December 6, 2010

Call for Papers: Games and Software Engineering Workshop 2011

I’ve attached after the jump the Call for Papers for the first ever Games and Software Engineering Workshop (GAS 2011), which will be held at ICSE 2011 in idyllic Honolulu, Hawaii! Jim and I have been working very hard getting everything together on what promises to be a great workshop, and we’re honored to have such an illustrious program committee. Papers are four page position papers, to be in by January 21st.
We hope to see you there!

Call for Papers: GAS 2011: The 1st Games and Software Engineering Workshop

GAS 2011: The 1st Games and Software Engineering Workshop will be a one-day workshop held between May 21-28, 2011, co-located with the International Conference of Software Engineering (ICSE) in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

Important Dates

Position papers (4 pages maximum): January 21, 2010


At the core of video games are complex interactions leading to emergent behaviors. This complexity creates difficulties architecting components, predicting their behaviors and testing the results. Software engineering hasn’t yet been able to meet the demands of the games industry, an industry that works at the forefront of technology and creativity, where creating a fun experience is the most important metric of success. GAS 2011 will explore the demands of game creation and ascertain how the software engineering community can contribute to this important creative domain. Furthermore, GAS 2011 will investigate how games can help aid the software engineering process or improve software engineering education. Research in these areas has been exciting and interesting, and GAS 2011 will be the first time practitioners from all three fields to have the opportunity to come together at ICSE to investigate the possibilities of this innovative research area.
GAS encourages submissions of topics from across the entire range of software engineering research areas. The following topics are given as a guide, but all submissions will be given equal consideration.
  • Development processes

November 17, 2010

Space Invaders Belarusian Edition

For our (possibly) sizable Belarusian readership, Patric Conrad has translated the original Space Invaders Enterprise Edition post into a Belarusian version! Дзякуй, Patric!

April 24, 2010

Mining the World of Warcraft Armory

Mining is hard work! (thanks RipTen)

Many people have mined the World of Warcraft Armory for all sorts of information. Until recently, the data being mined out of the Armory was largely something I call “descriptive statistics”: statistics that are interesting in and of themselves, but don’t really require much more than counting up instances of labels. How many Orc hunters are there? Are there more Death Knights or Warlocks? What talents are most popular? Some deeper data mining, joining some of these statistics together, or using some more advanced techniques, could yield exciting insights into the game design.

April 14, 2010

Starcraft EISbot in GamePro

Gamepro logoContinuing the EIS blog’s recent Starcraft theme, Ben and Peter were recently interviewed by John Davison, editor of Gamepro, inspired after his visit to UCSC. The interview is now up on the front-page of, with Davison tweeting: “Mind blown.”

March 17, 2010

Scott Jennings on the Zynga Phenomenon

It doesn't look like the apocolypse

The title: Farmville Killed Gaming, V-Worlds, And Your Dog (tongue-in-cheek)

The premise: “…it seems the talk of GDC 2010 was… Farmville. Specifically, how metrics-driven game design (such as what Farmville uses) will destroy fun as we know it.”

The response: “i take particular exception to your statements about killing dogs. zynga is a dog loving company named after my dearly departed dog zinga.” (Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga)

Other luminaries, such as Raph Koster, wade into the discussion at the comments thread at Broken Toys.

March 2, 2010

WoW Armory Data Mining: The Next Generation

The clustering of WoW Feral Druid forms (Bear on top, Cat on bottom)

Over at the Armory Data Mining blog, a plucky computational biology PhD student under the name of Darush has taken a look at some World of Warcraft Armory data and run some fascinating transformations to analyze the number of Druid players that favor bear form vs cat form when they play World of Warcraft. Note that this is inferred from statistics choices, it is not a simple flag that is set in the data itself.

March 1, 2010

EIS Featured in Local News

The group (Copyright Robinson Kuntz/Santa Cruz Sentinel)

EIS is now able to claim “big in Santa Cruz” after being featured in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the local newspaper (I’ve also heard reports of the story being syndicated to the San Jose Mercury News for the wider Bay Area).

February 17, 2010

John Davison of GamePro Talk at UCSC

John Davison

John Davison (image from the San Francisco Chronicle)

“The breadth of video game development” (working title)

John Davison, Executive Vice President of Content at GamePro

Date: Tuesday, February 23rd
Time: 2:00pm
Place: Digital Media Theater, UCSC
Hosted By: Chris Lewis, Noah Wardrip-Fruin

This lecture is free and open to the public, but visitors should purchase a parking pass from the visitor kiosk at the main entrance. There they can also provide a map showing the best parking for the Digital Media Theater.

John Davison of GamePro Talk at UCSC

John Davison

John Davison (image from the San Francisco Chronicle)

“The breadth of video game development” (working title)

John Davison, Executive Vice President of Content at GamePro

Date: Tuesday, February 23rd
Time: 2:00pm
Place: Digital Media Theater, UCSC
Hosted By: Chris Lewis, Noah Wardrip-Fruin

This lecture is free and open to the public, but visitors should purchase a parking pass from the visitor kiosk at the main entrance. There they can also provide a map showing the best parking for the Digital Media Theater.

February 15, 2010

Space Invaders Enterprise Edition

Arghh! Space Invaders in suits!

Space Invaders Enterprise Edition

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve released Space Invaders Enterprise Edition (Java, cross-platform executable), the first prototype program from my newly announced research direction, Zenet.

Space Invaders EE is a clone of code from Coke and Code, and as a tutorial for how to create games. However, it’s not the game itself we’re interested in (although it is pretty fun…)

The magic of Space Invaders Enterprise Edition is actually under the hood. I’ve separated out the game logic from the Java source into a file parsed by a rules engine. This means we can easily view the game design, without it getting muddled with too much implementation code.

January 4, 2010

Designer Intent vs Emergence: Nissan Edition

Nissan Datsun 510: Fastest Car on the Planet

Forza Motorsport 3 is, as described by one of the designers, “car porn.” And, well, that beauty above? That delicious, glistening, throbbing piece of machinery? That’s a Nissan Datsun 510 from 1970. You’re free to take a moment right now, if you need one… imagining yourself astride the seat, hand gripped on the gear shift, thrusting forwards through the forest…

At least, that’s what Forza 3 would have you think.

Once you’re back from your “moment,” please continue over the jump to see exactly what I’m talking about.

November 25, 2009

Chiptunes To Party To: Saitone


Smooth Criminal:

Something to give thanks for and dance your way into turkey comas. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 18, 2009

Call of Duty: Secret Spielberg Level Unlocked

Call of Duty: Secret Spielberg Level Unlocked

Only with the absurdity of this video can you accurately capture the almost-entirely failed message of Call of Duty.

Choice quote: “My girlfriend has walked in front of the telly again.”

November 15, 2009

Non-Linear Stories v1.0: Choose Your Own Adventure

Choose Your Own Adventure: The Real Story (thanks to Something Awful)While every boy knows that Fighting Fantasy was like, you know, 900 times better, than Choose Your Own Adventure, the level to which Christian Swinheart goes to dissect the CYOA series is nothing short of phenomenal. His visualizations of the story paths, in particular, are beautiful depictions of a system in operation.

While I won’t bother trying to add anything to Christian’s epic foresight into the series, I have to say I was fascinated by Inside UFO 54-40:

November 5, 2009

CFP: Foundations of Digital Games (FDG) 2010

FDG 2010 has put out their Call for Papers, the important date being 5th February as the paper and poster submission deadline.

FDG 2009 was a fantastic conference, filled to the brim with various gaming academic luminaries, fascinating papers and a wide variety of interests. I’m looking forward to 2010, as it’s just down the road in Monterey!

November 3, 2009


Luis and Gay Tony in GTA IV: Ballad of Gay Tony

Luis and Gay Tony in GTA IV: Ballad of Gay Tony

Last week, the second and final installment of the Episodes of Liberty City downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV, The Ballad of Gay Tony, was released. Unlike the more sullen story of Nico Bellic, clawing his way up from nothing, Gay Tony’s Luis begins with a crisp suit, good job, plenty of cash and all sorts of expensive items to wreak havoc throughout Liberty City. What marks out GTA IV’s DLC from a simple mission pack or extra campaign is that it offers the chance to experience Liberty City from a new perspective, reimagining the gameplay, and thus, the game, in the process.

September 22, 2009

Stunning Monkey Island/Crysis Mashup

Fantastic Monkey Island 2 render in Crysis.

If anyone is yet to be convinced on the power of a great portfolio, I bet the creator, Hannes Appel, can look forward to an inbox stuffed with job offers in the coming weeks.

[Via Offworld, .tiff]

The Cycle Completes: Game Studies Scholars in Games

Ian Bogost

“Hello, my name is Ian Bogost” (press Click to Play in the top right).

I’m glad there’s no English translation of the web site, I like not knowing why he’s there. It’s like when you see Matt Damon on Japanese commercials, and you have no idea what he’s selling.

Ian Bogost = Matt Damon. You heard it here first.

September 5, 2009

It’s The Bat!

Batman and the Joker

Batman and the Joker

We can talk about the production values, the voice actors, the longevity, the setting, maybe we could talk about some procedural logic or game studies du jour operational logic, but all there really is to say is that Batman: Arkham Asylum is a fantastic game. The reason why: you get to be Batman. Crazy, no?

August 16, 2009

Software Engineering as Artifact Creation

if (sandWeight != idolWeight) { throw new BoulderException(); }

if (sandWeight != idolWeight) { throw new BoulderException(); }

Geek disclosure: I’ve become fascinated by the different facets of Software Engineering. Not just as a means to an end, but as a practice, as an art and as a historical artifact. I feel like I’m in Indiana Jones and the Java Temple, full of Pythons, with the riches of Perls and Rubies.

My desire for faster, better, stronger code has been spurred on by being bitten one too many times by unchecked exceptions in Python, leading me back to the comfortable blanket of Java, unit testing and a framed photo of Kent Beck on my bedside table.

August 12, 2009

When Technology Isn’t Enough

Riddick and his Ulaks (read: sharp knives)

Riddick and his Ulaks (read: sharp knives)

Between being laid out with a kickboxing injury on my foot (not as manly as it sounds, I’m afraid) and food poisoning (which really is as non-manly as it sounds), I’ve had plenty of time to play some more games, without having to write it off to any significant others or advisers as “research”. Gamefly delivered “The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena”, which has touched a nerve that has been twinging a long time (not in my foot): while technology is a great gameplay enabler, it’s also no panacea when the game design is flawed.

August 6, 2009

Super Mario Bros. AI Competiton

The Super Mario Bros. AI Competition is a fantastic competition being run by Sergey Karakovskiy and Julian Togelius in conjunction with the IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence and Games (CIG 2009). Were it not for the fact that all members of the EIS lab are terribly busy working on our research (our advisers read this too, you know!), I’m sure we’d be all over this.

The video above is our favorite entry so far, which wins three million EIS bonus points for escaping from a fall.  Amazing!

August 2, 2009

Flash Game: You Only Live Once

I can’t get enough of games that parody game convention.

Play You Only Live Once at Kongregate.

July 31, 2009

Geek Cred: Confirmed

Poetry and Slashdot collide via XKCD

Poetry and Slashdot collide via XKCD

Slashdot is “News for Nerds, Stuff That Matters”, and one of the most influential news sites in computing circles. Yesterday, appearing in an article titled “Games That Design Themselves” a certain “University of California” professor is named.

Who could this shadowy persona be? With so many campuses to choose from, who could possibly be elevated to such an illustrious status? Why, it’s none other than EIS’s very own Michael Mateas! h+ magazine takes a look at Mateas and Stern’s Façade, and have a look over friend-of-Grand Text Auto’s Jeff Orkin and his Restaurant Game.

July 30, 2009

Warning: Value of Games May Go Down as Well as Up

Feel Good Hit of the Summer: Battlefield 1943

Feel Good Hit of the Summer: Battlefield 1943

Battlefield 1943 is one of a number of games hitting Xbox Live Arcade and the Playstation Network this summer, countering the traditional summer lull. For just $15 (or £10 for my UK brethren, or 1200 Microsoft Space Bucks for everyone else), one of the most perfect knockabout multiplayer experiences can be had. Want to fly planes into tanks? How about flying a plane above a tank and parachuting on top of it? How about flying a plane into a tank, jumping out at the last second, and watching debris shower over your head? This is gaming, my friends.

At $15, it is one of the best bank per buck games one can purchase, described by John Davidson as an “evergreen” title, destined to be supported with fresh maps and gameplay for many, many hours.

With such value to be had, where happens to the $60 game (or the criminal £55 game)?

- Next Page ->

Powered by WordPress