Global Game Industry News Blog

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Blogging Endeavor at IShotTheCyborg.Com

Just introduced myself over at a new blog. Check it out.


Agreeing with EA?

Ok, so I was just at AoIR (Association of Internet Researchers) in Vancouver and ended up in a great conversation with Greg Lastowka who also blogs over at Terra Nova as Greg L. We chatted about the talk I gave, "The Wii-volution will not be Televised: The XNA-cution of a Business Model."

During this conversation, I mentioned one possible step towards a more sustainable game industry. A step which not moments later was being covered by the BBC, Gamasutra, and Spong.

BBC: EA Wants 'Open Gaming Platform'
"We want an open, standard platform which is much easier than having five which are not compatible," said EA's head of international publishing.

He said the web and set-top boxes would grow in importance to the industry.

"We're platform agnostic and we definitely don't want to have one platform which is a walled garden," said Mr Florin.

EA currently produces games for more than 14 different gaming systems, including consoles, portable devices and PCs.

"I am not sure how long we will have dedicated consoles - but we could be talking up to 15 years," Mr Florin added.
In some ways this taps into the "death of the console" concept. I don't really buy the idea that a generic "set-top box" is going to be the answer. I also understand that in many ways this is just EA understanding that they spend a lot trying to be platform agnostic. They support PC/OSX/Wii/DS/PS2/PS3/PSP/Xbox360. It makese sense for them to have a common foudnation for those games.

But I think the real potention of this ideal is instead to have a common core foundation of game code. I'm not saying that we need one console to rule them all. Instead, what we need are more special consoles (like the Wii's Wii-mote) that we need not re-write massive chuncks of code for.

Much like Microsoft's XNA Express, it would be great if there was an open and freely available version of an "Open Gaming Platform." This would be the basic set of libraries/SDK's/API's which developers and open source work could use as a foundation. Game companies (indy/professional/educational/hobbyist/etc) could all use this as a starting point for making games. Why re-write all the time? Math libraries, physics libraries, file I/O, networking, data-formats, Max exporters. Many things could be designed to support this base level. From that point developers could spend more time actually making the games, rather than simply working their tails off to port from one system to another.

It makes sense. But I also don't hear in EA's request a call for openness or standards. Simply they want the ability to cheaply make their games for all consoles. I want more. I want the foundations for some stability in the worlds of game developers.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rough Smooth Phidgets

I don't blog frequently about what I'm actually up to, but in chatting with some folks last week in Montreal at 4S and the Playful Technocultures Unconference, I can't help myself. Bill, you started it, with all your edges and phidgets.

It got me to thinking about smoothness, roughness, edginess and un-edginess. What do I mean, really? It's about the ability or encouragement to pursue what lies beneath a technology. A welcoming to tinkering, I guess. But it is also about not alienating the desirability for "just working" which frequently accompanies smoothness (not always).

So, it got me to thinking, how can we encourage the development of edgy smoothness? What I mean by that is, technologies which "just work" or are aesthetically pleasing, but are also open to tinkering. Sometimes in learning however you'll find you have to go back and learn the edgy rough pieces too, but I think that is something discovered over time.

Am I being too abstract?

Take the Wii or iPod for example. Quite "smooth" devices in many senses of the word. These devices (mostly) just work. We use them and don't really desire to hack them or figure them out, unless you're just one of those people. But that desire to know more is also very important when it comes to learning and desiring to develop your own technological devices. Of course tinkering with these devices has largely become illegal based on the DMCA and other legislation, which unfortunately short circuits the very inquisitive functions which undergird the game industry's workforce. Set that asside for a moment.

What would an iPod that encourages tinkering look like, while also maintaining a smoothness which makes it such a compelling technology?

I just don't know. What's the relationship with Bill's phidgets? Phidgets are rough and edgy, for the most part. But there is actually something very smooth about them once you play with them. They inspire engagement in new and interesting ways. Ways which we need more of.

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