Very clear explanation of precisely what's going on inside the Bootstrap grid – with diagrams, and also clear explanations of the roles of each styling class. The clarification of push/pull is particularly useful.
This looks good; roughly corresponds to how most grids I've built in the past n year _really_ worked in practice.
"Jcrop is the quick and easy way to add image cropping functionality to your web application. It combines the ease-of-use of a typical jQuery plugin with a powerful cross-platform DHTML cropping engine that is faithful to familiar desktop graphics applications." Wow – snappy, well-made, and very impressive.
"Slammer gives you any grid you want, anywhere you want: Typographic Grids, Golden Sections, Fibonacci series or Rule of Thirds. Thats not all, Slammer also has Rulers, Crosshairs, Magnifier, Measurements & Screenshots. Slammer is a must have for any designer."
Bleak, stylistically lovely, flash game about the drudgery of existence. Not cheery, but some beautiful touches. And I loved the cow.
"Welcome to the home of the Generic Syntax Highlighter – GeSHi. GeSHi started as an idea to create a generic syntax highlighter for the phpBB forum system, but has been generalised to this project." As seen on the Panic blog: very impressive, in particular, the clickable documentation of Objective-C keywords.
"John Leighton's hexagonal map only extended about 6 miles from the centre of London, but it's a relatively process to extend more concentric rings of hexes, turning the Great Wen into a setting for a boardgame, Settlers of Catan or Squad Leader re-imagined upon London." Wargaming/Catan pretty much leapt into my mind, too. I like this.
Nice interview; some particularly good stuff on generative music, and a generation that grew up on iMuse wanting to do more with game music than just churn out Red Book Aduio.
07 July 2009
After a long period underground, Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell: Conviction emerged at E3 substantially different to its previous incarnations. And whilst I, for one, am grateful for the removal of Sam Fisher’s trampy hairdo, the new feature that got me really, really excited seems to have passed with relatively little fanfare. Here it is:
Mission objectives – or, at least, reminders thereof – written into the environment, mapped over space, appearing to the player along; subjective and stylistic, but never part of a HUD. It’s classy and striking, and not something people are playing with in games nearly enough. Prior to this, easily my favourite type design in games came from Codemasters’ GRID:
which placed text into the world as first-class 3D objects, and let the player spin and pivot the camera around it, as if to emphasise both its subjectivity and genuine 3D-ness.
But this has been a thing in movies and TV for a while, now. Here’s JJ Abrams’ Fringe:
which even nails the reflections in the water. And, of course, one of the earliest points of reference for this in genuine 3D is David Fincher’s Panic Room:
which, as Ben has pointed out, owes a great debt to Saul Bass’ titles for North by Northwest:
which makes quite a nice list.
"Even the platform holders are excited about the potential for social networking to tie into games. At E3, Microsoft proudly announced integration of Facebook, music network Last.fm and Twitter with Xbox Live. The latter pair are fairly irrelevant, admittedly. Last.fm is solely a music service, while Twitter isn't actually a social network at all – it's a one-to-many broadcast system, which isn't quite the same thing." Oh. But that's where you're wrong, Rob. Sorry.
'“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.”' Masses of good things in here – think I've quoted it elsewhere – but it's not on my Delicious, so in it goes.
"DFC's main takeaway from the study is that the flexible, quickly-adaptable nature of online distribution services like Steam allow for developers to use a broad variety of promotions and incentives to keep their game communities fresh; individual promotions like the Survival Pack had a positive effect on both platforms, but it was the one-two punch of that DLC plus the followup free weekend through Steam that had the most meaningful impact on the game at any point on either platform."
Art of the Title interview the chaps behind Wall-E's end credits, which knocked me out the first time I saw them, and still give me the loveliest buzz to this day.
Generates a tiny file to do the most basic things, from the looks of it.
24 December 2008
It’s the end of the year, and that means time for lists. My books and albums lists are forthcoming – hopefully tonight or tomorrow – but in the meantime, I thought I’d kick off with ten of my favourite games of the past year.
There’s lots missing here, mainly owing to the fact I haven’t finished a lot of recent titles or given them the time they’ve deserved. What this is, though, is a good summary of what the gaming year felt like to me; ten games I enjoyed a great deal, and that I would recommend in a heartbeat to anyone not sure where to begin with 2008.
And so, in no particular order:
(Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
I have written enough about this already, but suffice to say: it sunk its teeth into me, after the initial hump I couldn’t play anything else, and at the end, it left me unable to play anything else for a while. Spectacularly beautiful, too.
Trism began as an app for the jailbroken iPhone; it quickly made the transition to the official App Store platform when that opened up, and it has sold hundreds of thousands of dollars of copies since then, giving Demiforce a fantastic start to their company. And with good reason: it’s a great piece of game design, easy to learn, and hard to master. It also makes brilliant use of not only the iPhone’s capacitive touch screen, but also its tilt sensor. It’s a very pure puzzling experience, and I’ve already sunk many hours into it; it suits the pick-up/put-down rhythm of travel and play on-the-move idaelly. If you have an iPhone or iPod touch, this really is a no-brainer.
It’s still one of the best games on Live Arcade. It’s also still one of the best asynchronous multiplayer games you can play. Making your friends high scores the default high score table gives it a great competitive streak and really contextualises your performance: nothing’s more frustrating than having emailed a friend to say “hah, beat your high score” only to receive an response five minutes later informing you that the ball is firmly back in your court.
Adding variety to the original formula are the six game modes, slowly unlocked over time. They may all be variants on a theme, but they all still demand unique skills and become games in their own right: turning the Pacifism achievement from the first game into a mode in its own right was a great move.
Beautiful in high-def, easily explained to anyone who’s played a videogame in their life, it’s by turns accessible and challenging, and an essential purchase for new 360 players. Also, its social scoreboards give it great longevity, and prove what I already know: I’m nearly, but not quite, at the bottom of the pack when it comes to motor control. As long as I’m not last…
If there’s a measures of Braid’s success, it’s not to be found in its sales or metacritic scores, but in the sheer volume of verbiage devoted to it in the blogs, forums, and magazines of the gaming world. Thousands of words, all expended on the game, on the hype, and on what the hell it all means.
It wouldn’t have got that discussion if it wasn’t in some way good, and it really is: beautiful, challenging, and proof of the things that only games can do. It embraces game-native storytelling, wrapping its meaning tightly around its mechanics, and tells its tale through challenging, timeless puzzles and David Hellman‘s incredible artwork.
Perhaps it is a little pretentious; perhaps the writing is weak. Regardless of those facts, it’s exciting to see a game like this getting such a major launch on a mainstream, living-room platform, and as an artefact to push forward the casual – as well as professional – criticism of games, it’s a great starting point.
(Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
I always forget how much I like racing games. GRID is a very, very fine take on the racer. It’s beautiful, it’s fast, and it’s totally stripped down. GRID demonstrated that Codemasters really understood what making a game “cinematic” might look like: you condense it down into tight, exciting drama. So races take place over two-to-five laps, and in that time the AI will give you as good a catfight as any “realistic” simulator might over an hour. The rewind-time mechanic, as well as being wonderful to watch, removes the traditional racing-game reliance on the “restart” option; giving the game a pre-credits race, not to mention an ongoing narrative of running a team only helps with the Days of Thunder feel. Mapping Le Mans to a twenty-four minute endurance race makes it both exciting and endurable.
And, of course, it’s very pretty and fast as hell. The open-wheel racing is some of the most exciting driving games have to offer, in particular. The drift tournaments are weak, but stick to the touring cars, touge and open-wheel and you’ve got a hell of a game. The icing on the cake is the beautiful, free-floating typography. Solid, and surprisingly good.
(Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
It’s on everybody else’s list, and I can’t really deny it: it’s a wonderful environment, and a staggering achievement. It’s not as smart as it likes, and it occasionally misfires but it delivers moments by the dozen. Shame the pacing of the islands feels wrong – after the majesty of Three Leaf Clover, being dumped in the New Jersey analogue is a bit underwhelming.
Also: multiplayer, with the right gang of people, is a total hoot. Whilst not the runaway online success that might have been hoped for, if you can get eight to sixteen friends online together, Cops and Crooks or Turf War will bring the fun pretty fast.
Well, it came out this year in the UK. I played this sitting by a roaring log fire, having spent my days clambering around the Lake District. It is not the greatest game of the year by a long stretch. It is, however, a wonderfully crafted experience: short it may be, but it’s put together almost perfectly: fantastic environments that barely repeat, thrilling combat that’s not too difficult, and one of the most striking in-game sequences I’ve played this year. It helps that the lack of direct camera control translates perfectly to the single-stick PSP. On top of all that, it looks almost as good as the PS2 versions – it’s a remarkable feat of engineering. I had a lot of fun with this, and if you own Sony’s much-unloved portable, you owe yourself to play this.
(Xbox 360, PC)
Gerard Way asked if it was any good, and the answer is yes, Gerard, it is. It’s bloody brilliant, although with the obvious caveat that it gets better with friends. Co-op gaming has slowly seen a slew of support and innovation in the past two to three years, and Left 4 Dead represents one particular pinnacle of that: an experience designed ground-up to be played not only co-operatively, but with real friends.
It’s not about team-mates, it’s about mates; how far would you go to save your friends from a Smoker? Quite far, as it turns out; I’ve noticed that in various pick-up groups, if I have to pick between someone I know in real life and someone I don’t, I’ll go with my friends first. To see such an unashamedly co-op experience – and one that could be described as reasonably hardcore if you hadn’t tried it – achieve such a level of mainstream success is very heartening. I put it down to the fact that Valve are such a talented gang of people, and so fastidious in their process. If you’ve not played through the director’s commentary, you owe it to yourself to do so, if only to understand that nothing in the final product is the result of chance.
Also: it’s great to see a game that puts the mechanic, indeed, the core technology, that really makes it – the AI – so far front-and-center. Personifying it as the AI Director was the stroke of genius that not only made players aware of it, but gave them someone to blame when they all died. Again.
(Mac, PC, Wii)
There are two reasons, I think, that World of Goo has captured a lot of people’s hearts this year. One is the game itself: the wonderful art; the delightful soundtrack; the just-one-more-go gameplay that carefully teaches you everything to know whilst keeping the challenge just high enough. But the other is the game’s mythology: 2D Boy, two guys working out of coffee shops for a year, giving up on the traditional industry to make the game they really wanted to. It’s the story we all wanted to believe in. The fact that both elements are so great is the real magic of World of Goo: risking it all, living the indie dream, really did lead to a wonderful game.
(Mac, PC, Linux)
I like this more than Rohrer’s previous Passage. It’s a small, simple game, available for most home desktop platforms (Windows/OSX/Linux), about “mania, melancholia, and the creative process”. To say any more is to rob it of its impact. Once I worked out what you have to do to progress, I played on with a huge lump in my throat. To be heartbroken by a game this slight, this simple, in its 100 square pixel area, is quite something, and Rohrer makes games like no-one else.
Um. An "artwork/game/digital poem/world of scribbles" from Jason Nelson. Stop trying to "get it".
"My Favorite Book Covers of 2008" Some I'd seen before; some I'd not. Some very beautiful things here.
"I come from a software background, as well as an artsy-fartsy one. I want to see games as art, but they’re also supposed to work as logically-constructed bodies of code. And in a lot of cases, reviewers need to see them as software rather than as art. Here’s why…" I think Steve has some good points here, but I'm not totally swung yet; after all, games might _be_ software, but do we _experience_ them as software? I'm not sure that we do, and that's why we respond to them in the manner we do.
"The ultimate resource in grid systems."
Pretty much spot on. Especially when it comes to GRIMDARK PIRATE COMICS.
"Does the road to ludonarrative unity really lead us where we want to go? Is the destination reachable? Is it possible to embrace a design aesthetic that takes us in another direction that could be just as fruitful, if not more so? Okay that was three questions, but it's my blog so I get to ask as many as I want. Now if I could only answer them." This is going to be interesting when I come to write about Far Cry 2.
"a poster-sized calendar with a bubble to pop every day". Yes please!
Future Platforms get a company blog, and give it a brilliant name to boot.
Wilson Miner redesigns again, and it's _gorgeous_. The subtle transparency of the black text in RGBa values, to pick up a hint of the underlying green, is a lovely touch.
Jaw well and truly on the floor.
"Thus maintenance would become a punishment for delivery, which may be a hollow joke for some of us working in technology. And every now and then, when reading contracts, I would like to follow Henry VII's lead and pass a law against maintenance."
"An object provides for [the wants we define ourselves as] through the lack it displays." Jyri Engeström on social objects and the way they create wants, fulfil needs, and they way that drives our behaviour around them. Jolly good.