Friday, January 30, 2009

The World of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Ok, so this is my contribution to the Round Table:

The World of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

WoZAMM (even the acronym sounds appropriate!) is a Road-trip MMOG with a philosophical twist.

Enjoy your ride along miles and miles of open roads and highways.

In this MMOG, you are free to take you motocycles and your thoughts wherever you want. To be played on your own or in massive-multiplayer (cooperative or competitive) mode, WoZAMM allows you to explore the roads, the mountains and their risks.


  • Mantain and upgrade your vehicle
  • Race against or along up to 256 players open to chat
  • Explore thousands of miles of roads of every kinds and conditions
  • Relax riding in Zen Mode (keep reading for explanation)
  • Follow quests or wander freely.
  • Food for thought: on-screen display quotes and topics for your reflection.
  • Access and enjoy WoZAMM Philosophical Encyclopaedia (and add / share notes) (read more for explanation on that one too).

    This game is designed to give players that free-roaming feeling some miss about games (hey, do you remember Elite?). Although players can accept quests and missions (available at gas stops, restaurants and motels, if so they wish), they can also just enjoy riding and riding and riding...

    And that's where Zen Mode, our main USP, comes in.

    After a long period of continuous riding (a couple of minutes), Zen Mode will become available for the player to activate. Once it's on, it will progressively make motorcycle control easier (the Motorcycle will run by itself, at its peak), slightly increase speed and add soft-blur visual effects to the surroundings. The smooth-to-automatic controls will give the player a chance to reflect.

    USP number 2 - Food for Thought: Every now and then, specially when in Zen Mode, philosophical quotes and topics will be displayed on screen for further reflection. Once the player is off the road, he can also access WoZAMM Philosophical Encyclopaedia and read more on topics previously displayed. Notes can be added by the player and upload to the users forum.


    On a side note, I should add that I've always wanted to make an introspective long-distance driving game. This Round Table was a great opportunity to re-work, however briefly, that idea.

  • Learning from the digital Library of Babel

    Note: this started a warming up to my Round Table post. Although my game of choice is not the one discussed below, I think this is still a valid contribution to the panel. Since the panel is open for two contributions per blog, I thought I should publish it on a separate post.

    Some literary works beg for a digital translation.

    In my last academic paper (yet unpublished in this website - shame on me, since I've finished it more than a year ago), I suggested that some literary work (in that case, specificaly Borges' short story "The Library of Babel") could be as natural to digital media as to the printed form it was first imagined for.

    Here's some of its initial paragraph (translated by James Irby, available here):

    "The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries, with vast air shafts between, surrounded by very low railings. From any of the hexagons one can see, interminably, the upper and lower floors. The distribution of the galleries is invariable. Twenty shelves, five long shelves per side, cover all the sides except two; their height, which is the distance from floor to ceiling, scarcely exceeds that of a normal bookcase."

    This infinite library holds every book that could be possibly written (every character combination). Although this fantastic, imaginary building cannot be physically re-created, a digital representation - including its rooms, books and book's content - it's not only possible, but also done, and released in CD-ROM (back in 1996). It's called Biblioteca Total, made by Nicolás Helft and published by Argentinian group La Nacion.

    The universe imagined by Borges was, in essence, a mathematical wonder. One that can be expressed in computational terms and virtual representation.

    But what about the game? I am not sure Helft's CD-ROM was not limited to the exploration of the library's infinite space (although I have seen it in action, many years ago, I can't remember if there was more to it than navigating from gallery to gallery). However, the short story goes on describing searches for sacred, meaningful books among the infinite amount of available books. A game among that lines could be designed (maybe an adventure style-game, or even RPG).

    So you get the idea: some literary works are more naturally translated into digital works.

    Anyway, that's not the book-to-game translation I want to present for this panel. That will be on my next post.

    Friday, January 02, 2009

    The Global Game Jam

    Willing to spend a weekend making a game? Meet the Game Jam:

    (from their website):

    What is a Game Jam?

    In a Game Jam, participants come together to make video games. Each participant works in a small team on a complete game project over the course of a limited time period, usually over a weekend. With such a small time frame, the games tend to be innovative and experimental. The Global Game Jam (GGJ) is the first of its kind: a game Jam that takes place in the same 48 hours all over the world! The global Game Jam will start at 5:00PM Friday, January 30, 2009 through 5:00PM Sunday, February 1, 2009, (all times local). All participants in the Global Game Jam will be constrained by the same rules and limitations, with each time zone having one distinct constraint.

    Why is it global? Because It will happen simultaneously all over the globe (including Brazil). Here's the list of locations:

    * Albany, USA
    * Ankara, Turkey
    * Athens, USA
    * Albuquerque, USA
    * Atlanta 1, USA
    * Atlanta 2, USA
    * Angouleme, France
    * Austin, USA
    * Baltimore , USA
    * Boston , USA
    * Cape Town, South Africa
    * Caracas, Venezuela
    * Charlotte, USA
    * Chicago, USA
    * Copenhagen, Denmark
    * Dallas, USA
    * Detroit, USA
    * Glasgow, Scotland
    * Hamar, Norway
    * Hamilton, New Zealand
    * LA, USA
    * London , UK
    * Madison, USA
    * Madrid, Spain
    * Newport, Wales
    * NYC 1, USA
    * NYC 2, USA
    * Orlando, USA
    * Ottawa , Canada
    * Paris, France
    * Perth, Australia
    * Pittsburgh , USA
    * Raleigh, USA
    * Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
    * Rockville, USA
    * San Francisco / Silicon Valley, USA
    * Santa Cruz, USA
    * Sao Carlos, Brasil
    * Savannah, USA
    * Sault Ste Marie, Canada
    * Tel Aviv, Israel
    * Thurles, Ireland
    * Toronto, Canada
    * Vancouver, Canada
    * Waco, USA
    * Utrecht, The Netherlands

    If you want to join Global Game Jam, you can find more info at their website:
    Copyright, Chico Queiroz