handcircus

Games and Interaction design

Monday, May 23, 2005

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Ive been doing a bit of trade in to pick up a few games that I'd been meaning to play but never got round to. The last couple are Metoid Prime 2 (which ive not started playing yet) and donkey kong jungle beat.
this is quite a remarkable achievement. take a peripheral apparently designed around one activity (err bongo drumming) and somehow create an interaction model to allow it to control an incredibly intuitive, deep and instantly enjoyable platform game. not to sound like a nintendo fanboy, but this is the reason i love nintendo. pure innovation, huge amounts of invention and creativity in all aspects of the game, but built on very solid ground of gameplay concepts honed over the past 20 years or so. it feels weirdly like a sonic game in the sense of flow and timing you need to get round the levels and pull off decent combos, and the tactile sensation of using the drums to pull off moves really draws you into the game (especially when using the bongos to strike or smack rival monkeys in the face). great fun and only 33 quid with bongos at play.com, you cant go wrong.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Everybody loves takahashi

The gdctv sessions continue with the awesome keita takahashi and his session "Rolling the Dice - The Risks and Rewards of Developing Katamari Damacy"

Creating the art of the game

I finished this book last weekend. its a quick read, and at quite an introductory level, but its definitely a good overview of a lot of the aspects of creating game art. avoiding anything to do with character rigging and animation, it concentrates mostly on environments, and core components such as polygon modelling, creating textures from photos, vertex lighting, lightmapping and a lot of other stuff. the chapter on advanced texturing was a good read, something id not really read much about anywhere else, really going into detail about a lot of photoshop tricks to add character and inviduality to your textures. some of the applications of vertex colour were also pretty interesting.

The wonderful Tim Shafer

I've been playing psychonauts on import after hearing such encouraging praise from the noisy buzz of the internets mouth. at first i have to admit i thought it looked dead dodgy, that the characters were original but the interaction and game structure looked very derivative, but by the time i got to the lungfish level i could not believe how wrong i was. the funniest game i can remember playing for a long time.
anyway, theres an interview with tim schafer, the president of doublefine (developers of psychonauts) you can see online here.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Behind the scenes of Rez

Relatively short article at Gamasutra interviewing the only western game artist working at uga on rez. gives some interesting perspectives on the games creation.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Peter Molyneux @ GDC

Watch the "Next Generation Game Design" session from GDC online here. Essentially its a walkthrough of current lionhead projects (and a bit of r&d at the end), but of particular interest is the focus on usability and simplicity of user interface design to appeal to a more casual audience, the briefly touched upon notion of morphable gameplay and the idea of playing with peoples perception of reality in the alice-in-wonderland like demo towards the end.

Creative play

Ernest Adams' regular column on gamasutra this month features a discussion of various forms of creative play and their significance within game design. have a look.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

More AI reading

After getting a bit more interested in AI after reading about the Braitenberg vehicles and playing Half Life 2, I got Programming Game AI by example a few weeks ago. Despite missing 30 pages (or rather a bizarre misprint of 30 pages, now corrected by amazon), its a great insight into the construction of game ai, going through complete examples of AI for a football game and for a quake-style bot. Quite a lot to take in but it covers a lot of ground, and made me appreciate more the signifance of ai within game design. soon as i get a chance, im gonna try to throw together a finite state-machine based park simulation called dog and duck :)

Alias R&D

I came across an old Alias|Wavefront promotional CD that covered their research from 1995-2000. Quite a lot has made it into products (such as fluid effects and paint effects) but theres a lot of quite out there stuff, particularly some ingenious use of "tape-drawing" systems nabbed from car designers and some great two handed input methods. Unfortunately there doesnt seem to be much on the alias site anymore, but the chief scientist at the time (who has now left) has his own site, so go check out Bill Buxton.