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The website for the game I worked on last year, Neighbors From Hell, has gone online. It feels good that people can finally see what we were working on all that time. It's a fun little game, aimed at the mass market, where the player has to play practical jokes on his annoying neighbor in order to cause a nervous breakdown. It was a lot of fun to make.

Haute couture

This article on Final Fantasy X-2 details the apparently very large number of costumes that the heroines of that game can wear, depending on how the player develops their stats. It's a fairly risk-free way to add value to a game.

Wired argues, a bit unconvincingly in my opinion, that FFX2 is part of an effort by game developers to address the female gamer.

On the other hand, Dead or Alive eXtreme Beach Volleyball also features female protagonists and many different outfits that the player can select.

"Anyone who dismissed this title as a lame excuse for slobbering perverts to parade hot digital chicks around in various states of virtual undress... well, you're only half right."

Predictably, Acclaim announced a highly similar title. Will it feature strippers?

Biting humor

"I figure if we want to break out into the female market and still sell some units to our hard core audience, the game oughta have chicks in it, right?"

"Superior thinking, Dave."

"I thought so, too. OK, since we have to have chicks in the game, and chicks are always worried about how they look, then our female 3D models have to be really sexy, built like brick outhouses and dressed in the sexiest clothes our artists can draw, so the gals can feel good about their on-screen avatars. Check, Ted?"

"Check, Dave."

"And girls like being buddies with other girls and talking about make-up, dresses, jewelry, getting married and boys, while guys like big guns, feeling like they have lots of power to make things disintegrate and getting laid, right?

"Right, Dave."

"OK, so my first top-line concept is: Duke Nukem Meets Cosmopolitan Makeover II. It's multiplayer over the Internet. The guys run around Saks Fifth Avenue blasting aliens who are trying to take over the cosmetics department, so the babes can't buy make-up and will feel, like, you know, ugly and all. If a guy sees a girl without make-up, he mistakes her for an alien and shoots her. If she has make-up on, they go to the Lingerie department, she puts on something really lacy and sexy and he gets laid as an energy power-up. Cool, huh?"


"What, Ted?"

"It's missing something."

"Like what?"

"Like... I don't know what, but I just can't see it, Dave. I mean, would Brittany buy that game?"

"We could always go over there after work and ask her."

"Superior thinking, Dave."

"I thought so, too. I'll stop at the 7-11 and get us a bunch of one dollar bills."

Read the rest on Biting The Hand.

Social mobiles

IDEO, a design company, has designed five social mobiles to provoke discussions about the social impact of mobile phones. These are not meant as products, although working models have been built.

  1. This phone delivers a variable level of electric shock depending on how loudly the person at the other end is speaking. As a result the two parties are induced to speak more quietly.

  2. This phone allows the user to converse silently: a person receiving a call in a quiet space can respond without speaking, using simple but expressive sounds that they produce and intone manually.

  3. This phone requires the user to play the tune of the phone number they wish to call. The public performance that dialing demands acts as a litmus test of when it is appropriate to make a call.

  4. This user knocks on this phone to communicate the urgency of their call. The recipient hears this knock through their phone and can be discerning about which calls they answer.

  5. This phone can be used to launch sounds into other people's phone conversations. This provides a direct yet discreet way of invading their space.

I find this interesting because of a) the social impact of gaming in public, b) bizarre user interfaces. I especially like the monosyllabic grunts.

Birth of a nation

HomeLAN has an interview with John DeMargheriti of Micro Forté in Australia. It is very interesting. John discusses the origins of pretty much the entire Australian game development industry, including the Academy of Interactive Entertainment, the Australian Game Developers Conference, the Game Developers Association of Australia, etc. No word about Melbourne House, the oldest Australian game developer I was aware of. They did The Hobbit, way back on the ZX Spectrum.

He also talks about BigWorld, Micro Forté's MMO technology that got some good buzz at the 2002 GDC, and a little bit about the MMO game they're doing for Microsoft.

Violence, games, and politics: they all go together

Gamers With Jobs has an excellent interview with Henry Jenkins (part 1 and part 2). It gives a good overview over the debate over violence in games in the US, the court cases, the proposed bills, the state of research, etc. etc.

It also mentions the Creative Leaders Workshops he organized with Electronic Arts, which I have heard some more about, and which I found very intriguing. Kudos to EA for spending money on something like that.

Mr. Jenkins says:

Right now, the industry loves to brag that the American gross sales of video games is close to or surpasses the gross domestic box office for Hollywood films.
He then shows how that is not that big a deal. I prefer to deflate hubris by noting that the adult movie industry makes the same claim.

(From the IGDA newsletter.)

Interactive storytelling galore

On March 24 to 26 2003, the 1st International Conference on Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment (TIDSE03) is held in Darmstadt, Germany.

It sounds pretty interesting. Chris Crawford is doing a keynote speech. Andrew Stern, who worked on the excellent Dogz and Catz products, is talking about his new project, which sounds intriguing. John Laird and Glorianna Davenport are going to be there, they've been involved in this for a while. Plus many other people from all over the world.

Too bad the entrance fee is $300: I don't think I will be able to attend, even though Darmstadt is not that far.