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Some interesting Javascript projects

Bomomo is a drawing program written in Javascript (thanks Stéphane). It doesn't work in Internet Explorer, but then, who uses that? Cubescapeis a 2.5D brick building program written in Javascript. Meebo is a meta-IM client written in Javascript. Impressive!

Apple just announced that they are working on making Javascript 60% faster in WebKit (in other words, in Safari). And they have a legitimate business interest in achieving this. So does Google.

Maybe your next game could be written in Javascript? Remember: not just browser eye-candy, real programming language, no real relation to Java.

Team Fortress 2 Karaoke with Celine Dion

Here is a video of Team Fortress 2, with voice chat, a karaoke mode and Celine Dion's 'My Heart Will Go On'. The singing is terrible, but I can't stop watching because it is so hilarious.

TF2 Karaoke: My Heart Will Go On from FLOOR MASTER on Vimeo.

Hmmm... what would it take to do that in World of Warcraft? I'd need a small add-on that takes karaoke data and outputs it using /rw, then trigger a sound file on Teamspeak at the same time.... Sounds like a great little project for learning Lua, heh heh heh *twiddles moustache*. Anyone know of open karaoke data formats?

(Thanks, Tobi.)

German Ministry of Foreign Affairs + Computer Games = ?

Following on yesterday's pro-game rant by Richard Bartle, here is a blog post by Jens Schroeder showing that the political establishment in Germany is not much more enlightened than in the U.K. I was quite surprised by the attitude displayed by Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier:

Stressing that games can be culture — this is Germany after all and without having been elevated into the lofty realms of culture no new technology is acceptable — he uttered the vision of a co-existence of classical German high culture (as in the explicitly mentioned Goethe) and the new medium of digital games — not without having mentioned that the "non-academically inclined" milieus spend a proportionately higher part of their day in front of the computer. Here we go again… (It did not become clear if this includes internet use as well; to be fair he also mentioned that there's not necessarily a causal relationship between underachievement and time spend with computers — which is pretty much a no-brainer as it of course mainly depends on the use one puts it to. Also: When asked what amount of time he considers appropriate to spend time with computers his answer was "30 minutes to an hour" causing pretty much everyone to break out in laughter…)

Emphasis mine.

[Malte Behrmann, lobbyist and chairperson of the German and European game developers associations] explained to me that in the European Union one just can't randomly subsidize a branch of industry but that certain criteria have to be fulfilled to qualify for grants — one being the "cultural exception", the reason why he was busy trying to frame games as culture to achieve said subsidies. It can be seen that in France this approach was obviously successful.

I find it strange to imagine a point of view where computer games are not culture. In fact, I find it strange to imagine a point of view where computer games are not art, or culture, or a storytelling medium. I mean... isn't it obvious? Discussing this was fun in the 90s. The early 90s.

But it also helped to widen the acceptance of digital games in Germany as it was used to counter the maddening "Killerspiel" discourse. As I told Malte this was probably the best action plan they could come up with. The thing is: German politicians for the most part are all members of what could be called a high-level milieu (successors of the classical educated bourgeoisie) whose main form of distinction is "anti-barbarian", one of the main reasons why digital games with violent content matter are vigorously rejected. The opposite of "barbarian" is of course culture, a concept that perfectly works for these people's self-legitimation resulting in the heightened acceptance of the new medium.

The political class... brr.

Richard Bartle's pro-game rant

This is over a month old, but still well worth blogging about. Richard Bartle has written an excellent rant for The Guardian following the release of the Byron Report, which said that games are not the cause of all of our woes and misfortunes. Some choice extracts:

I'm talking to you, you self-righteous politicians and newspaper columnists, you relics who beat on computer games: you've already lost. Enjoy your carping while you can, because tomorrow you're gone. According to the UK Statistics Authority, the median age of the UK population is 39. Half the people who live here were born in 1969 or later. The BBC microcomputer was released in 1981, when those 1969ers were 12. It was ubiquitous in schools; it introduced a generation to computers. It introduced a generation to computer games. Half the UK population has grown up playing computer games. They aren't addicted, they aren't psychopathic killers, and they resent those boneheads — that's you — who imply that they are addicted and are psychopathic killers. Next year, that 1969 will be 1970; the year after, it'll be 1971. Dwell on this, you smug, out-of-touch, proud-to-be-innumerate fossils: half the UK population thinks games are fun and cool, and you don't. Those born in 1990 get the vote this year.

It's a fun read.

Gamble your life away in ZT Online

Here is a great story about ZT Online, a Chinese MMO with very few qualms about taking money from their customers. The game is highly based on spending real money. When one user started a peaceful rebellion, events were rigged so that her kingdom would be attacked by other players. It is a fascinating read.

One interesting side-effect of an Internet-cafe-based gaming culture: salespeople who go around Internet cafes to try and talk players into switching to a different game. So logical, yet so unexpected from my European perspective.

Adobe Introduces P2P Flash Player

Hank Williams, on his blog 'Why does everything suck?', explains why the fact that Adobe has added a P2P component to the Flash player will kill content delivery networks, among other things.

What is even more interesting than cloning existing applications, is the innovation that will be unleashed by making p2p technology an assumed part of the web protocol stack. For example, it will be a few hundred lines of code to write an AIR application that will allow you to drop a file onto an icon and have that file appear on your buddy's computer.

This could become quite interesting.

Back in Vienna

I am back in Vienna after the gig in Frankfurt I mentioned earlier. It was fun work, but I really missed Vienna, so I am glad to be back. So far, I have done the following:

  • Gone to the dentist. No root canal needed, yay!
  • Got a haircut.
  • Went food shopping on the Naschmarkt and had a great salad there.
  • Went to Schokov to buy chocolate. Working around the corner from them was dangerous.
  • Went to a vegan street festival, met friends for coffee there (while completely missing the person I was going there to find).
  • Visited a friend, barbecued and went for a swim in his garden (not at the same time).
  • Went to a multi-cultural festival in town.
Not bad for one day!

The only thing I regret is not being out of town during the European football championships. Tourists are annoying enough already, it will be interesting to see what hordes of football fans will be like.

Beyond Good and Evil 2: The Horror

Behold the teaser trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2:

On the one hand, I loved BGE and I am glad to hear there will be a sequel. On the other hand, Uncle Pey'j looks disturbing, like on of those creepy pictures where Mario looks like a real human being. And the way he lasciviously rolls his eyes while snorting a living fly up his nose... I feel dirty.

How much goodwill did Ubisoft create back in 2003 by making BGE and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time? Both games contained so many little things that please developers.

Suzumiya Haruhi + Super Mario = win

After weeks of inaction... what has he been concocting in his lair? What nugget of wisdom has he been cooking up in his kitchen of doom? The tension mounts.

A video of a Super Mario level where the sound effects match the opening track of cult anime series 'The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi'. Clearly my mental faculties are leaving me.

Update: It's actually a medley of anime music, 'Hare Hare Yukai' was just the only one I could recognize (or care about - Suzumiya Haruhi ftw).

Update: OK, found out a bit more about this. 1 - Kotaku posted this early May. But I am not going to read Kotaku, so meh. At least I blogged it before Boing Boing. 2 - This is the 'Nico Nico Medley' (or 'Nico Nico Douga'), a medley created on or for Japanese YouTube-ish site As far as I can tell it is a medley of anime themes by hard-core anime fans. The medley appears to be quite popular in the otaku underground, there is even a blog about its various manifestations... More about and related subcultures here (although their instructions for registering sadly do not seem to be up to date).