Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Robots Have Feelings
March 6, 2008

Alan Kay once said:

People that love making software, eventually end up doing their own hardware.

I’ve often said to colleagues and friends that when I reach 30, I’ll stop doing software and interactive stuff just to start building robots. Nothing can beat a business card that says “robot maker”. It’s the ultimate thing.

According to those visions of the future from the 50’s were flying cars and robots would define the lifestyle of our century, seems that there’s still a lot of work to be done. Yet, if you make a little research online, you can see pretty surprising things.

Qrio is one of my favorites. He has a sweet and creepy voice. Plug that output with Wikipedia and you might be able to talk about anything with him!

I love how people like to act all natural when they are with ASIMO.

Finally, I just want to state that humans need to dance like robots more often..

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!

 

An Update About Playdreamer
December 15, 2007

On March this year at the Game Developers Conference, I gave a talk about the research I’ve been doing on 2006 on how to create interactive stories and showcased some tools that I’ve coded during that time. You can still see the complete session on google video.

Playdreamer was the name I gave to an ideal tool that I wanted to develop to create drama games. During this whole year, each time some interesting idea concerning interactive fiction popped in my mind, I would write it on a nice moleskine notebook that I bought for myself. Some of them are pretty wacky and delusional but anyhow, as ideas deserve to be free, I’m sharing some of those pages on my flickr.

Mockup of Playdreamer app

But Playdreamer wasn’t the only big idea on my mind. As some who are close to me know already, I’ve been working a lot on 2007 to start up a new company that aims to create an innovative piece of technology for the web called Popego. And, as the individual human being that I still am, I want to put all my energies (and passion) on that project. That’s why I’ll be 100% focused on Popego, and the Playdreamer project will have to be in the freezer until the time is right. If you’re curious on interactive fiction, you can still download the source code from my research and do something.

The exciting thing is that with Popego we are building an amazing project with a great team and the best possible partners you can get when it comes to talk about innovation and technology. I’ll be writing a new post to specifically talk about this idea in the future, and if you were interested on my Playdreamer research, I hope you understand the reasons that I’m giving to put it aside for a while. Quite probably, in the future I would like to find links between gaming and education with a tool like Playdreamer. We’ll see…

Karma Banana
September 4, 2007

Debating politics is probably the most excting form of dialectical gaming. Gaming because it gives us tools we eventually use for our survival in the social world. And even when it’s with bright and smart individuals, it may go beyond the boundaries of reason onto the realms of passion. But the thing with politics is that we definitely take it too seriously: Our pride makes us stubborn on changing our opinion and thus, it makes harder to understand our opponents points. And this is a good thing for me: The stronger the collision of ideas, the better the outcome in the long term, when reflection comes.

Karma Banana

After taking the reccommendation of Papamook and Patrick Dugan, I saw the excellent piece of documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. A great testimony of the coup Hugo Chavez had back in 2002 and proof of the importance of the so called Fourth Power. Yet, although the events portrayed in this documentary may certainly be important to Venezuela’s history or unknown to the institutional traditions of USA, Europe or Australia they aren’t even a novelty if we correlate them to the history of Argentina (and so many other latinamerican nations).

This documentary is about the karmic spectre that has been haunting latinamerica -the spectre of Populism, the spectre of Dictatorships. The vicious circle that keeps trapping real progress.

Throughout history, dictatorships and the shameful external politics of the United States have been the best allies of leaders such as Peron, Chavez or Castro -you know, that kind of leader that has a thrill for reforming constitutions and get eternal presidencies at the same time they declare themselves men of the people and democracy. Nobody, in its sane mind, would prefer a dictatorship. And when that happens, it only helps to expand the figure of such leaders. It happened over and over again in Argentina during the second half of the XXth century.

I’ll put a personal note here to make clear were I’m standing: My big interest for politics came when I read for the first time The Communist Manifesto, a piece of writing that still feels updated today. Since then a lot of utopias inspired me to pursue a path that would help me contribute in the process of making a better world. But when I went to Cuba for a month, it taught me many things and the essential difference of having an idea and living a reality. One thing came up clear to me: Ideologies are just like religions (but without the god thing). They only blind people behind impossible ideals and lead to massive wars.

Social Play with your Ego
July 21, 2007

During the last 6 months I’ve been working very hard on a new startup where we are trying to build a more efficent and personal way to interact with the internet (and the people using it). In the mean time, we started making simple programs (now usually refered as widgets) to test out technical and conceptual ideas. Our very first was developed for Facebook, the popular social network that’s gaining a lot of attention during these days.

Egotics on Facebook

Egotics, our brand new app, lets you define your own Ego by telling the system what things you Know, Love, Hate or Are. Once you fill up your profile, your friends and the people around you can rate the facts that you had put about yourself, and you can rate your friend’s facts as well.

If you have a facebook account and want to have some fun with this idea, add the Egotics app to your profile and let your friends know about it. This has been an interesting exploration about how can we use the power of social networks to create ludic experiences. If you have any suggestions or detect any bugs, let me know.

Graphic Novels
June 4, 2007

My brother Richard (a.k.a. Liniers) is a very succesful cartoonist. His particular sense of humor and sensibility are expressed in a daily comic strip named Macanudo. Maybe because he’s 10 years older than me, he was more prone to draw with pencils than with computers. And for me, as the son of a digital era, coding games felt better.

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But his influence as an older brother, you might guess, was quite big. From him I learned a lot about the history of Comics: A modern art form that became widely popular in the last century thanks to newspapers and mass media. And if there is a thing nerds have in common is comics and videogames. (fact: both of us use black-framed glasses, what a clich├ę…)

During the last years, the latest trend in the publishing industry is Graphic Novels. Unlike the traditional notion about comics (quite similar to the mainstream notion of games), these stories portray more literary experiences for readers avid of art and good stories. Maus by Art Spiegelman, Blankets by Craig Thompson, Pers├ępolis by Marjane Satrapi and Buddha by the great Osamu Tezuka are some of the recommendations of this genre I can make.

The term Graphics Novels feels as nice as Drama Games to me. I would love to see more approaches on this direction in our industry…

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.

Movistar Finger Training

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

World Intellectual Property Day
April 27, 2007

Probably you may not know that April 26th is the day we celebrate Intellectual Property. The date was chosen due to the foundation of the WIPO. And due to the lack of a “Game Developers Day” this was the first time that someone congratulated me on a profession’s date. Not only that: I’ve been kindly invited by the Legal Software entity in Argentina to participate on a panel about IP.

Intellectual Property Panel Debate

That panel was integrated also by creative colleagues such as Juan Jose Campanella, the most prestigious filmmaker in my country (Oscar nominee The Son of the Bride being his most famous film); Oscar Mediavilla, a musician producer that was jury of a show like American Idol in Argentina and script writer Graciela Maglie who worked on important local TV shows.

Without surprise, I found myself to be the youngest member of the panel. And, being a person from the universe of software, the most profoundly affected by the issue of piracy. Graciela and Oscar represent the syndicates that defend the rights of artists like them. Think of them as RIAA-managers kind of people. And just like you would expect, Graciela claimed on her rant that “There’s a dangerous discourse of an apparently ultra progressive, hyper democratizing ideology that blinds creators from their proper rights imposed by entities such as Creative Commons”.

It was the first time I hear the words “progressive” and “democratizing” used in a negative way, and after that reactionary comment from someone who’s just protecting her interests, I became a spokesman of the digital revolution. I’ve tried to explain Graciela how the internet’s revolution permits taking culture onto new unknown layers of expression through the remixing of digital creations; or how information networks permit services of exchange between creators and consumers that it’s better for both parties because we no longer need publishers, distributors and retailers pumping up the value chain.

Still, I wanted to comment to Graciela that 500 years ago, when the Movable Type revolution was beginning, the first persons to claim reactionary thoughts against that where the drama wirters like her, wanting to avoid the distribution of their plays by using big theatre corporations fighting hard against independent authors and printers.

Isn’t it fascinating how history repeats itself ?

Music is Play
April 4, 2007

Maybe you have wondered why I have chosen to quote Louis Armstrong in the headline of this blog: “What we play is life” satchmo said when asked about his jaw-dropping style when it comes to play his jazz. And the key word here, is Play.

If games are art, that’s simply because playing games can bring to the masses the same transcendental feeling that a musician feels when he plays his guitar. The great Jorge Luis Borges once said that “music is the objectivization of the soul.” And the act of playing has to do with toying with the soul-object (and the soul-objects of others).

My friends are aware of my interest in electronic music. Being the child of a postmodern generation that laughs at the old dogmas and grows up surrounded by technology, I find in the tribal tunes of house a spiritual place were I can let myself go by combining the beats with a chemical abstraction of the self.

We must understand that just like traditional games, music evolved onto the digital medium to empower itself and discover new horizons. Last year I got to see Daft Punk‘s portrayal of humanity and technology in a set of musical power that still appears to me on dreams. And I feel sorry for the lack of use interactive designers have done with this magnificent resource of artistic expression. And I don’t mean using it in an ornamental way, but in the very core of what game design is all about. Examples like Rez are worth mentioning, but there’s definitely a lot of territory to be explored here…

To Play is to Dream
March 27, 2007

That was the subject of a mail I received from Patrick Dugan asking anxiously about Playdreamer. And he wasn’t the only one. The excuse is simple: My arrival to Buenos Aires found me moving to a new home and starting up a new company. Yet, I got to made myself of some time and all the tools that where shown at the GDC are now officially available at Playdreamer.com.

Stage Designer

As promised, you will find the binaries for the prototypes and the source code of them as well. Please pay special attention to the text presented on the website prior to every download, important acclarations were made. Also, I want to make clear that Playdreamer is a new tool that will evolve from the research made with these prototypes and it’s a new development.

This new tool will be open source and with a wiki design so anyone can contribute to it. The goal is to find a path that permits us build games that go beyond scoring by killing and open the doors of pure play through Drama Games. If you want to keep yourself updated on how this project evolves, check the RSS feed of this blog or see all the posts with the tag Playdreamer.