'"We have a real culture of thrift," [Kotick] said. "The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games." And then, to ensure there was no confusion in his message, he added that he has tried to instill "skepticism, pessimism, and fear" of the economic downturn into the corporate culture at Activision. "We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression," he said.' Bobby Kotick. What a guy. What a CEO. What a leader.
"Larva Labs proposes an intelligent home screen that creates a meaningful hierarchy out of a user’s information. Designed for an Android-based handset, our home screen is intended to appeal to Blackberry owners and people struggling with information overload." An interesting experiment; I like being able to vary the level of personalisation on the fly, but am not sure the screen is nearly dense enough for people with "information overload" – it only handles a couple of items in each category without drilling down. The Blackberry's appeal in part is due to its hyper-dense list of information.
"In the 14 months since [TeamFortress 2] shipped, the PC version of the game has seen 63 updates – “that’s the frequency you want to be providing updates to your customers,” [Newell] adds. “You want to say, ‘We’ll get back to you every week. The degree to which you can engage your customer base in creating value for your other players” is key, says Newell. “When people say interesting or intelligent things about your product, it will translate directly into incremental revenue for the content provider.”" Great write-up from Chris Remo of Gabe Newell's DICE talk.
"This is a sort of thorough, empirical, sociological study of art students at two British art schools at a very interesting moment, the late 1960s (a moment when, as the book says, anti-art became the approved art, bringing all sorts of paradoxes to the fore). I find it fascinating that such a subjective thing as developing an art practice can be studied so objectively, but then I find it amazing that art can be taught at all. The book shows the tutors and students circling each other with wariness, coolness, misunderstanding, despair, appreciation." Some great anecdotes and observation.
"Busker Du (dial-up) is a recording service for buskers through the telephone (preferably public payphones hidden in subway stations). Audio recorded will be posted to this audio-blog and made available to all who cherish lo-fi original music. Try it out at your favorite subway station or street corner." Dial-A-Song comes full circle.
"Poole – HAL 9000 is a fictional chess game in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the movie, the astronaut Frank Poole is seen playing chess with the HAL 9000 supercomputer… The director Stanley Kubrick was a passionate chess player, so unlike many chess scenes shown in other films, the position and analysis actually makes sense. The actual game seems to come from Roesch – Schlage, Hamburg 1910, a tournament game between two lesser-known masters."
Lovely demo – some interesting interfaces that feel quicker than current alternatives, as well as experimental ones that, whilst slower and clumsier, represent information a bit better. I mainly like the form-factor, though – but what's the unit cost? These things get a lot better the more you have.
"Something like: Trying to create a reading list that gives the best introduction to everything. This may change." Phil is trying to collect the Good Books in many fields. It's an interesting project, for sure; it'll also be interesting to see how it pans out.
I was a little excited from the ongoing Offworld love in, but Oli Welsh's review suddenly makes me insanely excited about Keita Takahashi's new plaything. Why is it that all the reasons for me wanting a £300 PS3 are £3 PSN titles?
"…the biggest consequence [of a universal micro-USB adaptor] will be the ease of transferring data/content from street service provider to consumer, and consumer to consumer… There is a place at the edges of the internet where the level of friction makes content and data grind to a halt. It's largely unregulated. And it just got seriously lubed."
"30 Second Hero is an action RPG which consists of really short battles that require no interaction, as players race against the clock to save the kingdom from an evil wizard's wrath. As indicated by the title, you only have thirty seconds to level up your character sufficiently for the final battle, although additional time can be bought from the castle at the cost of a hundred gold pieces per increment of ten seconds." Hectic; the entire early JRPG genre (FF1, et al) condensed into a minute-long rush. Grinding as poetry.
"I was convinced that it was a spoof. As if there’d be a genre called Donk. Everything is wrong about the video. The knowing subtitles over subtle Northern Accents. The presenter’s slight grin when he’s chatting to folk. The funnily named shops. Everything. There’s no way I’m falling for a prank like that. It reminds me heavily of the episode of Brass Eye where they whang on about Cake (the made up drug). And all the characters and the interviews look like they could be setups or clever edits." But no, it's real. Iain Tait discovers Donk.
"…with that sad note from Sarinee Achavanuntakul, one of the most enduring (if illegal) tributes to gaming history came to an end." Home of the Underdogs is no more; just gone, like that. It wasn't that it had the best games or the worst games, or that they were illegal, or free; it was history, and childhood, and the smell of cardboard and boot disks, all wrapped up in one giant cathedral to Good Old Games. Most things I played on my old DOS machine were there. A shame; I hope they're elsewhere. This is why we need proper game archives.
"Warcraft’s success has always been substantially due to the extraordinary physicality of Azeroth, to the real sense of land transversed, of caves discovered, and of secrets shared. Players old and new bemoan the endless trudging that low-level travel requires, but it’s crucial for binding you to the world." Yes. Despite QuestHelper, I'm always in awe of the new areas. I just wish more people were playing the game as slowly and badly as me. Another beautiful One More Go, and one that resonates a lot right now.
"He calls the new version of the escapement a 'Chronophage' (time-eater) – "a fearsome beast which drives the clock, literally "eating away time". It is the largest Grasshopper escapement of any clock in the world." Stunning new timepiece for the Corpus library. Breathtakingly beautiful.
"Computer Entertainment Thirty-Five Years From Today: A solo spoken word performance by Bruce Sterling" Wonderful, surreal, exciting; Sterling's keynote from Austin GDC. Good stuff, and worth a read for gamers, futurists, and designers alike.
"This is something I said about Spore a while back, actually. I thought Spore could be a little like what Understanding Comics is to Comics. As in something from the form which uses the form to explain the form." Oh, I like that as an idea. He can be a smart one at times, that Gillen.
"I've just finished attending the AIR tour and during the final (particularly funny) presentation, I completed a TextMate plugin that has full API completion support." Useful – some syntax completion, and a shortcut for application preview.
"You might argue that an iPhone without connectivity is, well, an iPod, but its not. To state the (obviously overlooked) obvious – it is a phone without connectivity and that over time the ease and evolving practice of disconnecting fundamentally changes our assumptions of what we can expect from a phone, which in turn alters our expectations about the connectivity of other people." Jan Chipchase on pause buttons and understandings of what "social" means. Excellent.
So, the latest version of Nokia/Symbian Series 60 has been previewed. There’s even a swanky video for it:
I’m still thinking about a lot of it. It’s clearly aiming at a slightly different market to the one Apple’s gunning for. There’s an interesting separation between “stuff that needs a stylus” and “stuff you can do with fingers/thumbs”. In reality, I think people veer towards thumbs if possible. Does that mean they’ll ignore the UI elements that are so small they need a stylus? Not sure. I haven’t given that enough thought, as I said.
The best bit of the video, though, is nothing to do with touch. It’s the bit where the model silences the phone ringing on the coffee table simply by physically flipping the phone over.
As an interaction, that presumes a lot. It presumes you leave your phone out, and if you do, you leave it face up. Many people leave their phones out (so they can see them skitter across the table when a call/SMS comes in) but face down, so the screen doesn’t annoy them. (Blackberries, with their persistent flashing light, are a prime candidate for face-downing). At the same time, it embraces that behaviour: when the screen lights up, you hide the screen and the phone silences. I like that.
Of course, you could do that on any old phone with a cheap accelerometer inside it. I wish it wasn’t part of some “premium” touch interface, but part of a lowest-common-denominator combination of hardware and software. Oh well.