Thursday, December 20, 2007

Inkball: Vista's new interface learning game

I often remember a former boss telling me how games are used to teach Operational Systems interfaces in a fun way. That's the case with Windows Solitaire (click, double-click, drag and drop) and Minesweeper (click, right-click). PDAs have also used games to teach peculiarities of their handwritting recognition software.

Well, it seems that Microsoft, through Vista, is betting on Tablets and Tablet PCs increasing popularity (I personally work better with a tablet than with a mouse). And to support entry-level tablet users, Inkball is the game to be played.

The game is quite simple (maybe too simple, but that's part of the deal, right?): draw lines that bounce and direct balls into their respective holes. With more production value and options, this could have been DS launch title.

A handwriting recognition game would be interesting too.
Hum... and also an educational handwriting game for alphabetization classes, I guess...

PS: More than two weeks without posting! I wonder if that's a record. And I am still quite busy. I guess that's the way it is as we approach the end of the year. Anyway, it's good busy.

PS2: I am just guessing, but I think should change significantly in 2008, content-wise.

PS3: My presentation on games as creative tools turned out nice. I'll post more as soon as I translate it.

PS4: In case I don't post again in 2007, I wish a happy new year to everyone.

Monday, December 03, 2007


No, I'm not devastated about our less voted poll ever (3 votes??), I'm just terribly busy at work and finishing a presentation.

I Hope I can get back to nongames soon, next week.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Games as art tools

As I might have said before, the use of games art artistic tools is something I would like to investigate on a deeper level (PhD?). Meanwhile, I´ve found that Flavio Escribano, from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid has produced a very complete, thoughtful and polished publication on the subject. If you can understand Spanish, you should check it out.

(Via Mushroom Coorporation)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Poll - Have you ever started something in real life because of a game?

Weekly poll (you might need to access the original post in order to access the flash poll).

Feel free to post information about your own experience on the comments section.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Will Wright on Games and Imagination

While researching for my presentation, I found out that has a great article entitled "Dream Machine", by Will Wright, where makes a very similar point to the one I intend to.

I'll probably come back to it later next week. For now, here is a passage from it. There are gome good things that should be referenced later.

"Like the toys of our youth, modern videogames rely on the player's active involvement. We're invited to create and interact with elaborately simulated worlds, characters, and story lines. Games aren't just fantasy worlds to explore; they actually amplify our powers of imagination.

Think of it this way: Most technologies can be seen as an enhancement of some part of our bodies (car/legs, house/skin, TV/senses). From the start, computers have been understood as an extension of the human brain; the first computers were referred to as mechanical brains and analytical engines. We saw their primary value as automated number crunchers that far exceeded our own meager abilities."

Even the McLuhan analogy is there. I need more tricks :)

Anyway, I think my research is coming out fine. Most of it was already done, and it feels more like putting the pieces together with some coherence. Although all I have is a loose structure, I am already moving from "how can I make it last 15 minutes" to "how can I make it fit 15 minutes". I hope I don't get lost.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Google Gadgets as game platform

I don´t know how many iGoogle users there are (a lot, I guess), but since Google has been trying to attract and support google gadget developers, I was wondering if this couldn't be a very interesting game platform.

I haven´t really researched the dev guide, but I have no doubt that some original games could be made, taking advantage of iGoogle´s user base and structure.

The idea of browser-accessible, script-embedded games and activities is very attractive. Metaplace seems to be a much stronger player in that area. In fact, Metaplace seems to be so ahead (hum... Metaplace Google Gadget!), that maybe Google Gadget Games should embrace alternative features, such as text games, parallel gaming, etc.

Of course, there are several successful GG games, such as Sudoku, Chess, Tetris, etc. But I´m willing to bet that something new could come out of it. It could be an interesting niche, anyway.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Endless Forest

I have no idea how could I overlook it for so long: The Endless Forestis a (non)game from Tale of Tales that is not only highly original (just check out their list of game verbs!), but also beatiful.

From their website:
"The Endless Forest is a multiplayer online game and social screensaver, a virtual place where you can play with your friends. When your computer goes to sleep you appear as a deer in this magical place. There are no goals to achieve or rules to follow. Just run through the forest and see what happens. (Emphasis mine)"

(What about my emphasis?)
When your computer... Endless Forest is a screensaver - which is a brilliant idea, I think.
There are no goals to achieve... See? It is a nongame, I was not pushing too far.

More from their website:
"You are a deer. So are the other players. You meet each other in an endless forest on the internet. The setting is idyllic, the atmosphere peaceful. You communicate with one another through sounds and body language."

This could be very interesting. And I wonder if it wouldn't work even better within a goal-driven context.

Well, for those who are interested, here's the download page.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Digital Games as Creative Tools - submission accepted

That abstract I posted here sometime ago was accepted, and now I have to prepare a 15 min. lecture about it. So here is a list of things I want to remember during the presentation (please, feel free to contribute)

Magic circle and wider view of the impotance of play(Huizinga), possible interventions using games, simulation as training and evaluation tools, "between fictional worlds and real rules" (Juul), technologies of information (Levy), "learning semiotic domains" and "the insider principal" (Gee), videogames of the oppressed (Frasca), freedom of play, open-ended worlds, confronting challenges, free from oneself by binding to another (Sutton-Smith), a place to interrogate (Mcluhan). the Sims, elektroplankton, mods, the movies, second life, etc.

(here's the abstract, by the way):
Digital Games as Creative Tools

Chico Queiroz

Within the debate on the role of imagination and the imaginary in design theory and practice, there is a correlate issue that should be addressed. An issue within the scope of that debate, but that subverts the original perspective: the role of design in imaginary and creative practices. The objective of this analysis is to identify and discuss aspects and features that enable virtual ludic environments, such as electronic games, as catalysts for imaginative and creative processes. In order to investigate such connections, both terms that incorporate the definition of our subject must be taken in consideration: The ludic qualities, or sense of play, that makes them games, and also the elements that differentiate them as virtual, system-based, electronic. Digital tools have been used for all kinds of purposes. They are routinely used as extensions of our memories, via databases and storage spaces, and our senses, through the use of communication devices such as webcams. What is being proposed here is an investigation on how new technologies, more specifically video games, can function as extensions of our imagination and creativity - and how playfulness, inherent to such cultural artifacts, could relate to this technology, lending and borrowing qualities capable of amplifying their potentials, resulting in a successful and powerful combination that insufflates the creative process. This analysis takes in consideration perspectives presented by contemporary game and new media studies, and also by studies on traditional games and play.

DS - natural nongame platform

It's amazing how many simulators, training and freeplay games are released for Nintendo DS every month. Some of them:

  • Flash Focus: Vision Training
  • Imagine: Fashion Designer
  • Anti-stress game by Mindhabits
  • Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day
  • Hannah Montana: Music Jam
  • Facial Training game

    etc, etc.

    I have mentioned that before, but I believe some of the reasons for that are:
    a) Portability and Individuality - an independent system that you don't have to plug into anything else and that can be played discreetly anywhere.
    b) Price - much cheaper than a next-gen console.
    c) Dual screen featuring a touch screen - more screen space for instructions and buttons that can be accessed using the stylus equals less need for memorized control schemes.

    Am I forgetting anything?
  • Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    Scariest videogame moment

    Joining the debate (here, here and here), I think the list should include the Nightmare level in Max Payne (here's the link to a YouTube video that didn't support embedding, in case you don't remember it / haven't played it).

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    Poll analysis - Gaming hours per week

    We get less and less votes (maybe qualitative is the way to go - this time we've had an extensive individual report), but our poll results seem to indicate a strong niche of busy gamers (as does the website

    Myself, I would like to play daily gaming sessions - meaningful ones - that take as long as it took me to write this post.

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Does game design practice improves your fairness?

    Bateman's post on Justice and subsequent comments reminded me of how I often wonder if the contact with game design can help us to improve our sense of fairness. After all, it's also about balancing asymetrical sides and giving fair conditions to players, taking in consideration several factors involved - player skills, difficulty level, etc.

    A pratical example: Teachers might find better ways to test their students, for instance, considering their ability (and willingness) to improve their work after initial correction and evaluation.

    After all, from a game design perspective, fairness is always necessary to avoid frustration from the player - and that includes giving them less or more than needed.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2007

    Poll - How many hours per week do you play videogames?

    (Late) weekly poll (you might need to access the original post in order to access the flash poll). Still on "too busy" mode.

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Poll analysis - Wii Flash Games

    We haven't got a significative number of votes to really judge the state of Wii Flash games market, but I wonder (and poll results might support this):

  • Aren't flash wii games a reallity in terms of commercial success, of even as an alternative field for creative games?

  • Is it possible that they become so?

  • Episodic games - a key to succesfull flash wii games?

  • Are there more potential FWG developers than players out there?

  • Is there any company working on 3D-enabled wii compatible game devkit? I know Unity3D should work in the near future, but are there any PCs alternative? (Unity3D is just for Macs).
  • Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Sitcom-esque episodic game

    I have just found this link on the comments section for an interesting post by Bateman on EAs creative IP.

    From the article:

    PlayStation 3 is to get its first episodic game - and will be the first console to boast an original such type of game - thanks to the Super-Ego Games' upcoming Rat Race.

    A sitcom-styled narrative game set in an office, the game charges players with making through a day's work and is designed to give players the feel of playing an episode of a TV show.

    The game is being written and voiced by a cast and crew that have worked on the likes of South Park, Sex and the City, Ugly Betty, and the excellent Flight of the Conchords.
    “We believe that next-gen gamers seek new and innovative game titles, and Rat Race is just that,” said Greg Easley, co-founder and president of Super-Ego Games.

    “Rat Race represents a completely new take on the adventure genre, combining it with living, breathing characters and TV-quality comedy writing.

    The game delivers what action gamers want, but it also has funny, engaging dialogue, well-conceived characters and a comedic story that really hooks people.”

    The studio has been teasing and hyping Rat Race's existence for the past few months, saying it's narrative-driven approach to games will 'revitalise' the industry.

    In a statement released at the end of July, Bob Welch, CEO and EP at the studio said: “Our goal is to create games with engaging characters and storylines that appeal to mass audiences, while taking advantage of next-gen technology. We know, and our market research has proven, that both casual game players and traditional gamers are looking for something new, accessible and enjoyable.”

    It sounded really interesting, so I decided to look for their website. This is something from them:

    Super-Ego’s core engine has been optimized for games that run on PCs and next-generation consoles. The engine is ideal for titles that share the following features:

    • Personality Simulator: Creates motivations, idiosyncrasies, and interests that drive behavior for all in-game characters.

    • Conversation Creator: Delivers real-time dialogue with lifelike timing, consistent with character personalities; dynamic conversations generated on the fly based on character actions and needs.

    • Listening System: Makes navigating a world in which many characters converse easy and pleasurable for the player.

    • Scene Scripting System: Allows for TV- or film-style cinematography and easy creation of high-quality cutscenes.

    • Expression System: Drives lip synching and appropriate facial expressions for thousands of lines of dialogue.

    • Information Inventory System: Allows player to gather information and develop tactical knowledge by overhearing conversations, examining in-world objects, and asking questions.

    • Animation Engine: Brings characters to life with complex, life-like animation sets; ensures that animations are rarely repeated.

    • Script Creator: Moves from screenplays to flowcharts to non-linear game scripts that recreate feel of the original entertainment franchise; allows for the simulation of myriad TV, movie, and book properties.

    • Small Download Footprint: Allows for rapid downloads of files for direct digital sales to consumers.

    • Action System: Allow for integration of diverse gameplay modules: stealth, chase/race, puzzles, shooting, and fighting.

    It sounds amazing, but I really don't know anything about actual gameplay and mechanics (keybords + joystick) or business models (monthly fee?). Still, I think it would be great if a product like this actually succeeded.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Poll - Wii Flash Games

    Weekly poll (you might need to access the original post in order to access the flash poll). I'm too busy to post anything serious, but there are so many visitors looking for Flash Wii Games that I have to ask something about it.

    Wii Flash webgames...

    Thursday, October 11, 2007

    Poll analysis - Visual styles

    As I write, those are the numbers for our latest poll:

    The visual styles of your favourite games are...

  • 3D Photorealistic (1 votes)
  • 3D Cartoony (3 votes)
  • 3D Stylized (something between cartoon and photorealistic) (6 votes)
  • 2D Photorealistic (0 votes)
  • 2D Cartoony (4 votes)
  • 2D Stylized (6 votes)
  • other (0 votes)


    I wonder if this preference doesn´t reflect the current state of gameplay and game themes much more than game graphic capabilities. I think it was Chris Crawford who, in his book, advised designers to downgrade graphics in case gameplay didn´t match its level of realism. I could be wrong, though. In fact, games that achieve for realistic, sophisticated gameplay, such as Façade, often use stylized graphics paradoxally reinforcing the game´s verosilitude.

    And of course, there is that Uncanny Valley issue, when photorealistic characters look repulsive.
  • Wednesday, October 10, 2007

    Eliza and direct text input in games

    Once a tutor of mine wondered why there weren´t more experimentations with direct text input in games (that was before Façade, I believe), and why so few games tried to develop something like Eliza. I guess that´s because graphics got all the attention in games. Would there be any other reasons?

    For you who don´t know what I´m talking about, here´s a description from Wikipedia:

    "ELIZA is a computer program by Joseph Weizenbaum, designed in 1966, which parodied a Rogerian therapist, largely by rephrasing many of the patient's statements as questions and posing them to the patient. Thus, for example, the response to "My head hurts" might be "Why do you say your head hurts?" The response to "My mother hates me" might be "Who else in your family hates you?" ELIZA was named after Eliza Doolittle, a working-class character in George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, who is taught to speak with an upper class accent."

    For you who want to try it, here´s a web implementation.

    Tuesday, October 09, 2007

    Crossing borders

    Very busy weeks ahead, but must keep thinking about present and future projects.
    It´s a little bit strange that these short-to-medium-term plans do not include designing games (at least commercial ones) but other kinds of products that are, somehow, related to games. It could be a necessity (no real industry around where I live) but also a sign that video games, as a medium, are spreading their qualities across other fields. Fields where I can try to apply what I´ve learned from game design and culture.

    Monday, October 08, 2007

    Poll - Game visual styles

    Ok, our third poll (you might need to access the original post in order to access the flash poll). Nothing too elaborated, just something to keep us going. Again, you can choose as many options as you like.

    The visual styles of your favourite games are...

    Friday, October 05, 2007

    Poll analysis - games and art

    Ok, so I asked:

    "Which kinds of game-related art do you think are more interesting?"

    Results so far:

  • Art created within the game, for in-game use (think Spore) (3 votes)
  • Art created within the game, for external use (think The Movies, The Sims albuns) (1 votes)
  • Art created trhough hacking the game (think super mario cloud, nullpoint, etc) (1 votes)
  • Art created using the game engine (Machinima, etc.) (2 votes)
  • Art created using external tools (think all kinds of mods) (2 votes)
  • Art about games (fan fiction, paintings about games) (1 votes)
    Games are the work of art themselves (6 votes)
  • Other = "Stories created by players inside game worlds" (Corvus vote? :))

    Ok, 7 voters are not that much, but there is a point becoming clear to me (specially when I take out my own biased votes): players may want a game to serve as a creative tool, but they will always want it to be a game - not only a tool.
    Corvus makes a good point: it´s all about the world that is given to the player. If the atmosphere is right, there will be a good reason for players to join in the creative process. They usually want the setting, the look and feel, the plot, etc., so they can build something on top.
  • Wednesday, October 03, 2007

    Random thoughts for today

    Some time ago Gamasutra featured an article entitled Game Design Essentials: 20 Open World Games. It analyses 20 games designed around an open world, extracting design lessons from each one of them. The article is quite interesting. However, I really, really missed one omission: Elite is not on the list. Maybe the authors have had a good reason for that, but I think Elite should be on the top of the list when it comes to open worlds.

    Some (most?) of our CSS-less readers end up on this page looking for information on homebrew Wii games or Flash Wii games. Now, I don´t own a Wii, so I have no idea, but does anyone know if there´s any real appeal to this games? If you have a Wii, please let me know, do you play webgames on it?

    There are two recent games I would have loved to work on. They are Metaplace (I know I haven´t really seen it yet, but still...) and Jam Session (some of you might remember I´ve tried - not very successfully - to explore the DS as a musical instrument before).


    Jam Session

    I´ll be quite busy this month, so it´s not very likely that I will be able to update this website on Thursday (focus day), i.e. tomorrow. It´s a shame, but duty calls.

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Art project

    Although I´m already commited to several jobs and tasks, I´m also developing an art project alongside a fine artist friend of mine. The idea is to add remote user participation to one of his previous works, or at least create an online version that can be interacted with (which doesn´t mean it will become a game, although it could be played, in a way).

    This week, as you can imagine from our yerterday´s poll, is sort of dedicated to games and art. I hope I can gather some opinions on how this relationship could work, and maybe apply any knowledge obtained from that discussion in the project.

    Other than that, I still have to finish a 3d video at work and prepare material for my other job. It seems that I´ll be quite busy during a week or two...

    Monday, October 01, 2007

    Games and Art question:

    Ok, now that we´ve briefly commented the results for our first poll, here´s the second one (you might need to access the original post in order to access the flash poll). This time, you can choose as many options as you like.

    Which kinds of game-related art do you think are more interesting?

    Results and comments by Friday. Join the discussion!

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    Perfect timing

    Great. Just because I´m managing to update this website regularly, Feedburner - my feeds provider - seems to ignore my latest posts. It´s probably just a lag, I hope.

    Have a nice weekend everyone.

    Poll analysis - Character Upgrade

    As I write, the majority of votes (80%)for our first poll clearly indicated that most prefer to use experience points to reinforce existing skills of their characters.

    the question (and the answer) might sound trivial. People will invest in their best skills and strengths. Most people at least.

    As a player, I tend to buy every sorts of skills before seriously investing in one. My favourite D&D class was, of course, the Elf - the one who can quickly become a second rate fighter and a second rate wizard. The general ideia behind this behaviour is that my character will adapt better under different conditions, enhancing my chances of survival. Guess what? It doesn't happen that way.

    Fig 1. No wonder he hides in trees!

    That's because, as I've learned recently, this adaptation-to-survival works to a certain degree. There comes a time when it's hard to develop specific skills, your true skills, just because you are diversifying so much. Sure, adaptation is good - but it's not a good main skill.

    That's why it's good to find out which skills you really want to develop.

    (PS: No comments on my first focus day? Come on, people. I need some advice here.)
    (PPS: Thanks Patrick for introducing me Polldaddy)

    (Image taken from - no copyright infringement intended. Will take it down if necessary)

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Digital Games as Creative Tools

    (An abstract. Warning: WIP carelessly translated from Portuguese)

    Digital Games as Creative Tools

    Chico Queiroz

    Within the debate on the role of imagination and the imaginary in design theory and practice, there is a correlate issue that should be addressed. An issue within the scope of that debate, but that subverts the original perspective: the role of design in imaginary and creative practices. The objective of this analysis is to identify and discuss aspects and features that enable virtual ludic environments, such as electronic games, as catalysts for imaginative and creative processes. In order to investigate such connections, both terms that incorporate the definition of our subject must be taken in consideration: The ludic qualities, or sense of play, that makes them games, and also the elements that differentiate them as virtual, system-based, electronic. Digital tools have been used for all kinds of purposes. They are routinely used as extensions of our memories, via databases and storage spaces, and our senses, through the use of communication devices such as webcams. What is being proposed here is an investigation on how new technologies, more specifically video games, can function as extensions of our imagination and creativity - and how playfulness, inherent to such cultural artifacts, could relate to this technology, lending and borrowing qualities capable of amplifying their potentials, resulting in a successful and powerful combination that insufflates the creative process. This analysis takes in consideration perspectives presented by contemporary game and new media studies, and also by studies on traditional games and play.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    Mindhabits self-improvement game wins contest.

    I've read this monday on Gamasutra:
    At VIDFEST, one of Canada's biggest annual digital content events, Telefilm Canada announced the winners of its Great Canadian Video Game Competition. MindHabits took the top prize with its MindHabits Trainer DS title, picking up a total $1.5 million prize package from Telefilm and private financiers for the game's commercialization.

    The winning entry is described as a "suite of fun and easy mini-games designed to help players focus on positive social feedback and adopt a more positive attitude toward themselves and others, increasing what scientists call 'social intelligence'." MindHabits says the game is intended for 10 minutes of play a day, and hopes to "help reduce players’ stress level and boost their confidence."

    Now, do you remember Mindhabits, right? I've posted some time ago something about their self-help game (you could even play it in that post, but now it's gone. I guess they have removed the flash file).

    You know what? It could work. I guess the DS, with all its nongames, brain this, cuisine that, is the best platform they could wish for. Congratulations to them!

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    New blog structure and schedule

    Ok, some good people are doing what seems to be an excellent idea: organizing better their blog activities. Nongames was originally a tool for helping me to develop a personal project, and I guess I´m not using it properly. Adopting the new scheme will, hopefully, help me to organize my thoughts and increase my productivity. Updating it as it is right now often feels to me like a minor waste of time. Let´s change that.

    So here is a first outline:

  • Monday: Poll day. This is when I post a new question (have you answered yesterday´s question, by the way?). Discuss among yourselves!
  • Tuesday: Plan day. A day for organizing my plans and bringing up ideas. Like this one.
  • Wednesday: Random day. It could be a short game review, it could be a gameplay video. It could be a couple of interesting links, or just some random thoughts.
  • Thursday: Issues in design day. This should be the day I enter a more in-depth text on game/digital media issues I´m working on. This could be a work in progress for more extensive analysis.
  • Friday: Poll commenting day. When I comment monday poll results.

    This could change in the future, but let´s see if it works. I might skip a day of the week every now and then, but will try not to do so.
  • Monday, September 24, 2007

    Hypothetical in-game question

    (forget about the game context, just answer whatever crosses your mind)
    ps: if you can´t see the flash poll in your news reader, try accessing the original post.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Metaplace - interaction design for the masses

    Everyone´s talking about it (here´s a decent description and information on it), so just let me bullet-point some thoughts on it.

  • It´s designed by Raph Koster - someone who really knows his stuff.
  • It´s open-ended and very, very open to user created content (in fact, it works around this very concept, as far as i can see).
  • It can be approached as a game, but it doesn´t need to.
  • The idea is absolutely brilliant, and Areae should be proud of actually building it.
  • It could be the next Myspace, Orkut, etc.
  • It could do for interaction design the same that HTML did for interface design.
  • It could do for game designers the same that Youtube did for filmmakers.
  • It could do for world builders the same that Myspace did for bands... ok, you got the idea.

    It sounds amazing. Will it succeed? I could bet it will.

    -if you have no idea what I´m talking about, here´s some info from their website:

    What is Metaplace?
    Our motto is: build anything, play everything, from anywhere. Until now, virtual worlds have all worked like the closed online services from before the internet took off. They had custom clients talking to custom servers, and users couldn't do much of anything to change their experience. We're out to change all of that.

    Metaplace is a next-generation virtual worlds platform designed to work the way the Web does. Instead of giant custom clients and huge downloads, Metaplace lets you play the same game on any platform that reads our open client standard. We supply a suite of tools so you can make worlds, and we host servers for you so that anyone can connect and play. And the client could be anywhere on the Web.

    We hope there will be millions of worlds made with Metaplace. It could get hard to find stuff if we're right, so the portal lets you easily search, rate, review, and tag worlds and games of all sorts. You also get a user profile so you can find each other.

    Can I make my own world?
    That's sort of the whole point. You should be able to stage up a massively multiplayer world with basic chat and a map you can build on in less than five minutes. It's that easy. Inherit a stylesheet -- puzzle game, or shooter, or chat world -- and off you go! Building maps and places is as easy as pasting in links from the Web, and dragging and dropping the pictures into your world.

    What's more, you can link your world to someone else's world. Put a doorway in your virtual apartment that leads to Pirate Vs Ninja-land! Stick your world in a widget on your Facebook or MySpace profile. Mail it to a friend and they can log in with one click.

    What sorts of worlds can I make?
    You can make pretty much any sort of game or world you want. You can decide whether it's massively multiplayer or not (it's MMO out of the box, but you can set it to a lower size if you want). You can decide whether to have physics or not, you can change the keymappings and the interface, the sort of stuff there is in the world, the maps... basically, it's all up to you. Game logic is written in MetaScript, which is based on Lua. So it's easy to make whatever kind of game or world that you want.

    Metaplace will support everything from 2d overhead grids through first-person 3d. However, right now we only have clients that do 2d of various sorts, including grid view, 2d isometric, 2.5d heightfields, and so on. We expect to keep working on the 3d client support.
  • Monday, September 17, 2007

    user created content is king

    ... in Drawn to Life, a game for Nintendo DS that looks interesting to me (in fact, it reminds of me of a more goal-oriented Insular). Here´s a gameplay video:

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    The Ultimate Gaming Survey

    I just took it. Here´s my game profile (can I spread that? if not, just let me know)

    The Way You Play:
    Your preferred pattern of play is Playful Vertigo (Paidic Ilinx).
    Some of the ways you enjoy games include:

    Hard Fun: 50%
    Easy Fun: 50%
    Serious Fun: 87.5%
    People Fun: 50%
    Happy Fun: 50 %
    Achievement Fun: 37.5%
    Scary Fun: 50%
    Mischievous Fun: 50%

    Gaming Skills:
    You are an Expert Player

    Your strongest Skill Set is Diplomatic

    I was too undecided about my Myers-Briggs Typem, so I left that out.

    You can take the survey here.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Play The Restaurant Game

    It will take you an hour or so, from download to finish a session (which is not much time, anyway), and it will be time well spent.

    From their website:

    The Restaurant Game is a research project at the MIT Media Lab that will algorithmically combine the gameplay experiences of thousands of players to create a new game. In a few months, we will apply machine learning algorithms to data collected through the multiplayer Restaurant Game, and produce a new single-player game that we will enter into the 2008 Independent Games Festival. Everyone who plays The Restaurant Game will be credited as a Game Designer. It's never been easier to earn Game Designer credentials!


    The Restaurant Game takes about 10 minutes to play. It is a two-player game that will automatically find partners for players once you join a server. You are welcome encouraged to play multiple times. In order for this project to be at all successful, we will need to collect a lot of data -- data from over 1,000 10,000 gameplay sessions. Play early, play often, and please spread the word!

    This project attempts to address two frustrations I experienced as a professional game developer. 1) Convincing human social behavior is difficult to model with existing hand crafted AI systems. 2) Play testing by people outside of the development team typically comes too late to have a major impact on the final product. This experiment aims to generate AI behaviors that conform to the way players actually choose to interact with other characters and the environment; behaviors that are convincingly human because they capture the nuances of real human behavior and language.

    Gameplay video from youtube:

    I am too tired to post right now, in detail, how the game goes and what I thought of it. I'll try to do that later. I'll just say that I can assure you it is quite an interesting experience.

    (via Play This Thing)

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    Reading List

    While I´m still waiting for my copy of Persuasive Games (Amazon is taking quite a long time to send it), I plan to get into:

    - A new online publication entitled Eludamos Journal for Computer Game Culture. (Via Ludogist)

    - Raph Koster´s Designing for Everywhere and Nine Mass Market Tips. (Via himself)

    - George Backer´s Designing Drama, on Gamasutra.

    And also

    - Greg Costikyan´s new website, Play this Thing, for daily gaming doses.

    Friday, August 31, 2007

    Infamous warning haiku for game designers

    Stil on that casual x hardcore debate:

    Forcing a blend between
    mass market and niche
    makes "medio-core" games?

    Thursday, August 30, 2007

    Lessons from other media: addressing different levels of literacy

    For this round table, I´ll adopt Bateman´s suggested terminology and discuss casual and hardcore in terms of levels of literacy. This terminology, I believe, makes easier to approach videogames as part of a large group of different media - and that´s is pretty much what I´ll try to do here. I´ll not, however, directly compare films to games, music to games, etc. The intention is to discuss how other media manage to please and attract heterogen audiences comprising varied levels of literacy.

    I am not suggesting that a designer should necessarily aim at a varied public - there are niche products and genres, and that´s fine. But you will notice that most examples have been quite successfull in both short and long terms. Here they are:

    TV: The Simpsons

    The longest running animation in history is capable to please children and adults of all age. It is no secret that part of its success is due to its allusions and references to works and characters that should be familiar only to a parcel of the audience. Still, it also has a very strong, straightforward, comic verve, that does not depends on sophisticated levels of literacy and can please anybody.

    Literature: George Orwell´s Animal Farm

    Again, a very clear piece of work that can be read and enjoyed by children, but that also is very interesting to adults for its political message, which is about Orwell´s strong critical view on the communist regime.
    (It seems there´s a film adaptation)

    Music: The Beatles

    Or even just Sargeant Pepper´s Lonely Hearts Club Band, for that matter. The Beatles successfull fusion between catchy pop tunes, avant-gard art and classical music (this one, thanks a lot in part to producer George Martin) took rock music to a new degree, earning even more respect and credibility for their work. In a single album, sometimes in a single song, they could add elements that would please the ears of people with different musical background and taste.

    Web: Google
    Its front page is still a single form line with two buttons. However, in the hands of experienced users it can trasform into a all-in-one online center.

    In the end, it seems that it all comes to what the reader/player/listener chooses to pay attention to. It´s about giving not only variety, but depth. Taking care of 'casual' and 'core', to bring back these terms.

    Ok, so what games would you say that have this kind of quality? Well, I would start a list with Sensible World of Soccer. Very simple to play (one button!), and several levels of micro-management that could be safely ignored, if so the player wished to. What games would you add to the list?

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Flora on FILE 2007


    Net-Art, Video-Installations, Interactive Works, Games, Robotic Performances and Beyond. Hypermedia Works, Telematic Actions, Artificial Intelligences, Interactive Cinematics, Expanded Realities, The New Culture Of Interfaces, Tangible Immaterialities.

    FILE - Electronic Language International Festival was held at Sesi 10-Paulista's Cultural Space, in São Paulo, Brazil, from August 13th to September 09rd,

    For the second consecutive year I´ve got something to show at FILE (Electronic Language International Festival), which is a great pleasure and honor. This year, Flora is being exhibited along with other experimental games. Here´s the list.

    Check their website for more details.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    Musical / Visualization game for iPod

    This is Musika, developed by NanaOn-Sha and created by Masaya Matsuura, the designer who gave us PaRappa the Rapper:

    Musika can be either be played or simply watched, so it´s pretty much a non-game too. Its spirit feels a little bit like those Llamasoft synths, although I think this one has more rigid rules and goals. Here they are (EDIT 24/11/2008: from apple's website):

    "Your music is your game! 'musika' is a ground-breaking music visualizer game for your iPod that uses the songs on your iPod to create original game play.If you see a character that is in the song title, just hit the Center button!Faster reactions will earn you more points!"

    It´s good to see interesting alternative games on the iPod. This could be a very interesting platform for, well, any kind of game really. As long as you can play with one button and a wheel (hey, have they ported Rally X already?).

    (via Gamasutra)

    Monday, August 06, 2007

    The DS has been drinking (not me)

    The WiiWii website has a post on alcohol-related non-games being released for Nintendo´s portable console. Apparently, there are at least 3 titles in development:

    - Sakeshou DS, which seems to be an encyclopedia on Sake (Japanese spirit made of rice).

    - Bartender DS, edutainment about drinks tp be published by EA.


    - Sommelier DS, its counterpart for wine lovers.

    There has been a number of cooking titles released for DS, so this is a logical step. Any guesses on how much it could sell and how it could be received by the press/public opinion?

    ps: it´s good to post something after such a long break from here. Due to some news I might slightly change the focus of this website in the near future. stay tuned.

    Saturday, June 30, 2007

    Molyneux on Emotions in games

    Watch the video below to hear Molyneux talking about emotions in games:

    Maybe I'm being too critical, and that's the sort of feature you can only evaluate by playing the game, but isn't the dog thing less impressive than what you expect from an interview like that? What do you think?

    (via New Scientist Tech Blog, thanks to Hugh)

    Friday, June 22, 2007

    Apply Serious Games conference 2007

    Got this by mail:

    "Do attend the UK’s leading serious games conference Apply Serious Games and dedicated AI Innovations conference, all running 28th June in London. Focus is on virtual worlds, web 2.0 and brands.

    Attendance at any of the conferences allows free access to the very first open consultation of ‘Games for the London Olympic Games’ - a lunch-time session as part of the conference where you can express your views on how serious games and games should be used to support the London Olympics, hosted by South East Media Network (SEMN). Whilst the first academic serious games network is also launched at this event."

    If I were there, I would like to attend to:
    "Peter Molyneux of Lionhead (Fable, Black & White) show-casing emotion and realism in games"

    I wonder what is meant by "realism" here. Believable NPCs, maybe? Could he be talking about his project nicknamed Dimitri?

    The website for the conference is:

    Monday, June 11, 2007

    Flora reviewed on

    Zach Whalen was very kind to write a short review on Flora. Here is a passage I really like:

    "Similarly, I've found that playing Flora affords the most pleasure by striking a balance between the generative chaos of frenetic play and the order of strategic play. Maybe we could call that a balance between ludus and paidea, but I like the gardening metaphor because of its spatial connotation. From a design point of view, Chico has done a nice job of making that balance available by creating tools and actionability in ways that encourage balance, but because this is a nongame, the player is the one who ultimately gives structure to her play."

    Read the whole article.

    Tuesday, May 29, 2007

    The Marriage - A Review

    (cross-posted at

    The Marriage, a game developed by Rod Humble, has ignited a very welcome discussion on games as art, and their capabilities to convey more complex and delicate matters. In case you are not familiar with the game, you can download it and read about its background, rules and interpretations on Rod's website. Here are some passages explaining the game experience:

    "The Marriage is intended to be art. No excuses or ducking. As such its certainly meant to be enjoyable but not entertaining in the traditional sense most games are. This means I am certain to be perceived as being pretentious by some who read this, my apologies. This is also a very difficult game to understand, again my apologies, I have tried to assist those who are interested but frustrated with the rules summary below."

    "Initially you have two squares a blue and a pink, on screen.
    Soon different coloured circles will enter and leave the play space.

    You have two controls.

    1.) When you mouse over the blue or pink square the blue square reduces in size and both squares move towards each other.

    2.) When you mouse over a circle it disappears and the pink square gets smaller."
    The general game flow will be balancing the need to have the pink & blue squares “kiss” to insure the pink square does not fade from the marriage versus the blue square needing to touch the circles to insure it does not fade."

    "The game is my expression of how a marriage feels. The blue and pink squares represent the masculine and feminine of a marriage. They have differing rules which must be balanced to keep the marriage going.

    The circles represent outside elements entering the marriage. This can be anything. Work, family, ideas, each marriage is unique and the players response should be individual.."

    Having played the thing myself, and having read some comments on several websites, here is some of what I think of the game:

    The Marriage is art. Although I spoiled my experience by reading the game meaning before actually playing it, I was delighted to see how Humble managed to express his views, in a elegant way, on such an intricate subject as marriage.

    Apparently, the economy of possible actions within the game has upset some players, who argue that a handful of variables cannot handle the complexity of the relationship it tries to simulate. I can understand it does not illustrate the total experience of being married. But at the same time, it is enough to express the author's view, if not in its totality, at least regarding a specific feeling he must have had at some point about a personal issue.

    The Marriage feels, to me, like poetry. On a personal note, it fits within my interest in unorthodox game modes and non-games. The Marriage is an auteur game, for I've seen, through playing, how Humble perceives marriage and - maybe that's the point - how Humble perceives his personal experience of being married. This is not something we see everyday in games.

    Monday, May 28, 2007

    New blog on games - Ludonauta

    Ludonauta, by Diogo Ribeiro, is a new blog on game critique and analysis. From Portugal, the website is written in Portuguese, although Diego has made an exception for his current entry for the Round Table.

    Check it out.

    Two more Wii flash games website

    An anonymous comment tells me that there´s a new Wii flash games website around: Wiiscape (

    Plus, here´s the link to a Brazilian Wii flash games website: WiiClube

    Saturday, May 26, 2007

    Goals (and yes, I like them)

    Judging by the name of this very blog, you could imagine I would open this post stating that goals are an overrated, unnecessary, passé elements of game design. Truth is, I've held this vision for quite some time, but I must admit I am re-working that.

    There are (roughly speaking) two different ways to describe a goal: (a) an in-game state desired by the player, made possible by his/hers actions; or (b) an in-game state desired by the designer, made possible by the player's actions.

    Now, it could be hard for a game designer to avoid (a) doing the player's job (by not giving him time to breath or make his own path, regardless of the game's main flow), or, on the other side of the spectrum, assigning his own job to the player (by not giving enough guidance and/or stimulus). The second set of sins are not, as I could have thought before, qualities.

    There could be interesting games (can they be called games?) without goals (some are listed around, here), but this is not a reason to say goals are not important. They certainly are central to games, electronic or not. Take a look at Bateman's entry to understand better why. That other forms of digital entertainment, in spite of video-gamic influences, move away from explicit goal-oriented action, that's a related story. In some cases, I would say goals are still there, only less celebrated as the epicentre of the experience. In fact, I guess that, lately, more and more games follow this approach. Non-games does not equal non-goals.

    "Buddhist" approaches to game design seem to look out for a balance between old-school goal-orientation and fashionable sandbox style. Two other Round Table posts develop this subject:

    "You can starve yourself without goals, or you can bloat up and choke on goals. Siddhartha Gautama to the rescue in the form of the middle path. The good news is you can find a hybrid between a total lack of goals and a ridged structure that never changes." (from Inverse)

    "Goal-orientation plays on sequential logic, I must do A to get to B to find C to get to D - all the way down the art asset laden alphabet. Freestyling relies on pattern recognition, messing around and finding the form(s) you like. The closer you get to the perfect union of the two, the more these fundamentally different orderings of nuerons (sequential vs. parallel) interact. When that happens, you get subjunctive thought, which is the "what-if" cognition that dreams are made of. Thats where the money is. Thats where the art is. Get deep in the middle." (from King Lud IC)

    This balance, I would say, is a safe bet on how large, successful games could (should? would?) be designed from now on. Although I have a feeling that money and art could on the extremes as well.

    By the way, there is an extensive list on the right column of this blog, entitled "TO READ ABOUT PLAY/NONGAMES". If you really are into the subject, you should check some of the links out (not to mention, of course, the other articles of this Round Table session, listed on a drop-down menu by the end of this post).

    I could not finish this post without promoting flora, could I? It's a free-form, creative play style game, after all. You can play the online demo here. And if you are into the GreatGamesExperiment, why not check its page over there?

    Check out other Round Table posts on the same subject:

    Wednesday, May 23, 2007

    The Importance of Being Boring

    Gamasutra has an excellent article by Ian Bogost about the need of more boring games. From the title only, my cynical self tells me I´m already giving a fair contribution to this field.

    A quote:

    "As a medium becomes more familiar, it also becomes less edgy and exciting. This is what Marc Ecko means when he refers to movies as demystified. Over time, media becomes domesticated, and domestication is a mixed blessing.

    On the one hand, it allows broader reach and scale. It means that more people can understand and manipulate the medium."

    The article is very good and makes a point I could really stand for. Check it.

    Saturday, May 19, 2007

    Flora: play it NOW on this very post!

    Here is the online demo:

    The "Can You" feature may be unavailable. Other than that, that's the full demo. Enjoy!

    If the window is too small for you, try it on its proper website.

    (also available at the Great Games Experiment. If you enjoy it, don't forget to rate it.

    Thursday, May 17, 2007

    Flora Online Demo - direct link

    For you haing trouble with flora´s website (I hae no clue on what´s going on), here the direct link to the online demo:

    English version
    Portuguese Version

    Wednesday, May 16, 2007

    flora -

    Se você chegou aqui por causa do programa, aqui está o link para flora.


    Tuesday, May 15, 2007

    flora - play online demo version now!

    Here´s the link to the website:

    No downloadable install program available. Instead, a playable flash demo.

    Thanks a lot to everyone of you who helped me making this demo.

    Monday, May 14, 2007

    48 hour research - game addiction

    Ok, here´s my problem: I have (less than) 48 hours to learn more about game addiction. Apparently, I will be taking part in a debate about it. Not sure if that´s about online-gaming only. I have found:


    Overall, my current position is that game addiction is a reality and, although overinflated, exageratted by sensationalist media, is not taken seriously by part of the industry and researchers - something that actually harms the reputation of this field.

    I know about the de-tox clinics, death cases (mostly in Asia for some reason). I also know about the positive effects of online gaming - or most gaming for that matter - socialization, participation, development of cognitive skills, etc.

    What else can be said? What kind of clarification can anyone give me?

    Thanks a lot!

    Slowly coming back...

    After (close to) a month without posting, I´m trying to get back to I´ve got a thinking blogger award (a courtesy from Pensar Videojogos´ André Carita), but that will have to wait for a future post.

    I could have news on Flora this week. Fingers crossed.

    And since I haven´t got much time to develop any interesting idea, I´ll just comment some interesting things I´ve seen in blogs I follow.

    a) A discussion that seems perfect for is going on at the round table this month: "How crucial to game play are goals?". A first submission is already online - Marcus Riedner, from Inverse, has a nice, critical post on the dark side of the lack of goals, and the importance of achieving balance.

    b) I would love to see Bateman´s Nine Basic Players applied to that discussion, by the way.

    c) King Lud IC´s Dugan has created a MySpace account for his creation CuttleCandy (check it), featuring a playable flash demo. So far, its gameplay feels to me like a mix of fl0w and Zuma. I´m curious to see how it develops.

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    More DS non-games, new blog around

    As reported by, there is a new batch of DS nongame software approaching. The list includes (not sure about the titles) DS Yoga Lessons You Can Start Today, Why Not Listen To Classical Music On DS and (ouch!) Flower-Blooming DS Gardening Lite. A series of travel guides for the handheld is also planned.

    Personally, I think this kind of software explains why the DS user base is so broad - and why it could een expand a little bit more.

    Although I can see how they could fit some game-ish look and feel to Yoga and Gardening, I´m curious about the music listening one. Some kind of "Wii Maestro" mode?

    (via comment by Kevin (also check out his new blog))

    Monday, April 09, 2007

    "Bang goes another year...

    ...In and out of one ear."

    Two days ago turned into a two year-old blog. Instead of a retrospective, let me just punctuate this moment with some random comments:

    a) My new day job is, so far, unrelated to games or interactivity. Is this affecting my posts in quantity and quality? Possibly. This same job could deal with simulation and serious/persuasive games in the future. My fingers are crossed.

    b) On the other hand, I keep freelancing, making quick, simple webgames. I guess I need, apart from financial compensation, some contact with games and game design.

    c) I feel I cannot even make my latest game project (flora), available, as I still wait for comments from the ones financing it.

    d) My last article on game design/theory was written more than a year ago. This is something I would like to change at some point in the near future. Even medium-size observations are disappearing from this blog.

    e) I haven´t played games, even some I really wanto to, in a while - who has the time?

    f) Still, I must be doing something right, as I´ve noticed a link to us from Jeff Tunnel´s blog, Make It Big In Games - I must say I feel honored about it.

    g) Although I haven´t noticed a significant increase in numbers of readers, this weblog still serves it´s function of helping me reflect on games (and, of course, make my ideas on the subject available to those who are interested in the subject), in great part thanks to the help of those who still make comments on that - specially Chris, Patrick, Corvus and Kevin.

    i) Finally, for the third consecutive year, let me finish this post saying that "I am stil not sure how the website will evolve and how often it will be updated, but everyone is certainly welcome to keep coming back."

    You certainly are.

    Saturday, March 31, 2007

    Networking for Game Developers and Players

    the Great Games Experiment is the name of the social networking community website made by people at GarageGames for game players, developers and publishers. Looks like a good place to promote indie content, discussions and team building. Check it out.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2007

    Another interesting virtual garden application

    It´s Packet Garden!

    "Packet Garden captures information about how you use the internet and uses this stored information to grow a private world you can later explore.

    To do this, Packet Garden takes note of all the servers you visit, their geographical location and the kinds of data you access. Uploads make hills and downloads valleys, their location determined by numbers taken from internet address itself. The size of each hill or valley is based on how much data is sent or received. Plants are also grown for each protocol detected by the software; if you visit a website, an 'HTTP plant' is grown. If you share some files via eMule, a 'Peer to Peer plant' is grown, and so on."

    (from their website)

    Looks like Flora meets Darwinia :), and it´s available for Mac, PC and Linux.
    (via Ludologia)

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    flora website preview

    Still apprehensive from the lack of communication from sponsors, I´ve uploaded a website preview for the demo. No install downloads or press release material are available, but you can check promotional videos, screenshots and some info on the project. Here is the link. Comments are welcome.

    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Experimental / Free gameplay stories: LEGO and Jeff Minter

    The World of Lego? Independent studio NetDevil has confirmed the development of a MMO based in the LEGO franchise. I must say I´m curious to see how it will turn out, and if they will privilege the freeform creatiity over the puzzle-solving. If they get the balance right, this could be a very interesting game. I also wonder, given traditional LEGO demographics, what kind of business model will they adopt. Can you imagine a 10 year-old paying monthly fees?
    (Gamasutra original story here)

    Jeff Minter keynoted GDC(!) I think this illustrates how independent, alternative gaming is trendy right now. A favourite quote:
    “I can’t do this stuff where you write your design spec first,” (...) “It’s the feeling I’m going for when I’m making a game these days... there don’t even have to be any animals in it anymore!”

    That´s the organic approach to game design I would love to adopt myself - only if I had Minter´s skills. Another interesting quote:
    “[American publishers´] were going to follow the herd, and the herd didn’t include any of my beasties.”

    I´m not sure about that. I think Minter´s creations could be hitting mainstream very, very soon. Just for the record (and personal sense of pride), I would like to point out that I was already celebrating his creations in this blog two years ago.
    (Gamasutra original story here)

    Saturday, March 03, 2007

    Flash API for Wiimote

    Wiicade, a Flash/Wii games portal, has announced the Wiicade API, which allows flash game developers to access Wiimote functionalities.

    For flash designers/developers, this could be huge. I still haven´t tried it, though (all I get are broken links).

    Does anyone know if the DS browser also has Flash capabilities?

    (via Man Bytes Blog)

    Thursday, February 22, 2007

    Still waiting... (screenshots included)

    Still waiting for responses on Flora demo. Until that happens, I won't even dare to setup a hot site for the game.

    But I guess it's ok to show some screenshots (in English, this time):

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Self-help game - play it now. is a company that promises to deliver "Stress Relief through Simple, Daily Games". At first I thought this discourse could resemble my own intentions with non-games experimentation, but their purposes and methods are, in fact, quite different. From their website:

    "MindHabits produces computer software designed to help people reduce their stress levels and boost their self-confidence, using games that automatically retrain the way the mind responds to social stress. This patent pending technology is the result of a decade of research by scientists at McGill University, one of the world’s top medical research centers. The software – based on the emerging science of social intelligence – helps you practice the mind habit of focusing on positive social feedback, which in turn reduces stress levels and improves self-confidence."

    The best thing is: you can try the game for yourself right now. (I´m not sure the flash will be displayed on feeds readers):
    Host this game on your own blog: Visit

    Any comments?

    Tuesday, February 06, 2007

    'backup' FILE

    I've just been informed that Insular, my MA non-game project, will be present at the Rio de Janeiro edition of FILE (Electronic Language International Festival). So, if you couldn't figure out how to play it back in São Paulo, here's another chance for you :).

    Some info on the event:

    "The FILE electronic language international festival has the pleasure to inform that the second edition of FILE RIO will occur on March 2007. The content of the event will be a slice of the FILE 2006 realized in Sao Paulo, in August of 2006. (...) The opening of the event is going to happen in March 19th, 2007 and it will be on
    screen until April 22nd-, at the Oi Futuro Cultural Center, at Dois de Dezembro Street, 63, Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil."

    Monday, February 05, 2007

    Games on gardening and flowers

    Since I´ve previously posted some comments on Plantasia and Cultivation, here´s a list of gardening/flower-themed games I´ve found (most of them, today - which shows I might not researched competitors properly :)). Plus, some comments on how they relate or not to my own project.

    Cultivation (experimental game)
    What I like the most about Cultivation is how it uses procedurality (is that a word?) to create new plants. The social aspects are great too - but that's something I haven't planned at all for my game. They share the 'genetic thematic', though.

    Plantasia (web / casual game)
    Plantasia is more like a management game. Fun to play, good use of flower theme, but much more managerial than Flora. It made me think of including pests and bugs - which I didn't do. The game point of view is somewhat similar to Flora.

    Enchanted Gardens (casual game).
    Haven't played this one. Judging from the screenshots, seems to be a matching tile game.

    Plant Tycoon (Pocket PC).
    Also haven't played this one, but it sure looks interesting: It´s a gardening sim (tycoon-esque, as far as I could tell), but also invests in genetic manipulation, as flowers can be cross-pollinated.

    Blooming Garden (webgame).
    "Align rows of five" kind of game.

    BBC Virtual Garden (not a game)
    Non-game(?) for players to exercise their paisagistic abilities. Interesting. As in Flora, it tries to be a relaxing experience.

    3D Garden Composer(gardening sim/encyclopedia - includes a game).
    Much more of a learning tool (making use of games to do so) than the other titles on the list.

    Flower Shop (casual game)
    A sim/management, "keep customers happy" type of game, as far as I could tell. Looks very well done - great production value.

    Cbeebies Gardening Webgame.
    Using the arrow keys, make the character water the flowers.

    US governamental/educational gardening webgame.
    Very similar to Cbeebies. Using the arrow keys, make the character water the flowers.

    Zen Puzzle Garden (casual game)
    Not really on gardening, but I really liked this puzzle game. Zen gardens reminds me of my previous project, Insular.

    Plant Maker (web activity).
    Like in Flora, you can make your own flowers in this web activity. There are not too many possible combinations, though - just 4 options for each category (below ground, stem, leaves and flower).

    Maggie the Gardener 2 (casual game).
    Focused on garden decoration, another very well polished gardening game.

    The Flower Garden Game (webgame).
    Puzzle webgame.

    Geffrye Museum Design a Garden (web activity).
    Simplified garden design.

    Garden with Insight (garden simulation).
    Free garden simulator. This one is probably the more complex of them all - it looks very accurate. It can be used as a educational tool.

    PlantStudio (2D/3D plant illustration tool)
    From the same company that makes Garden with Insight, this is an illustrations tool where you can design your own flowers. Looks very interesting too.

    Well, that´s it for now. You can expect more news on Flora any day!

    Monday, January 29, 2007

    Wii programing tools for indies / Are Goals and Art incompatibles?

    Two interesting links to start the week with:

    - Winning as a Goal is Incompatible with Art, (via Raph Koster)

    - Nintendo to offer original game downloads for Wii - great news for indies! (via Man Bytes Blog)

    Spammers keep using my domain, although i´m pretty sure they´re not using my mail server (different IP). Let´s hope it ends soon.

    Friday, January 26, 2007

    Still hijacked by spammers

    Spammers are still using my domain [at} nongames [dot} com to send spam, generating huge amounts of returned email (and even some complaints) sent to my mailbox.

    If anyone has any idea of what to do, please help.

    Wednesday, January 24, 2007

    What do you do when spammers use your domain?

    Opening my nongames(dot)com mailbox (which I never use), I noticed a large amount of returned email messages - which is odd, since I don´t use those mail accounts. It happens that someone (or a large group of spammers) is sending spam using my domain.

    I´ve already contacted my host, and they should reply soon, but does anyone know what can be done in cases like this?

    Thanks in advance.

    Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    Low-risk, fast-paced, instant gratifications

    It´s weird how the finished demo has become different from the original idea. The greatest contrast is in the intended rhythm of the game: I had in mind a very slow-paced, zen game. Instead, it is now close to an "instant gratification" game. Not so much of a challenge - it´s very difficult to get a game over screen - but still fast paced.

    I´m not sure that´s better or worse than the initial intention, but maybe that´s what a "casual non-game" is supposed to feel like. Almost like gardening for the Popcap generations.

    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    flora gameplay video

    You might need to access the page (and not the feeds reader) to watch the video:

    2 minutes - more than enough to learn how to play and start creating.

    Monday, January 15, 2007

    Demo almost complete

    Flora's demo is almost complete - too bad it's not an unlockable demo, but something I will have to make into a full game afterwards. Anyway, I have a deadline I cannot skip. At all.

    Although it's not as complete or polished as I would like it to be, I must say I'm actually enjoying to playtest the game. Many things could be bettered, but I feel it's somewhat fun to play it (although I know it's not everyone cup of tea). That's something I would not say one or two months away, when I was quite frankly upset about it. That's changed now. Good.

    Is it natural for designers have such bipolar feelings about their creations?

    Well, back to work.

    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    Open course in games / interactive entertainment at the MIT website

    Course Description
    This course examines the interplay of art, science, and commerce shaping the production, marketing, distribution, and consumption of contemporary media. It combines perspectives on media industries and systems with an awareness of the creative process, the audience, and trends shaping content. There will be invited discussions with industry experts in various subject areas. Class projects will encourage students to think through the challenges of producing media in an industry context. CMS.610 is for undergraduate credit, whereas CMS.922 is for graduate credit. Though the requirements for graduates are more stringent, the course is intended for both undergraduate and graduate students.

    It´s a 15 week course. Judging from the reading list, it´s broad in content - but not superficial.

    Get it on their website.


    Monday, January 08, 2007

    linked and out

    This website doesn´t get linked very often, so I´m pleased to say that Brazilian portal no mínimo´s new game section, entitled Jogatina, has placed a link to us. Not only for that, but also because Jogatina is just as good as anything else on no mínimo, I´m placing a link to them on my list as well.

    And since we´re talking about Game-related news websites, here is the link to my first contribution to the website No need for me to place a new link to this one, since it´s on my list for some time now.

    Saturday, January 06, 2007

    Super Columbine Massacre RPG excluded from Slamdance

    That's such a shame.

    (does anyone know which sponsors caused that?)

    Update: no sponsors caused that. Read it here.

    Thursday, January 04, 2007

    Play with Fire

    I'm pleased to say that Play with Fire, the new title designed by Chris Bateman which also features levels created by Patrick Dugan, is now available for download and purchase.

    Get it on Manifesto Games.

    Congratulations to the team!

    Jesper Juul on open and expressive games

    Without a Goal: On Open and Expressive Games is the new article by Jesper Juul, where he discusses games with no goals (and/or games that allow some kind of free play). Not to be missed, this article will be reprinted on the forthcoming book Videogame/Player/Text, edited by In Tanya Krzywinska and Barry Atkins.

    Read it now.

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    Happy new year

    My inital plans for 2007 have somewhat suffered a drawback - the casual game demo I´m working on will be, initially at least, just that: a casual game demo. Still, let´s not get pessimitic, but hope 2007 turns out a great year!

    Happy 2007, everyone.
    Copyright, Chico Queiroz