October 21, 2004

Links from Distraction

by Andrew Stern · , 8:52 am

Again I am unable to find the time write a post this week, but I think I have an even better excuse this time. (Pardon me for a moment… YYYEEEAAAHHHH!!! *cough* ahem.) (Oh, and I also just finalized an offer yesterday on our first house, which took some extra time too — we’re moving from Boston to Portland, Oregon in January.)

Anyhow, I’ll contribute links to others’ interesting writings, in case you haven’t seen them yet:

Raph Koster, lead designer of the Star Wars Galaxies MMOG and Ultima Online and an implementor of LegendMUD, has written A Theory of Fun, to be available in a few weeks. A press quote says, “Raph’s intention here is to write an Understanding Comics for computer games: an accessible, lay-oriented text that explains, finally, what this medium means…”

The Public Beta folk will soon be publishing Difficult Questions About Videogames in which 71 contributions from CEOs, developers, journalists, academics and players were culled from 969 initial responses to an open call for opinions.

Grumpy Gamer Ron Gilbert, veteran adventure game designer, writes an extensive essay on what it would take personnel-wise and budget-wise to create a profitable, high-quality 2D adventure game in this day and age. His production budget comes in at just under $1M, which 3D shooter game designer Scott Miller thinks is a stretch. (I agree with Gilbert! Low budget is the way to go!)

In Gamasutra, Ernest Adams writes “The Perils of Bottom-up Game Design“, on the balance between simulation and gameplay.

GameDevBlog writes up a reaction to the Sims 2 (I’ve got my copy right here, waiting to be installed!), appreciating some of the (optional) goal-oriented aspects now offered in this sequel, and how that improves the overall drama:

The Sims 2, even more so than the Sims, comes the closest I’ve seen to being a Holy Grail of games – the neverending story, where the player is part author, part participant. Although The Sims [1] could have moments of player-driven drama – see the comment in yesterday’s blog about the guy who would marry women for their money and then drown them in his pool – The Sims 2 encourages it, by giving each Sim short-term goals. If the Sims in a household have different long-term strategies, their short-term goals may cause conflict.

Finally, there is a new book out called From Brows to Trust: Evaluating Embodied Conversational Agents, edited by Zsˇfia Ruttkay and Catherine Pelachaud, that I believe coincided with a similar workshop that Michael just attended two weeks ago, in which Facade was one of several systems evaluated.