"It should be pointed out, however, that physics is not the only systemic toy upon which fun games can be built. Probability fields, such as those forged by the colours, numbers and suits in a deck of cards, and the stochastic patterns that emerge from mixing those cards up, are another well-known toy upon which many great games are built. In fact, there is a literal infinity of foundational systemic toys upon which meaningful games can be built, yet for the most part, the game industry focuses on building baseline game engines that simulate one single toy that is proven to only be marginally fun: physical reality."
"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.
11 million player deaths in Just Cause 2 – a big open world game – plotted in 3D; a map of the world made only out of player-deaths.
What happens is: the map becomes visible, but not it’s quite the “real” map. Unstead, you see obvious things like the really tall buildings – skyscrapers – and the really tall sites – mountains – becoming very evident.
Strange things happen underneath tall stuff – under the biggest skyscrapers, and the casino that hangs in the air like an airship – the shape of the object is very clear at the top, but then disappears into fountains and fluid shapes underneath it, as everybody falls off, hits things on the way down, corpses collecting on the ground underneath the airship – see 00:58 for a really obvious example.
So it visualises both the objects in the world, and the physics of the world. Yes, there are surfaces where people have been shot or run out of health for other reasons, but then there are all the points that extruded from those surfaces according to curves defined by velocity and world-gravity. The world and the system all at once. You could, I suppose, reverse-engineer one from the other. And, of course, what you’re seeing here isn’t geography – it’s just the visualisation of a systemic layer in the game (player-death).
And in that sense, the visualisation shows just how closely the world and its systems are linked. Pretty.
" For our project, we had to find three scenes from any movie or TV show and use physics to find out if something was or wasn't possible. I got 100% on it." In this case: 'Physical Impossibilities in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic'. He's really not wrong about the animation.
"More important: the game, Sand-dancer, is a good game. It is not the sort of example that exists to have one of everything in the manual. It is the sort of game that exists to make IF better. Aaron puts it together on your workbench. You can see the parts going in, and I don't mean rules and action constructs now; I mean character, background, voice, theme, and narrative drive. He explains what he's doing, and what each game element is for. He talks about story structure and shape of interactivity. He discusses what you have to do to get the player involved and what you have to do to put the player in control." This sounds great. Add-to-cart.
"I want all the young present-tense storytellers (the old ones have won prizes and are incorrigible) to allow themselves to stand back and show me a wider temporal perspective. I want them to feel able to say what happened, what usually happened, what sometimes happened, what had happened before something else happened, what might happen later, what actually did happen later, and so on: to use the full range of English tenses." There's lots in here. I think it might be good; it is definitely interesting, and worth returning to.
"In this programme we hear from colleagues, friends and former students as well as the great man himself about the beauty of nature and the importance of science to our understanding of the world." A lovely Archive Hour on Radio 4, on Richard Feynman; only available for a few more days, so grab it whilst you can. Delightful, and nicely structured.
"If there is a bigger Splinter Cell fan than myself, I haven't yet met them; but in their zeal to promote the newest iteration, Ubisoft has caused Sam Fisher to tweet. And I don't mean they've made him chirp, which would be preferable. They've given him a Twitter account where he tweets in a supremely earnest way about how tormented his shit is.<br />
*No.*" Oh dear.
"A team of scientists has succeeded in putting an object large enough to be visible to the naked eye into a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving." Oh boy. That's quite a thing (and: quite a sentence!)
"I've been using Copy with Style command, which I took from this blog post. It copies text selection as RTF so when the code is pasted into Keynote, it looks exactly the same as it looked in TextMate, including font style, size and colors. Code can be then modified in Keynote, while the style is preserved." Useful!
"Clipstart complements your photo application to give you a place that is designed for home movies. Import your movies, tag, search, and upload with one click to Flickr and Vimeo. You can even quickly upload a trimmed portion of a movie without needing to save a new copy." Looks like an interesting alternative to iMovie for most of the uses I make of video.
"Size has been one of the most popular themes in monster movies, especially those from my favorite era, the 1950s. The premise is invariably to take something out of its usual context–make people small or something else (gorillas, grasshoppers, amoebae, etc.) large–and then play with the consequences. However, Hollywood's approach to the concept has been, from a biologist's perspective, hopelessly naïve." Fantastic: transcripts of a series of lectures about the biology of B-Movie monsters; funny, accurate, informative.
"I find the watchclock fascinating not simply because it’s a kind of steampunk GPS, a wind-up mechanical location-awareness technology. I’m further fascinated at how this holistic system of watchclocks, keys, guards, and supervisors succeeded so completely in creating a method of behavioral control such that a human being’s movements can be precisely planned and executed, hour after hour and night after night, with such a high degree of reliability that almost a century goes by before anyone thinks of ways of improving the system as originally conceived." Fantastic.
"…hard-core players are comfortable mentally manipulating Peggle's complex physics. They can build models about where the ball is going to go, even after the seventh or eight collision. A frustrated casual gamer looks at Peggle and sees chaos; a hard-core one sees causality." Oh – now that _is_ an interesting way to look at things.
This is great: a 25-minute video from Blurst looking at a short prototype they built. During the retrospective, other members of the team question the designers/developers about their intentions, their goals, and examine ways to make the prototype into a better game. There's some good questioning, some nice explanation, and it's a great insight into a process built around rapid prototyping and execution on top of Unity. Interesting to see how another company work on rapid prototypes and then try to "find the fun". Also: making the prototype public is another great piece of explanatory work.
"A frequent question people ask us is “how do I transfer my database between my local workstation and my Heroku app?”" The answer is: using taps. Database push/pull, to/from Heroku, and to/from different database vendors. Very, very clever.