Will playing the Xbox One mean asking everyone in my home to stay off the internet?
You should read this if you’re thinking about getting an Xbox One. For the record, I bought the original XBox and the 360. But I do not intend to get an Xbone, based on all the ridiculous things about it. Even if Microsoft makes some concessions due to the backlash, it still wouldn’t change my mind, given their initial attitude and assumptions. There’s no trust there. It’s just poison.
You know, I used to be a huge fan of the Halo series, playing innumerable hours of multiplayer matchmaking. But then Bungie stopped working on the series, and 343 made Halo 4, and it kinda doesn’t even feel like Halo anymore. So not getting an XBox One actually works out for me.
This is an awesome book by Daniel Shiffman on programming and natural algorithms that have applications in game development and creative coding in general. It’s pay what you want, but there’s also a free web version with actual embedded, running examples of some of the code and concepts (which is where the link above leads).
The topics covered include statistics and probability, vectors, forces, oscillation, particle systems, physics libraries, autonomous agents, cellular automata, fractals, evolution, and neural networks. The programming language the book uses is the open source, creative-coding framework called Processing, which I think is based heavily off of Java. But you can apply the lessons/knowledge to any language.
I’m super into the OUYA. I find the flaws to be endearing, kind of. It’s super cool to think that a little under a year ago I was freaking out about the prospect of an Android-based indie-friendly games console, and now it exists. I can’t wait to get mine
Yeah, it’s definitely cool that it’s become a real thing. Barring them totally screwing things up, it can only improve. And it will.
I was more excited last year for it I think. But that’s just me, and I don’t attribute my lowered excitement to anything the Ouya team have or have not done (it’s probably more that my focus has shifted away from playing games to making them, and just being busy with all kinds of other things in general).
My first day with the Ouya hasn’t been exactly positive, so here’s some weird and negative things I’ve experienced thus far.
Finally got my Ouya. Everything’s still a bit rough around the edges (and the controller isn’t as good as I was hoping), but, all in all, it’s neat to see this go from a kickstarter hopeful to an actual, physical, working thing. I don’t know what the future holds for Ouya, but hopefully it continues to improve. I don’t anticipate the game I’m working on to appear on it anytime soon, because I’m slow, I’m the only one working on it (for now), and I’m working on it when I can find the time. At the most, it will be sometime next year. I hope.
Time, choice, and subjective value
I guess I used to be a hardcore gamer. But then you get older and life does its thing, and you get interested in other things, and playing games isn’t as central anymore. Also, you’ve played so many games, and you’ve internalized all the various systems they are composed of to an extent that they become these more mechanical experiences, that almost everything you come across seems like a slight variation or evolution of what has come before. At this point, time has become a huge variable in your life, a nonrenewable resource in short supply that is divided among the obligations and the many things you’re passionate about.
With that semi-obvious observation outta the way, I recently tried playing Dark Souls. I don’t think it has passed through my more stringent filter I’ve acquired. I could see a younger me totally becoming hooked on it, though.
I recently decided to revisit Shadow of the Colossus via the PS3 remastered version. It was already one of my all-time favorites—it originally came out on the PS2 around 2005—and playing it again just further solidifies it in my mind. Here are a few observations about the game that I believe contribute to its sheer artistry:
- the game world is a sort of melancholy psychespace. There’s a deliberate loneliness to its expansive emptiness, a certain ambience of loss encoded in the lighting, wind, colors that may be reflective of the protagonist’s state of mind. But here and there you’ll find glimmers of life and hope. It’s kind of jarring when you do encounter all of a sudden these strange eel-fish in a lonely pond, or bats in a cave, or turtles crawling around, after moving through so much relative desolation. And the ending speaks to this hope, too, which suggests the cursed land has a brighter and livelier future ahead.
- animation has rarely been used as effectively in games as it is used in SotC. Ueda comes from an animation background. There is so much life and energy instilled in and conveyed by the animation and the attention to subtle detail. There’s this kind of abstract physicality and expressiveness of motion that somehow manages to make the experience more immediate and less abstract. It’s masterful.
- complimenting the animation is the camera system. It also lends energy and life to the game through motion and defining the game’s scale and space. It’s such a harmonious blend of programmed and player-directed movement. If you’ve ever played it, notice how that part of the battle with the colossi is in controlling the camera. When they thrash and try to shake you loose, so too does the camera thrash. And you have to actively steer it back into a favorable angle. So many games would go the straight-up functional route, but it takes a deliberate artist like Ueda to understand that functionality can be the enemy of meaningfulness.
Here’s a few other things I like about the game:
- boss battles as environmental puzzles (which many games have subsequently ripped off)
- Kow Otani’s brilliant and epic orchestral score
- minimalistic focus with little extraneous filler, both in the gameplay and narrative
I don’t know about you, but playing this has left me in serious want of Ueda’s The Last Guardian. Seven years or so of development and secrecy infused in it—troubled or no—has left me beyond curious for what is in store…
You know what I’m fond of? Epiphanies. I had one of those today, while taking a shower of course. Is it possible to set up a work environment in one of those? Heh.
For Project Timeline, the main gameplay hook is the seed from which all else sprouts from creatively; it was the first thing I conceived. Obviously, a lot of games start out like that, and as a consequence the story—if the developer(s) want one—has to be retrofitted or molded to fit over that. In my experience and observation, the narrative is usually an afterthought or at least subservient to the interactivity. That’s always kind of bugged me, and it’s something I’m always conscious of when conceptualizing games.
Ever since initial conception, Project Timeline has gone through at least two general story iterations. Each time those iterations became a bit complicated, and each time I would run into problems weaving parts of the interactivity with the narrative; or I would leave gaps to be addressed or filled in at a later time. For me, it’s important that the narrative and interactivity metaphorically intersect at as many points as possible as coherently as possible, because if that’s not happening, that just seems like a waste of inherent opportunity video games as a medium provide.
The epiphany I had today has led to a third, simpler iteration of the narrative that I think will allow for the braiding of more meaning. It’s also more personally relevant. The story of my current circumstances and the creation of the game becomes further intertwined with the actual story of the game, I think.