According to an article in PC Gamer (August 2014, Ben Griffin, p. 10), Epic Games’ Unreal Tournament 2014 will make “Every line of code, evert art asset and animation…available for download.” Users will be able to create their own mods and sell them through a provided marketplace. “Epic, naturally, gets a cut of the profits.”
Steve Polge, project lead and senior programmer, said “I believe this development model gives us the opportunity to build a much better balanced and finely tuned game, which is vital to the long-term success of a competitive shooter.” He points out that players already contribute to design discussions.
At the Tel Aviv headquarters of the Center for Educational Technology, an NGO I’m very fond of because of its simultaneous dedication to improving education and its embrace of innovative technology, I got to try an Oculus Rift.
They put me on a virtual roller coaster. My real knees went weak.
Earlier, I gave a talk at the Israeli Wikimedia conference. I was reminded — not that I actually need reminding — how much I like being around Wikipedians. And what an improbable work of art is Wikipedia.
A British game show that I never heard offers a version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. As the host explains at the beginning, if both contestants agree to split the pot, they split it. If one chooses to split and the other to steal, the stealer gets the whole thing. If they both choose to steal, they get nothing. So, here’s the clip in which one of the players injects a new variable. [SPOILERS IN THE REST OF THIS POST]
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
Why does the guy on the right (Mr. Right) finally choose the way he does?
If Mr. Left believes that Mr. Right will Steal, then Mr. Left will Split, so Mr Right might as well Split. If Mr. Left thinks that Mr. Right will Split, then Mr. Left will Steal, so Mr. Right can either Split (so Mr. Left gets the pot) or Steal (so neither gets anything); might as well Split. If Mr. Left believes that Mr. Right will steal and will break his promise to split the pot afterwards, then Mr. Left might Steal just to screw Mr. Right, in which case Mr. Left might as well let Mr. Left get the money rather than foregoing it for both of them, so Mr. Right should Split. No matter how you slice it, Mr. Left should Split.
If that’s right, and if Mr. Left were given time to work it through, then Mr. Left should have Stolen (assuming his aim is to maximize his share). But I’m pretty sure that I’m wrong about that.
Mark MacKay has created a kerning game that is simplicity itself. Actually, it’s more like a quiz. You’re shown a word in a chosen font and are asked to slide the characters so that it is properly kerned.
It turns out that this is a more complex aesthetic decision than it seems, since it depends on properties such as the weight of the characters and the peculiarities of each face’s design. But you font people knew that already!
I still don’t know why I started getting a free subscription to Game Developer magazine, but I sure enjoy it. The technical articles are over my head and frequently completely over my head, but I enjoy reading articles written from a hard-core developer point of view. (The magazine comes to me under the name Johnny Locust at Wild West Ware — not a pseudonym or anynym of mine. I find traces of him on the Net, but none that lets me contact him directly. Johnny, if you find this, I’m enjoying your subscription!)
The magazine opener this month (Sept.) comes from Eric Caoili. It”s about The Difference Engine Initiative, an incubator to encourage and enable women as game developers. Two sessions are planned in Toronto.
One of the founders, Mare Sheppard, says in Game Developer:
“There’s this huge, homogenous, very insular, established set of developers right now in the game industry, and it happens to be mostly white and mostly male. From that, you can really only get a certain amount of innovation…If we had more voices and more opinions and more people coming in, then we would be able to take bigger steps in releasing games that represent different people, because they’re involved in the development process.”
As for the incubator, says Sheppard, “It’s like a crafter’s circle. It’s loose and low-key, and it’s about peer mentorship.” She sees it as just one step that might help some people get over the initial hurdle.
The project is named after Ada Lovelace’s contribution to Babbage’s Difference Engine, but I enjoy the implicit endorsement of difference as a source of innovation. In fact, difference is the source of all value, isn’t it?
Great Minds Think Alike is a word association game that lets users build semantic concept networks and explore similarity relations.
Players form a chain of semantically related words, which comes from the GiveALink knowledge base. Users can browse through nine different social media, e.g. Flickr and Youtube, and earn points.
Words are geo-tagged, which helps to analyze the geographical distribution of terms. Players can also connect with other players via Facebook as suggested by the game.
Data from the game is collected by GiveALink.org to make the game more fun, support other social tagging applications, and for study purposes.
No, I don’t actually understand how either game works, and I haven’t signed up for them because the first one is a study that I don’t want to commit to and the second requires an iPhone. But, the GiveALink service is interesting. It’s an open bookmark-sharing service that also feeds a research program. [Hat tip to Julianne Chatelain.]
NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.
He says there have been 381,000,000 check-ins so far. In every single country. The last country to check in was North Korea. The biggest single event was the Rally to Restore Sanity. “The most basic user experience is simply when friends check-in to their current location to find their friends.” “We help engineer serendipity” in which you discover a friend is nearby.
Their value proposition: Discovery, encouragement, and loyalty.
Discovery: They want to push people out into the real world. They’ve just launched an “explore” tag, a recommendation engine. It uses info about what your friends like to do, what people like you like to do, what people are saying in the “tips” review feature, etc. “We want to be like that best friend who knows every cool bar in Chicago, or every restaurant…”
Encouragement: Use gaming mechanics to get people to do what they wouldn’t have done otherwise. The mayor races have become really competitive. If someone loses it, they’ll go back to the place over and over. Their badges also encourage people to go out. E.g., go out to the gym a few times a week and you’ll get the gym rat badge. They have also improved their leader board. The Ambassador program enables users to bring merchants onto Foursquare.
Loyalty: They encourage merchants to offer rewards of various types. They’ve relaunched this part of the platform: easier for merchants, for users, and new “specials” types. They’re now offering “flash specials” to drive traffic when the place is under-utilized. Not all specials are discounts. “It’s an experience.” They also have a “friends special” that only works if you show up with some number of friends. Over 250,000 venues have verified on the merchant platform. Merchants have done creative things with Foursquare. Even when Starbucks offered a mere $1 off a frappucino to the local mayors, checkins jumped by 50%. “It’s about the experience and recognition as much as anything.”
They have a full and easy API, modeled on Twitter’s.
[I find Foursquare fascinating. To the users it's a game. To the merchants, it's a form of marketing. And as a blending of the virtual, the real, gaming, and marketing, it's amazing.]
As a diploma project, David Arenou has prototyped an augment reality game that turns your living room into a scene in a first person shooter. Here’s his description:
Before beginning, the user has to set action markers and hiding places with personal furniture. It can be a chair, an armchair, an overturned coffee table: whatever wanted. After calibration, the player sits behind one of his hideouts and the game can start. The position of the body will have a direct impact on the avatar that it embodies.
When the player hides, he becomes invisible for his virtual enemies. When he uncovers himself, he can attack but becomes vulnerable to enemy bullets. Following a shooting phase, the game forces the player to change hiding place or to touch one of the markers, in order to get to a new sequence…
On his site you can see a video of the actual prototype in which he places the computer-readable markers, and crouches behind his furniture in between firing off shots at his television. Here’s his concept video:
The future of gaming, the innocent-sounding origins of the apocalypse, or both?