Skip to main content

Third IGDA Vienna chapter meeting

The IGDA Vienna chapter meeting took place earlier tonight. There were a LOT of people - so much that the room was too small and humid and warm and noisy. In other words: a nice problem to have ;)

My presentation went pretty well except for some technical issues with PowerPoint and the fact that I decided at the last minute to use a PC instead of a Mac, and the PC didn't have QuickTime or any Windows Media Player codecs installed, so I couldn't show my videos. But I made it up later when I hijacked Thad's PowerBook :)

Thad's lecture, which was way more technical than my "What I did on holiday in Monaco" thing, went well too. I'll add a link as soon as he's put the slides on his website. Harald Riegler from Sproing talked about G.A.M.E., the new association of development companies in Germany and Austria, similar to TIGA or APOM. This was also very interesting.

All in all, a good night with a huge bunch of people, and a good atmosphere. Congratulations to Clemens Beer, the chapter coordinator!

Update: Thad's slides and some pictures (of him) are here.

IGDA news

The Vienna chapter of the IGDA has recently been revived (and the site has been totally revamped too). Tomorrow is the first chapter meeting in over a year. It should be pretty cool. I will be talking about the Imagina 2004, i.e. reusing all the stuff I started writing for my blog. I will publish it here later. First I need to put it into some kind of decent shape. Oh well, nothing like the night before to prepare for something.

I also just noticed that there are finally some IGDA chapters in Germany. This has taken a really long time. There was the USF, but they haven't done much the last couple of years. Last year, Aruba Studios started organising the Quo Vadis events, and a developers' conference in Leipzig. Other things have been going on on regional and national levels. The lack of initiative that I complained about at the end of 2002, especially compared to what's going on in France, seems to have changed.

So now there's a Hamburg chapter and a Frankfurt chapter. The latter is organised by Jochen Hamma, who used to work at Attic Software, on the DSA (aka Realms of Arkania) games. Good luck!

More pictures from the Imagina 2004

This time they're not mine, they're Robin's. You can look at them here. You can see Monaco, and Dan Scherlis, Doug Church, Jez San, Robin herself, and the lovely Mathilde Remy.

Which reminds me that I should add the rest of my pictures and finish my comments. Work work work.

And which also reminds me I should read some more of Robin's blog, there's some interesting stuff there. Work work work work.

Nintendo DS news

Well, allegedly, Nintendo DS specs have been leaked. The juicy bits: 3D acceleration, touch screen, wireless LAN.

My immediate thoughts:

3D acceleration makes sense. It differentiates the DS from the GBA, allows people to re-issue some new old games (Ocarina of Time and Mario 64 handheld?), and, no matter how good Nintendo is at squeezing fun / revenue out of old technology (e.g. GBA, Donkey Kong Country on SNES, etc.), it diminishes Sony PSP's main selling point: superior technology - even if the PSP still has superior horsepower.

Touch screen makes sense. You add a screen, the form factor remains small, something's got to give. You could move / remove some buttons and give developers the option of making their own buttons on the touch screen.

Wireless LAN is puzzling. If you want to do short-range, offline multiplayer, you could just use Bluetooth. Wireless LAN, as far as I understand it, would be overkill in terms of range, speed and power consumption. Also, even more intriguing, WLAN requires a base station with connection to the Internet. Maybe you can use it for direct client-to-client communication (that would certainly be cool for short-range offline multiplayer), I don't know. But it seems to me it would make no sense to release a WLAN-capable gadget without having an online strategy to go with it. In this case, one involving wireless ISPs... how big is that in Japan? An online strategy from Nintendo, now that's revolutionary.

All in all, pretty interesting for a rumour. Nintendo had been hinting the DS would be revolutionary and important. And it had to be, what with the proliferation of mobile gaming-ish devices and the amount of money they made off the Game Boy and it's progeny. But I was wondering what they were going to do. This definitely sounds intriguing.

Game blog update

There have been some changes in the game blog world recently.

Jamie Fristrom has mutated GameDevLeague into GameDevBlog, using TypePad, just like me.

Tobias Mayr, who was the lead designer on GTA: Vice City on the Xbox, is blogging about games again. He's using iBlog. I heard him curse a lot while he was figuring it out, but the end result is that it is very well integrated into the rest of his site. It doesn't appear to be quite finished yet - at least I have trouble finding his great photo section.

A gentleman called Toby Donaldson has started a game blog called Game On. It has made me painfully aware of the fact that I should try to get rid of the standard TypePad look of my own site...

Update: I have updated my links section.

Upping the controversy

Midway is testing the limits in NARC, the remake of their arcade hit from the 90s. In short, you are a cop on the narc squad, but you can sell the drugs you capture, and even use them yourselves. Partially it sounds clever, partially it sounds like courting controversy for the sake of it, much like the Postal series, or most games by Acclaim.

Barbie OS

While I am working and having a life and not writing new entries even though there is so much to write about: here is an (unverified) article about Mattel's Barbie-themed Linux distribution I just snagged from BoingBoing.

Pictures from the Imagina 2004

Look at the crappy pictures I took with my mobile phone here. Few descriptions - you'll have to guess what is going on :) It does contain barely readable pictures of the super-secret slides of Kevin Bacchus' "Rise and Fall of Capital Entertainment Group" lecture.

Update: I have added some more pictures and some comments.

Live update from Imagina 2004

Alright, I finally have some net access. I can't send emails, and my browser goes to the Imagina homepage every five minutes or so, but hey.

Monaco is great. I haven't been in France for over two years, and not to the Cote d'Azur since I was a teenager. It's great to be somewhere where the temperature is 15 degrees and I can smell the sea. Monaco reminds me of a bizarre mixture of Las Vegas (the artificiality), Vienna (pompous architecture, and the feeling of dated elegance), and the Cote d'Azur. It's wonderful. And very, very expensive.

I've met some great people and had some stimulating discussions - it's like a calmer version of the GDC in that respect. Noah Falstein is here. I met Geoff Foulds from Alias (I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to go out to the store and buy some Maya licenses. This has nothing to do with him buying dinner for six people, including myself. Honest.) I met Jesper Juul, Martin de Ronde and Jordan Mechner. And I had dinner with the charming Sophie Revillard, former game designer at Cryo and Delphine and now one of the organizers of the conference here. This morning I had breakfast with John Laird and Doug Church, and I think our panel discussion on the future of AI will go great. I expect that when Doug's jetlag will have kicked in, he'll be at about my energy level.

One of my most interesting meetings was with David Lanier, a former colleague from Kalisto Entertainment, who now has a small game tool development company. He showed me a tool he had developed for Ubisoft's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow Online, which basically allows you to do data-mining of user-testing data in 3DS MAX, i.e. see exactly where players in various test sessions went, where they looked, what they did, etc. and analyse it statistically. I'm a big fan of quantified analysis of test data and an empirical approach to game and level design, and I thought this was a great idea executed well.