Archive for October, 2005

Organic Games
October 24, 2005

When I was a little kid that enjoyed playing Super Mario, I often wondered why did that world always looked the same. It’s not like our world where we have Autumn and the leaves fall from trees or Summer where everything has a brighter color. Every time the NES was turned on, all the trees, clouds, mushrooms, etc. looked just the same way they did the last time I’ve played. And death, was just an illusion.

How could a game be if we could build an organic virtual world? Where its elements, probably in a simple way, can evolve, die, get born and playing Organic Mario in January wouldn’t be the same as playing it in August. What if our character gets old as time passes by and he dies like an ordinary tamagotchi?

The emotional bond of players with game worlds are weak, basically because the artificial universes presented are infinite in time. If something goes wrong, we can just re-play anything, anytime. Instead, if we limit the existence of the world to a finite time, every action we take might become more meaningful in the same way that our very own existence in the real world is a struggle for meaning due to its finite length.


Games as Essays
October 17, 2005

There’s a literary genre that I often enjoy reading: Essays. Usually for philosophical purposes or simply to express a personal view of life and the world, this genre has a very open structure and a wide range of topics that can treat. And today, there’s no other form of expression that can do this so well besides Literature.

Do games have the potential of becoming Essay tools in the future? The ability of computers to simulate worlds and intelligence -to a certain level today- through the use of pure logic, make me believe that philosophical gaming could be a very interesting approach to our medium. We could express through a game our own analysis of the world and prove them with proper game rules.

Even more, as artists and thinkers, we can create games that just let the player define his views on the world and see those expressed on a virtual arena, giving power to the people to think.

Piracy and Indie Games
October 9, 2005

“Keep your friends close, and your enemies… even closer”
Mafia motto.
Last week, Gamasutra had featured an article entitled Pirated P2P Games: Free Electronic Distribution for Independent Studios. Piracy has undoubtely been an issue since the birth of this industry. The article basically suggests of taking advantage of the P2P model to freely distribute our games and always offer a multiplayer option where we could charge from it once we’ve got gamers addicted to our creation.

I’ve had the experience of commercially launching my first game a year ago at the most important stores in my country (piracy rates in Argentina are above 90%). It was no wonder to me that only after a couple of weeks: I’ve got to download my own game from e-mule. Some colleagues congratulated me saying that having your game on e-mule, is like appearing on TV or something.. (and yes, it’s a kinda cool). But on realistic terms, piracy really blocked higher commercial aspirations for my title, although it sold quite well for the standards here.

Piracy is a reality that not only affects the game industry, but all cultural industries due to the complete abstraction of the distribution model (digitalization). There seems to be a point of no return, and while musicians can make their money by playing live and movies by getting exhibited at theatres and TV; is making multiplayer games the only solution for us?