Archive for the ‘industry’ Category

The Art of the Demo
February 17, 2008

In the software industry, the most exciting moment for a developer is when he gets to unveil his product after months of hard work. That’s when he gets to see the faces of users and discover their reactions. It’s like getting to be a rock star on concert (or a weird variation of one).

And as a fanatic of the history of computers, I was reccommended to check out The Mother of All Demos. A real piece of history that shows a day, back in 1968, when Douglas Engelbart showcased a little thing called the Mouse. It’s a 9 part video if you want to see the full demo. Notions such as copy & paste were already there and the beeps that the computer does are priceless.

But who could deny that the absolute king of demoing is Steve Jobs? A man that has truly revolutionized in less than 25 years no less than 3 major industries: computers, music and phones. And I’m not even considering what he did for the animation industry as well.

So here is another exciting moment of computer history: The birth of the Macintosh.

I’m writing this because last week I got to demo to a group of colleagues what I’ve been working on for the last 3 months with the great team of Popego, and it’s always good to find some inspiration on the true champions of this skill. Soon you’ll find videos (and more) about that presentation on popego’s blog and you can actually become an alpha tester for Popego right now!

 

E3 stuff
July 16, 2007

So the E3 was finally held in Santa Monica this year, but who cares about this suit-driven event? Certainly not me. Anyhow, two very interesting news woke me up this morning regarding the former “it” event of the game industry:

WiiFit. A new interface to plug into our Wiis so we can feel the joy of dancing and excercising in front of the TV. I just want to state that I love the fact that it seems that we finally have a massive platform for interactive hardware innovation. The Wii is becoming the one and only place where you’ll want to try out games in a more immersive and phyiscal way. Yet, it’s not that standard considering Nintendo is the only manufacturer of peripherals right now.

Finally, E3 also unveiled another elegant proof that Games-are-art-and-there’s-nothing-you-can-say-against-that. Escher inspired Echocrome plays with your perceptual skills of recognizing perspective. Reminds me of a time in my life when my perspective-recognition skills disappeared for a couple of hours and reality became flat just like in a videogame…

Results & Numbers
June 13, 2007

I hate Casino games. When I get work proposals from people that belong to the gambling industry, I just can’t stand it. The reason is quite simple: They’re all about results. They explore the most frivolous aspect of play and yet a very powerful one: Scoring. And when it comes to just winning points, the experience gets blinded by the goal. You get obsessed on getting more and more, and that can usually lead to dangerous compulsive conditions.

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From a philosophical point of view, I don’t believe in luck. Or at least, I don’t want to believe in luck. There’s always a reason for me, no matter how unexplainable could it be. So casinos are the anti-game for me.

Yet, most games today are somewhat in the middle of that battle between being either an Art or a Sport. An Experience of Play or a Pursue for Big Results. Example: Is quite easy to get abstracted from the astounding 3D enviroments after playing Unreal for a while by the moment you begin chasing anyone to kill him. And don’t get me wrong, I do love sports and I think we should have games like Unreal.. yet these kind of gameplay seems to be the only alternative in the mainstream.

And the true potential for interactivity relies on communicating powerful ideas through experience. People remember 20% of what they hear, 40% of what they see and 60% of what they interact with. We’ll be able to ever escape the primitive kill/eat/run metaphor in our games?

I just came from Madrid with exciting ideas and sketches.. I’ll see what comes from that..

About Advertising
May 14, 2007

Last week I found out that a game I have worked on at Three Melons won a Bronze FIAP Award (Iberoamerican Advertising Festival). It made me feel very proud for my colleagues who deserve recognitions such as these more than anyone I know. The game was a production made for Movistar, the biggest cell phone company in Latin America and Spain, where you had to train your hands because Mobile MSN was going to be launched.

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The experience of making this game was quite fun. It was the first game I made using video footage. We hired a film studio to shoot my own hands dancing and excercising, and later we digitally added them over photographed scale-model scenarios (no 3D involved).

When Mariano (Three Melons founder) told me who the other competitors of this festival were, I discovered that my very own hands contended with a Ronadinho game. His game got the Gold award, but it made me feel strange on how globalization had put me next to the world’s top footballer.

I often have mixed feelings for Advergames. It’s a good business source to create innovative games that otherwise would be unsustainable… but usually advertising surrenders culture to the sole purpose of selling a product, and it’s not nice to see that the ends justify the means. Yet, it’s somewhat interesting to see how the most commoditized products sometimes demand for the most bizarre and strange campaigns to get to their consumers.

I don’t longer work at Three Melons but they are partners in the new endeavor I’m starting up. I’ve added some thoughts on my past experience working there at my ludography if you’re curious. And be sure to check on their next games, you’ll be amazed

GDC 2007: Intense!
March 11, 2007

My session on drama game tools turned out pretty good and there seems to be a lot of interest in how to effectively put stories into games. As I’ve announced this Monday, I’ll be uploading the prototypes and source code in hope that it becomes the start of a new powerful drama game tool: Playdreamer. By wikifying ideas and opening these technologies to developers, gamers and writers, we can find a new path that evolves games beyond the “eat/kill/run” metaphors.

With Augusto Petrone (Three Melons) and Sebastian Enrique (EA). Two great talents of Argentine Game Development.
Here I’m with Augusto Petrone (Three Melons) and Sebastian Enrique (EA). Two great talents of Argentine Game Development.

A nice surprise is that I got to meet the One Laptop Per Child computer that’s being created by the MIT with support from the United Nations and aims to be in the hands of 10 million kids from the third world in the next years. I was marveled with the approach given to this machine where everything is open source, including the versions of Tetris and SimCity that will be included with it. It just got me wondering if I could put a version of Playdreamer there for kids and teachers create their own Drama Games to learn history, literature or anything the can think of!

Finally, I will make an honest confession of how I’ve been feeling about the games industry lately: 95% of the AAA games out there are just crap and very disappointing with meaningless experiences that can’t transcend their artificial bits onto something that makes the industry evolve. But every once in a while, something appears that inspires me so much that I get back in love with the game development world… In 2004 it was Katamari Damacy. In 2005 Spore (which I’m still waiting for). 2006 gave us the Wii.. And this 2007, the beautiful and brilliant Little Big Planet got to my heart. It’s the clever idea of using community knowledge to create and remix levels of a game, but with the excelence of a magnificent concept and visual design (such lovable characters, and that theatre-like scenarios for you to play with) and terrific technology with a strong physics engine to create emergent gameplay. It got me wondering if I should get a PS3 after all….

GDC’07 Here I Come
March 2, 2007

I’ll be flying tomorrow to San Francisco where the Game Developers Conference is awaiting every passionate designer, coder and artist involved in the craftsmanship of games.

My session will be at the Serious Games Summit this Monday where I’ll share some thoughts about my experience on researching and coding prototypes for the creation of an interactive storytelling tool. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, come and say hi! 

I’m looking forwards to meet up with the good friends and be inspired by the surrounding talent. It’s a very special year considering that the E3 is history and the great Shigeru Miyamoto will be giving a keynote.

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I just hope not to drink as much as I did in the last year…

The Silent Revolution: Internet
February 27, 2007

Anthropologist Michael Wesch made a great video with effective educational purposes to those who aren’t familiar with the concept of the web 2.0. This video is a very inspiring piece that gives a grasp of what is the real potential of the Internet and how it is changing our lives.

It’s quite probable that very few people imagined this global transformation through the use of interconnected computers just 10 years ago. A friend of mine mailed me this interesting TV report from 1993 about this thing called “The Internet”.

Finally, with a more commercial approach there’s this Cisco TV spot about the human network.

An old phrase said that “the world is made of stories, not atoms.” Well, please allow me to paraphrase this by saying “the web is made of people, not computers.”

Cousins of the Software Industry?
June 28, 2006

A thought that I had for a long time about the game industry is the relevant fact that our medium has emerged from the ribs of the Software Industry and how this has helped to suspend the creative proficiency that our industry needs.

Plenty of the early game developers from the 80’s where coders that taught themeselves how to make the art and music behind their creations. Afterall, with such few pixels and bits, their lack of specialization was well hidden.

But now games had matured. Large teams of talented professionals work behind every ludic entertainment we find. And it’s really worrying seeing plenty of developers get hard ons by seeing millions of polygons or their HDRI algorithms in action instead of enjoying the beauty of a powerful interactive experience.

We don’t need science, we need art. We need to become cousins of the cultural industries and break the limitations imposed by a cold and rationalized view of reality.

 

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E3
May 16, 2006

Well.. seems like I must say something about what happened at E3 this year. But everyone that believes in the importance of games as art, will guess for sure what views I might have on it: Nintendo’s Wii is pure gaming revolution and it’s the most exciting thing that occured in the industry since the fist IGF.

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I can’t help finding the 6 kg PS3 that’s trying to impose their pathetic blu-ray disc and the lame last-minute copy on the Wii controller the crappiest of all machines. Frankly, if I want horsepower I would buy an X360 that’s already out there plus I can get brilliant games through Xbox Live Arcade.

For the indie movement should be an exciting time as well given that both Nintendo and Microsoft are willing to open their digital distribution system to talented developers worldwide. A new era in games has begun..

Open Source with Games
February 20, 2006

Within the open source community, every once in a while pops up the question on why gaming hasn’t truly embraced these principles yet. Of course you will always find some good 3D engines made by programmers that worship the value of sharing their knowledge. But probably the explanation on why you won’t find big games under open source relies on the business model of our industry which until now wasn’t based at all on services until MMOG’s arrived.

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Now, what really intrigues me on open source applied to games, is how can these be used for collective works of art, where the auteur isn’t based on one individual nor even a group of individuals: where the auteur is a big worldwide community that shares the vision of the game.

Also, when coding a game the programmer is often defining his personal view of the universe: The very shape of a random generator function could be considered a metaphor of chaos. The code of a game itself could be considered a poetic part of the whole.

Interactivity is truly powerful in the 21st century. Think of DJ’s remixing music from other artists. Think of game mods. And how everything is leading toward a collective talk under the universal language of creation.