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War Photographer

This (27.5 Mb) is an excellent, excellent music video, directed by Joel Trussell for the song "War Photographer" by Jason Forrest. I want a music game like this! (Don't ask what a video filled with Viking rock transformers has to do with war photographers.)

Through this interview with Trussell I found out about the video he did for "The Illness" by kid606, which you can download here (5.5 Mb). The rapid editing set to manic electronic sounds reminds me of Chris Cunningham's video for Squarepusher's "Come On My Selector", one my favorite music videos ever.

(Via Cartoon Brew.)

New model army

There's two fairly high profile games coming out soon that were developed using a different approach than what's used for most games.

One is Bad Day LA, designed by American McGee, developed by Enlight in Hong Kong, and with concept art by the great Kozyndan. This interview with McGee goes a little into the approach used to develop it, including how the IP is handled.

It's been much speculated that adopting a Hollywood model in games production would go towards fixing many problems in the industry. It seems you were one of the first to try it out. Did you deliberately depart from the traditional model of game production?

I think that the "traditional model" is quite broken. It is good for doing what it currently does, but if we're ever going to truly evolve the way that games are conceived, produced, marketed, and distributed then the whole system is going to have to change. This sort of change is not generally brought on from within. It starts when smaller "David" companies hit on innovative new ways to create and sell games in a market where their competition is a "Goliath" like EA or Activision. These days, as much as focusing on innovative, provocative, or original game ideas, I'm also focusing a lot of thought on alternate ways to distribute and market games, and ways to tie all these elements together for the end consumer.

It seems that there is room for change in the size of game development companies, their structure, and their pipeline. Outsourcing is just one possibility.

Outsourcing can lead to a more organic development ecosystem. It can make everyone more efficient - in theory, it solves the 'what is my army of content creators going to do while we're doing pre-production or finishing up a game?' question. They just work on another game, for another company. This was an oft-discussed issue at Kalisto, a previous employer. One idea was to use a kind of internal outsourcing system inside a big studio (Kalisto's Bordeaux studio had 250 people working there). You would have art teams moving from game project to game project, rather than staying on for the duration of the project. It's a logical extension of the matrix structure, in a way.

Whether it's done internally or externally, outsourcing is challenging. You need more art direction, more technical artists, more management and coordination. You have to know what you're doing. The extra layers and steps and distance can reduce quality; this must be countered. And it can be hard to graft onto a 'traditional' studio, which is why it's adoption is relatively slow.

Another high profile game using a similar model is Wideload Games' Stubbs the Zombie. Whenever I read interviews with Alex Seropian, like this one or this one (not to mention his blog at 1UP), I just get the feeling that this is the way to do it. Small company, lots of outsourcing, a fun and creative setting, what looks like good execution. And there's going to be a Mac version! What's not to like?

Make a building blink

How cool is this?

When you look into the kiosk through the viewfinder (very much like peering into a pair of binoculars), the cameras record your eyes and beam the video to a nearby location where the images are projected onto a building which rather looks like it's got a head. When you blink into the kiosk, the building's head blinks also.

(Via Jason Kottke.)

Anda's game

What do women in games, third world gold farmers and teen obesity have in common? They're all featured in

Anda's game, Cory Doctorow's new short story. It's fun, I recommend it. You have to click through Salon's ad to get to it, but hey, it's worth it.


Here it is, courtesy of Alice-the-best-notetaker-at-games-industry-events-in-the-world.
Look at this. [OMFG. It’s long and squarish. You shake it. Touch it. Drum with it. Bat with it. Point with it. Conduct with it. Use it like a pencil. Or a TV remote. Thumbpad add on. It’s like a nunchuk – there’s an extra controller for the other hand, strung by a wire..]
In order to have a controller that anyone can understand, we have come up with a design that doesn’t look like anyone else’s controllers. And we have changed game design too! 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. These controllers are wireless. It is intuitive! At the same time for vet players it is fresh and surprising. We can also use multiple controllers at the same time. Multiple players can be engaged in an intense squash game, or a slow, precise cooking game. You can play musical instruments with two controllers at once! A fishing game with rod-like action! Wave it.. and you can jump. So this is with one hand. But another characteristic is its flexibility for expansion. You can expand the Direct Pointing Device: this connector is the gateway to enormous possibilities for expansion. Today I have just shown what we call the nun-chuk style expansion! [haha]We are planning on including this controller with the basic Revolution hardware package. In the first person shooter genre, very important overseas, we believe the nun-chuk will set a new standard, for instance you can intuitively explore in the dark using it as a flashlight. Just as supermario 64 defined the 3d console standard, I’m looking forward to seeing how this play control can change play for games like Zelda. I hope you are as excited as I am to see the final outcome!

And here is 1UP.COM's report, which comes with pictures.

So why has Nintendo decided to brazenly break with tradition and the conventions of every other modern console in creating the Revolution controller? According to Mr. Miyamoto, it was part of a conscious decision to make something simple and straightforward enough to reach out to a new audience. "We want a system that takes advantage of new technology for something that anyone, regardless of age or gender, can pick up and play. [Something with a] gameplay style that people who have never played games can pick up and not be intimidated by. We wanted a controller that somebody's mother will look at and not be afraid of."

Has Nintendo won the GDC Europe game design challenge?

And here is Eurogamer's report, appropriately titled "Revolution controller - not remotely what we expected". I agree.

We can discuss if it makes business sense, and if it will be a commercial success, but I think it's harder to argue that it is not a creative success (as much as one can without having held it in one's hand, but when has that ever stopped anybody?). I also think that pretty much everything Nintendo said about the Revolution before today's revelation turned out to be true, which is kind of refreshing in this age of hype. And, as they said, it's not a new idea - just well-implemented and executed, apparently.

Excuses, excuses

I was in Holland for a week. Then I was in France for a week. Then, when I came back, I had some trouble with my main computer. Solving it was easy: a reformat and clean reinstall. However, the backing up and shuffling of data took me about a week. Then it was the weekend and I developed a toothache and had an emergency root canal done.

I'll post again soon, I swear.

Graffiti Kingdom

Graffiti Kingdom, the sequel to Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color shipped recently. Both seem to be console RPGs aimed at younger players, with an innovative model-your-own-monster-in-3D mode. I was sure I had already posted something about Magic Pengel, but it looks like I was wrong - I posted about two other console games that allow the player to model their own monsters in 3D. Or maybe they are the same, I don't know. In any case, I like the idea, even if determining shape does not seem like a very meaningful choice.

Link round-up

Yes, more links from all over. It does not require conscious thought on my part, and clears my browser / news reader tabs.

SCUMM for DS. Need I say more? Read the comments. The DS rules, if only the barriers to entry were a bit lower.

A whole bunch of things from a recent post by Robin: an exercise product for Xbox - check out the photorealistic woman made for a mass market product.

(Speaking of the uncanny valley: Japanese researchers built a lifelike android - female of course. Video here. Reported, and snickered over, on various sites.)

Also via Robin: cool platform shoes with Gameboys in them.

Speaking of games and fashion: there's a whole blog on costumes in video games - I think I found this on Game Girl Advance. Games + pop culture, as well as taking costumes seriously in games, is cool.

Final via-Robin-item: Psychiatric Clinic for Abused Cuddly Toys - The Game. Worth linking to just for the name. It has funny animals and I love the introductory voice, but the game is not very gamy. I stopped clicking on stuff about half-way through the first patient (the snake, I got some error message on the hippo).

I discovered N-Sider, a pretty in-depth Nintendo fan-site. I particularly enjoyed this article on Nintendo's development structure, which explains historically why certain franchises did not appear on certain platforms. Very interesting - Nintendo is a pretty closed company, so all info is welcome. And anything that reduced Miyamoto from demi-god to gifted designer / manager is good too.

That's it for now. Good night.