Text In The World

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.

  • "YOU CAN ONLY WORK FOR PEOPLE THAT YOU LIKE… I discovered that all the work I had done that was meaningful and significant came out of an affectionate relationship with a client. And I am not talking about professionalism; I am talking about affection. I am talking about a client and you sharing some common ground. That in fact your view of life is someway congruent with the client, otherwise it is a bitter and hopeless struggle." All of Milton Glaser's points are worth thinking on, but this one feels particularly acute.
  • "So there seems to have developed a general consensus in the iPhone development community that if you’re planning to develop a sprite-based game, the cocos2d-iphone framework that we mentioned waaaaaay back when and a bit later on is the way to go. So since we’re planning on doing exactly that, here’s a roundup of resources for your cocos2d development!"
  • "Here’s a round-up of the top 10 readily-available monospace fonts for your coding enjoyment, with descriptions, visual examples and samples, and download links for each." I think I roughly agree with Dan on these.
  • "Get over your ridiculous programming-language prejudices and stop endorsing real prejudices. It's this crazy little microcosm/macrocosm mirror effect. You never find bigotry in people with options. It's true in programming and it's true in real life as well, and it looks as if it's true in both places at the same time and for the same people." Giles is right, and the idiots who reached for their retweet button are definitely wrong. Less of this, please.
  • "No. That would be your mother." Valve drop the next "Meet The…" video, and it's perhaps the best yet – certainly in terms of editing and choreography. And I love how the other characters – especially the Soldier – are still being developed in this.
  • "This is a mod. And that’s kind of relevant, for two reasons. Firstly, we don’t want to pay for this kind of thing. Hell, look at The Path: people are upset that even exists, let alone that its developers had the guts to charge seven quid for their remarkable efforts. But this is the sort of thing I’d love to pay for. It seems illogical that we’ll all happily splash out fifty pounds for the same old story of science-fiction revenge, yet aggressively avoid anything that encourages us to engage our brains and challenge ourselves a little."
  • "What’s fascinating about Grifball is how well it emulates a sport (or rather a sport game.) Like basketball or hockey, players must alternately think offensively and defensively as the bomb changes possession. Movement suddenly trumps aiming, as players must gauge distance for successful attacks and create openings to score. The best players are the ones who can move in tricky, unpredictable ways and psych out their opponents. In terms of skill and strategy, Grifball has much more in common with virtual rugby than it does a shooter." Matthew Gallant on Grifball, and more forms of consensual play.