Archive for May, 2006|Monthly archive page

Travel Day

today's a travel day. the family and i are heading to virginia beach. gonna play in the sand for a week. i have a feeling it will be a working vacation, tho.

well. as much as joc will let me. heh.


Virtual Income

wow.  so.  are gamemakers really ready to become the source of people's income?


Games and Social Spaces

at the risk of seeming sycophantic, especially since i have friends that think raph koster is an inflated fool who screws up games, i'm going to point over to him yet again.

anyway. there is a reason that throughout the history of man, social gatherings have been structured around events or games. whether it's hanging out and drinking a beer, hanging out and drinking coffee, hanging out and dancing, hanging out and having dinner, hanging out and playing pool, hanging out and playing in a pool, hanging out and playing poker, etc. look at family game night for crying out loud.

it's always social + recreational activity = fun.

note the descriptor "recreational" there. that means that hanging out and working is not fun. well. not unless you enjoy the work. some of us do, but the large majority of the world thinks work is… well… work.

as in not fun. as in something you only do when you get paid.

i'm not saying everyone is like that. i get lots of people — real life friends — the non-computer types — remember them? — who just stare, mouth agape, when i tell them how much i work. (god bless my wife for putting up with it!) there are others like me out there. in fact, there's a 'game' full of them.

but, as i said in the comments on raph's musings:

in real life, the masses are basically sheep. the ’shepherd to sheep’ ratio sits at this 1% range. second life is a ‘game’ (i use the term very loosely) with too many shepherd’s and not enough sheep. it’s just not any fun for folks who aren’t ’shepherds.’

second life is a curiosity. something you flirt with, figure out, then drop like it's equivalent to vacuuming out the car. it's not a mainstream game and it never will be. because it's just not fun. interesting, yes. fun, no. sort of like physics….

that being said, there is a lot that other, actual fun games can learn from it, so, it's not like it's a worthless endeavor.

now, back to where i was going with this whole thing.

i believe there is a large part of my brain and raph's brain that… i dunno…. run on the same wavelength? were separated at birth like some sort of conjoined cerebral fetus. i really have no idea.

ooh! it's like that bad movie with danny devito and ah-nald! twins! that's it!

so, raph's part is very thoughtful, musing and patient where my part is impetuous, inflamatory and absolutist. but, the underlying synapses fire in the precise same direction.

well. at least recently.

i read some of his older stuff (pre-theory of fun) and i disagree with a lot of it. but recently, it seems like we're in lock-step.

take his latest piece i am linking to. i did the precursory glance/skim/scroll and was instantly welded with exactly what he was saying. it took about 1.2 seconds for us to be on the same page. seriously, with a post like that, how in the hell does that happen? maybe it's the nexus where the 'web api' and 'metaverse' collide? i dunno.

it sure makes me feel like a stalker tho. (sorry, man. i don't mean to. i promise.)

but, seriously, that post is like he cracked open my skull, poured out this hemmoraging mess that comprises my thoughts and straightened it out for the rest of the world to easily understand. lord knows i can use the help.

anyway. i'm headed back to my text editor (told you i was a raving maniac, raph — no visual studio here!), sql server and c#. just thought i'd poke my head in for a minute and ramble out a brain dump.


p.s. for the record, i don't think raph screws up games. i think design by committee screws up games. hence, why i am the captain of my own ship. and exactly why if i take any vc money, it'll be on my terms with absolutely no negotiation.

The Scandal!

heh. dude! seriously! SOMEbody had to grab a photo with their camera phone. quick! search flickr!

i'm just glad that the only game i was bummed about not being on 360 is turning out to be coming right along. i mean, c'mon, that trailer kicks ass!


Hardware vs. Developer Talent

so. here's a hot topic up for debate.

"Maybe some nuance or a small details here and there might be different, but I feel that hardware is no longer a matter. I'm just talking about PS3, 360 and PC. -Hideo Kojima

that's something i believe has happened with this next generation of systems. hardware really doesn't matter all that much for this next generation. consoles are finally in parity (or more advanced, or slightly slower, whatever — they're close.) with raw pc power. and they should be, taking into consideration pc upgrade cycles and the dedicated hardware aspect of consoles, for the rest of gaming's future — forever.

in other words, we're out of the 16-bit era.

anyway. hardware isn't what is going to hold back future game development titles. it'll be man-hours. it'll be raw developer talent. it'll be budget. (i keep meaning to get back to gregg and tell him why this applies to disc format size too. just too freakin' busy.)

anyway, the way it sort of works out is this:

budget is a function of developer time. this one is easy. everyone understands it.

detail in graphics is a function of developer time. this one is harder to precisely quantify. as an artist, it's nice to have better tools to let me work faster (see above: budget is time) however, speed advancements in tools don't necessarily scale at the same rate as hardware allows for. for example, moore's law? totally doesn't apply to productivity. therefore, the more time a developer can spend on a project, the better looking and higher detail available.

thus, the more budget, the more developer time, the better looking all of the game content will be. that's a big reason the budgets for triple-a games have ballooned. hardware has doubled every 18 months. budgets have too. (see a trend?)

procedural content will save us from this upwardly spiraling trend, but that's another post altogether. just like movie budget balooning (the ratio increase, i mean) has tapered off, so will game development budgets.

alright. i'm all over the map here… what's all this mean?

we're at the point where faster hardware does not a better game make. we've basically saturated the 'graphic detail' budget for games. don't look for games beyond 2007 to really look incrementally any better.

it'll be fun visual-cue type innovations (the cool snow effects in lost planet or the frozen effect in crysis — stuff like that.) that will validate graphics developers' salaries. mostly, tho, it'll be gameplay (twilight princess), design (viva pinata) and narrative (oblivion) that will carry games beyond that.

oh, as a side note, about the whole 'game looking like toy story' thing? i dunno if any of you out there have actually watched toy story 1 recently, but, having a 2 year-old, i have. modern games already look much better.


p.s. thanks to the hobo for pointing me to the sony lies wiki which sparked this thought.

Tears. Eyes. Crying. Laughing. Can’t. Stop.

ah lord and baby jesus, that is funny.

so, in reading this moderately humorous post about the 'redesigning' of all the promised features of the ps3 (who the hell announces hardware then takes it out and is successful in the market?)  when i came across this comment regarding all of the ps-hate-bandwagoning:

This debate will have to be settled in the only effective and universal way known to man:

1. size of penis
2. pie eating
3. an actual fight

Best of three wins.

Tie breaker: how far can you flob

good god.  i'm still chuckling and that was 30 minutes ago.


The Mural

so. i'd like to personally give props to whomever had the idea of bringing kurt to e3 to paint the gears of war mural. that's totally a cool blend of email-forward pop culture and video game tradition.

nice work guys. makes me wish YOU HADN'T REJECTED OUR APPLICATION, BASTARDS!



PS3 Price

who's your daddy, bitch?

all i can say is thank you future ps3 owners for proving me right by shouldering the financial burden of sony's stupid hi-def disc format that no one cares about nor wants. bravo. job well done.


Go Raph!

wouldn't you know it that as soon as i publish my 3d web bashing thing, raph pounds out a jewel of a quote:

That doesn’t minimize the importance of the disruptive stuff happening right now. The buzzwords that are making money circle the metaverse people once again: open platforms, networking multiple worlds, web integration, social networks, ancillary businesses, free play, microtransactions. A huge portion of this is going to be dotcom hype all over again. But some of it won’t be.

mmm… tasty.


P.S. seriously — no more raph postings for a bit.  the guy's gonna feel like i'm stalking him.

3D Web Silliness

i know i've been pointing at raph koster the last few posts, but, dammit. his head appears to be floating in the same space as mine — mmog + web.

that being said, i have some pretty strong opinions (no way! me? strong opinions?) on this whole 3d web nonsense.

3d in a game works because it's about an avatar. becoming someone else. unfortunately, that doesn't scale to a worldwide production level. that's why a 3d web is a pointless endeavor.

i know 'it's neat' tho. and i know that people from different geographical regions are buying and selling real world goods in a virtual environment. that's all well and fine, but it won't ever, ever be the primary information transaction interface for the public at large — ever.

sure, it'll turn into the virtual equivalent of 'getting business dones on the golf course' and other 'social' groupings with commerce tendencies. the initial interpersonal contact will happen (at the common end of the scale) before anyone hooks up virtually. the bulk of the user-initiated research, reading, etc. will stay out of the virtual world.

here's why:

attention/informational exchange that happens between 2 entities (let's use store and potential buyer for illustration purposes) is the primary transactional activity for the web. that's the whole 'surfing' thing you've heard about. there's a reason it's called web 'surfing' and not web 'trudging from storefront to street to storefront.'

information can be conveyed at ridiculous speeds in a text/photo skimming situation. just ask professional logo designers. as a web destination, all you get it 2-4 seconds. that's it. hell, it takes 2-4 seconds for you to line up your avatar before you can even start to look at something you may be interested in a 3d world. by the time you figure out what wares (or other information) some virtual shopkeeper is hawking, your 2d counterpart has skimmed 30 shops on something like

they can search, sort and organize information they are looking for in seconds. you? you have to wander over to a different (whether it's a virtual library, movie theater or a museum) building and hope they have what you're looking for.

the absolute fastest way to convey information (aside from when they can just zap it into our brains) is skimming photos and text. 3d revolving photos? sure. whatever. the premise is the same. it's not standing in a street looking around at buildings nearby.

why would you bring the worst, most inefficient parts of the offline world into a space where you are not geographically limited in any way? that just seems stupid to me.

especially since, as the 'world gets smaller' by different nation-states embracing the free exchange of information, the information getting shuffled about? yeah, it multiplies. as existing entities get used to publishing more information? yeah. it multiplies. you can deal with that mulitplying effect in machine-searched, aggregated and sorted human skimmable text — quickly and easily. how on earth would you do that in a virtual world with any semblance of the same efficiency of text?

yeah. exactly. with a 2d in-game interface. then, what's the point.

'hold on, honey! i have to fire up Virtual Web 4!' you say as you walk over to the real world desk, fire up a 3d application. wait… okay. now, have your avatar walk over to your virtual world desk to pull up the screen to use for quick and efficient 2d display of your travel itinerary so you can print it out on your way to the airport for your flight which you will be late for because you had to spend an extra 10 minutes logging in to your virtual world computer.

i mean. it's like podcasting or those 3d desktop environments they've been trying to launch for eons now. it's neat to talk about at a party, but, if there's a faster way for people to get the same job done? yeah. they'll do it. as it is, folks don't have enough time. maybe a 3d web is some twisted attempt at merging leisure time with work time?

like it's fun to wander around looking for the gap store?

no. information exchange requirements are vastly different than 'hanging out' requirements. information exchange is primarily why people use the web. hang outs are destinations. not all of the grease and wheels that leads up to that.

the best thing that can come of trying to merge 3d space with web space would be a 3d version of essentially web-based chat. hook up and hang out with other people looking at the same site you are.

finding that site? that's all about the 2d world.