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.
    Copyright, Chico Queiroz