everyone. It challenges the opposition between free-play and gameplay, also regarding play as a mental state, rather than an activity.

    My personal, perhaps unrelated thoughts on the subject:

  • Games and non-games are two sides of the same coin: products should encourage seamless transition between the two states (a la GTA). Of course, this is just a personal opinion and a matter of taste.

  • Non-game is not a genre, but a state of play. A state of a state of mind.

    (via Raph Koster)
  • Thursday, August 31, 2006

    Erratum: Single-player non-game audience alive and kicking

    Oops! Thanks Chris Bateman for opening my eyes on this one. Forget the dramatic tone of the previous post, and here is why:

    "Recent analysis from a survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. online gamers by Dallas-based market research firm Parks Associates ..."

    They were researching online games - not single-player activity. That changes it all. Forget the last post - I knew something did not make sense. We do have a potential audience. Back to work, now.

    New audience model = NO audience model

    From Only a Game, King Lud IC, Next Gen and, finally, Park Associates comes shocking news I was not expecting: a new audience model for the games market. According to research, those are the groups that compose the scenario:

    * Power gamers represent 11 percent of the gamer market but account for 30 cents of every dollar spent on retail and online games.

    * Social gamers enjoy gaming as a way to interact with friends.

    * Leisure gamers spend 58 hours per month playing games but mainly on casual titles. Nevertheless they prefer challenging titles and show high interest in new gaming services.

    * Dormant gamers love gaming but spend little time because of family, work, or school. They like to play with friends and family and prefer complex and challenging games.

    * Incidental gamers lack motivation and play games mainly out of boredom. However, they spend more than 20 hours a month playing online games.

    * Occasional gamers play puzzle, word, and board games almost exclusively.


    Got it? Dormant gamers and Leisure gamers - the ones I would count to enjoy non-games are more interested in complex, challenging titles. But wait:



    “Social and leisure gamers may play simple, non-competitive games, but they want to play these games with friends and players they meet online,” Cai said. “For this type of gamer, there simply aren’t that many options.”


    Ok, Social and Leisure gamers would play non-games - if they were not single-player. As I'm working on a single player non-game (although I should add a "challenge mode"), this research sounds like bad news.

    Now can someone please tell me how Nintendogs and Animal Crossing got so successfull?

    Monday, August 28, 2006

    Selected picks from Manifesto! Games Beta

    Greg Costikyan's brainchild, Manifesto! Games is on Beta testing stage. Here is a passage from their statement that I've found to be a synthesis of MG's main reason of existence:

    "Games are art. Some are bad art, of course, but some are sublime products of the human soul. We strongly believe in small teams who love what they do and risk their livelihoods and their futures on ideas that they need to instantiate and impart to gamers.

    But because of the conservatism of the conventional industry, teams like this will never get funded, or achieve conventional retail distribution.

    Manifesto Games is committed to helping them find a market."


    Fingers crossed, I'll need that kind of help in the near future.

    Meanwhile, some of their games I recommend / would like to try out:

    Cloud
    Disaffected!
    Endless Fire
    Football Deluxe
    Nethack
    Oasis
    Virtual Villagers
    Wik & the Fable of Souls

    ... and still waiting for...

    Play With Fire

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    The PS2-less Guitar Hero

    Fret on Fire is a PC game that plays similarly to Guitar Hero. It is for free and includes a Song Editor, so you can transpose your band´s promising demo tape or whatever James Blunt tune you´ve been whistling for the past week.

    I´m glad games like this are made for many reasons: First, I´m an amateur musician (or something close to that), so I enjoy watching this universe as video games settings. Secondly, the fact you can use it as a tool to actually create songs and share them in a different way. Also, the rhythm/melody based gameplay is an interesting one.

    I haven´t played FoF yet so, if you have, let me know how it feels like.

    (via GameReporter.org)

    Monday, August 21, 2006

    Back from FILE

    I was thinking of writing an event coverage feature on FILE. However, since time is scarce and their website is so comprehensive, I'll just stick to some random comments.

    * First, my lecture went well, thank you very much. The content was pretty much the same from its first incarnation, although I explained the nature of games a little bit more this time, since the audience was not necessarily into the subject.

    * Other lectures on games included Videogame: good or evil?, by Andre de Abreu; Smoking & No Smoking: a dialogue between Cinema and Games, by Cesar Baio; and Playtime in the white cube/Game art: between interactive art and video games, by Andrew Hieronymi.

    * You probably know Hieronymi's work MOVE. If you don't, check his website - it's great! I'm used to read about projects like that on Ludology.org, but this is the first time I actually get to play with one. Interactive art is frequently playfull, and Hironymi extrapolates this characteristic with his deconstruction of game design. His installation was probably the most popular artwork on the event. His lecture was also brilliant.

    * Some computer games were exhibited on FILE Games:
    McDonald's Videogame, by Molleindustria;
    a.Shooter: Sonic Invaders, by a.Game;
    Panda Park, by Andreas Zecher;
    The Cróquets in the Quelicera´s Mansion, by Antonio Carlos Vargas Sant´Anna;
    Circ: Planet Treasure, by Barry Smylie;
    The making of Balkan Wars: The Game, by Personal Cinema;
    Las Familias- a gambling den, by Frank Werner;
    The Ball of Bastards, by Jan-Philipp Behrens;
    San Francisco Zero, by Sam Lavigne;
    Derrota dos Deuses, by Vinicius Gouveia Armelin Ferreira;
    Social Engine, by Urtica; and...
    Insular, (surprise) by yours truly.

    * There were several installations and interactive media artworks that could function perfectly (at least for me) as nongames. I should write about them on a future post.

    More comments on FILE any day.

    Tuesday, August 15, 2006

    I´m on file

    FILE is great, so far! My lecture starts in about two hours, so I´ll have to postpone a more in-depth analysis of it. I am really glad to participate in this event - some works exhibited here are fantastic, and the symposium is great too. More on everything later (today, I hope).

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Links, trip, randomness

    I'll be attending FILE this week. I'm not sure when I'll be able to post something about it, though.

    If you pay attention to the links table on the right, you will notice three new ones: Debate Lúdico, Pensar Videojogos and Mushroom Corporation. These are the first non-English-speaking links on this website: the first one (maintained by me and announced here before) and the second one are written in Portuguese; and the last one, in Spanish.

    On a side note, I must admit that, during the last months, I thought about removing the link to Casual Game Design, for its lack of updates. Well, I'm glad I didn't - it's back with an interesting post on chance and random reward - a subject I've tried to approach here.

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    nongames @ FILE

    From FILE's website:

    "File 2006 - International Festival of Electronic Language - will be held at Fiesp Cultural Center, from August 15 to September 3, 2006, Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The programming will occupy the Art Gallery, the SESI-SP Popular Theater and the Cultural Center Mezzanine, hosting the exhibition, performances and lectures.

    FILE, the major art and technology festival in Brazil, now in its seventh year, has included the country in the world context of new media, offering a compilation of art productions in the field of electronic and digital arts, and serving as an indicator of the variety of those productions. The choice of works participating in FILE 2006 was the result of an intense research and selection, which brought to the surface a great diversity of national and international productions.
    About 200 artists participate in FILE's seventh edition - among groups, collective and individual works - from more than 30 nations, with works in the areas of net art, web art, interactive animation, hypertext, interactive web film, interactive movies, panoramas, VRML, games, digital poetry, software art, generative art, artificial intelligence, robotics, music, performance, interactive installations, and electronic installations."


    There will be lots of people from games - both exhibiting and lecturing. Myself, I'll be presenting this:

    16.AUG - 14h30
    CHICO QUEIROZ [BRA]
    Playing the Other: Alterity in Peter Molyneux’ work

    Let's hope the audience is not too hard! (they could be, specially because every other work or lecture looks so promising)

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    How much for that Wii?

    Gamasutra reported other reports on Wii details, including its price. Apparently, IGN reported that it should cost around U$229. The curious fact - and reason I'm posting myself a report on that - is that Gamasutra also links to a report by a Brazilian website, in which the price of the console for the Brazilian market is announced as something between R&1,400 and R&1,500. In case you are not familiar to our currency, that would be something around U$640 and U$690. Gamasutra's comment:

    "However, high import taxes and a rampant piracy problem mean that Brazilian hardware prices are often greatly in excess of that elsewhere in the world, with the DS Lite costing 800 real ($367), accounting for the particularly high pricing compared to the rest of the world."


    I am glad this is being noticed. I know I have posted on that before, but I hope reports like that help to change this policy and, consequentially, help to develop the Brazilian game market - which is potentially very, very big.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Casual Hardcore

    There is an interesting article on Gamasutra entitled Analyze This: Will 'Casual' Games Dominate the Future of the Industry?

    In a way, the article contests the idea that Casual Games are necessarily *the* future of games. Although I enjoy casual games (specially for their cost of production), and try to keep in mind casual audiences, I cannot help thinking that "hardcore is the new casual" - something Manifesto! Games might eventually prove.

    Also, a particular passage from the text intrigued me:

    "Over on the PC gaming side, for several years now, Web games such as Yahoo!'s gaming service have done extremely well, and EA's The Sims franchise has been a long-time staple for that company."

    Yes, most casual players enjoy The Sims, but I would not say it is a casual game, would you? It has quite complex rules and interaction schemes, massive interface, it takes time to learn and play... Just because casual audiences enjoy it (mostly, I believe, for the content - which they also can create), it doesn't mean it's a casual game. Maybe it's casual hardcore. Or vice-versa.

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Playing Elite II

    If there ever was a game that I've played as in a sandbox-style, it was Elite II - Frontier. Liberty City and San Andreas might be huge, but do they compare to our entire galaxy?

    (image taken from Mobygames, contributed by Halleck)


    Having played the Amiga version, I also loved to listen the classical music featured in the game (a trick borrowed from Kubrick?).

    Although it was possible to engage into several missions, you could play it just for relaxing - in non-game mode, if you will. Open-ended was hardly a buzzword back then.

    Another impressive fact: the whole game would take around 700kb. It's interesting to notice that Will Wright is bringing back this compact/procedural approach with Spore.

    However, I cannot find working versions of the game for windows XP. Does anyone have any ideas on how to play it on modern computers?

    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Toshio Iwai's new musical instrument

    Electroplankton's creator Toshio Iwai now has a blog, tenorion.blogspot.com, where he discusses the development of the new musical instrument he's working on: the TENORI-ON official Yamaha website).

    (image from Yahaha's website)

    For a long time, Iwai's work as an artist and designer has been related to music and instrument play (like in Music Insects, Piano - as image media, SimTunes and electroplankton), So his new venture seems like a natural next step.

    I must say am curious about it. It looks very modern, but it also looks like something George Harrison could have tried on a Beatles` record, if they were still playing today.


    (video from YouTube user pantalonesgigantesca)

    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    Ambiguous Feedback

    I would love t get a set of drinking chess. In case you don't know what that is, this is what it looks like (photo taken from eBay, will take down if asked):



    It plays just like regular chess, except that when you capture something, you must drink the alcoholic beverage inside the shotglass that serves as the piece you got.

    suddenly, this game reminded me of a passage from a recent post by Gonzalo Frasca on how winning a game does not equals fun:
    "However, try to pay attention at people playing party games, especially those involving performance such as DDR or Eye Toy: there's always some player who is really bad at the game but turns his goofyness into his strength."

    My point is: from an objective point of view, drinking the beverage is a negative feedback: it makes you dizzy and it's more likely to make it hard to focus on the match. Right. But it could also be regarded as a reward, right? And something that helps you relaxing during such a tense game. A little bit like in Frasca's example, mild drunkenness can be an advantage - if not inside the game itself, at least within the social context surrounding it.

    Punishment or reward? I bet that, after capturing a couple of pawns, players will show mixed reactions to the drinking feedback, not sure if they should be happy or worried.

    And maybe this kind of ambiguity is something that should be more explored in games.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    Desperate Footballers

    Do you remember a note I´ve posted weeks ago on how football simulators usually fail to reproduce human drama? Well, I´ve just learned from Greg Costikyan´s weblog that Santiago Siri has solved that problem already, with his game entitled Football Deluxe. It is a football management game where, according to their website, "you don't have to handle names with statistics, but Players with Feelings".

    Santiago Siri, who is also working on a promising game called Utopia, is Argentinian and, as almost every South American, knows the role of emotions in football. The demo version will be available soon.

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Nintendo's Interface Dictionary

    I can't think of a better use of the Warioware series than as a dictionary for aspiring designers. Its minimalistic style makes it perfect for learning about the several ways players can interact using each platform's unique interface. On that level, it is also great for players, just like Solitaire was great for teaching double-click and drag-and-drop basics back in the Win 3.x days.

    So, if you want to make Wii games, you better get this one (video via www.destructoid.com):

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Critical Stages

    A project is keeping me busy. I would say I'm in that critical stage of design where the game system is, except for one or two pending jobs, pretty much planned in my head and sparse documents, but not tested in any real way. That's why, I see it now, the importance of early prototyping should never be underestimated.

    Can you imagine if, once solved, the image on the jigsaw puzzle looked no better than its separate pieces?

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    Playing With the Other

    It took longer than the week I was aiming for, but you can read (and watch!) now Playing With the Other: Alterity In The Work of Peter Molyneux, my presentation at the 2nd Annual Univ. of Florida Game Studies Conference - Video Games and the Alien / Other. The presentations from the conference are now available at Gameology.org Essays section.

    Here's a passage from it:

    (...) few game designers have had such consideration, within their body of work, about the subject of otherness and alterity such as Peter Molyneux. Games such as Fable, Dungeon Keeper and Black & White give the player the possibility to play according to the universe and mood usually restricted, in other games, to those characters the player cannot control: the villains, the alien - the other.

    The objective of this paper is to discuss how the work of Molyneux conveys such themes, as well as other instances of otherness, and how this discourse develops throughout his career.

    Again, I would like to thank a lot all the organizers of the event (who also maintain Gameology.org) - congratulations for the great work!

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    Stats won't tell you this...

    This should be the last post on the EA FIFA x World Cup thing, but I'll skip the numbers, prediction analysis and percentages (which were a little bit above average, by the way). Instead, I want to focus on the dramatic side of it.

    A couple of days ago, Brazil was eliminated from the World Cup by France, in the quarter finals. No video game simulation engine in the market would take in consideration the elements, visible to human eye, that have fabricated the unpredictable but obvious outcome of that match.

    On that respect, the Brazilian squad - the favorites - not only have failed to play beautifully, they have also failed to play. Apparently, there was no desire for pragmatic victory or ecsatic performance. No ludus nor paidia.

    Amongst other necessary variables for a true simulation would be the state of mind of each athlete: The determination of a star in his (brilliant) farwell tour. The self-sufficiency of stars who should have had their farwell tour some time ago. The weight of excessive popularity. And so much more...

    I suspect game players fill in these blanks during game sessions; transferring their own states of mind (imagined or real) to their multiple polygonal counterparts; imagining the dramatic content sports sims are, today, unable to present.

    And maybe that's why game-based predictions such as this one should not be taken too seriously. And even less shoud be their analysis.

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    FIFA - Remaining Group Play results

    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    Holland 1 x 1 ArgentinaHolland 0 x 0 Argentina
    Ivory Coast 2 x 3 Serbia & MontenegroIvory Coast 3 x 2 Serbia & Montenegro
    Portugal 2 x 3 MexicoPortugal 2 x 1 Mexico
    Iran 0 x 0 AngolaIran 1 x 1 Angola
    Czech 2 x 1 ItalyCzech 0 x 2 Italy
    Ghana 0 x 2 USAGhana 2 x 1 USA
    Japan 0 x 2 BrazilJapan 1 x 4 Brazil
    Croatia 2 x 4 AustraliaCroatia 2 x 2 Australia
    Togo 0 x 2 FranceTogo 0 x 2 France
    Switzerland 2 x 1 KoreaSwitzerland 2 x 0 Korea
    Saudia 0 x 2 SpainSaudia 0 x 1 Spain
    Ukraine 2 x 1 TunisiaUkraine 1 x 0 Tunisia

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    20/6 Update - The English case

    3 out of 4, 1 identical score.

    Curiously, all the predictions regarding the English team were quite accurate: 3/3 correct outcomes and 2/3 identical scores. Coincidence, or good feedback from EGC?
    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    Ecuador 0 x 1 GermanyEcuador 0 x 3 Germany
    Costa Rica 2 x 1 PolandCosta Rica 1 x 2 Poland
    Sweden 2 x 2 EnglandSweden 2 x 2 England
    Paraguay 2 x 1 Trinidad & TobagoParaguay 2 x 0 Trinidad & Tobago

    Degrees of Creation

    Raph Koster's website has a great post on user created content.

    "The lesson here is that everyone is a creator. The question is “of what.” Everyone has a sphere where they feel comfortable exerting agency — maybe it’s their work, maybe it’s raising their children, maybe it’s collecting stamps. Outside of that sphere, most people are creators only within carefully limited circumstances; most people cannot draw, but anyone can color inside lines, or trace. If the games require serious commitment and challenging creation tasks equivalent to drawing from scratch, they will have smaller audiences."


    Player creativity and user created content are some of my favourite subjects, and this post gives a pretty good picture of what is going on there.

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    19/6 - 100%!

    3 out of 3 with 1 identical score! Great, specially when considering the previous round.

    I'm not sure why the exclamation points, though. Nothing to be so excited about, really...
    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    Togo 0 x 2 SwitzerlandTogo 0 x 2 Switzerland
    Spain 2 x 1 TunisiaSpain 3 x 1 Tunisia
    Saudia 1 x 3 UkraineSaudia 0 x 4 Ukraine

    FIFA update (17-8/06)

    The worst EA´s FIFA performance so far: only one out of six. The second round ends today. Let´s see how it goes...



    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    Portugal 1 x 2 IranPortugal 2 x 0 Iran
    Czech 2 x 0 Ghana
    Czech 0 x 2 Ghana
    Italy 2 x 3 USAItaly 1 x 1 USA
    Japan 1 x 1 Croatia
    Japan 0 x 0 Croatia
    Brazil 1 x 1 AustraliaBrazil 2 x 0 Australia
    France 3 x 0 KoreaFrance 1 x 1 Korea

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    FIFA update (15-16/6)

    Who could have predicted that 6x0? Well done, Argentina...



    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    England 2 x 0 Trinidad & TobagoEngland 2 x 0 Trinidad & Tobago
    Sweden 1 x 2 Paraguay
    Sweden 1 x 0 Paraguay
    Ecuador 1 x 3 Costa RicaEcuador 3 x 0 Costa Rica
    Mexico 2 x 0 AngolaMexico 0 x 0 Angola
    Holland 2 x 1 Ivory CoastHolland 2 x 1 Ivory Coast
    Argentina 2 x 0 Serbia & MontenegroArgentina 6 x 0 Serbia & Montenegro

    EA Sports is not that bad either: 50%, with two identical scores (33%)

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    FIFA x EA Update (14/6)

    Again, two out of three.
    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    Spain 1 x 1 UkraineSpain 4 x 0 Ukraine
    Tunisia 1 x 1 SaudiaTunisia 2 x 2 Saudia
    Germany 2 X 1 PolandGermany 1 X 0 Poland

    13/6 Results

    Having predicted two correct outcomes out of three matches, EA was, like myself, expecting more action regarding Brazil's debut in the World Cup.
    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    South Korea 1 x 1 TogoSouth Korea 2 x 1 Togo
    France 2 x 2 SwitzerlandFrance 0 x 0 Switzerland
    Brazil 3 x 1 CroatiaBrazil 1 x 0 Croatia

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    FIFA Watch: Monday

    Not so good: One right predition out of three. Just like plain guessing. On the other hand, their appointed champion, Czech Republic, played like they could actually win this tournament.

    Note: I might stop updating the blog till next Monday. This is not really going anywhere, anyway.







    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    Italy 2 x 2 GhanaItaly 2 x 0 Ghana
    USA 2 x 2 CzechUSA 0 x 3 Czech
    Australia 2 x 1 JapanAustralia 3 x 1 Japan

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    Commented Interview on game design

    This is not an integral translation of that interview, but only one of the questions I've commented on my portuguese-writen website, debateludico.blogspot.com.

    What does one need to be a "games creator"?

    Chico Queiroz - If you play games, you´re potentially a "game creator". You think about things that could have been made better, new rules. Today, you can even transform them using tools made available by game companies. What you really need is some time to learn and some creativity - something most game enthusiasts already have.


    Although this point ("those who play can make it") sounds exaggerated and even simplistic, I believe it still makes more sense when applied to games than other activities. The borders between game producers and players are quite open: Modification tools are made, distributed and even supported by companies. Plus, it could be said that a game often forces players to analyse and explore several of its aspects. Through this reflection, the player can understand - even if unconsciously - the basic functioning of the game in question.

    In What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, James Paul Gee summarizes some qualities, or principles, that make games suitable for teaching many things, including the mechanics of the game and its components. Those, I believe, are the same qualities that can make the transition from player to producer easier than other media. Old news, I know, but it's always good to remember that.

    Sunday EA´s FIFA predictions

    Short note: I will post on other subjects apart from the World Cup. Probably today. Bear with me, please.








    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    Serbia & Montenegro 0 x 1 HollandSerbia & Montenegro 0 x 1 Holland
    Mexico 1 x 1 IranMexico 3 x 1 Iran
    Angola 0 x 3 PortugalAngola 0 x 1 Portugal


    Even better than last time: 2/3 correct outcomes, one identical score.
    Quick question: So far, they have predicted Ecuador's defeat to Poland and a tie between Mexico and Iran. Did they pay attention to Central/North and South American qualifiers (and, in the case of Mexico, the Confederation's Cup)?

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    A good day for FIFA Soccer

    On the second day...








    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    England 3 x 0 ParaguayEngland 1 x 0 Paraguay
    Trinidad & Tobago 1 x 0 SwedenTrinidad & Tobago 0 x 0 Sweden
    Argentina 3 x 1 Ivory CoastArgentina 2 x 1 Ivory Coast


    Not bad, this time.
    Two correct outcomes. Scores quite close to the actual ones. Some would say Argentina did score three times.

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    EA's World Cup - First Matches

    Ok, let's start comparing the numbers...





    EA FIFA's prediction:Actual match result:
    Germany 1 x 1 Costa RicaGermany 4 x 2 Costa Rica
    Poland 2 x 1 EcuadorPoland 0 x 2 Ecuador


    No coincident outcomes, so far. Let's see how it goes till next Monday...

    Any thoughts on the matches (or the World Cup so far)?

    For a minute or two during the matches I thought they could be right. But I guess Costa Rica couldn't resist the pressure, and Poland didn't take advantage of ball possession...

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    FIFA Soccer as prediction maker

    (via gamasutra): "Global publisher Electronic Arts has announced that, using its video game 2006 FIFA World Cup as simulation, it predicts that the winner of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany will be the Czech Republic."


    I imagine that gamers around the world play FIFA with their national teams and, depending on how superstitious they are, believe (or at least hope) their results will occur during the actual tournament (by the way, did we have a "games for the superstitious post"? if not, we should provide it soon). EA's case is similar, with the difference that their team is the game itself.

    If this kind of prediction is the ultimate test for any game that intends to simulate a real event, why not put EA's football game into test? I have pasted the full list (taken from marketwatch.com) of results below and I will keep you informed on how it compares to reality. I can't promise to update it every day, but I will try to post as often as I can.

    PS: It starts tomorrow! Germany Vs. Costa Rica and Poland Vs. Ecuador.

    EA SPORTS(TM) 2006 FIFA World Cup(TM) Results:

    Group Play

    --------------------------------

    Group A

    --------------------------------

    Germany 1 x 1 Costa Rica

    Poland 2 x 1 Ecuador

    Germany 2 X 1 Poland

    Ecuador 1 x 3 Costa Rica

    Ecuador 0 x 1 Germany

    Costa Rica 2 x 1 Poland


    Group B

    --------------------------------

    England 3 x 0 Paraguay

    Trinidad & Tobago 1 x 0 Sweden

    England 2 x 0 Trinidad & Tobago

    Sweden 1 x 2 Paraguay

    Sweden 2 x 2 England

    Paraguay 2 x 1 Trinidad & Tobago


    Group C

    --------------------------------

    Argentina 3 x 1 Ivory Coast

    Serbia & Montenegro 0 x 1 Holland

    Argentina 2 x 0 Serbia & Montenegro 0

    Holland 2 x 1 Ivory Coast

    Holland 1 x 1 Argentina

    Ivory Coast 2 x 3 Serbia & Montenegro


    Group D

    --------------------------------

    Mexico 1 x 1 Iran

    Angola 0 x 3 Portugal

    Mexico 2 x 0 Angola

    Portugal 1 x 2 Iran

    Portugal 2 x 3 Mexico

    Iran 0 x 0 Angola


    Group E

    --------------------------------

    Italy 2 x 2 Ghana

    USA 2 x 2 Czech

    Italy 2 x 3 USA

    Czech 2 x 0 Ghana

    Czech 2 x 1 Italy

    Ghana 0 x 2 USA


    Group F

    --------------------------------

    Brazil 3 x 1 Croatia

    Australia 2 x 1 Japan

    Brazil 1 x 1 Australia

    Japan 1 x 1 Croatia

    Japan 0 x 2 Brazil

    Croatia 2 x 4 Australia


    Group G

    --------------------------------

    France 2 x 2 Switzerland

    Korea 1 x 1 Togo

    France 3 x 0 Korea

    Togo 0 x 2 Switzerland

    Togo 0 x 2 France

    Switzerland 2 x 1 Korea


    Group H

    --------------------------------

    Spain 1 x 1 Ukraine

    Tunisia 1 x 1 Saudia

    Spain 2 x 1 Tunisia

    Saudia 1 x 3 Ukraine

    Saudia 0 x 2 Spain

    Ukraine 2 x 1 Tunisia


     


    Group of 16

    --------------------------------

    Costa Rica 2 (Wanchope (2))

    Paraguay 0


    Argentina 1 (Crespo)

    Iran 0


    USA 2 (Donovan, McBride)

    Brazil 3 (Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Robinho)


    France 2 (Zidane (2))

    Spain 1 (Torres)


    Germany 1 (Podolski)

    England 0


    Holland 2 (Robben, Van Nistlerooy)

    Mexico 4 (Bravo, Borgetti (2), Pardo)


    Czech Rep. 3 (Koller (2), Galasek)

    Australia 1 (Viduka)


    Switzerland 2 (Frei, Vogel)

    Ukraine 1 (Shevchenko)


     


    Quarter Finals

    --------------------------------


    Costa Rica 1 (Wanchope)

    Argentina 3 (Messi, Tevez, Riquelme)


    Brazil 1 (Ronaldo)

    France 0


    Germany 2 (Podolski, Ballack)

    Mexico 0


    Czech Rep. 3 (Baros, Smicer, Koller)

    Switzerland 0


     


    Semi Finals

    --------------------------------

    Argentina 1 (Tevez)

    Brazil 2 (Adriano (2))


    Germany 0

    Czech Rep. 2 (Baros, Nedved)


     


    3rd Place Game

    --------------------------------

    Argentina 3 (Tevez, Messi, Galetti)

    Germany 1 (Schweinsteiger)


     


    Final

    --------------------------------

    Brazil 1 (Ronaldo)

    Czech Rep. 2 (Baros, Rosicky)

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    The most amazing nongames website

    ... It's not this one. It's Ken Perlin's personal website. The Oscar-winning (!) NYU Professor has published over 100 experiments - Java applets that load directly from the page - on his site. Actors, crowd behavior, texture, input, texture, board games, casual games... Almost every interesting topic is covered by one (or more) of his experimental demos. Maybe the post title is not quite right, since it's not exactly a nongames website, but it's filled with brilliant sandbox, free-play experiences.

    A huge source of inspiration, Perlin's website certainly has something that will make you think of interesting design possibilities.

    Friday, June 02, 2006

    The Da Vinci Coders

    I haven't seen the film and I didn't read the book but, as far as I know, The Da Vinci Code had everything to be succesfuly turned into a game. After all, it's an epic atmospheric puzzle with a backstory about conspiracy theories. So I was not surprised when they released the tie-in PS2/XboX/PC game. In fact, Dan Brown's story could have been a game in its original incarnation, as almost every element required was already there (well, maybe except the most important ones - interactivity, agency, etc. But you got the point).

    However, I was surprised to find out about The Da Vinci Code casual game. For a second, I was a little bit shocked: How much are casual game developers willing to pay for licensing, now? Maybe I am wrong, but I thought the low-budget model inspired (or forced) developers to create original IPs.

    But the move makes perfect sense: The Da Vinci Code (the book) presented a literary puzzle-adventure and reached the masses - the same audience that, it is claimed, plays casual games. If the casual market is as big as it's supposed to be, and given the success of the book, TDVC casual game has all the conditions necessary for selling quite a lot.

    I can't put my finger on it, but something feels upside down in this story.

    PS: can you imagine how popular The Da Vinci Code interactive storyworld could become?

    Wednesday, May 31, 2006

    Svarga's emergent ecosystem

    As reported by Raph Koster and Gameology, a Second Life user, Laukosargas Svarog, is creating a functioning ecosystem in that game, which already features clouds, rain, plants and bees. A very good explanation of the process is in a website called New World Notes. Plus, if you are into SL, here is the link to the portal to the environment in question, the island of Svarga.

    An interesting quote:

    "If I was to turn off the clouds the whole system would die in about six hours,(...) The seeds blow in the wind, and if they land on good ground according to different rules for each species, they grow when they receive rain water from the clouds. It's all interdependent."


    I personally like the idea of taking care of an environment using this kind of approach (Insular had some of this quality). Svarog's work, which seems to be way more complex, looks absolutely amazing.

    Alpha Beta Gaga

    I haven't listened to them for a while, but the French rock duo Air have produced some really good songs. Their tracks have a unique style, some of them feature an introspective, ethereal mood (The Virgin Suicides OST is my favorite of their albums). So it should be no surprise that they have nongames on their website too! To play them, go to their official website and, from the main menu, choose "Play". There, you will be able select from nine short nongames (plus Pong).

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    Xbox 360 coming to Brazil

    "[Bill Gates] discusses Xbox 360, noting that they're "driving things to a whole new level" - and is adding 8 new countries to the Xbox 360 distribution, including South Africa, India, Brazil, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia." (from Gamasutra)

    Interesting. It's a bold (probably risky) decision from Microsoft to include this country on their list. I am curious about the price. An import costs from U$ 950 to 1400 (!), so it shouldn't be difficult to make it cheaper than that and attract more buyers. Let's hope it works out - that could help to improve the local games industry.

    And who knows? I might be playing this, one of these days:



    PS: Since the subject is already Brazil-related, why not check out an interview with me at the Brazilian newspaper Jornal do Brasil website?

    Monday, May 29, 2006

    A comment on 'Iran Vs. America'

    An interesting discussion is going on at Gameology.org. The subject is the Iranian game depicting Iran x America military tensions that would be in production. I have just posted a lengthy comment on it, and i am reproducing it below:

    Dialogue

    I am not sure how my comment fits within the scope of the discussion being proposed here, but here it goes:

    This kind of episode, I believe, makes a point on the democratization of new media and digital entertainment technologies. 'America x Whoever' conflicts have been also a recurrent theme in Hollywood action and war movies. Significantly more accessible / affordable than movie production, game development is a field where 'Whoever' has a better chance to reach the audience (American or otherwise) and present them a different point of view. Please, keep in mind that this comment is not an attack on American culture at all – and not an instant endorsement to any opposite sides.

    "while those of us who study games can quickly say that we don't necessarily really want to do the things we play at doing in video game worlds, I'm not so sure I can be as quick to say that there isn't actually some ideological work at play within Us vs. Them games"

    I cannot tell how products from the American cultural industry approaching such themes are perceived by the American audience. What I can tell is that it's often said that those same products work as American propaganda upon the rest of the world. Of course, there might be a certain dose of anti-americanism depending on the particular criticism being made - but it can't be denied that quite often a pro-US view regarding bellicose conflict is promoted, usually unanswered (using the same medium) by the other side. Then again, it is natural that the makers of these products, as American citizens, have indeed a positive view on their ideologies. I certainly would not claim that everything is plain propaganda - that would be just as simplistic. But at the same time, it's almost certain that they have an impact that goes beyond entertainment and into ideology.

    How much of a nation's legitimacy and image, nowadays, is built upon mediatic constructions? I am not sure how much of the world (international affairs in that case) is learned from mass entertainment channels. That should be taken in consideration before dismissed as inoffensive to countries being portrayed. Do you remember the SOCOM 3 x Bangladesh incident? The occidental developed world has been the centre of mass media production since such thing began to exist - a production that is not free from ideological contents and messages. Bollywood aside, the volume of cultural products coming from that group of nations has no parallel. On that level, the appropriation of the medium by other groups is positive. Also, it is a chance to evaluate, with greater distance, the real impact and effects of media - more specifically video games - on those matters.

    Moreover, as in “research shows that games don't cause violence”, there is often a denial of the ideological power of video games, a subject that, as you suggest, should be further investigated. Incidents like that – and maybe that’s the best thing about them – give us the chance to interrogate. We should learn more about the power of our particular field of study and practice.

    As you, Zach, I am for diplomatic approaches. Let’s hope this democratization of tools actually opens a channel for a better dialogue - not just an exchange of accusations - between individuals, countries and cultures.

    The problem with toy


    Kutaragi commented [on the price of the PS3]: "If you consider the PlayStation 3 a toy, then yes, it is an expensive toy. However, it is more than a toy. It is a PlayStation 3. And it is the only PlayStation 3. I hope that those who understand this will gladly purchase it."
    (from gamasutra.com)


    Ok, it's not a toy but, let's face it, it's mainly a games console (although I think they would like to market as something more sophisticated). The funny thing is that, actually, 'toyplay' has been increasingly gaining share amongst other styles of gaming. My point is: what's so wrong about a toy that costs that much? I am really not complaining about the PS3 price, but about the need of dissociating completely a games console from toys (of course is much more than that, but it can also be that).

    That is something, I think, that could alienate part of the audience (and developers) - maybe not as much as the price, though. I don't think there is the need, as video games get more mature, to deny some of its uses (and that could be happening to the term "game" as well - let's leave it to another post).

    "And it is the only PlayStation 3"
    I thought there were two of them.

    Friday, May 26, 2006

    Playing Drums on the Wii

    That must be nice...



    (from YouTube / TheAngryCritic.com)
    Copyright, Chico Queiroz