Games and Interaction design

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lets make systems

Following on from a previous post about connections leading to complexity, I've recently become mildly obsessed with schematic linking and networks, and the fun of building systems when you can just muck about with the inputs and outputs of your modules. Maya's hypergraph (and indeed internal graphing system for pretty much everything from shader networks to animation) is one of the most wonderful things, allowing you to link up anything with pretty much anything else. You want to plug the y position of your object into the photon emission of your light source? Sure! You want to make the distance between two ants turn affect the rotation of a wheel? No problem!

More and more software packages are tending to take advantage of the power that can be levered by allowing the user to create their own networks of functionality, and allow the software to be used in ways never imagined by the creator. As well as Maya, theres packages such as Max MSP, Reason (taking a real world version of the same concept and making it virtual), Virtools (schematic programming at its best) and a lot more. The ease of making these connections is the key to its success, as the results are instantaneous making experimentation easy. In the case of Virtools, you are able to completely change the functionality while the systems are running, with no need to re-compile. Compare that to the inflexibility of creating software in say C++, where you are dealing with the systems from an abstraction (writing code) and even minor modifications to each connection between objects can take a while.

So, I want to have a play with this sort of thing myself, and create a modular framework for playing with connections. So I'm gonna kick off (as soon as I'm finished with the other 900 projects I'm working on) a new project called "LetsMakeSystems", an attempt to make a fun piece of software to allow you to experiment with common systems involved in multimedia and games.


At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Chris OShea said...

Hmm, sounds interesting. Do tell us more when you can release some information.


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