Sense of Wonder

11 12 2008

http://flickr.com/photos/trackybirthday/257419001/

I’ve been slowly (too slowly) working my way through these Sense of Wonder Night videos from TGS. It’s a great bunch of strange indie concepts and prototypes, including current belles Pixel-Junk Eden and The Unfinished Swan as well as a lot of more obscure prototypes, like Depict, where you have to reproduce things with a phone camera:

and Gomibako, which appears to be a Tetris style game involving shoving litter in a bin with physics, then setting fire to it:

(CC image by tracky birthday)

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Death Of Leipzig Not So Greatly Exaggerated

3 12 2008

http://flickr.com/photos/charly-koeln/192035423/

How things change. I blogged here before about the building conflict between Leipzig and Cologne for games industry events this year and next, and at the time Leipzig enjoyed a great deal of industry goodwill and confidence.

However, CMP have now acquired gamescom owner Global Games Media, and furthermore recruited former Leipzig conference director Frank Sliwka. They plan to run GDC Europe next to the gamescom consumer event, and with that kind of power and brand respect, Leipzig is suddenly looking dead in the water.

(CC image by Charly-Koeln)





Indie Arcade

7 11 2008

War Twat

One of the events we ran in London last week was the Indie Games Arcade, which was a huge success. We showed a handful of interesting games, detailed at the linked page on our website.

The highlights were five or so developers from Beatnik Games coming down to continually run a Plain Sight LAN, and someone setting a staggering record of 1:40 and 1749 points on War Twat. All of our photos are on Flickr, and this page on our website has details of all the games along with links to them.

War Twat developer Robert Fearon and volunteer extraordinaire Andrew Armstrong have both written a bit about the expo and the indie arcade, here and here.





MMO Behaviours, Bruce Sterling at AGDC

19 09 2008

Bruce Sterling gave a keynote at the Austin Game Developer’s Conference, and Rudy Rucker quickly posted a transcript of the talk. He manages to use a set of nonsense words to illustrate how the present regards the past, presenting his talk as someone from the future talking about our present. The entire thing is entertaining and worth reading, but one part in particular stuck out to me:

The other question they ask—if they’re smart—is, what is that I did not see? What was I NOT thinking about? What is that blindsided me? What is that I couldn’t see in my industry? The future development I just didn’t understand. The wild card, the black swan.

Well, I can tell you about that problem.

[…]

Entertainment is fun. Am I correct? I’ve gotta be. If it’s no fun, obviously it’s not entertainment. It’s one of those phony game educational applications that kids have to be tortured to use. You definitely want the users to have fun. That’s the definition of your industry. That’s what it is all about.

Except for three kinds of people. They’re not fun people. They’re not even users. They’re abusers, you might say, because they don’t obey your rules.

First, gold farmers. Rip-off artists. The excluded. The black market. The pirates. […]

Second, griefers. […]

Third—and these are the weird ones—the convergence culture people. They will play your game all right, but they play it while using six or seven other kinds of media. They don’t make any distinction between the media they use. They use the networks as a meta-medium. They don’t play the roles in your role-playing games.

People play roles in Dungeons and Dragons because that is a paper game, it’s like little theater for the home. People play roles. You don’t see D&D people passing each other text messages and looking for cheats on wikis. Convergence people are metamedia people who are looking for meta-fun. Not your fun.

New and emergent forms of game are dependent on new and emergent forms of play. Not enough of us are looking at these trends, least of all developers who mainly have their heads down in the trenches producing AAA code and art assets.

The picture at the top of this post is a mount in Age of Conan, inspired by this video of a griefer with a horse. Cut down, shown without context as in that video, we tend to find griefing hilarious, yet if it’s done to us in game we tend to be outraged.

As a behaviour, it’s probably only been on the radar regularly for less than a decade. We’re not even close to understanding it, though along with others it is being studied. Videogames are a fascinating lens to look at ourselves through, and doing so may give us some clues about the future.





Death of Leipzig Greatly Exaggerated

27 08 2008

The lingering death of E3 seems to be creating instability elsewhere, with European event organisers fighting it out to provide a better successor. As reported by MCV today, the MD of Gamescom organiser Kölnmesse is talking his show up, claiming it will replace Leipzig:

“It was to be expected that the Leipzig trade fair would try to keep the topic in its 2009 programme as well by announcing its date. But they will have to do it without the industry for the most part. The lead trade fair will take place in Cologne in 2009 and beyond.”

“From Leipzig we are bringing the clear message that the games industry will be exhibiting in 2009 in Cologne at gamescom.

We have met with broad approval, and the industry is looking forward to gathering in Cologne. Whatever happens in Germany in 2009 outside of Cologne cannot claim to represent this sector.”

Bullish, especially considering that Leipzig had record attendance at over 200,000 this year, and so many game developers have been talking it up as a good balance of trade and consumer shows during the long death rattles of E3.

However, GamesCom has the backing of the German publisher’s association, the BIU. Additionally, bad transport links have always been the Achilles’ heel of Leipzig, and and may be a big enough opening for Cologne to successfully attack. We’ll see.

For now, The Inquirer has some interesting details that aren’t being reported elsewhere:

Well, while the Leipzig organization owns the “Games Convention” IP, Kölnmesse was a bit more devious and hooked the BIU by offering it free-of-charge ownership of the GAMESCom event. So not only can Kölnmesse claim the backing, it will be the de facto official gaming entertainment tradeshow in Germany because it’s owned by BIU and regardless of whether it turns out to be a steaming pile of you-know-what.

So now, much like what happened in the UK, there’ll be two major gaming tradeshows in Germany that will eat each other up and ruin the fun for everyone.

There’s a massive opportunity in the wake of E3. Hopefully, these shows aren’t about to mutually strangle each other instead.





Global Game Jam

15 08 2008

I got this in my inbox, and it’s definitely worth passing on. Game Jams have been a venerable part of games culture around GDC for a long time, and now the IGDA Education SIG is aiming to send them global:

I am really excited to announce to friends the live website of a new project that the SIG is organizing. I hope with your help to make at a real success with everyone globally. The Global Game Jam will be announced at Sandbox and SIGGRAPH, where we are doing a call for host venues and looking for sponsorship money to pull of such a large scale project. The Global Game Jam is a first of its kind Game Jam that will take place in the same 48 hours around the world, January 30-February 1st, 2009. Our friends at the Nordic Game Jam will be our flagship Jam – they have had years of success. This should be a real experience in creativity, innovation and experimentation.

If you know of anyone willing to host a Game Jam in their local area or for that matter, help us sponsor the project, please let me know. Information regarding hosting and sponsorship is available on the site. We hope to have local jams throughout Asia, Europe, North/South America, South Pacific… and anywhere else willing to host a jam. The Global Game Jam is open to everyone. Sign-up for the local Jams will happen in late October. The GGJ will provide one representative of each winning local jam a round-trip ticket to present their game at the IGDA Education SIG Workshop at GDC.

http://www.globalgamejam.org

I’m looking forward to seeing the results of this.

(CC image of seed packed Kiwi jam by rachel is coconut&lime)





Jonathan Blow: Slides Online

8 08 2008

Many more of the slides from Games:EDU will be online soon, but for now I’d just like to draw your attention to Jonathan Blow’s blog, where he’s posted his slides and audio.