• "One succeeds because it leverages the player's motivated, explorative, self-driven experience; the other fails because it relies on a hackneyed, disjointed "epic" plotting (told in 3 separate plot-lines via cutscenes) with incongruous settings and 2-dimensional characters. One succeeds because its formal systems directly feed the player's connection to the world and characters; the other fails because its formal systems bear no discernible relationship to the stories the game wants to tell." This is strong stuff from Michael; I am increasingly fed up of the focus on (poorly-told) stories in games.
  • "Know that there are no "accidents" in this game design. Everything you notice about the game, and every subtle interaction that you experience, is intentionally packed with meaning." (Gravitation, still, being my favourite of Rohrer's games, I think).
  • "Crucially, Goodrich entreats the public to note the following: "this change should not directly affect gamers, as it does not fundamentally alter the gameplay." This one statement should cause considerable distress, as it suggests a troubling conclusion about Medal of Honor as a work of public speech.<br />
    <br />
    To wit: it suggests that the Taliban never had any meaningful representation in the game anyway. If a historically, culturally, and geographically specific enemy can simply be recast in the generic cloth of "opposition," then why was it was called "Taliban" in the first place?<br />
    <br />
    And if the Afghan war in which the new Medal of Honor is set was one explicitly meant to drive the Taliban from their strongholds in Afghanistan, why should it matter that the game is set in that nation in the present day at all? In short, how was this Medal of Honor title meant to be a game about this war in particular?" This is a marvellous, critical piece of writing from Bogost.
  • Nice post on Awk basics – most of which I knew, but the examples are still great, especially those involving variables. The links out to the Hacker News and Reddit threads are also full of good stuff.
  • "As Hecker suggested, though, that crucial consideration of the "why" of game development — along with related questions like "What are you trying to say to people?" or "What influenced this?" or "Are you trying to say anything at all?" — seems to be less important in this medium than it is elsewhere. That's understandable, since "fun" can be pursued for its own benefit, and to great and impressive effect. Surely we've got that covered by this point, though, and there's bandwidth for more." Chris Remo thinks out loud for a bit.
  • "…even if they make the rules explicit, it’s not going to help the “power-leveling problem” which is ostensibly the reason for all of this grief. Unless they remove all difficulty options from the system, there will always be easier and harder ways to level. And remember what I said above: users tend to prefer easier content with better rewards. This isn’t limited to user-created content — it’s true for designer-made content, also. But designer-made quests don’t get graded by the players. Player-voted content like this will always gravitate towards easy. And pick-up groups will always be picking the most rewarding content with the least annoyance. And the game devs will keep being unhappy about it." Smart analysis of the problems with City of Heroes' user-generated missions.
  • "Games don't separate learning from assessment. They don't say "Learn some stuff, and then later we'll take a test." They're giving you feedback all the time about the learning curve that you're on. So, they're not the only solution to this problem by any means, but they're a part of the solution of getting kids in school to learn not just knowledge as facts, but knowledge as something you produce; and in the modern world you produce it collaboratively." Jim Gee is a smart guy. I need to read more on him.
  • "I suggested that, when it comes to the design of embodied interactive stuff, we are struggling with the same issues as game designers. We’re both positioning ourselves (in the words of Eric Zimmerman) as meta-creators of meaning; as designers of spaces in which people discover new things about themselves, the world around them and the people in it."
  • "Statisticians’ sex appeal has little to do with their lascivious leanings … and more with the scarcity of their skills. I believe that the folks to whom Hal Varian is referring are not statisticians in the narrow sense, but rather people who possess skills in three key, yet independent areas: statistics, data munging, and data visualization. (In parentheses next to each, I’ve put the salient character trait needed to acquire it)."
  • Ron Gilbert plays The Secret Of Monkey Island again, and takes notes. Nicely measured – neither grumpy nor jubilant, it reads like an interesting director's commentary. Good stuff.
  • "This week I've killed Steven Spielberg three dozen times. I'm feeling better about the whole thing now, so I'm not going to vent any more steam about his increasingly asinine – and frankly pretty arrogant – repetition of the 'games won't be important until they can make you cry, which up until now they haven't been able to, but don't worry I've come to fix things' line." Which, you know, is good, because it means Margaret can talk about the joy of cubes instead. Or Cube, to give him his proper name. A wonderful One More Go, this week.
  • "Economics has been defined as the science of distributing limited means among unlimited and competing ends. On 12th April, with the arrival of elements of the 30th U.S. Infantry Division, the ushering in of an age of plenty demonstrated the hypothesis that with infinite means economic organization and activity would be redundant, as every want could be satisfied without effort." Remarkable article; fascinating for its subject matter, when it was written, what it describes, and the patterns that hold up inside such a regimented economy. A must-read, really – can't believe it took me so long to get around to it.
  • "Our attempts to bridle the player's freedom of movement and force our meaning onto him are fruitless. Rather, it is a distinct transportative, transformative quality– the ability of the player to build his own personal meaning through immersion in the interactive fields of potential we provide– that is our unique strength, begging to be fully realized." Some great Steve Gaynor; reminds me of Mitch Resnick's "microworld construction kits" all over again.
  • "It's an easy, irresistible, almost childish pleasure: the ground meat dissolved into a dark blood-red sauce until they are one and the same; no hacking, slicing or cutting needed; a slurpy goodness; the oily bolognese hanging on to the slippery pasta; guaranteed joy in a world that's just ruled it out." Recipes for ragu.
  • "Suddenly, instead of Pong, Nolan Bushnell unleashes a stark, monochrome rescue challenge on the world. AVOID MISSING PRINCESS FOR HIGH SCORE burns itself into the brains of a generation. A couple of sequels expand the world of this strange new hero and, keen to bring its popularity to bear on the 2600, Atari execs strong-arm Warren Robinett into populating Adventure with mushroom monsters and making the green dragon friendly." Delightful alterna-history from Margaret in her Offworld column.
  • "Soon enough, amid the daily grind of his obsession, he would see in the game itself a way out of the bleak hole he had fallen into. He would take a clear-eyed, calculating look at what he and his fellow players had been doing all those months—at the countless hours they'd given over to the pursuit of purely virtual but implacably scarce commodities—and he would recognize it not just for the underexploited form of productivity it was but for the highly profitable commercial enterprise it might sustain." Fantastic article from Julian Dibbell on IGE, the massive real-money trading operation.
  • "We will both have to take responsibility for our consumption. A product that keeps working for longer uses less-resources in the end. The key ingredient to all this is quality. To make something well, you know, the best you can do. To go the extra mile that it takes to do that. Every stitch, every zip, every little feature considered. The weakest points made strong. Then, and only then, have we made something that will last the test of time. Guaranteed for a minimum 10 years. Each product will come with a hand me down contract. You will sign who you want to leave the product to. This is legally binding."
  • "Trust begins when I can see the design intention of an application." Great stuff from Rands on how sync should work – namely, in the dumbest way possible – and what building trust into application design looks like.
  • "Throughout most of the year, gaming is distraction and entertainment. November separates the proverbial patriarchs from their upstart offspring. In November, the Gamer! and the With Job! blur. I spend my ill-defined work hours thinking, talking and writing about games. And the time I'm playing games become a form of work – a struggle to keep up no less frenetic than that of the clock-manager in Metropolis." This year's November release schedule was crazier than most, too.
    (tags: games writing )
  • "the brains behind the siduhe bridge decided to ignore all those options and break another record instead. they attached the 3200ft cables to rockets and accurately fired them over the valley, becoming the first people to do so." Woah. The photographs are awesome.