September 29, 2005

NEH @ 40

The National Endowment for the Humanities turns 40 today. L and I will be attending the celebration held at the National Gallery of Art tonight. Happy Anniversary, and here's hoping that our budget stays secure.

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Spreading the Pun Fun; Plus, Weird News in MMORPGs

Aki Järvinen released his GameGame, a card game about making games (along the lines of the Understanding Comics meta-approach), which is available for download here. Also available for download is the following line from andrew at gta:

Good deal! I haven’t meta game this cool in a while. ha ha. what a card.

I wanted to share. You know, in case there weren't enough puns in the world.

The other big news right now seems to be Greg Costikyan's debut of Manifesto Games, a distribution and marketing company for independent game developers (Motto: "PC Gamers of the World Unite! You Have Nothing to Lose but Your Retail Chains!").

Meanwhile, two things I meant to blog last week, but never found the time (so, really, just old news to most). First of all, the characters of World of Warcraft have a plague on their hands. I think it's been mostly fixed now, but apparently characters contracted a disease during a battle with the god of blood Hakkar during an new instanced adventure (named Zul'Gurub, for those interested in specifics). The disease, a curse called Corrupted Blood, is contagious and passes to nearby characters to spread the infection. The disease escaped the confines of the instanced event and got pulled back into the towns, effectively spreading plague-like from character to character. [report from shacknews]

File that under "unintentional events resulting from complex code" (a favorite topic of mine that one day might shape up into an article: "Putting the Wi in Weird: Decoding Complexity").

The second MMORPG news bit: the September issue of PC Gamer included an article about Eve Online, in which it described how the Guiding Hand Social Club infiltrated and, after a year of careful planning, completed an enormous heist valued at about 17,000 US dollars (after converting assets from in-game currency and goods). The article is a good read (and was once online, but has since been removed). TerraNova has an old thread on the topic here.

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September 16, 2005

Revolution Controller Revealed

Nintendo finally revealed their Revolution controller, the nature of which has created a great deal of speculation over the past months. Alice at Wonderland has notes from Iwata-san's speech, as well as a blurry picture of the Revolution controller. A video was posted at IGN, but it doesn't seem to be downloading [update: click here for the video, then select "watch it now" - the downloadable version (non-subscription) still seems broken, but streaming just worked for me].

update: image courtesy of 1up, who has an article on the controller.

The controller, according to descriptions, appears to be more along the lines of a remote control (one handed) that can be used in all sorts of ways - swung like a golf club or tennis racket, pointed like a flashlight, stabbed like a sword - all read in relation to your position from the screen. From Alice's transcription notes:

This controller has a Direct Pointing Device. Revolution can detect precisely which location on the screen the controller is pointing at. With this technology, you can point at a location intuitively, but Revolution can detect your distance from the screen, and the angle of your controller.

In line with their attention to innovation, Nintendo seems to be encouraging movement beyond the safe bets of franchise game development with blockbuster costs and expectations. Again, Alice's notes:

Brain Training DS had a small development team, and took advantage of the new design. 10 people, and total development, was less than 4 months! Many have been concerned that time and money and risk for next gen is too much. Nintendo wants to provide a stage on which to showcase your ideas. Nintendo is willing to help bring those ideas to life, if seeing the controller today sparks new ideas, Nintendo is ready for your proposals!

We'll see how this all pans out in the marketplace, but the success of Nintendogs and the DS certainly creates a promising atmosphere for the Revolution.

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September 15, 2005

Crazed 7' Tall Robot Stalks Metro

Honestly, what were they thinking with this campaign? He's ... everywhere.

Plus, he's in a suit, with white Mickey-Mouse gloves, and a nervous grin. Are you really going to poke your PIN into his face? I don't think so. Not for a maximum withdraw of $300.

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September 14, 2005

Bibliography Database Software

Does everyone just use Endnote nowadays?

I have an old version of Procite (on floppies, how quaint!) that I've been using, but the feature that allows me to just import stuff from my library database doesn't seem functional. And I sure would like that (data entry isn't the best way to spend my time). And I don't think Procite is even really getting support or development anymore?

Anyone in the know?

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Time to DeSelect

I'm sure going to miss reading the NYTimes editorials (especially Krugman) when they switch over to the paid-subscription-only TimesSelect system next week. But like all addictions, a little time and I'll hardly feel the pain.

You have to wonder if the $40 subscriptions that they get will make up for the lost ad revenue. Will going pay-only reduce the number of links from blogs, websites, and other newspapers, thus reducing traffic?

I wish they would consider a Salon-style system - force me to watch a 30 second commercial for a free "daily pass."

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September 12, 2005

Game Writers Conference

Game Writers Conference October 26-27, 2005 in Austin, Texas

A great line-up of speakers.

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Novel Games, Game Novels

The Video-Game Novel Also Rises discusses the increasing media cross-pollination of computer game worlds. Nothing all that new, since the Halo novels don't make the shelves groan nearly so much as the Wizards of the Coast novels (of the D+D sort, for the non-geek). I just wonder - are any of these new novels really any good?

When you're in the territory of Jane Austen and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, you're expected to go deeper. You're supposed to probe the internal lives of your characters. And this is where these books become really fascinating: They're like the Us Weekly of the gaming universe.

I'm thinking no.

But the article's writer does point out a conflict that I think is already inherent in the game proper, but that is laid even more bare by the novelization of the character:

If you play a lot of games, these books can provoke a weird sort of first-person identity confusion. After all, when I play Halo, I play as the Master Chief himself. So it's passingly strange to have an author suddenly grab the emotional joystick and explain what the Chief feels -- what I feel? -- while wandering around slaughtering enemies.

Posted for the cross-sited media types...

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