Skip to main content

The usability testing on Halo 3

It's time to close some tabs. This Wired article is about the usability testing that Microsoft and Bungie did on Halo 3.

People who know me know I am a big fan of quantified and/or empirical approaches to game design. I really truly think that if you're not using these kind of methods, over time you will go out of business, as more and more of your competitors start using it (and publishers start demanding it), and the advantage they have starts canceling out any spark of genius you may have. It's a statistical fact! :)

Game Focus Germany 2008

So now I can say what that milestone I mentioned earlier was: The conference schedule for Game Focus Germany 2008 in Hannover had finally been locked down. GFG is a conference for German developers and publishers, now in its second year. I got the job of finding international speakers through ML Enterprises, so since late October I have been trying to get interesting people to come and give a talk this year. And I think it worked out well! I am very excited about the line-up. Greg Costikyan, Noel Llopis, Stéphane Adamiak, Robin Hunicke, Mike McShaffry, Jonathan Blow, Doug Church, Stéphane Bura, Erik Simon, Thaddaeus Frogley and many others are coming. The hardest thing will be to choose which session to go too... (Well, and dealing with this cold I suddenly developed last Saturday. Curses!)

Spore is coming to the Mac

I realize this may not interest a lot of people, but I am glad to read that Spore will be released for the Mac. Oh, and Call of Duty 4, but I'll just play that on an Xbox 360 if I'll play it at all. (Maybe I really should give one of them new-fangled World War II shooters that the kids are raving about a go... I hear good things about some game called Medal of something.)

Now let's hope Spore works on my old dual G5 PowerMac. Maybe I should get a new iMac? Or a MacBook Air? Gah.

(Via Slashdot: Games.)


I just finished a side project that I've been working on since late October and that cost me about 1 to 2 hours every day. Despite all the work it was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to seeing the final result next week.

As soon as the press release is sent out I will reveal what it is :)

And now for some animation

Here are some interesting links related to animation - not 3D animation in games: animation as a visual medium.

  • has a great gallery of clips from Eastern European animation. I think most people are like me and may have heard of Jan Svankmajer (who is not even found on this page) or may have seen some strange cartoons as a child growing up in Western Europe. This is mind-blowing stuff, reminding me how artifical limitations on subject matter and visual style can be.

    Be sure to check out the clips from The Golem in the sidebar, which use a style I have never before seen.

  • If you liked that, you may like the Quay Brothers. Here is one of their animations. If you're old enough to have seen the first few years of MTV Europe, you will probably be familiar with their short films, as MTV used them as interstitials.

    Be sure to check out Institute Benjamenta, their first 'live action' movie, unless incomprehensibility offends you. I recommend watching it late at night. (I just noticed they did a sequence for 'Frida'.)

  • I quite liked "Moo!", an animated movie by Cyriak. Slightly disturbing, but very zany.

  • Someone has gone through the trouble of assembling the original illustrated catalog of ACME products. It reminds me of Cliff Hanger, a game released in 1986 by New Generation Software for the ZX Spectrum and other, lesser machines. Here is a video of the Commodore 64 version.

    When I was working on casual games at JoWooD Vienna in 2002, we seriously considered doing a remake of some sort. In the end we didn't, but it did have some influence on Neighbors From Hell.

  • Cartoon Modern is a blog and a book about the visual style and design in animation from the fifties. I love this style.

  • Bruce Bickford. Mind-blowing. Goes well with marihuana. Here is the trailer for 'Monster Road', a documentary about his work and his life. Lots of videos can be found on YouTube, especially of his work with Frank Zappa. (Thanks to Michael B. for introducing me to Mr. Bickford's work.)

(Some links via Boing Boing's web zen.)

Steven Poole's "Trigger Happy" free for download

You can download Steven Poole's book "Trigger Happy" for free from his website, as a CC-licensed no-DRM PDF. Yay!

[...] I thought I'd try an experiment, and give away for free an "ebook" version of my first book, Trigger Happy, with no "digital rights management" whatsoever. It'll work on anything that can read a PDF.

Trigger Happy is a book about the aesthetics of videogames — what they share with cinema, the history of painting, or literature; and what makes them different, in terms of form, psychology and semiotics. It was first published in 2000; this is the revised edition with the Afterword written in 2001. [...] The book is offered under a CC license, for a limited time only. I'm not sure how limited that time will be, so grab it while it's hot.

Thanks Steven.

World of Warcraft for Mobile Phones?

World of Warcraft for Mobile Phones?
Now don't expect to be questing or leveling with wowMobile, (Unless your using wow glider) its more for simple things, for the geeks, addicts (or the bored) -Check Auction House -Sell/Buy at merchants -Small travel distances -Catch up on Email -Chat -Monitor the wait status for a battle ground while your away from your computer.

First time I hear of this. Why can't I do some of these things without logging into the WoW client? Blizzard is so slow with extending the game into the surrounding ecosystem (but perhaps for a good reason).

I say this is fake / link bait / malware. Or it's some hack, in which case it will be crushed mercilessly. By now Blizzard has enough money to just take out a hit on people that annoy them.

(Thanks Thomas.)

Some things that have nothing to do with games

This blog post has nothing to do with games, just with some things I found fun to read or listen to.

Patton Oswalt has written about his experiences with KFC's 'Famous Bowl'. I know neither Mr. Oswald nor this bowl, but this is some darn funny writing, starting off and ending in authentic H.P. Lovecraft style.

The franchise I visited, on Hollywood Boulevard near my old apartment, looked like it had withstood assault by bullets, flamethrowers, Baseball Furies, and a hundred hook-handed whores. Everything inside the store—including the employees and customers—looked like it had been rubbed with sad ham.
'Rubbed with sad ham' is my favorite phrase right now.

If that destroyed your belief in restaurant food, why not read about the awe-inspiring breakfast at Thomas Keller's Bouchon (the one in Vegas) as described by Liz Upton? (Yes, that's the Thomas Keller that worked on Ratatouille.) Delectable as that sounds, I was most impressed by this:

But for French fry perfection in Las Vegas I recommend that you visit Stripsteak, a Michael Mina restaurant at Mandalay Bay, where the trio of duck fat fries (always served as an amuse bouche, and also available as a side dish) - one pot with paprika dusting and a barbecue sauce, one with truffles and a truffle aïoli, and one with herbs and a home-made ketchup - are far and away the best I've ever eaten.

Hmmmmmmmm... duck fat smacks lips I have been this close to starting a food/cooking blog last year, can you tell?

Finally, I recommend that you go over to Bootie and grab their Best of Bootie 2005, 2006 and 2007. The finest in mash-ups, totally free! And technically illegal. But where else can you listen to the Chemical Brothers' Galvanize and John Williams' Death Star Theme mixed together by Party Ben, or The Rolling Stones' Sympathy for the Devil, Queen's Another One Bites The Dust and Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, mashed up by DJ Moule? Hours of fun for the whole family. Soon, like me, you'll have trouble remembering a time when Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive and George Michael's Careless Whisper were not one song.

Let me know what you think.