Monday, January 30, 2006

New layout

The structure is the same, but the graphic elements are not. I think it looks much better now, and it´s much more comfortable to read. I still need to change the organization of the website, though...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pre-Colombian Ball Games

This one I got from an extremely interesting exhibition of Pre-Colombian artifacts and culture in Latin America. It is called "Por Ti América" (website in Portuguese), and it is taking place at the CCBB Rio, in Brazil.

One of the rooms had the following bit of text:

"Ball Games in Indigenous America

Latex was know and used by many indigenous people, especially in the tropical regions of the Americas, to make the balls with which the played and still play different ball games. The rules and function of ball games varied from one people to another, and have changed over time, both before the arrival of Europeans and during the colonial period when they mixed with European practices. These functions included celebration of war and ritual execution of warriors taken captive, commemoration of the friendship between different ethnic groups, celebration of rituals of divination and betting.

(Illustration of ball game from the exhibition)

Archaeological studies show that ball games were played in mesoamerica at least 3000 years before contact with the Spaniards and that practically all important cities and ceremonial centers had fields . One of the first groups to build fields for ball games were the Olmecs, who are known as the Mesoamerican "Mother Civilization" and whose name means "people from the rubber region".

The variation of ball games rules and modalities are still unclear to scholars. In one of its forms, players from each team would position themselves in opposite sides of an "L" shaped field. One or two participants in each team would play using only the waist, ribs (note: given the word used in the Portuguese version of the text, I guess the appropriate translation would be "hips"), tights or chest to touch the ball, as feet and hands were not allowed. (...) They used mainly their ribs (note: again, "hips"?) to move the ball. The winners were the ones who managed to pass the ball through the field rings, a score which was extremely difficult"

Just some guesses here: (a) Is that why the British game of Football became so popular in all Latin America and (b) the reason the Latin American school is notorious for the use of dribbling, when players use the upper body to fool his opponent? It could be completely unrelated, though...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Balancing gameplay and style in casual games

A interesting discussion about the roles and importance of gameplay and style is going on at Casual Game Design.

If you are into casual games and casual gamers, or simply game design, you might want to check this website out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hardware Lego transformed into level design

This is not exactly new, but since we were talking about Lego on the previous post, I thought of posting a link to this one:

Making games with LEGO is the MA thesis of Oliver Moran, who actually built for his project a (real) Lego baseplate capable of sending data to a game environment.

You can read his thesis, download the demonstration game, watch a video, and more on his website.

(Now, that's interesting: a real-life freeform, paidia-based activity serving as a tool for building videogame levels).

Monday, January 23, 2006

Software Lego; More on game notation systems

Made by Anders Isaksson, BlockCad has been around for a while, and it deserves a post from this website: It is a Cad software using Lego Blocks. Shaped like a conventional software and a being space for freeform creative play, BlockCad is a perfect example of a non-game.

PS: For those who have been following it, The debate on game notation systems keeps going on King Lud IC

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Gameplay Sheet: Musical notation applied to videogames

This one was recommended by a reader in the comments section of the previous post: 'Creating a system of game play notation' is an essay by Danc where elements of music notation are borrowed to analyse gameplay. Designers and researchers could benefit a lot from it.

In fact, since it often involves the construction of rhythms and patterns, the work of a games designer might resemble the work of composers or djs (Rez being the most obvious example).

Here is the link.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

News: mini-nongame available; no more comment spam...

... and, I hope, intro text for RSS feed (let´s hope it works).

The website now features a (very basic) mini-nongame on the right column. The idea is to bring a new mini-nongame every now and then. I might include desktop versions for download.

Plus, I´ve deleted all the comment spam, which won´t come back, thanks to a help from another geeklog user ( I will miss the fake compliments, though... :)

I hope you enjoy the mini-nongame.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Civ IV o´clock

I haven´t played it yet, but the thing is that Civilization IV has an alarm clock: you can set it to beep after you´ve played it for a long period.

This is remarkable in more than a single way:

First, it´s a statement: 'this game is so addictive that we would be irresponsible to let you play uninterruptedly'.

It could actually be a request from the fans. How many game companies have to implement something like this? Most companies have problem keeping the player interested.

Second: The alarm clock is a reminder of the world outside. Most game designers like to stick to the (overrated and usually misinterpreted, in my opinion) 'suspension of disbelief' rule. Don´t let the user remember he is playing a game. Immerse him completely. Etc, etc.

Of course, you could argue that if the alarm clock wasn´t there, players would turn elsewhere to check the time. But the fact that there is no intention of completely hiding the existence of a 'real' time is remarkable.

The reason I say that is because, doing such, Civ IV acknowledges its audience as being adult and capable of, if not stop playing, return to it later, not having to keep them 'hypnotized'. It stresses how compelling it is and it allows players to fit the game better within their own life schemes.

I might be exaggerating, but I guess it shows maturity from the game and its players.

PS: This website is called 'nongames', and few games are more traditionally 'games' than Civ. However, the presence of the alarm clock is a feature that, I believe, would fit within the characteristics of nongames. The reason for that will have to be posted later...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Now on Academic Gamers: Rollercoaster tycoon 3 review

My analysis of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 and Creative Play is now on the reviews section of the excellent Academic Gamers, the website for 'serious discussion on all things ludological'.

I would like to thank all the contributors, specially to Laurie Taylor and Zach Whalen, from the University of Florida, who were kind to accept it.

Here is the link.

Changed on 03/04/06 - This review was relocated to Here is the link.
Copyright, Chico Queiroz