Thursday, July 27, 2006

Toshio Iwai's new musical instrument

Electroplankton's creator Toshio Iwai now has a blog,, 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

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 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 - 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.
Copyright, Chico Queiroz