Friday, December 30, 2005

Java perils and Kim's geekery

Steve Lacey points us to a great read: Joel on Software - The Perils of Java Schools.

I definitely suggest reading it, but in case you are too lazy, here's the one sentence synopsis: The trend of CS programs in schools to move to all-java programs, under the guise of being able to spend more time on software design principles and such, is dangerous because it fails to weed out those that will ultimately make poor programmers.

Relevant quote:
"All the kids who did great in high school writing pong games in BASIC for their Apple II would get to college, take CompSci 101, a data structures course, and when they hit the pointers business their brains would just totally explode, and the next thing you knew, they were majoring in Political Science because law school seemed like a better idea. "

Amen!

For what it's worth, it's been my experience that this is absolutely the case. During my time managing people at Intel (I managed about 20 different people over the course of 5 years), ran into this twice: I 'inherited' (i.e. I didn't screen them) employees that had CS degrees from a Java-based program. In both cases they had taken some elementary C courses, but then the bulk of the program had been taught in Java. In both cases, when they had to pick up more complicated principles involving pointers and such, it just did not click. When you are doing low-level optimization work, you need to understand things like memory alignment, packing bits into registers in different arrangements, the cost of indirection, etc. (Both these people ended up in non-technical roles at Intel. They were great workers, and smart people, they just didn't belong in a programming role).

Due to my current role, I no longer hire programmers now, but if I did, I'd (a) test applicants from schools like this a lot more heavily, and (b) only consider them after I'd run out of other options.

Another quote from the article caught my eye:
"... there are two things traditionally taught in universities as a part of a computer science curriculum which many people just never really fully comprehend: pointers and recursion."

I thought about this a bit and realized that there's a corollary to this: An automatic qualifier of geek is anyone who is ecstatic after learning about pointers and recursion. And that includes me.

I've witnessed and exhibited many geeky things in my 36 years on this earth, but I can think of four that really stand out:

  • Learning long division: I think it was the 2nd or 3rd grade. When I learned how to do it, I became so enthralled that I started writing down the biggest problems I could (e.g. divide this random 4 digit number into this random 25 digit number). Eventually they wouldn't fit on the paper, so I was asking my mom for some of her sewing pattern paper because it was 36 inches across, and THAT could fit some serious long division problems.
  • Making my own gun powder: In the 7th grade, a friend showed me how, and how varying the ratio of sulphur/charcoal/saltpeter you could make smokebombs, stinkbombs, etc. Now this was chemistry with RESULTS!
  • Seeing BASIC for the first time. Also 7th grade. TRS80 model 4 in the school 'computer room'. I saw some guy type in a bunch of stuff I didn't understand, he hit enter, and a game (variant of snake, I guess you could say it was) popped up on the screen. I thought it was magic and I was hooked.
  • Learning and applying recursion. It wasn't till much later in life that I learned C (in night school while working at Matrox). The college I'd gone to, because it was an EE-type program taught all it's programming in assembly, since it wasn't about SW design, it was about understanding how the HW ticked. Anyhow, in this C course, we learned about recursion and I went right home and wrote an asteroids clone which used a recursive routine to render all the asteroids (which were stored in a tree structure). The idea that I could call a draw routine with a pointer to the root node was, as they say, da bomb!

Umm... I think I've said too much now. Geek number one signing out!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ooof! My achin' thighs!

First time out on the slopes this season today, as Alisa and I took the day off (leaving kiddies with grandparents) to do a little outing.

Went and had lunch at Salish Lodge (butternut squash gnocci = crazy delicious!) and then went skiing at Summit at Snoqualmie for the afternoon.

The bad news: It's not a great hill, and their coverage wasn't great, especially on the black diamond run we ended up on accidentally (and which Alisa actually took her skiis off for and slid down on her butt). It's better than most hills back in Quebec, but certainly no Mt Hood Meadows or Big White.

The good news: It's 49 minutes from our door to the ski resort parking lot. WoW! Way closer than it was in portland.

Anyhoo. Think I'll go lie immobile for a while now :-)

Kim's guest review

I did a guest review over on Dan's GameFam site.

In the future, these types of things might be a bit of a conflict of interest, and I won't do them if and when that's the case. However, in this case, Kim The Dad saw a great website for toddlers and wanted to point others to it. 'nuff said.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Great Honda ad

This is a great Honda ad.

I beleive that's a Honda Z50 at the beginning of it. That's the first motorbike I ever rode, and learned to shift on it. Man, that was a fun summer!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Random Observations

- Sorry to disappoint all you Sodoku fans out there, but I just don't get this game. If everyone had just taken programming 101 in their youth they'd see this as the simple algorithmic exercise that it is and we'd be done with this crazy trend that's going on right now. I guess there's something to seeing how quickly you can solve it, but apart from that, it just seems an exercise in tedium. It's logic Solitaire. Perhaps I should get rich starting an "eight queens" trend. Hmm...

- I went to the gym and also the grocery store yesterday and found it funny how "Athletic wear" (sweats, spandex/lycra, etc) seems to be worn out in public mainly by people at complete opposite ends of the physical fitness spectrum - those constantly exercising, or those to big to fit comfortably (or at all) in anything else. Athletic wear is the band-rejection filter of fashion.

- I tried and failed to watch Howard Stern's "Private Parts" movie from a few years back. I'd heard that it was a good insight into how the radio biz really works, but I just couldn't suffer through the movie so I deleted it. I noticed though that the first two actresses to appear in it are both on West Wing now. Coincidence or are the hooked up with the same management?

- I watched Metallica's Some Kind of Monster, which was an interesting insight into the process of creating an album. However, I don't know if I can accept all this "bands and their therapists" stuff. Whatever happened to bands working out their problems by trashing hotels and sleeping with groupies? Really, what's the world coming to!?!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Wordy Xmas goodness

Two bits of wordy goodness from Santa today:

- Super Scrabble, which is a variant of the game expanded from a 15x15 board to a 21x21 board, i.e. roughly double in size, with 200 tiles and 4x letter/word multipliers added to the 2x & 3x ones. Had a game tonight, and it was fun despite the fact that Alisa Bingo'd "Frocking" across BOTH triple- and quad-word scores giving her 18x3x4+50=266 points for that turn alone. Needless to say, the rest of us had no frocking chance after that!

- "The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable". Wow. Super find from my mum-in-law. I hadn't asked for it, but I imagine it will come in super useful. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone in the gaming biz as it's got a ton of useful stuff in there. Read the back cover description for more detail.

My goodies aside, the highlight was definitely seeing the kids go nuts for all their goodies under the tree. Thomas the Train, a doodle pro pad, and other goodies had them well occupied all day and they crashed pretty hard come bed-time. Tom woke up late this evening and when I asked what was wrong he said "go downstairs and play with presents". :-)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

On the dungeon siegin' wagon

I've officially kicked my addiction.... to dopamine.

The steady drip-drip-drip of dopamine fed to my brain through the steady click-click-clicking my way throught Dungeon Seige 2.

O.
M.
G.

What was I thinking? Was I even thinking at all?

I played DS1 (how many years ago was that) and while it was good, I'd complained it was TOO long.

Now with my gaming time at a premium, I have a lapse in judgement and install DS2 that promises (a) much more of the same, so not much new to see in terms of game design and (b) it's a sequel, so they've probably made it longer.

And WOW, did they ever make it longer!

After sinking as much time into it as I'd taken to complete Psychonauts, I get to a big milestone along the lines of "congrats, you have found the second piece of the four pieces of the big-ass magic shield you'll need for The Big 60 Minute End-Boss Fight of Carpal Tunnel Certainty".

SECOND OF FOUR!?!? And I think there's a sword to get after that!

I'm done. Games are too effing long.

And what better reason to blow the install than a brand new shiny CTP Vista build to install! Yippee!

//homer voice on
Mmmm.... shiny gui... mmmagugugghhh (drool)
//homer voice off

As the kids would say these days, Vista is the bombdiggity.

Now, I have a backlog of games to play over the holidays:
- Prince of Persia 2: PC
- SSX on tour: Xbox (what can I say. I likes da boardin')
- Burnout Revenge: Xbox
- Spiderman 2: Xbox (a bit old, but I'd heard some people talking about the web-swining mechanic, so I want to check it out)
- I have a BIG list of casual titles I've been meaning to check out for work-related reasons

And just in case Santa's been good to me this year and got me a guitar hero, I'm going to play it, and then I'm going to contemplate hacking it >:-)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Begin the GameBiz podcasts

I've been toying with the idea of doing a podcast for a while now. I'll need to decide over the break whether I have time to fit it in, but I think it would be fun.

I started blogging almost a year ago as a learning exercise as much as anything, and I've definitely gotten more out of it than I've had to put in. Perhaps the same might be true for another medium? Hmm...

In the meantime, Chris Melissinos over at Sun has had the same idea and debuted his show GameON! yesterday. I gave it a listen in the car this morning, and give it a 3 out of 5 rating. Don't get me wrong, that might seem like a low score, but it's a great score for a first episode (edition? terminology uncertain to me).

What I liked: (1) Best intro theme EVAR! Taken from M.U.L.E. - I'd have picked the same and now will need to find something else, dang nab it. (2) Very well produced. Chris, you doing this at home? Or does Sun have a studio full of folks helping? Anyhow, well done. musical spacers to delineate segments, volume is all at a good level, audible without any clipping; minimal verbal stops (ummm, uhhh), (3) Chris is a good speaker and is easy to listen to. Some podcasts are intolerable for this reason alone.

What I didn't like: (1) drifting from the stated mission. Chris claimed he was going to talk about biz & impact on culture, interview folks in the industry, etc, but the bulk (not all) of the first episode was mainly game reviews, (2) the trip down memory lane-slash-bio at the beginning was WAY too long, but I guess I should forgive him for that as it IS the first episode after all.

So, that being said, it's earned a place on my MP3 player.

Chris, time to start embedding subliminal Java messaging in there to corrupt my microsoftie brain! :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Oooohhh Canada!

Whilst America grapples with the War on Xmas, and it's courts decide on whether
"intelligent design" should be taught in schools, my homeland's courts ponder topics of a far graver nature:

Canadian Supreme Court OK's Group Sex

Oh Canada indeed.

Moralists, say what you will, but there's a far smaller number of people shooting one another up there!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Blue skies turn to grey... or pink?

While I might not see enough blue sky in games, I *am* getting a little tired of the blue sky on my desktop.

So thanks a BLOODY lot to Steve Lacey, for pointing me to some uber-cool desktop wallpapers via this flickr site, and as a result, costing me triple-digit-minutes of wallpaper browsing! ;-)

Still haven't picked something, but have linked on to others. Also recommend checking out:

www.queenofdorks.com

www.pixelgirlpresents.com

Super awesome anime-styled wallpapers!

Worst of all, this may waste more time as I'm considering writing a little wallpaper rotator app. Maybe it could be a mood-ring thing that decides on your mood based on a running average of emoticon types in your email & IM messages :-)

The Hack beckoneth!

I haven't even picked up Guitar Hero yet and already I *REALLY* want to hack the controller.

It's just crying out for someone to rip the electronics out and jam them into a real guitar. That little plastic toy is NOT what a guitar feels like, folks!

My $75 Kramer garage-sale-special is looking at me sheepishly from the corner of the room like I'm Dennis Hopper or something.

>:-D

Someone please do this hack before I do, or my Kramer will never be saved from the state of mind represented by the above emoti-text!

Narnia Rap!

I'm way behind on my movie watching. Usually will wait to rent, but some movies you want to see in the theater, and Kong, Narnia, Potter, Aeon Flux, etc, are all on that list.

So last night on a whim I decided to check out Chronicals of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I caught the late show at 10:30 which was nice because I was one of only a handful of people in the place and could get prime seating.

Anyhow, great movie. Most are saying it's "not lord of the rings great, but great". I'm not sure. I think I liked it better. Some parts weren't quite as good, and it was shorter. But then I think LOTR could have used an hour less "Hobbits looking desparingly over panning vistas". Also, I think that real (vs mythical) animals are probably harder to animate as we are accustomed to seeing them move in a particular way.

Anyhoo. I enjoyed it.

But what I REALLY enjoyed was watching the PVR'd SNL this evening and coming across the Narnia Rap. YOu can view it here.

Not only is it funny... it's actually good. I want the MP3!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Katamari Dilberty

Funny Katamari-inspired Dilbert comic this morning:

Gamers Revealed!

AWESOME side-by-side pix of gamers and their in-game avatars on the BBC website.

Thanks to Souris for the pointer.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Yet another sign games have "arrived"

The other night I went to a cocktail party with a bunch of 30- and 40-somethings. Very suburban, very yuppie. Lawyers, business owners, aerospace engineers... I was surprised that I was the only microsoft guy there.

So it's party gathering time in the kitchen, people are arriving, giving the hostess bottles of wine, fancy cheesecakes from high-end bakeries, cheeses from places whose name must be worked into the conversation in order to point out how much the cheese cost (and therefore how good it must be). I felt a little like John Cusack in High Fidelity in that scene with Catherine Zeta-Jones, only replace "music-loving counter-culture dude" with "game geek".

Anyhow, at one point someone goes into the den to say hi to the hostesses kids, comes out afterward and says "I see you have Dance Dance Revolution.", to which the hostest nods yes.

"So do you play it too?"

Hostest replies "Yes. And I'm pretty good. I play it at medium level".

And then everyone else chimes in about how they play too, what level they play at, what kind of game pad they use (same yuppie tone used for the camembert: "You really MUST get the metal pad. It's SO much better").

I chuckled to myself that the one game industry person in the room was the only one who's never played :-) (I'm holding off until my 360 purchase. Though the praise for Guitar Hero may have me getting that first).

Anyhow. If that's not a good example about games in the mainstream I don't know what is.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Will Wright video

CNet has a video up of a segment of Will Wright's "When 2.0" talk that I mentioned a while back.

Bn-n-n-n-na-na

Listen to this.

While watching this.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

From now on, everyone wears red shoes.

Amen.

via Robin

Poker for Dummies

There is probably a book by that title. I haven't read it. Here's my couple-o-paragraphs version.

We had our "holiday party" at work this afternoon. We had a big poker tournament as part of it, what with the current texas hold-em craziness. Not for real money, fake money with some prizes for the top players at the end of it all.

So the secret is this: If you have to meet your wife and kids, and are desperately hoping to lose all your 'money', people can't freaking grok it and you have the ultimate bluff. I would bet big and people would say "Whoah! Kim's gonna be out quick!", to which I'd reply "yeah, I have to get out of here soon, so hopefully I'll lose all my money". Then people would think I was lying and would fold.

So before I know it, the 10 or so tables are down to 2 tables, I've got a huge pile of chips in front of me, and I've got to go!

So, I told my boss to take over and will get to blame him if he lost it all :-)

Now I know the real action doesn't happen until the final table, but it was still fun. It certainly was a lesson on a couple fronts:

- when playing with average players, playing aggressively has an advantage. It's amazing that even with FAKE money, people were intimidated by agressive bets.
- people watch WAY too much poker on TV. Everybody's trying to "read the tells" on other players and shit. One guy said to me "I could tell you had the flush by the way you tapped your fingers" - on a hand where I *no shit* had forgotten whether my second card was a spade or a club, but had gotten too far into the betting to care. It was either a flush or a bluff and it really didn't matter.

Next year I'll make sure I have time to see it through and we'll see whether my luck holds out!

Counter(feit) Strike

Something to chew on whilst I find time for longer/better post on other topics:

One has to wonder whether South Korea would continue to complain about the portrayal of North Korea in US Games if Americans paid for the in-game items on "Free" Korean MMOs using the counterfeit cash the US says North Korea is creating.

Hmm...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sweet cake

Best cake I've seen in a while: The Long Tail cake. Best one I've seen since Robin's b-day Katamari cake a Lulu's post-GDC shindig last spring.

Plus I love the phrase "we had a bake-off at the office". Sweet!

Attack of the Free MMOGs

We knew they were coming. We just didn't think they'd arrive in packs.

The Korean government just launched GamenGame, a US-targeted portal for Korean MMO's, trying to attract the US customer.

For what it's worth, I *love* the variety offered here. Enough with the 'men in tights' games. There's a baseball MMO, A golf MMO (which I referenced in my TGS report a while back)...

And all the MMOs are free to play, with the sell up being extra features or in-game items.

(BTW, I think it's pronounced game'n'game, though I prefer 'Gamen', like 'Ramen' for the first word. Perhaps 'RamenGame' will take off as a non-PC derogatory reference to cheap MMOs coming from Asia? :-/ )

Do you hear that shuffling sound?

It's Charles Schultz rolling over in his grave.

Reason.

Addendum to last post

Someone pointed out some similarities between my last post and Raph Koster's Future of Content post. I hadn't read it until just now, but agree there's some overlap.

Raph's is certainly a better and more thought-out post, but I think mine makes a nice complement to it. His is the meal, mine is the appetizer or deser, depending on your preference.

Bon appetit!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Games Industry 2.0

Those with an interest the indie gaming scene would do well to keep an eye on the music industry.

Oh sure, you say. "Digital distribution killed retail" the obits will read. Happening in music, and will happen for games. So what!? Whether you stand on the "bah humbug!" or "viva la revolution!" side of the argument, there's nothing new to this discussion. It's been going on for years.

But look again. A little closer this time. You'll see there are bigger changes afoot. I'll get to that in a minute. First, let's talk about something else.

I've been bitten by the podcast bug as of late and have been listening to a number of them in the car, on the plane, and at the gym (when I can get my keister out of bed to get there, that is). Adam Curry's Daily Source Code, Rock and Roll Geek Show, ABritAbroad, The Rock Show, and a number of others that I've sampled but once or twice. And if there's one thing I'm gathering through listening, it's that there are more differences from traditional radio here than just the budget applied and the music played.

Digital distribution is only a piece of a much larger puzzle.

Retail is only the end-point of a very complex ecosystem that the music biz has built up over time - largely over the past 50 years. Retail was needed for the actual sale of media, but radio, print, tv appearances, MTV vids, etc, etc - all this informed people what was available, built their tastes for certain content, informed them where they could get it, and pushed them into the record stores to get it. Music Industry 1.0.

Today's digital distribution of music relies largely on that same infrastructure. Sure, you can download from iTunes, but your learned about iPod from Bono in the TV ads and then went there to download your U2 box set. I'd call this is "Music Industry 1.5".

If you look to the podcast scene, you see some of the other pieces of the infrastructure coming into place:

  • Podcasts replace radio. And with geographic limitations gone, and with content being time-shifted, it's allowing for a level of micro-niche proliferation that was never possible before. You could do an all-steel-drum, all-the-time podcast and probably find an audience for it. Jeez. RRGS pointed me to WhoreCast - talk about microniche - a podcast by and for sex-workers. Not my cup of tea but fascinating that it's there at all! You can even give your show a name to reflect the niche! How about "There are Jews in Alabama"! Yes, that's an actual podcast!
  • Sites like The Podsafe Music Network, Podsafe Audio, and others are providing a place to link artists and podcasters, and in turn link them to users. Plus, they are letting artists retain rights to their content in exchange for a reasonable cut of the action.
  • Laws around the world are being tested in ways that weren't imagined when they were authored, and undefined legal areas are being discovered. It's going to be a facinating journey, but painful for some, I'm sure.
  • New levels of collaboration are possible. Remember "We are the World" and all the other cloned of relief-for-africa celeb collaborations? Check out Podsafe for Peace. 32 artists from 9 countries collaborated over the web to do a Unicef benefit song. (That they turned out similar syruppy pablum to the celeb ones is beside the point). No flying-in-Michael-Jackson's-Unicorn-before-he'll-perform to deal with either!

I think when the dust settles, we'll see that Music Industry 2.0 doesn't kill 1.5, nor does it kill 1.0. All three will co-exist, though not necesarily happily. There will be cross over in both directions: Mainstream artists using guerilla marketing tactics to market their wares via the 2.0 channels; indie artists that "sell out" for mainstream label record deals, limos, groupies, and trashing hotel rooms. Radio will evolve just as AM wasn't killed by FM, and just as Video didn't kill the radio star (though maim may be a more apt verb). Bloggers are taking readers from the mainstream press and the mainstream press is blogging in reaction.

I beleive when the dust settles, we'll see that Music Industry 1.0 will be humbed a notch or two, but not killed. And Music Industry 1.5 will help keep it alive. Music Industry 2.0 will provide a viable alternative for works that wouldn't make sense elsewhere, and that wouldn't be viable in the 1.0 world. And that means two things: (1) Indie bands, who's prior options were to be starving artists, can actually make a modest (and will need to accept this!) living, and (2) more choice for consumers, which is a good thing.

So what does this have to do with gaming?

I think the *same* *exact* *thing* is happening in the games industry.

Cartridge/disk/CD/DVD Games at Retail: Games Industry 1.0

Digital distribution of existing content, or similar content, from existing players. Same traditional marketing, just distributed online rather than at retail: Games Industry 1.5. Adds a "long tail" but mainly as clearing house. The worlds biggest K-Tel discount rack.

Is today's casual games industry "Games Industry 2.0"? Not quite. Maybe 1.9. A few new genres and price models have appeared. The traditional retailer has been replaced, or at least complemented by, the Big Game Portal (Zone, Pogo, etc). New funding models have started popping up in a few places. And players like Steam, Garage Games, Multiverse, and others are providing the distribution infrastructure/tools. Bloggers are supplanting the gaming press and the press is blogging in reaction.

So what's missing? The last piece of the puzzle, in my mind, is Niche Proliferation. Once we have a way for people to make games that appeal to a very specific audience, and connect them to that audience automatically, then we have Games Industry 2.0.

And 2.0 is already being alpha-tested, if it isn't feature complete yet:

  • Steam is a step in the 2.0 direction. That their "niche" is significant enough to be extremely lucrative helps, but it's still a very specific type of audience.
  • Jay probably doesn't know it, but his site is very "2.0": A casual games site aimed specifically at game designers, with both a review of the game and a critique of the games aesthetics and mechanics.
  • Game Services and Service Clients (Steam, GameTap, etc) are the game & game info distribution equivalent to Podcasts+Podcatchers+RSS - letting the content come to the audience rather than the other way around. The difference of course is that right now every "podcast" in this case needs it's own proprietary "podcatcher".

There are certainly more signs of life than that. I don't think we are far off. The next steps are being laid out for us. You can listen to them on your way to work in your nearest podcast.

Alls well that ends well

Regarding my last post, the owner of the site has apologized and taken down all non-authorized content. Seems to have been a misguided but well intentioned effort. Kudos to him for righting the wrong so quickly.

//back to work

Contributor, my ass!

Hey kids. Look up at the address bar on your browser. Where are you reading this entry from?

If it's kpallist.blogspot.com, great.

But if you are reading this from www.casualgamedev.com, then you are reading a site/blog that is snarfing RSS feeds from other folks blogs, mine included, and listing them as contributors. (Greg Costikyan, Sean Ryan, and Phil Steinmeyer, are also listed - I am in good company, it appears)

I have no problem with people referencing entries I've made or quoting me. However, aggregating entries directly and listing me as a "contributor" to the site? That's a no-no. For one thing, it's false. For another, it could get people in trouble with their employers (not an issue for me, but imagine they were snatching the RSS feed from a press person and their employer then said "hey, you are contributing to a competing site"!).

Guess I'll have to put up a disclaimer, putting my blog entries up under creative commons or something. My bad for not doing so to start with. Oh well.

Gee, I had no idea my ramblings were of value to others ;-)

A quick WhoIs on the above domain tells me it's owned by Duncan Gough, same guy that created www.millionsofgames.com (which looks to be a cool site) and www.chickstop.com (a girl-gaming site that has the look and feel of one that wasn't created by women :-). Though who knows who's really behind this nefarious internet activity!

In the meantime, I continue to be a humble contributor to a single URL.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

An attestation to my geekdom, gone.

I sole my M.A.M.E. arcade cabinet this morning. With the departure of my Ms Pacman cocktail, my Twinky pinball, and my SmashTV cabinets, this now means I have *no* arcade machines in my posession *sniff*

Sad to see it go, especially considering all the work I put into the conversion and the custom control panel, but there simply isn't room for it in the new house.

Perhaps using the money toward a new 360 would make me feel better?

At least I still have my Pong machine and ColecoVision! Ladybug anyone?

Friday, December 9, 2005

Figurines teaching you how to develop websites!

OMG! Coolest how-to article EVAR!

Why? Cause it's illustrated with figurines!

Pic:


Link.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

They grow up so fast!

Seems just yesterday my kids were born as frail little two-pounders.

Tonight we were attending open-house for a pre-school we're considering for them for next September.

Man, time flies.

A scapegoat is born!

Game industry folk everywhere should rejoice, for the media has birthed another scapegoat for society's violence, and so soon games will no longer bear the wrath of the Right.

I speak of course of the blogging movement, that menace that threatens to turn your kids into violent murderers.

This article appeared on MSNBC today: When Murder Hits the Blogosphere. The main focus being around the murder of 14 year old Kara Borden's parents by an 18-year old she met through her blog on MySpace.

Once again, new media and new technology are at fault. Not bad parenting. Of course nothing to do with their self-avowed Chistian faith.

Would the same level of media coverage happen if they'd not met online, but say, in an arcade instead?

Silly me. Of course. Because then it'd be the video games that caused it.

Attending Casuality?

Hey Gang? Any readers attending the Casuality conference in Amsterdam in Feb?

Leave a comment or drop me a mail if you are!

Good notes Will Wright talk

I didn't attend, but Oren Sreebny's blog contains a good write-up of Will Wright's talk at the "When 2.0" conference going on in Palo Alto this week. It's a good quick read.

Thanks to Steve for the pointer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Could the homeless hold the key to the future?

Not that we should make fun of the homeless, but we appear to be adopting their savvy biz skills.

This morning I saw two guys standing out on 148th ave in Bellevue holding homeless-beggar-style cardboard signs. I thought they were going to read "homeless, 8 kids, need money.." or such. Rather, they read:

"Seattle Start-ups! We want to Meet you! Meeting Dec 8 & 9 at...."

So I'm assuming some crafty-but-desparate VC's have adopted this fine method of laser-like focus.

Crazy world.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Victoria and her not-too-dirty Secret

Flipping channels tonight, I noticed that The Victoria's Secret fashion show was on prime time TV, on one of the major networks.

WTF?

It's a pretty peculiar thing if you think about it.

With all of the uproar about cleaning up TV, Radio & Games, the various other moves of the far right, parental & family values, etc... here we all are, 20 million people or so watching waif-like girls parade around in their finerie.

Is there any other branch of fashion that has justified a mainstream TV viewing like this? No. So clearly it's about the T&A. But it's deemed acceptable. Clean enough for mainstream, risquee enough to feel naughty.

It's like a tenth of the country is huddled together readng a Judy Bloom book and snickering.

A boozy post

Ah, the dilemma of being a girl-drink drunk.

When we moved up from Portland, we had a problem: No bar.

Not to say there aren't bars in Seattle, there's bars a-plenty. Rather the problem is that our Portland house had a full wet-bar which I'd fully stocked with a full selection of booze.

The Bellevue house just doesn't have a good place to stock it all, so we've been getting rid of it the best way I know how - by drinking it! A little at a time, of course. All things in moderation and all that.

Anyhow. The problem is that, lightweight suburbanites that we are, we quickly got rid of the lightweight staples (Kalua, Baileys, Midori, etc, etc), and are now left with two groups of spirits: The hard stuff (whiskey, gin, etc) and the lesser-used-but-necesary-to-properly-stock-a-bar drinks (Galeano, Curacao's, Vermouth, etc), not to mention all kinds of mixers.

So I was tempted to buy some Kalua, which I enjoy in coffee or hot chocolate (especialement pour l'hiver!) but how could I when there's still so much other stuff in the house?

Well, surprise surprise, friends Adam & Stacey came up for a visit this past weekend, and came bearing gifts. They brought us a bottle of Starbucks Coffee Liquer.

YUMMY! It's of course very much like Kalua or Tia Maria or other coffee liquers, but they've added a stronger coffee taste to it. And if you know me, you know I likes my 'spresso!

Anyhow, I recommend picking up a bottle next time you are at the liquor store. Make your Happy Holidays just a wee bit happier!

Uncanny Valley Girl

Steve Lacey points us to this wired article, the first of what I would imagine will be many articles about next-gen consoles and the "uncanny valley". I do like the author's take on it though:

"My hat is off to whoever designed the new King Kong game for the Xbox 360, because they've crafted a genuinely horrific monster. When it first lurched out of the mysterious tropical cave and fixed its cadaverous eyes on me, I could barely look at the monstrosity.

"I'm speaking, of course, of Naomi Watts. "

How-to Wiki

This is a cool idea.

WikiHow is aiming to do to the How-to manual what Wikipedia has done to the encyclopedia. Very Cool indeed. I've got several past projects I'd like to write up. Not sure if I'll find the time, but we'll see.

It looks like Wikihow, or at least the sister site, eHow, is making ad revenue. If they could figure out a way to give a stipend back to contributors, they'd really turbocharge the rate of contribution, but I doubt we'll see them do that. sigh.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Man among geeks

There are geeks, and then there are geeks.

And then there are people whose communities pass laws to prevent them from building particle accelerators in their houses.

Link

Jiminy Cricket!

Undies Showing! Player 1 Wins!

OK, it's a very strange world indeed. Link via Robin.

Book Review: The Meaning of it All

Richard Feynman was a great speaker. If you haven't had chance, check out the Feyman lectures on physics, and at a minimum, give the first 3 a try.


I also really enjoyed his more anecdotal books, "Surely You're Joking, Mr Feynman" and "What Do You Care What Other People Think?". I was disappointed that there weren't more like them.

So what a pleasant surprise when I came across the title "The Meaning of it All" when browsing the local second hand book store.

The Meaning of it All is not a book he wrote, but rather the transcript of three lectures he gave at University of Washington in '63.

From the Amazon site's reviews:

"Many appreciate Richard P. Feynman's contributions to twentieth-century physics, but few realize how engaged he was with the world around him-how deeply and thoughtfully he considered the religious, political, and social issues of his day. Now a wonderful book-based on a previously unpublished, three-part public lecture he gave at the University of Washington in 1963-shows us this other side of Feynman, as he expounds on the inherent conflict between science and religion, on people's distrust of politicians, and on our universal fascination with flying saucers, faith healing, and mental telepathy."


It surprising how many things he talks about are still current-day issues. Culture of fear and use of fear by the far right to justify actions; dangers of dumbing down media; ethics in science... It makes me wonder how much these really are 'new' issues. Are they really constantly there and we fail to have the hind-sight to see that, or are they cyclical perhaps?


Anyhow, if you can find a copy, pick it up. It's a great, quick read that will help you frame some of your thinking, regardless of which side of the issues you stand on.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

On the 360 marketing campaign

Many have griped about it. Of course, armchair quarterbacking and 20/20 hindsight are both easy, and in combination they are extra strong.

John Porcaro on Xbox's marketing team (don't know him, just got pointed to his blog) pointed out some of the difficulties and thoughts that go into such a campaign and why it ended up where/how it did. Good read.

Link.

I agree 100%!

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Store water, gorp, and fetch my musket

It's snowing again tonight. Will be interesting to see how many people show up for work tommorrow if it keeps up. The office cleared out pretty early this afternoon in a panic over the 1/2" of snow that had fallen and the fourteen individual flakes that were rumored to have not melted somewhere on Seattle's highways, leaving a sense of imminent certain death in the air.

Years ago, when I first moved to Portland, I was shocked by the behavior of people in the Pacific Northwest when snow started to fall. Since then, I've realized it's because all of them can be grouped into one of two categories:

  • People that once lived in a place with snow-filled winters (eg. Montreal, NY, Denver, etc), or,
  • People that seize the conch, smash Piggy's glasses, and start to feast on the still-warm flesh of their soccer-playing teammates the moment white stuff starts to fall from the sky.

Jeez, people! Chill! (Pun intended, of course)

What's in a blog?

I saw that CMP launched GameSetWatch this week, which (ahem) "aims to pinpoint and succinctly link to the gems of video game coverage online".

Hmm... I'm not sure what to make of it. Certainly can't blame CMP for wanting to hop on the blogwagon (Hey, I can portmanteux with the rest of you), and they've certainly put together a good crew to do so, including EIC of GDMag Simon Carless, the creator of Geeks on Stun, and BBC-ette Alice (link on the right).

That being said, there's still something irking me a bit, and I'm not sure why. Here's a try at a couple things that are nagging at me:

  • Will Simon's job editing GSW improve or diminish the quality of GDMag. Will it let the mag focus on 'big picture' type features, or will juicy items need to get up there right away. Same goes for Gamasutra, btw.
  • Where does a blog end and a website begin? And does it matter? On the continuum of sites that goes from, say, a news.com type format, to a slashdot, to a boingboing or engadget, to a gewgaw, what's really the difference? I guess I still cling to an antiquated concept that a blog is a personal thing, but I guess that doesn't hold much water. I dunno.
  • Will we lose the better personal coverage from some of this crew? For example, I frequent Alice's blog, but it seems that some things that she used to post now will clearly belong on GSW. Maybe the rest will still be compelling? Maybe GSW will be a better place to frequent?
  • Will a corporate charter lead to the same pressures that a lot of mags/sites face, and will they be good about being unbiased/tainted? Pretty easy when things are looking up and lucrative like today, but if the ad market takes another 99-style hit, well, integrity is harder to keep when you need to eat, right?

Alright, enough negativity. I guess I should give the site -oops, blog- the benefit of the doubt, and so should you! Go give it a once over and subscribe to the feed for a while and let me know what you think!

Swish, swish, swish

It's snowing here in Redmond, which makes me pine for the slopes!

(view out the office window)

MS - Reality TV

Tonight's Apprentice will show the Trumpster tasking his would-be cronies in a challenge featuring an MS product.

I'd kicked the Apprentice habit but may fall off the wagon tonight only.

(And I still think Branson's Billionaire show was a billion times better!)

Cards, anyone?

Justin's got a post about an interesting game experiment they are doing on campus at USC involving giant cards in a "massively multiplayer" real world game. Sounds cool!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Super Furry, Super Funny

Best Music Vid EVAR! From the Super Furry Animals.

It's Neo-Geo-riffic! It's music vid goodSNES!

Quote of the day

Love this quote I stumbled upon today:

“Don’t think that sticking your boobs out and trying to look f***able will help. Remember you’re in a rock ‘n’ roll band. It’s not ‘f*** me’, it’s ‘F*** You!’ ”

-CHRISSIE HYNDE’S advice to female rockers

I'll leave it to you readers as to whether it applies to game clans and such.

Face-off

This is the craziest, creepiest thing I've read for a while:

Woman has First Face Transplant

From the article:

In the controversial operation, tissues, muscles, arteries and veins were taken from a brain-dead donor and attached to the patient's lower face.

Doctors stress the woman will not look like her donor, but nor will she look like she did before the attack - instead she will have a "hybrid" face.


I am going to have separate nightmares about both those sentences.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Leading by example

Janel's got a great story up on her blog about going to the Wisconsin hearing on their proposed marriage amendment (i.e. another of the "one man, one woman" ones), and, six week old baby in t0w, waited in line to say her piece.

The best bit was this:

The chairman then asked what his name is, which was quite an openning:

His name is Turing after Alan Turing, the cryptoanalyst in World War II who broke the German U-boat code. He was also gay and for saving the modern world he was persecuted by his own country so much that he ended up killing himself.

Rock on Janel!

Get with the program

The surest sign that the music industry is behind the times is that those little flash programs that often start up when you pop a CD into a PC share many of the same design principals of web sites in the late nineties.

Monday, November 28, 2005

"The Movies" King Kong remake

This is a very clever remake of King Kong done in The Movies. Clever use of camera tweaks, custome backgrounds, etc, to make a giant-sized gorilla in the app (which doesn't allow for scaling characters beyond human-size.

Also a good example of how the quality is going up. This has a 3-person voice-over.

On the subject of The Movies, I was talking to a friend about it yesterday and we were saying it would be fun to do a thing where you create a movie and lay it out, and send individual character scripts to friends and ahve them read them into a wave file and mail them to you. The script would be ad-lib style, where they don't know the full story or other character lines. Then compile the result and show it off at a party when they'll all be present. Maybe could be made simpler via a mod?

Copyrights and wrongs

Gamasutra has an article by Ernest Adams entitled 'The End of Copyright" which is a good read.

Personally, I think it's got numerous flaws with it. Despite that, it's a good read and makes some good points. Don't take this as a personal stand on the "I'm for copyright" soapbox. I just think the article has some flaws and feel like pointing them out.

On the 'flaws' side of things:

  • The argument that the 'fair use' laws of copyrighted materials eventually leads to demise of copyrights altogether is a slippery slope arguement. Outright copying of copyrighted materials is still not considered fair use.
  • On there being 'no intrinsic reason someone should continue to get paid for something long after it's completion', there are two issues there: (1) Part of the problem today is that people sometimes aren't getting paid for something THE DAY it comes out - or even BEFORE it comes out (as we see with leaked Star Wars movies, for example - or games for that matter). (2) "Hollywood fatcat" arguements aside, the market bears the price it will, and so the economic model factors in the long-term earning potential of the product. To take the argument to the limit: If Half-Life 2 were FREE 3 months after release, they'd either make less money (making such games unfeasible to make?) or have to put a higher premium on being the first to experience it.
  • On "architects not getting paid every time someone steps into one of their buildings", there's a flawed metaphor here. The architect created the design, which is a tool the builder used. Much as Photoshop is a tool used to create things. Adobe doesn't get paid for every image you edit, but they do want to get paid for every copy of the software. The architects *PLANS* are indeed copyrightable materials. The fact that there is a market for resale and re-use of plans is part of what has contributed to more affordable housing in the modern age (cookie-cutter as it might be).
  • The later section of the article talks about a number of different business models enabled by the Internet. Totally feasible, but it's neither here nor there in the discussion about copyright. If you offer software as a service, for example, you still don't want people copying the service itself and allowing the client to connect to another's cloned service. Adams notes that the biz model thing is a separate issue, but the fact that it's in there at all is kind of hinting that they 'fix the problem'.
  • Saying that "Metallica makes too much money" (paraphrased) and that games are different cause they cost a lot is kind of flawed argument as well. 1 game in 5 makes money (big budget console titles - PC's worse), so 1 has to float the costs of the other 4. In music, one album in many (what, maybe a thousand?) makes money and so has to costs the costs -minimal as they might be- of floating that band's album & promotion, etc. While *making* the album may be cheap, *bringing it to market* certainly is not. Getting America to gulp down more Backstreet Boys style pablum costs cold hard cash. Sad fact, but it's a fact.

OK, ranting aside, the article makes some good points:

  • The laws of any given society are a concrete embodiment of that societies values. As values change, so do the laws. As an aside, there's a realted Dilbert comic about this from today, which you can see here. Or I guess I can just link to it (wonder if that's fair use? :-):

  • The current "tolerance" for piracy & other copyright violation among the general public may act as a force to drive down pricing. (As another aside: I saw a very similar concrete version of this type of action-reaction when high cigarette taxes in Quebec reached a point where the mob was involved in cigarette trafficking. It got to a point where biker gangs were blowing one another up over it, and finally the government said "alright already - cheap smokes for everyone!" and that was that).
  • The fact that these alternative business models may allow for different styles of distribution and different levels of rights-restriction may indeed mean that content developers just don't make rock-star style money. I agree whole heartedly. We see a lot of this in casual games space. Keep in mind though, that not everyone wants original indie films, games and music. Power to those that do, but for better or worse, a large number of consumers want rockstar content from Spielberg & Nicholson, Metallica & Britney, EA and well, Rockstar.

One more thought: The fight against copyright abuse may just be a "checks and balances" thing keeping the practice in the hands of the most die-hard, while the bulk of consumers pay for content. And it may just stay that way.

On the other hand, if society really evolves to where they don't beleive in copyright, and that music, games, and movies should be freely copied, then you get a situation like we've seen in China, where major publishers just don't even bother showing up to sell product. And if it happens worldwide, then they don't even bother making it.

Which maybe wouldn't be so bad if it meant no more Backstreet Boys & Britney CD's.

Sci-fi life

You know those "non-machine-readable" verification codes people have on web forms (such as the comments section on this very blog)? Sometimes I have problems reading them.

I was struggling with a difficult-to-decypher one earlier this afternoon when it hit me:

If this were a sci-fi movie, this would be the point where I began to suspect that perhaps *I* was one of *THEM*!

Bill Hill on cavemen and typography

A great video from a while back on Channel 9. Great lessons in the history of typography, the complexities of rendering readable fonts on screens, and on how people learned to read thousands of years before they learned to write. Well, what did they read then? You'll have to watch the video to find out.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Network adventures continue: Da network shuffle

OK, Xbox moved up to bedroom, Media center PC moved from office to media room. The latter may move back to the office when I can get my hands on an Xbox360 which might be a while.

I bought print server and ran the cable for it into the crawlspace, but didn't get into the crawlspace to do the final run to the media panel. Saving that for next weekend.

The media center PC is going from what I guess was my 'beta test' (using it to record and watch movies and one or two shows) to the full 'field test' (using it as the family's primary DVR). If all goes well for a few weeks, I'll be putting the ReplayTV up for sale on Ebay (which should just about cover all the money I've sunk into the home networking project :-)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Network adventures continue: Wired in da boudoir!

...well, the bedroom anyway.

This was the second-to-last cable run, one of the longer ones, and certainly a tricky one.

Man, I'm getting good at this cable-fishing business. One part of it required running the fish through a 1/2 inch hole, 4 feet up a diagonal (underside of a staircase) and then catching a string I'd lowered in from the top of the diagonal - catching it blind of course!

Anyhow, only one cable run to go. Then some clean up, tie-wrapping of cables, move the xbox up to the bedroom and move the media-center PC down to the family room. Also going to get a print server for the two printers so we can access them from any PC. Then I'm done!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tom's Hardware interviews some suicide girls

Erm... whereas I knew my last post's subject was BAD for gaming, this one I'm not so sure.

I don't know quite what to make of the whole suicide girls thing (remove the space between e and g and add a www. Warning: Inappropriate for work, children, etc etc). How much is genuine vs how much is 'what the fanbase wants to hear'...

Same goes for this Tom's Hardware interview. It certainly didn't need the cleavage pix on each interview page. That aside, it's an interesting interview with some 'girl gamers' and more voices to the dialog can't be all bad, right?

Fave quote:

Interviewer: OK open mic. What do you want game developers to know when they make the next blockbuster game?

Interviewee: MAKE. A F******G. SIDESCROLLER.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Monday, November 21, 2005

Argh! Ye EFF be wagin' war and boardin' Sony!

This rootkit thing is getting way out of control. Certainly fun to watch and makes for interesting discussion at the lunch table.

The latest is that the EFF is filing suit against Sony for the installation of spyware-ish SW on users machines without their consent, etc. Details in the announcement here.

I don't know much about the Electronic Frontier Foundation but I love their name. Has such a rogue, adventursome ring to it. Makes me picture a bunch of guys with bandanas and eye-patches in a scene somewhere between a Dr Who episode and Monty Python's Crimson Permanent Assurance.

[Update: Holy crapperoo! According to this, the Texas attorney general has joined the fray! Don't mess with Texas! Of course, Sony's back-up plan? Attack of the dancing robots!]

MS Fountain dyed "360 Green"

Walked over to lunch today and noticed something odd about the fountain outside of the building I work in. At first, being a pool owner, I thought "Algae!".

But no! They've dyed the fountain green in celebration of the 360 launch.

(note to peta-nuts: The fountain's heavily chlorinated to begin with, so no dyed-green-from-the-inside geese will be seen in the skies overhead. No need to worry)

On a related note, While I (a) hate FPS games on consoles, and (b) have been among those commenting that next-gen consoles (360 included) are going to have a hard time living up to the "next-gen" expectations of end users, I saw Call of Duty 2 being demo'd on a 360 at Fry's this weekend have to say, it' looked pretty effing good! The gameplay looked pretty similar to existing WWII shooters, but the amount of debris/particles/general chaos/etc going on made it feel a lot more "Saving Private Ryan". Anyhoo, they're on display in stores, so check one out and judge for yourself!

Jack Thompson's Alabama temp license revoked!

This popped up on the news this morning. Not an outright disbarrment, given that he's actually licensed in Florida, but at least it's a blow to his credibility (personal, I can't beleive he has any at all, given the crazy things he's done and said).

Via Gamastra.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bruce Campbell speaks at MSR

I was perusing the library of MSR talks that get recorded and put online, and amongst the speakers they had was none other than Bruce Cambell of zombie-killin' fame.

He's actually a pretty articulate and amusing speaker.

Amongst some choice answers during his Q&A:

Q: What was your favorite movie to make?
A: Difficult question. I have a beleif that movies that are easy to make are difficult to watch.

Q: (Something about hollywood vs b-movies)
A: War of the Worlds, Bewitched, Spiderman, Batman Begins (again!?!).... Hollywood IS making B-movies. Just with more money. Then they wonder why no one's going to the theaters.

He's also not afraid to mince words about his thoughts about various hollywood celebrities.

Too bad it's not linked externally, but for MS-ites, it's worth a look. Some observations about the indie film scene have some insights that will be useful for the games world as well.

Network adventures continue: Home Stretch

Yesterday evening I did what will probably be the longest cable run in my home networking adventure. From the main panel to my wife's workstation, which is on the far end of the house.

Because the house has been expanded from it's original size, there are multiple crawlspaces, and this required doing full-on commando crawls through two of them. I'm sore today! Plus my forearms are embedded with fiberglass insulation. Should have worn sleeves!

Anyhow, those two connections added means eight down, four to go. And those four are in three runs, so not long to go now.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Five-alarm flame war!

Related to the last post.

Seems Gramma's grandson wrote Mr Chris Crawford about his piece in The Escapist on Women in Games. I guess Gramma had some issues with it, or her son did, or... well who cares.

I don't know who's right or wrong. I don't know if I care.

What I do know is that a gen-ewe-wine, blue-ribbon, class-A, five-alarm flame war between Son-o-son-o-gramma & Mr Crawford ensued. And I likes me a flame war! Yee haw!

link

Ol' Grandma Hardcore

If you ain't seen her yet, you're gonna:

MTV Interview
Blog

Not sure if this "exception" breaks the stereotype, or just reinforces it (in that it's such an exception).

Either way, there's something funny about a little old lady swearing like sailor at Psychonauts or GTA3.

Karma and the Corporate Machine

Earl was right. Carson Daily is really onto something with this whole Karma thing he came up with.

I got an email the other day from someone at Intel looking for a forwarding address, since a Game Gems royalty check showed up at my old Intel work address. So we sorted that out, and my shiny pennies are on their way to Bellevue.

I get home, and there's a letter in my mailbox. It's from an accounting nanobot in the Intel machine that seems to think they overpaid me by a few hundred bucks on my last paycheck, and oh, we'd like the money back, thank you. No explanation of WHY they think this was an error, just "please send us money".

Anyhoo. Funny how these things happened in such close proximity to one another.

[Yeah, I know I'm using 'karma' as accurately as Alanis Morrisette uses 'irony', the word I should in fact be using, but hey, whatdayawant?]

Thursday, November 17, 2005

iNumBloggers--; a.k.a. My blog needs an enema.

Will (linked over on the right) has opted out of the "blogosphere" (shudder - hate that term).

Not sure his reasons, but oh well, so be it. Will, we hardly knew ye!

This led to an impossible slippery slope of to-do's on my part.

- Should remove link to Will's blog from my template.

- Hmm... should probably update that whole list. Some are rarely updated (Jane, Jen...) or impossibly slow (Tim, what are you hosted on? an abacus?) , and there are others whose feeds are on my www.start.com page but whom I haven't gotten around to linking to on my blog. (aside, I guess start.com was the predecessor for www.live.com ? Should probably start using that but there doesn't seem to be a migration tool...)

- So then I start thinking that other bits of my blog are out of date: Book lists (those were NOT the last books I read, btw).

- Which leads me to a bunch of other things I've been meaning to do regarding my online presence: register a domain, more powerful blogging service and/or software, book reviews, photo repository (flickr? host my own?), have been thinking about dabbling in podcasting... the list goes on. For that matter, the name should change. I don't write much code anymore, and the pitching manure thing was a tongue in cheek comment about my former life as an evangelist.

Now all that being said, let's get back to fundamentals: I'm busy; I enjoy doing this but don't want it to suck too much time (and I just don't want it to suck too much, period); and I want to create as much content as I like while learning as little about the plumbing as I need to. I have very little interest in authoring scripts, become a .NETophile, etc.

So, what to do?

Tentative plan now is to spend some spare cycles over the next month studying different options. Over Xmas break I can probably migrate stuff if I in fact decide to do so. KimBlog2.0 anyone?

In the meantime, I welcome suggestions on content, likes/dislikes, and what options y'all use. Also, anyone tried migrating from blogger to something else and taken all their content with them? Possible?

Katamari Damacy theme rock cover

OMG!

Some days, all is right with the world.

Corey vs Corey Katamari rock cover MP3.

Via I'm a Human Inbox.

Multi-threading article

Adam Lake has an article that just popped up on Gamastura on game engine multi-threading basics. I know a little about the background since it was started while I was at Intel (nice to see the gears of the Intel & CMP machines still mesh with lightning speed) and expect it will be a good read, though I haven't given it a read yet.

Elevators

Sumit Mehra, a soon-to-be-microsoftie making games in India (which I didn't know we even did!?) came across my blog and dropped me some mail. I went over and looked at his, and he had a post talking about what people do in elevators. Stare at floor, ceiling, read, whistle, etc. He also talked about what he thinks about and asked what others do. I'm cut-n-pasting my response because, well, I'm rather fond of it.

---
I like to think about elevator design. And for that matter, marketing. And construction. And maintenance...

Who built this elevator? Why did the builder choose this company over another? Why did they pick this design over what was probably a catalog of options? Was it strictly capacity? Aesthetics? Technical Features?

Oh boy, how I love to think about the design side. Many pet peeves here. Algorithms: Is each elevator autonomous, or do they know "elevator number 2 is stopping at floor 5, so I don't need to" or do they work independantly? How could it be made more efficient and convenient? If it's a really tall building, do they factor in acceleration and velocity into the algorithm, or just on/off?

Design Peeve: In North America, if someone accidentally presses a button for the wrong floor, then everyone must stop at that floor and wait akwardly while doors open & close. In Japan, if you hit the wrong button, you can PRESS IT AGAIN TO SWITCH IT OFF!! What a simple design improvement!! Why has that not been adopted world-wide? Is it patented or something? :-)

I guess in short, I think about how this elevator got here, and how, if I were to build one, how would I build it cheaper, better, lower-maintenance, etc. How would I improve the world around me given the chance.

Plenty of stuff to do in elevators beside stare at the floor...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Fight the Power!(ful deodorant advergame)

OK, people have had enough of sophmoric game content, but who expected this:

  • "Deodorant manufacturer AXE met with protests at the University of Oregon, where it was using game kiosks running PC game Mojo Master, which drew the ire of student groups. The promotional game, developed by WildTangent, involves weakening successive stages where the player must weaken a woman's resistance and obtain her phone number. Protestors decried what they saw as the sexist message of the game, carrying signs that said "F*ck the white, patriarchal, heterosexist, capitalist PARADIGM" and "My body is NOT a game!", according to the Oregon Daily Emerald student paper. "Pretty much all I can say is nothing like this ever happened before," said spokesman Nick Ferrara of the protests."

(From Gamasutra)

One has to wonder if the person holding the "my body is not a game" sign was a woman offended by the sexism, or a man who takes his personal hygiene *very* seriously... :-)

Plus, how dot-commed have we all become that protesters carry signs saying "F*ck the PARADIGM!"?

The world is a crazy place.

Maniacal Machine!

My friend Marty send me a link to this and I cannot look away!!!

The music totally makes it. Need to get a soundtrack like that for my next The Movies project!

Thanks Marty. Thanks a lot.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

RSS feed link added

Thanks to Steve Lacey for pointing out that I was just linking to an Atom feed and not an RSS feed. I now have both. See lower right. Pardon my net-ignorance. We now return you to regularly scheduled programming.

To be a fly on the wall...

...at this dinner would have been awesome.

More details here.

I shouldn't complain though. One of the privileges of my job is that I get to go on the road and have dinners with a bunch of interesting people - several of whom are linked to on the right. Go ahead, click!

The Destiny of Online Games

I'll be one of a thousand people to link to this, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't

Raph Koster's presentation from the Korean dev conference is a must read/view.

10 minutes of your time will be time well spent.

Link.

I've been thinking about how a bunch of things he mentions (evolution of web; services; niche proliferation) are going to affect gaming (already are), but he puts a different spin on it and as usual, tells a lovely story in the process.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Media goodness!

OK, media center extender now set up. Able to watch movies in one room that were recorded in another room. Rock! (Oh sorry. Rawk! Have to obfuscate everything now that I'm so L337!)

Network adventures continue: IT'S ALIVE!!!

After Sunday's NINE (!) hour marathon session of fishing ethernet cable from my media panel (through crawlspace, up through wall, outside house, through conduit, into walls...) to the office, I finally went "live" with the network yesterday.

Media panel now houses the cable modem, wireless access point & router, and 10/100 switch (which will be swapped for a gigabit switch when money allows). Six of the eventual 12-ish ports are live, and my gaming rig, Media Center PC, Xbox, ReplayTV and work laptop are all connected.

Still much work to do, but it's nice to FINALLY have something connected, and things are a lot more clean looking with cables just plugged into the walls and not running along floors with routers & switches sitting around on desktops.

I'm going to hook up the media extender kit for the xbox now, cause I wants to see me some networked DVR action!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Attention Podders

I don't own an iPod ('cause dat's treason), but for those that do, I got an email from a friend about a new biz they started up:

http://www.upgrademyipod.com/

It's "Pimp my Ride" for pods!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

MGIS: 'Sex in Games' Game Design Challenge

[A week ago I attended the Montreal Game Summit. I'm only getting around now to posting some notes from the sessions, and will do the posts, one-per]

Taking the GDChallenge format from GDC, this closing session pitted four designers (Eric Zimmerman, Ubisoft’s Heather Kelley, AreaCode’s Frank Lantz, and a fourth competitor who’s name escapes me and who’s design wasn’t that great anyway) against each other, challenging them to design a game involving sex as a core gameplay element.

o Zimmerman’s design was a cop-out, in that it wasn’t a game design at all. However, he gets points for the Carrottop-like prop-comic show that he put on. His opening statement (and thus the copout) was something akin to “what if rather than a game with sex in it… what if games themselves had sex?”. He then picked volunteers out of the audience, had them wear nametags like Donkey Kong and Asteroids, gave them each a “DNA strand” which was a clothes-hanger-scool-project type of thing with all the core game elements of these game titles on cue cards. He then had them hold a mock-fornication behind a shower curtain, while an assistant randomly mixed the DNA elements. Madlib-style game designs were born. His idea was to auto-generate and release these designs out on the internet and do a selective breeding thing to keep only those that were deemed fun. It was a great, humourous presentation, but a copout nonetheless.

o Heather Kelley’s design was for a game for the DS called “Lapis”, aimed at teenage girls. The goal of the game was to ‘stimulate’ a cartoon bunny in a rhythmic fashion generating (on the second screen) ever more elaborate fantasy imagery (supposedly things that might go through one’s head during, ahem, stimulation: Ice cream. Shoes. Etc. etc. Culminating in fireworks if successful. The idea was that the game would teach young girls a thing or two about sex *without their even realizing it* (reminiscent of Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age, I might add). I give her points for that part, and picking the DS as a platform because “a game about sex should be personal and private”). However, I wasn’t a fan of the design because (a) she reduced it all physical stimulation of certain locale (when viewed from above, the bunny looked like something else entirely, and (b) it really didn’t look that fun after all. Heather won, but I think this was partly due to home turf advantage (large Ubisoft contingent in the crowd) and partly due to, quite frankly, a largely male game developer audience being quite excited about a female designer talking about how to properly stimulate the female, ahem, anatomy.

o Frank Lantz’s design was also well received, and I think it should have won. Frank designed a mod for Spore, called ‘Sporgy’. The premise was that the procedurally-generated creatures in Spore meet in a secret underground club to participate in wonton sex escapades as an escape from the mundane lives they lead. The multiple limbs and joints generated in the rest of the game would suddenly turn out to serve as different erogenous zones. Two player’s creatures would couple and it would become a kind of beat-matching game, with both players needing to exercise a kind of rhythmic thrusting with the mouse, and do so with matching rhythms. Doing so would unlock more ‘zones’ and score points. I thought it was a brilliant design, and the most in keeping with the theme of the challenge.

MGIS: Eric Zimmerman on "Game Design as Critical Practice"

[A week ago I attended the Montreal Game Summit. I'm only getting around now to posting some notes from the sessions, and will do the posts, one-per]

GameLab’s Eric Zimmerman on ‘Game Design as Critical Practice’. Eric is an interesting speaker. Best known for some of his GameLab titles (Loop, DinerDash, to name a couple), Eric also wrote Rules of Play, an academic text on game design. Eric spoke about problems facing the medium, the industry, and the culture, and asked whether the same rules that apply to game design can apply to these systems as well. Games at their root are comprised of rules. “play” happens when we experiment with the results of taking different courses of action within those rules, not breaking them, but perhaps exploiting them or pushing their limits. If this results in interesting gameplay, can the same not be said for the ‘rules’ by which the business operates? He raised some interesting ideas, but I’m not quite sure which can be put into action. I did really like his demonstration of rules systems: He did a 600 person MMRPS tourney (massive multiplayer rock paper scissors). I was eliminated first round.

MGIS: Kideki Konno keynote

[A week ago I attended the Montreal Game Summit. I'm only getting around now to posting some notes from the sessions, and will do the posts, one-per]

Nintendo’s Hideki Konno “What we have learned from Nintendogs”. This was an interesting look into how Nintendogs went from concept (Miyamoto said “do something with dogs”) to retail product, and gave some insight into Nintendo and how they work. The biggest eye-opener for me was the fact that the game designers themselves (not the game PM or marketing team – the actual designer) sits down with the marketing folk to talk about how the game should be sold. Nintendogs multiple SKUs didn’t start out as a money-making scheme. It started out as the designers saying “we want the area of the store to feel like a pet store”. The original plan called for fifteen different SKUs but it was decided that three-to-five would be manageable.

MGIS: Clint Hocking's "Next: The Game Designers Generation"

[A week ago I attended the Montreal Game Summit. I'm only getting around now to posting some notes from the sessions, and will do the posts, one-per]

Clint Hocking’s “Next… The Game Designer’s Generation”. Was this a presentation, or was this performance art? Without a doubt my favorite session of the conference. Clint gave a first rate scripted performance set to slides, very much in the “beyond bullet points” style (BTW, while I don’t have a recording of this presentation, a similarly styled presentation about another subject altogether is Dick Hardt’s Identity 2.0 Presentation which you can see here. A must view for all PPT-fu wannabes). In his presentation, Clint talked about Hollywood vs games, military history from the Hippolytes through to current day, game design and player freedom, evolution of the industry, ludology & game academics, weather phenomena, the Apollo program, JFK, and… well it really went over quite a bit, but all of it was used to make some good points:
o Games have grown up and become a viable medium in which artists can express themselves and consumers can choose to spend their money and time. Because of this, we very much compete with movies.
o The industry’s response has been to become more like movies.
o The movie industry is better at being movies than we are. They are also bigger. They will crush us like a grape.
o We can learn from military history and many examples of how smaller forces won through being more nimble and using new technology & tactics to gain the advantage.
o Interactivity and player agency are our advantage. We must use them to be nimble. This means giving player CHOICE.
o Games are evolving in some cases to give players LESS choice (guide them through a story), not more.
o The imperative for designers to SURRENDER AUTHORSHIP AND CONTROL! The more you put it in the hands of players, the more we let consumers do what Hollywood never can never let them do.
o Artists and Programmers have gotten us to where we are today. It is the game designers turn to take the lead role in the next battle in the war against Hollywood over the next decade.
o There was some good ludology background on different “strata” on the spectrum between authored experience and player agency, and Clint put many games up against this litmus strip to illustrate examples.

MGIS: Neil Young keynote

[A week ago I attended the Montreal Game Summit. I'm only getting around now to posting some notes from the sessions, and will do the posts, one-per]
Neil’s keynote was named “Can a Game Make You Cry?”. In it, he talked about the fact that (his assertion) emotional involvement requires believable characters, and believable characters require high quality character technology (i.e. money). Therefore, you need to make stuff that appeals to mainstream audiences (broad-appeal genres, popular licenses) to justify the volume, and “innovation” to make critics salivate. I believe the EA approach is AN approach, but to say it’s the only approach is ludicrous. Two issues I have with his talk:
o I’d argue that what he was claiming was “innovation” was really “controlled innovation on the micro-level”. i.e. one new mechanic or technology in a very proven formula. If you want to claim that’s innovation, well, fine. I think it’s bull. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s an absolutely sound business decision to NOT innovate and instead be a “fast follower”, but don’t claim the ‘innovator’ title.
o Waterworld was big-budget. I didn’t empathize with the characters, and it didn’t affect me. Bambi didn’t have believable characters. At no point did I say “I think that’s a REAL DEER!!!”, and yet it moves everyone that sees it. Big budget production can help but is NOT a pre-requisite nor a guarantee of emotional involvement of the player. This was best summed up by what, for me, was the best moment of the conference: The guy holding up his kid's drawing (which I blogged last week).

MGIS: Doug Church AI talk

[A week ago I attended the Montreal Game Summit. I'm only getting around now to posting some notes from the sessions, and will do the posts, one-per]

EA’s Doug Church on Artifical Intelligence: I've known Doug a while and this was an updated version of a talk I’ve seen him give before (an older version can be found here). Still, there was new content and some illuminating discussion afterward. The talk wasn’t a technical one so much as a summary of the ‘state of the union’, and thoughts on future directions. Here are the takeaway points:
o Game AI can been thought of at multiple levels (e.g. getting a character to do something immediate like ‘pick up a wrench’, do a higher level action like ‘pick up a wrench in order to hit a player’, or do even higher level actions/goals like ‘find a way to get money’ which might mean picking up a wrench to hit someone that looks like they might have money).
o Advances in the rest of game tech has meant that TREMENDOUS advances in AI have “left us standing still”. i.e. moving a sprite from x1,y1 to x2,y2 is far easier than moving an articulated, IK-driven 3D character across an arbitrary 3D landscape to a destination. We can now do that. However, we’ve only still moved a character from Point 1 to Point 2.
o Even if we were able to work on some of the higher level problems (he lists several like NPC motivation, goals, etc), we’ve bragged & marketed our way out of any meaningful claims – so how do you sell it? i.e. the business of games works against advances in game AI
o One area he’s sees as promising is the development of AI to guide/accentuate “supporting actor” type characters. Ones that accompany the lead actor (the player) through story, allowing them to grow better vested in the story. (Think HL2). Flaws in these characters stand out even more, so better that they behave well. (Personal note: Success in this area won’t lead to marketing of “best AI ever!”, but rather “best story ever!” and “best game ever!”, since the AI if well done will just lead to the player being better vested in the story).

MGIS: Warren Spector keynote

[A week ago I attended the Montreal Game Summit. I'm only getting around now to posting some notes from the sessions, and will do the posts, one-per]

Warren Spector’s Opening Keynote: Warren covered a number of issues facing the industry ranging from violence in games, lack of innovation, lack of alternative business models, lack of genres & content to appeal to non-gamers. He tied these all together under a unifying message of the industry being at an inflection point on many fronts, and that the outcome would determine whether we become an accepted mainstream cultural medium like movies & music, or whether we become marginalized like comic books, radio drama, or vaudeville. The most interesting part in my opinion was that he made the point that we need to aggressively tackle the issue of violence in games. “If we don’t, it will be legislated FOR us, by those who fear it”. In other words, it’s not just a problem we have to deal with – it’s a problem we are creating and shaping. We have a responsibility to address it. Warren’s presentation can be downloaded here.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Celeb likenesses in the movies


If things weren't crazy enough... people are using the 'StarMaker' tool to do celeb likenesses:

Eg. Pretty good Tom Cruise, Peter Molyneux likenesses. Those forums have attempts at everyone from Jesus to Hitler, Dubya to Cleese.

Way cool!

Disturbing movies

I've watched a bunch of movies on Lionhead's site and have seen at least two (Life and Times of a Pharmaceutical rep, Le Cornucopia et Odium - man that clown dude FREAKS ME OUT) movies about people going postal.

Maybe the Movies will be the next PostSecret?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Kim's review of The Movies

There are plenty of detailed reviews out there, so I'll keep this short:

It's really two apps in one: A tycoon game with a"movie mogul" setting; and a consumer-level machinima tool. You can play the game without really caring about your movies (you actually arent required to view them if you don't want to). You can *kind of* use the machinima side of it without playing the game. However, you do need to know how the UI works, and certain 'eras' of film making are only unlocked after playing.

  • As a tycoon game, it's first rate. I'm not personally a fan of games that require too much micromanagement, something most of this genre is guilty of. However, that being said, the tutorials, user-interface, and interactivity are an absolute triumph. I'm REALLY impressed.
  • As a machinima tool, it seems REALLY powerful. Despite that, it's very easy to use. After playing the game part for 2 hrs, I went back, did the 'sandbox' mode to unlock a bunch of stuff, and created a 4 minute vignette subtitled film in about 15 minutes and was quite impressed with the results. (note, I didn't even view the tutorials for this part, so was lucky to find out that you need to build a post-production facility if you want to add audio or subtitle, and that is also where you export to WMV.

I'm running it on a beta of Windows Vista, and had no bugs or crashes, though the ingame movie viewer was running a little choppy.

9 on 10 for The Movies. My only complaints are too much micromanagement (typical for this genre), and the problems I had with the speed of the ingame movie player. Otherwise, I loved it!

PSP ads

Alice Taylor points us to these PSP ads.

- The Talkman ads show exactly the type of "SPEAK TO MY AVATAR!!!" scenarios I was eluding to after TGS. Funny.

- The logan's-run-esque "playstation portable" slogan at the end of each is funny.

More on The Movies

I went and bought it at lunch. Can't wait to get home and try it out.

Meanwhile, Lionhead's community site has plenty of flicks getting posted (as in 'per minute' plenty). Some are quite clever. I liked this one, which definitely has some Looney Tunes influences.

Movies reviews are in

Metacritic reviews for The Movies are in and looking pretty good. The average is being dragged down a bit by a 70 score from Gamespy. The rest are all 80-100.

The gamespy review is worth looking at though, since they post a couple movies the reviewer created with the game.

I'm soooo going to buy this game!

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Creative applications

I love the Flash-based attention getters that some job applicants are doing these days. Not a substitute for knowledge & experience, but certainly shows some panache.

Saw this "Mr Vista" one today off of JobsBlog. Still doesn't beat my favorite though!

Smartbomb book reading & (ahem) the sky is falling!

There was a book reading at University bookstore in Bellevue tonight for Smartbomb by Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby. Ed Fries is one of the people covered in the book and was also there for the reading and Q&A. I figured I'd go because there might be some good conversation to be had and it's a ten minute drive from home.

First off, I envy those people that have photographic face/name memories. I met Ed Fries something like 6 or 8 months ago, pre-lasik, in a meeting for an hour, and he remembered my name. I was impressed. Anyhoo.

So, there was some interesting conversation about the (gag) 'arrival' of games into mainstream culture over the past few years, the rock star phenomena (two words, not capitalized), and other such things.

I asked why the book focused mainly on the past decade, and not on the earlier rise and fall(s) of the industry (arcade, 1st wave home console & computer, etc). They said they did discuss it a bit in the first chapter, but that that first wave didn't have the same kind of culture impact that games are having today. I thought they skirted the question, since that first wave definitely impacted pop culture. Anyone that has seen a tuxedo-clad Bond wandering between the Pacman and Galaxian machines in Never Say Never Again can tell you that! (Did people ever wear tuxedos and evening gowns to arcades? :-)

Then there was other conversation, and I bought a book to be polite and because I have an addiction to buying books.

On the way home, I was thinking more about the 'first era' thing. I'm sure I'm not the first to say it but I beleive there are a huge number of parallels between our industry today and the state of the industry at that time. e.g.

  • A variety of innovative games giving way to an abundance of clones within established mega-genres (then: Mortal combat clones, 2D scrolling shooters, racing games; today: FPS, RTS, 3D fighters...)
  • Consolidation lead to market dominance of a few major vendors (then: Namco, Taito, Williams on the HW front, today Sony & MS on the HW front; a similar then/now story for publishers)
  • Most importantly, and related to the first point: How many of you reading this ('cept for the young'uns) STOPPED going to arcades around that time? Now ask yourself this: Have you recently found yourself asking friends "played anything good lately?" and not getting encouraging answers? Are you staying home from the store? I know I am. Perhaps I'm the exception?

I'm not saying that I beleive another arcade-industry or early-console-industry style crash is on the horizon. I'm actually not a beleiver in the "innovation is dead" rant-du-jour that Costikiyan and co have made de rigeur as of late.

However, I do beleive there's risk there. I do think it's worth asking what happens if either this Xmas or next, people look at the games on their next-gen consoles and say "hmm... kinda looks the same. don't think I'll bother".

Again, I don't think the risk is high that this is going to happen. I *do* think, though, that like any risk, we should ask ourselves "...what if?"

Brand Bifurcation

The level of line extension in consumer goods these days is just out of control.

Line extension (i.e. "ChunkyCake is very successful - let's do Diet ChunkyCake for fat people and those that fear becoming them, and ExtremeChunkyCake for Extreme People(tm)") has it's place. It can let you take a particular brand in one segment and either further tap that segment or tap into a new segment.

However, taken too far, you just start confusing people and cannibalizing your own market share. Cases in point from the grocery store run this evening:

  • My wife asked me to get some "Trader Joe Organic Crushed Wheat Sourdough Bread". Then I almost bought - I am not kidding you - "Trader Joe Organic Cracked Wheat Sourdough Bread". PULLLEEEZZZ! Is it not enough that my bread can be made with sourdough or not, wheat or not, organic or not, and be associated with a particular manufacturer? Now I have to worry about what method was used to render the grain itself into submission?!?
  • Attention Coca-cola corporation. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!?!? There is coke and diet coke. Regular and C2Variations of diet and non- with vanilla, lemon, lime, or cherry. There is diet coke, 'zero', and diet coke with Splenda-brand sweetener, because now the diet category is being further subdivided into three groups. Crazy enough?! Wait, there's more! There's caffeine free permutations of many of those brands! I went to the cocacola.com web site and counted 14 variations on their "brand fact sheet" (hint - if you need one, you have a problem!). Now, the soft drink (that's what we call them in Canada) market is GIGANTIC, so maybe this is a feasible number of derivatives to sustain, but as a consumer, I'm confused. Maybe I'll just go have a Mr Pibb (which will suit CC just fine, since they own that brand too).

Anyhow. Rant over, but perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here for our industry? Sims folk, take heed!

Monday, November 7, 2005

The Movies is (are?) coming

I dropped by EB games today before a lunch meeting (had a few minutes to kill) and was surprised to see that Lionhead's "The Movies" goes on sale later this week. They said they'd have it in Wednesday.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how it turned out following the demo I got last E3. Not sure if I should play it out of the gate or wait for the sure-to-be-released patch people have claimed I should expect with Lionhead titles :-)

Jack Thompson may (finally) lose his license

This item on GamesIndustry.biz reports that Jack Thompson has had to appear in court to defend his right to practice law in Alabama, where he's licensed.

Lawyer jokes aside, lawyers have to comport themselves with a level of integrity and civility. Something Thompson has CLEARLY been far out of bounds on.

I hope he gets disbarred so the violence-in-games debate can come back to earth and perhaps reach reasonable levels of discourse.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

MGS highlight

During yesterday's Neil Young keynote, he talked about "innovation" (more rant on this later - innovation my ass) and the keynote was titled "can a game make you cry?"

The basic message was "immersion requires big budget high quality HD-type content if people are going to buy it".

During the Q&A, a french canadian developer got up there. Not a wimpy looking guy, your typical tatoo'd programmeur-du-jour, and said the following (written in phonetic-quebecois-english for full effect)

"You talk about de need for critical acclaim. And you talk about de need for de big boodget. Der is a painting in France called de monah-leesah. It is famous. It might be very expensif too, if you can buy it, but you can't buy it."

Then he pulls out a peice of loose leaf paper from his pocket and unfolds it, holding it up in front of 600+ people, to show a cartoon drawing. Noticably choked up, he says, "Dis is a picture dat my son drawed for me. This drawing makes me cry, and de monah leesah doesn't effect me one damn bit".

I think that Neil thought he was a crackpot, and gave a tepid answer. I thought it was the most profoud comment of the conference. Spore team, you listening? User-created content has a whole lot more impact if you love the creator.

Enter private equity funding

Or as Casey Muratori would put it - And now the dancing turns German.

There was an announcement today that Pandemic & Bioware merged, that Elevation is sinking $300M into them, and they'll aim to become a new 'uber studio'.

There's a lot of talk at the game summit about this announcement.

It may be premature to say, but this looks like it may be looked back upon as a defining moment for the industry.

Attention publishing oligopoly: You are no longer the only belle at the ball!

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Montreal Game Summit

Day one was awesome. Really top notch content for a "regional" show. Warren Spector's talk was great, as was Doug Church's. Neil Young's talk was pretty good (better than I was expecting)

Clint Hocking's talk was first rate performance art. I hope to hell someone filmed it.

Katherine Isbister's talk was pretty good too.

I'll write up a detailed accounting in the next few days, but I am really jazzed about teh quality of the sessions. Hope day two is as good.