• "…one point I wanted to make, to all those agencies that have decided that making products is the future. That's a laudable and intelligent aim, but it took five years for BERG to go from here to here. And they're really good. They had to be focused and ambitious, working really hard. This isn't stuff you can just chuck out the back of a creative technology department  Just a thought." Yeah, there is that.
  • "Little Printer lives in your home, bringing you news, puzzles and gossip from friends. Use your smartphone to set up subscriptions and Little Printer will gather them together to create a timely, beautiful mini-newspaper." Little Printer sees the light of day. So, so excited to finally see it in the world; can't wait to see it in other homes. (And: beautiful work on the design – industrial, brand, web, the whole package).
  • "ClickToPlugin is a lightweight and highly customizable extension that prevents Safari from launching plug-ins automatically, resulting in faster browsing, reduced fan usage, and increased battery life. It replaces every plug-in object by an unobtrusive placeholder that can be clicked to load the embedded content. Further, it can replace many plug-in-based media players by Safari’s native HTML5 media player." Installed.
  • Cape solves a surprisingly common problem: I have this big bunch of rake tasks; I'd like them to run on the server, which tends to mean writing cap tasks just to run the rake tasks. Cape makes it easy to just mirror them.
  • "Sitting quietly on my kitchen table, it has already changed my radio behaviour: instead of sticking one channel on and leaving it for hours, I surf—but intelligently, discovering things I actually want to hear. Adding pictures to the radio: but just a single, little, useful one." Nice.

Gating In Action

29 November 2011

I went to see a promenade production of a few of Pinter’s political plays the other week, put on by Hydrocracker at Shoreditch Town Hall. When I got out of it, it reminded me a lot of the way first person videogames gate progress through staged encounters. I wrote a bit about this for the Hide&Seek blog:

The security guards weren’t just human gating tools; they were good gating tools because they were human. A marine in a doorway in Call of Duty has a couple of repeated “barks” to explain why you can’t pass him. But a human actor can improvise, responding sympathetically and organically to the situation in front of them. The gates feel much less forced when you can have a dialogue with them.

Read the full post over at Hide&Seek.

  • "I built a working prototype of a Customer Service phone bot that has personal issues she'd like to talk about and over time falls in love with the caller. She uses the tools at her disposal (discounts, upgrades, hold music, confirmation numbers) to communicate her feelings towards you as best she can." Hah!
  • "I’d love to run, edit, and write for a publication bigger than just me and my blog. I don’t have time, so I won’t, at least not any time soon. But if I were to run a publication, I’d have a few rules:" These are all correct. Also: they apply to everything from a blog upwards, frankly.
  • "We are making a model of how a product is, to the degree that we can in video. We subject it to as much rigour as we can in terms of the material and technological capabilities we think can be built.

    It must not be magic, or else it won’t feel real.

    I guess I’m saying sufficiently-advanced technology should be distinguishable from magic." This is a lovely pulling-together of things from Matt J, and really manages to express the notions of "physics" and "rulesets" that I always enjoyed so much.

  • "When you burn some wood in a furnace, the mod calls out to AMEEconnect to do a calculation, and adds the result to a tracker in-game. As the carbon ticks up, the environment gets more and more polluted as the skies go dark and the clouds come down. OK, not entirely accurate, but an effective visual indicator!" Fun.
  • "Nine hours in, with no end to the fetching and photographing and fishing and flower-watering in sight, I suggested to one of my nieces, who was playing the game with me (the whole thing's drop-in co-op friendly), that maybe collecting three pepper pots to make Monstro the Whale sneeze was not so very different to collecting three sets of banners for the Toon Town election. It turns out that, from the perspective of a six-year-old, it's entirely different, and I clearly understand little about whales and even less about elections." A marvellous, marvellous piece of writing from Christian (again).
  • "However, if you are making a sustainable living doing pay-up-front games, and you find those are the kinds of games you are most passionate about, but you feel the itch to try out free-to-play because some other people are getting rich doing it, then I'd take a step back and examine your motives and what makes you fulfilled as a person. VC-types look down on this kind of thinking with the awesomely cynical term "lifestyle business", but isn't that exactly what we want to create, a business that supports our desired lifestyle, which includes making games we're proud of?" Chris Hecker on Free-to-Play
  • "Patient explained most of these (and most subsequent) injuries as being the result of membership in a private and apparently quite intense mixed martial arts club.  Patient has denied being the victim of domestic abuse by Mr. Grayson following indirect and direct questioning on numerous occasions." Patient BW's medical records make for iiinteresting reading.
  • "…the world of Shadow of the Colossus is seemingly empty, except for the colossi and the warrior. Until you reach a colossus, there is no music, leaving you alone with your thoughts and the sound of your horse’s hooves. No enemies jump out to attack, it occurred to me on one of these rides, because I am the one on the hunt. The natural order of a video game is reversed. There are no enemies because I am the enemy." A decent enough piece on Ueda's games for the New Yorker – but this paragraph is marvellous.

Links & notes for this month