• "I think as experienced game developers / engineers / artists / makers, we don't realize how we've developed strong senses of "vision" — the ability to visualize and maintain this thing in our head, and gradually work to realize that thing into existence despite countless obstacles. Frequent failure is expected! But this kind of emotional intelligence, to be patient with yourself and your work, takes time to cultivate. People have trouble grasping this if they are new to making things, and maybe it's our mission to help them own their constant failures." This is a really good way of expressing this issue. And, in particular, spending time understanding what's going wrong, rather than throwing hands up at the first error message. Those tracebacks, however weird they may seem to begin with, are designed for the reader, and they help with the journey.
  • A huge, fascinating, braindump from Bret Victor, mainly on the state of how programming is being taught (especially in the "learn to code, live" idiom that's popular at the moment). A lot of it is very good; I'm not sure it applies everywhere, and I'd like to see examples not about geometry (which I think are entirely possible, given Victor's idioms). But still: it's huge, and dense, and well-reasoned, and has lots of jumping off points. Good to see someone thinking about this stuff like this.
  • "It’s okay if they don’t completely understand how a program works after they’ve played with it a little. Very few ideas are completely original. The more material you give your students to plagiarize, the wider the range of derisive works they’ll make from them." Perhaps my favourite point in this very good piece. (Though I've found GameMaker way less of a "kit" than it makes out). But yes: no-one wants to learn to program (for its own sake). People want to learn to make things for screens; programming is incidental.
  • "If / when telly people complain that their industry was blind-sided by the internet/interactivity I think it might be fair to point out that this was made in 1990. And that it was shown – ON THE TELLY. Or would that be mean?" Douglas Adams' documentary "Hyperland", a crash course in hypertext written and shown pre-the-web.
  • "The best games communicate their systems to us in ways that feel satisfying, and the quality of this dialogue between player and game often determines the success or failure of the game." Michael Abbott's been playing Demon's Souls.
  • "Raphaël is a small JavaScript library that should simplify your work with vector graphics on the web. If you want to create your own specific chart or image crop and rotate widget, for example, you can achieve it simply and easily with this library." Looks really rather interesting, and potentially beautiful.
  • "It may be a little hidden but Git actually comes with auto completion, you just have to set it up." I did not know that. Useful!
  • "The program seeks to accommodate up to 15 students who are considered "at-risk for dropping out or poor performance in core classes", focusing on themes such as literacy and writing, mathematics, 21st-Century technology skills, leadership, and more. The site argues that students who are considered "at-risk" usually haven't reached that point because they lack the capacity to learn, but because school no longer holds any relevance to them or it bores them…" …and so it uses WoW to provide them with relevant usage-examples of the subjects they need to get better at. Not entirely convinced, but interesting that they're using a wiki to collate lesson ideas/plans.
  • "In the case of European Air War, what management wanted was a very cool game to sell that customers would love. What the lead programmer did was present it to them so that they could see, clearly, that this was exactly what they had on their hands already. They, too, were having trouble digging through all those details and seeing the big picture." Lovely story about the importance of presentation on any kind of project.
  • "Being a light-hearted look at the world of story and writing in games." Written by Richard Cobbett, it's quite a lot of fun. And he's played Realms of the Haunting, too. Awesome.
  • "…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.
  • "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.
  • Tweaking a game five months after launch to make it both more playable, and also more realistic; understanding that realism is key to NHL09 fans, and delivering on that as an ongoing promise.
  • "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.