Archive for the ‘Totally Off-Topic’ Category

The Most Perfect Video Game

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Why make games? Steve Meretzky, formerly of Infocom and currently of Blue Fang games, gives us all a reason to be in his speech “The Most Perfect Video Game”, presented at the Boston Postmortem:

Merriam-Webster Word of the Year: W00t!

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Believe-it-or-not, “w00t” is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year. For those of you not familiar with the term–I’m not sure who, as I’d think anyone reading this blog probably uses “woot” as part of their daily vernacular–it’s an expression of glee or triumph commonly used by gamers.

“W00t! We totally pwnd those n00bs.”
“Steak for dinner? W00t!”

A bit of gamer culture making it as word of the year? Well, I guess there’s only one thing I can say to that: w00t!

GDC Already?

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

In case you missed it, the annual Game Developer’s Conference is early this year! The conference is usually held in March, but this year it runs from February 18-22 in San Francisco, California. Alumni early-registration deadline is December 5.

Cats in Zero-G

Thursday, November 8th, 2007

An amusing excerpt I ran across from the essay collection A Step Further Out, by Jerry Pournelle:

And prior to (the) Mercury (program) we hadn’t any real experience at all. We flew transport planes in parabolic courses that might give as much as 30 seconds of almost-zero-g, and that was all we knew. I will not soon forget some of our early low-g experiments. Some genius wanted to know how a cat oriented: visual cues, or a gravity sensor? The obvious way to find out was to take a cat up in an airplane, fly the plane in a parabolic orbit, and observe the cat during the short period of zero-g.

It made sense. Maybe. It didn’t make enough that anyone would authorize a large airplane for the experiment, so a camera was mounted in a small fighter (perhaps a T-bird; I forget), and the cat was carried along in the pilot’s lap. A movie was made of the whole run.

The film, I fear, doesn’t tell us how a cat orients. It shows the pilot frantically trying to tear the cat off his arm, and the cat just as violently resisting. Eventually the cat was broken free and let go in mid-air, where it seemed magically (teleportation? or not really zero gravity in the plane? no one knows) to move, rapidly, straight back to the pilot, claws outstretched. This time there was no tearing it loose at all. The only thing I learned from the film is that cats (or this one anyway) don’t like zero gravity, and think human beings are the obvious point of stability to cling to.

Which leaves me with only one question:

If you wanted to know if it was visual cues, wouldn’t it have been easier to just blindfold the cat? 😉

Escaping Through Air Vents, Not Just for Movies

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

I found this great blog by screen writer John August. It’s full of tips and tricks for budding writers, and it’s a fun read. I about fell out of my chair laughing when I read this:

One day, I’d love to win an Oscar. An Emmy. A Tony Award. But if all I accomplished in my screenwriting life were reducing the number of times characters climbed through air vents, I’d consider my work successful.

Mr. August contends that “air ducts are for air” and shouldn’t be used as a magical escape mechanism for characters in otherwise hopeless circumstances.

Now some may argue that people do fit in air vents, but it’s hard to disagree… It’s a silly cliché and it’s used much too often not only in movies but in games, too. I can’t count the number of times I’ve climbed through air vents in games of all kinds. Nonetheless, I don’t like to blindly dismiss concepts either. For example, there are very rare times when even climbing through ducts makes sense: AVP on the Atari Jaguar is a brilliant example. Allowing players as the alien to climb through the ducts added game play that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

It intrigues me how many Hollywood clichés have made their way into video games. I can’t help but wonder how long until video game clichés start regularly making their way into movies. I guess we’ll know the first time a movie opens with an ammo crate and a pork chop on the ground.