games

Entries tagged with “games”.


Rube Goldberg machines are fun, as anyone who has seen The Goonies will tell you. Physical machines, such as the meticulous, elegant design built for the award-winning Honda ad “Cog” (which required 606 takes to get right), cost millions of dollars and take months of work to film.

A recent trend on the web is the building of virtual Rube Goldberg machines, using existing video game engines to supply the components and physics, and essentially developing their own emergent gameplay. Half Life 2, with its included Havok physics, has an entire community working on building various exceedingly complicated contraptions that do very little, by tying together various blocks, pulleys and the ubiquitous exploding barrel. For my money, the finest examples of the art have come from the venerable Super Mario World.

So Christmas arrived, and I managed to secure a Nintendo Wii (thanks Nikky). I’ve been a crazy Nintendo fan ever since that fateful day I got my first NES back in about 1989. I shamelessly wear geeky Mario-emblazoned t-shirts and have engaged in countless fruitless “which console is better” debates with friends and enemies. Shigeru Miyamoto is an idol of mine. And every new Nintendo console has been a special occasion.

Marko gets a drubbing Mark receives the thrashing of a lifetime!

Wii Sports is the very definition of a “killer app.” On the surface so simple, but containing surprising levels of depth and nuance. Once a friend has hit their first home run or cross-court volley, they’re hooked, and in most cases, go home wanting one. A number of times now a friend has taken a break from flailing their arms around to remark, wide eyed, things like “It’s amazingly accurate”, and “The speaker in the controller is a really good idea!”. Yes. I know.

While chasing my dog around today I was marvelling at her natural instincts to want to run around the whole time. It’s a game for her, and probably her favourite thing to do apart from tearing the house to shreds. The developing problem we’ve got as a species is that we got too goddamned good at building things that are even funner than basic locomotion. The Wii is a very smart move back in the opposite direction.

Video game music: not just kid stuff is one of my favourite papers from a few years back, because it is arguing for something that I have long believed: writing music for devices with limited sound processing capabilities involves a different way of thinking about the composition. To play some sound effects on the NES, you had to momentarily disable the background music’s percussion channel (this channel itself being made up of intermittent bursts of static). I’ve always found it more interesting to design within restrictions (or “engaging constraint”), which I suppose is one of the resons I was attracted to web design all those years ago.

Will Wright‘s new game, Spore, looks like an amazing project. Wright, the designer of both The Sims and before that, Sim City, approaches game design in a refreshing, thoughtful way that is rarely seen (or more probably, rarely documented) in the games industry. His talk at the Game Developer’s Conference, where Spore was first demoed, is instructive, entertaining and exciting.

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