Archive for March, 2010

The “Closure” Team at “The Nuovo Sessions”

Friday, March 12th, 2010

And a picture of the whole team, with their trophy.

Good year for Baltimore at GDC

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Sid Meier is giving the GDC main keynote at 10:30 today. Firaxis is everywhere. Jon and Closure won at IGF. Sure, San Francisco. Sure, Seattle. Baltimore too.

The Swag! OMGoodness, the Schwagg!

Friday, March 12th, 2010

They’re throwing t-shirts around like confettii. I’m going to be mowing in style for 15 years. I’ve got pens, lanyards, hand sanitizer, bonky balloon things, styrofoam airplanes, a zillion chances to win an iThingie (declined). Kit-kat? Yes thanks.

And the Queen of all Schwag For the Rest of the History of the World: Google gave me a FRAKKIN DROID. A honest-to-Pete Smartphone. WITH FREE ACTIVATION. I haven’t read the fine print, but the rumor is that it’s a 1-YEAR PLAN. I had heard about it, and was pretty sure it was one of those “YOU MAY HAVE WON A TRILLION DOLLARS oh, sorry,” but no, bang, Droid, in my hand there you go next please.

Wonder if MD will let me keep it– I am employed by the state, after all. That would be disappointing.

So, is this a sign of economic resurgence, industry implosive doom, industry explosive mayhem, or just trying to keep up with Google. I haven’t seen anything like this since SIGGRAPH ’95. SIGGRAPH 2004, I scored a postcard, but I had to give a blood sample.

I’m thinking explosive mayhem. iPad, Windows 7 Mobile, Sony is offering dev kits to everyone.

R.A. Salvatore’s presentation

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Talk title: “How to Make a Universe Worthy of Devotion.”

Very entertaining talk. Big guy, New England blue-collar accent, telling stories about getting killed in Everquest– but it felt more like bar fight stories: “The last thing on my screen was the bottom of the guy’s sandal. Then I had to walk the whole stupid road again and kill all that crap all over. Took 8 hours. Because I hit ‘a’ instead of ‘s’.”

Basically, it boils down to logical self-consistency and backstory. (Well, why did the “Star Wars” franchise just implode? George got too lazy to keep his own made-up facts straight.) When RAS makes a new world, his standard of backstory excellence is 10,000 years of world history– most of which will never be published, except as telling little details.

1000 people in that room, hanging on every word. “‘Just keep running.’ What are those, giants? Cool! ‘Just keep running.’ Then I was in a forest. They said, ‘Go faster, it’s almost 7:00. I said, ‘What? Why does that matter?” “Bad things happen at 7. Quit typing. Just keep running.'”

UMBC undergrad Jon Schubbe’s game wins at IGF

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

“Closure” by Jon, Tyler Glaiel, and Chris Rhyne just won the “Excellence in Audio” award at the Independent Games Festival.

They were also finalists in the “Technical Excellence” and “Nuovo Award” categories.

Hearty congratulations to the Closure team for this wonderful achievement!

The Smithsonian is going to do a “History of Video Games” show

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

It will open in 2012. It will be 6000 sq ft. The two project leads presented during a session called “How the Smithsonian is Embracing Games”– and they are.

I remember how wound up people got about Fonzie’s jacket.

Plans include a video game festival on the national mall. Think the Obamas will go? Of course they will. I hope Joe Lieberman goes and gets yelled at.

Pixar’s “Character Development” presentation

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

… consisted of screenwriting basics and improv exercises “Stories have conflict. They resolve the conflict.” Fun, but I can get that at the library.

Man, that room was packed and hot.

Global game jam blasts

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Here’s a photo from the podium of the “Global Game Jam Blasts.” Sean Duncan is in the glasses.

I presented my take on UMBC’s jams. Some people just presented their own games. Link to slides later, but know that if you submitted a game at UMBC GJ, your name has now been up in lights.

Cognitive Task Analysis

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

“Using Cognitive Task Analysis as a Tool to Make Serious Games More Serious”

CTA is set of analysis tools for expertise. Expertise (in this framework) is knowledge that can be applied to a problem. CTA provides methodology for describing and classifying problems and how easily a particular expertise can be applied to them.

The talk was about applying CTA to games along with playability considerations. The game is always “how to apply expertise X”, and you make a bunch of problem scenarios into which the expertise is more-or-less-successfully applied. If the game gets boring, make the problem not fit the expertise as well (“well-formed problems” vs “poorly-formed problems”).

Jargon note: “Serious Games” at GDC embraces both “Art Games” and “Simulation Games.” The former are made to be presented to boutique or gallery audiences as content, and the latter are a form of training exercise. That is an enormous scope, and I have been confused by it.

Art games go back at least to Dada, but they tend to be in service to polemics or process– Duchamp, Dada, Fluxxus– good art making a point, but not play-tested, not playable, and very unsatisfying as games.

Simulation games are a billion-dollar industry that go back to the Franco-Prussian war– think tank battalion training exercises.

Strange two things to lump together– art and war. But they are certainly serious.

Collaboration tween industry and academia

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Steps for development via Lex van den Berg, Utrect School of the Arts
1 build a good education
2 align with industry – teach their tools, know their processes
3 recruit partners to fill in holes in your capabilities — for them, it was comp sci capabilities
4 acquire funding partners – one partner per employee; it’s time-consuming
5 build a lot of big labs

Analysis? sitting in the pixar presentation; maybe more later.