Archive for November, 2005

A new step for Virtual Reality
November 25, 2005

It always has intrigued me how we could simulate the physical process of walking when immersing ourselves into a Virtual Reality system. The answer has arrived: VirtuSphere.

The VirtuSphere platform consists of a large hollow sphere that sits on top of a base

and allows the sphere to rotate 360 degrees. Wearing a wireless, head-mounted

display, users can step inside the sphere to fully interact in immersive virtual

environments. The VirtuSphere enables 6 degrees of freedom � one can move in any

direction; walk, jump, roll, crawl, run over virtually unlimited distances without

encountering real-world physical obstacles.

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Amazing! I would love to play in one of these. Now, we have a new question to answer: What if I want to seat on a couch in the virtual world? Even more: What if… I want to eat food in the virtual world? Any answers? Suggestions?

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Fight for your Rights
November 23, 2005

“Are we just mad because they don’t see Shakespeare in our Transformers?”
Ron, as usual.

At his blog, Ron Gilbert answered back to David Jaffe (game designer of God of War) who wrote an editorial proclaiming that people who write about games aren’t true journalists and that we deserve better critique to our work.

I do believe most game reviews aren’t enlightning -at all- and very few magazines are truly worth reading. But as you can guess from what I quoted at the beginning of this post, I also believe on what Ron Gilbert said: we aren’t feeding journalists with truly artistic and meaningful games either.

We could still blame the publishers though. That they’re money making machines that love to prostitute all the brilliant ideas game developers have. But they do it for the sake of selling more copies, so they would blame it on Consumers who are the ones that actually decide what’s good and what isn’t. Though.. they read magazine reviews to see what they’ll buy next.. damn, seems like a catch 22.

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There must be some way to destroy this buck-thirsty machine. And in the end, it is our responsibility. We are the ones that make the games people play and journalists review. And in order to do better games, bet on original ideas, we must stand up for our freedom to create. An important step on this direction has been made by the talented Eric Zimmerman, who wrote the very first Game Developers’ Bill of Rights. This is a fundamental document that every one should start considering when negotiating a publishing deal for a game.

If we believe that games are culture, fighting for our creative freedom is an obligation for our medium to finally become a major art form.

Sartre on MMORPGs?
November 21, 2005

Nothing seemed true, I felt surrounded by cardboard scenery which could quickly be removed.

Hell is other people.

Objects should not touch because they are not alive. You use them, put them back in place, you live among them. They are useful, nothing more.

I was just thinking – that here we sit all of us, eating and drinking to preserve our precious existence and really there is nothing, nothing, absolutely no reason for existing.

People who live in society have learned to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends.

I am. I am. I exist, I think, therefore I am; I am because I think that I don’t want to be, I think that I � because � ugh! I flee.

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“Many of the most famous quotes of Jean-Paul Sartre seem eerily applicable to our relationship to the virtual worlds created by games. Students of philosophy would tell you that he was simply recognizing the artificiality of every world we perceive, sincre they are all mental constructs in the end.” Raph Koster dixit on his book A Theory of Fun.

Artists pay tribute to Games
November 17, 2005

Artist Ben Fry has made a series of pictures based on Atari Games by showing the executable code and data from the cartridges. The lines represent each “goto” statement in the code. These works are absolutely amazing to see for any coder and gamer. Read more about the project.

Also students from the Royal College of Art (from the UK) had designed prototype furniture based on the positions people play their PSP’s in. Here’s more about the project.

Interactive Comics
November 15, 2005

A series of interactive comics can be seen online at the personal site of author Jason Shiga. It can be a little bit confusing at the beginning, but you’ll find excelent dark humour, under a style that has a reminiscence of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books.

The solid merge of Storytelling with Interactivity has became the Holy Grail of game development during these last years. It’s interesting to see how other media has treated this subject and express non-linear stories.

Ludic Metaphors
November 10, 2005

 

“This game is a biting commentary on our vapid consumerism; our desire to acquire possessions at all cost. It’s about how we can only become whole people through the ownership of things. Things we don’t need or even want. We just roll over them, adding to our stature and self-worth.”

Ron Gilbert blogging on Katamari Damacy

One of the concepts I had been exploring lately has been the one I’ve decided to baptize as Ludic Metaphors. And probably the clearest way to explain this is taking Sid Meier’s definition of a game:

 

“A series of meaningful choices to reach a goal”

Well.. that very same definition could be applied to life itself. Properly designed games bring us Meaningful Play (Eric Zimmerman dixit); yet a game able of speaking us with the subtleties of metaphors expressed through interactivity, can transcend its ‘Magical Circle’ and touch our soul and mind, like any true art form.

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Like many, I’ve been playing Shadow of the Colossus lately. And there’s a very interesting detail in this game that I really liked: Each time you access to the save menu -and hence, transcend the Colossus universe into our reality-, your character kneels and starts praying. He’s literally communicating with you, a superior being that controls his destiny, his god. He gives prayers to you so you can make him accomplish his destiny safely. That’s a nice Ludic Metaphor.

Homo Ludens and the Origin of Play
November 1, 2005

We have only to watch young dogs to see that all the essentials of human play are present in their merry gambols. They invite one another to play by a certain ceremoniousness of attitude and gesture. They keep to the rule that you shall not bite, or not bite hard, your friend’s ear. They pretend to get terribly angry. And -what is most important- in all these doings, they painly experience tremendous fun and enjoyment.

Play is older than culture.

Johann Huizinga, Homo Ludens (1936).