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1  General / Check this out! / Re: Beyond eyes, a game where you guide a blind girl through an unknown world on: December 12, 2013, 09:34:36 PM
This looks very interesting - I hope you manage to complete the project despite not receiving the funding hoped for.

I'm assuming it's Unity?

If you do read this, here is a C++ programmer interested in designs that aren't generic. Beyond Eyes really hit a note with me - I've played around with ideas of how to make a video game with only sounds and a black screen, possibly with scent trails, but I like your design a lot better.

I'm in a low-output mode (as in, quit real-life work), heavily investing my time in developing a strong foundation for an engine (that includes an AI system built around emotional responses to player actions). I'm not ordinarily a very forward person, but please consider me if you need programmer support in the future. I'm bogged down in my own things right now, so I'm really not soliciting for work (see, I'm so backwards I'm awkward).

Out of curiosity, why did you scrap the dress-as-canvas idea?
2  General / Check this out! / Re: Alpha build of Bientôt l’été now available on: November 02, 2012, 01:20:06 PM
Been meaning to put some feedback up for ages. Not played the latest alpha (link expired on me), but I gather from the posts that the rough edges are disappearing. That leaves me in the wonderful position to simply gush.

I love the conversation system, despite not yet experiencing it with another human being. The collecting of conversation pieces from the environment is great, too. I haven't had a go at Bientôt l’été for a while, but I think I remember collecting one piece from elsewhere than the beach? That's where I see the greatest potential for this mechanic (in games with less abstract settings), in the constructiion of conversations from envrionmental objects that are part of procedurally generated scenes. Perhaps not enough to warrant dozens of playthroughs, but certainly enough to give each player at least one experience unique to them.

The coversations in Bientôt l’été are a game, but unlike the branching conversation scripts that most gamers are familiar with. They are a game that is probably best played with another human being, but I see the potential to catergorise and score coversation components. Nothing as obscene as visible scorecards, simply under-the-hood structure that would allow rudimentary AI to collect their own conversation parts and play with you. Like The Sims, but with real words and the possibility for deeper conflict and/or connection.

The difficulty of non-scripted conversations and the like is part of the reason why the gaming industry is mostly about violence and gratification (the easiest human conflict/reward relationship to computer-model). So overall, while the lack of a human 'opponent' meant I wasn't immediately grabbed by Bientôt l’été, I feel it has taught me something important about the nature of computer-modelled conversations. Perhaps this wasn't your aim (or your main one), but Bientôt l’été perfectly demonstrates that conversations, in the absence of real AI with the capacity to undertand and communicate with us, are not something the designer must script. With some more smoke and mirrors, and a little game theory (and a lot more data), I think it would be possible to build something that is indistinguishable from a person playing the same game.

So on the mechanic front, it's a solid thumbs up from me. I'd love to see this mechanic developed further and I hope others take inspiration when Bientôt l’été reaches a wider audience.
3  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Silent Hill 2: where did we go wrong? on: July 03, 2012, 05:29:03 PM
What all those games had in common, however, was that they were the product of a strong vision of an individual, or a small passionate team.

Personally, I think that is the reason right there.

How many truly collaborative works of art are out there? Art that will be remembered beyond its time and not just as filler in a contemporary gallery or as a kind of 'tech demo'. Many of the old masters had 'collaborative' workshops. One person who oversaw a team of skilled craftspeople (because they weren't all men). A studio of people who were technically gifted enough to pretend they were great artists, as long as they had a great artist directing every canvas. 'Collaborative' studios exist today and their role is the same - to put out a high quantity of work under the name of one person or to realise grander artworks that would take a lifetime (or more) for one person.

How many film directors spend half the shoot on the beach sipping Martinis? I'm sure many do, but I'm equally sure almost every single film (commercial or indie) that has left an impact had a director in the truest sense of the word. Some may have made the shoot seem like a collaboration, but they're just incredibly clever at getting other people to do what they want to realise their vision.

Music is another one. Skilled musicians are relatively plentiful. Skilled artists who express themselves through music are a rarer breed. Most of them will be in a band and, if the band is any good, they will most likely be the focal point. I watch a lot of live music across genres and I've seen some future mega-successful bands/musicians in a room with fifty other people. You just know, such is their ability to communicate. They're not all incredibly skilled musicians, either.

You can take this argument to almost any field - even scientific. Most ground-breaking work is the vision of a small team - usually one person, sometimes two and rarely three.

Having been (un?)fortunate to have been working in the gaming industry over the past year, filling any role as needed (from web designer, programmer to technical design), I have to say the biggest problem is that nobody creative ever seems to be in charge - I find such a situation ludicrous in the realisation of a creative vision. Nothing creative ever really gets done in a corporate environment where the 'director' wears a suit and attends board meetings and everyone else is subservient. You think Martin Scorcese or Woody Allen put up with that crap (especially Woody Allen who struggled for commercial recognition for four decades)? If they wouldn't, why would any potential 'artist' be attracted to or feel welcome enough to stay in the industry? That's another massive problem - turnover. Imagine if the Rolling Stones broke up after two years or changed their lineup every few months and Mick Jagger left to sing songs for bank adverts. Welcome to the gaming industry!

Finally... *deep breath* and I don't want to touch on this too much because I had a rant about it in another thread 6 months ago? But the whole "put the artists" in charge philosophy doesn't sit well with me at all. First off, the artists get paid less because there are more of them and they're easy to find. Secondly, that's because the term artist is a bit misleading in the gaming industry. What it should be is "Person who is technically gifted at drawing, or modelling or etc." See my paragraph on the old masters' studios. Few of those craftspeople went on to demonstrate great artistic ability relative to the number employed in those studios. It takes a lot more artistry than a good eye to direct a video game - there, I said it. Artistic inspiration or expression is not limited to one medium or discipline. Games are unique in that you can find beauty and expression of various different kinds. I don't want to pigeon-hole groups of people in retaliation to pigeon-holing people into groups, so I want to simply put forth the bold suggestion that artistic direction can come from anywhere (including those overpaid programmers who won't just churn out Arabic style mathematical and logic driven art - although that's just as valid an art!)
4  General / Check this out! / Re: Inventing on Principle on: February 18, 2012, 08:08:44 PM
That's quite a bold statement and I am sure you must be baiting. I'll bite, though.

It doesn't matter how high or low you go in anything, it's all just blocks. We could take painting back to particle physics if we so desired. I want to say something about the other end of the scale, but I'm not sure what. I guess there is a good point in the middle of any medium that affords great creative control without micro-managing and when you push it too far upwards you lose the essence of what the medium is - like putting a filter over a photograph and calling it a painting.
5  General / Check this out! / Re: Inventing on Principle on: February 18, 2012, 02:39:32 PM
Lots of interesting replies, thank you all for taking the time to humour my brain fart. Sorry if I can't take the time to reply to each of you individually, I have read all replies and am digesting them.

Regarding coding being a possible hinderment to the advancement of the medium. I understand that angle, you could compare it to the advances in painting technology that today frees people from having to worry about the micro-chemical level of pigments. Sure, a good painter probably still involves themself with the mixing and creating of new colours and textures, but they don't have to and, for the most part, the more technical considerations (longetivity, exposure) have a solid history/science behind them that unburdens the artist. Of course, there will always be painters whose main expression is in the exploration of new materials, but yeah... I think I understand that angle.

Coding as building blocks - definitely. Most coders never have to bother with anything other than a high-level abstraction and are themselves simply playing with a larger Lego set made of smaller pieces. The biggest advances in computer programming have been the addition of higher levels. I hold my hands up to using 'black box' librarys and APIs whenever I have to opportunity - it simply frees me up to be expressive in the code that is important to me. I almost exclusively use high level language (namely C++), too. My interest in coding, and I believe of particular interest to game design, is in Machine Learning/AI. Naturally, despite working at a high level, I have low level considerations to make (right down to bits). To use the Joyce example again, if coding is using words to express something, having an understanding and appreciation of the lower level allows me to build my own words. I still think the best work comes from many diverse people working together and I think if you really want to push the boundaries of game design, you're going to want a coder to work with.

That kind of leads me to the putting a filter over a photograph to make a painting. That's exactly how I feel, as a coder, that the gentleman in the video is approaching coding. Coding as a detriment to game design... I'm going to revisit that. Coders are a detriment to game design, coding is simply a powerful tool that is often misused (not really blaming the coders, ultimately it's an industry problem that affects all disciplines).
6  General / Check this out! / Re: Inventing on Principle on: February 18, 2012, 01:29:48 AM
Thanks for the reply, George. They certainly are different mediums and need to be approached differently on some level. Good point on the immediate vs non-immediate difference, too - I'm guessing that is he crux of the desire for these tools?

There are some engines DKs with visual programming, there are some SDKs/compilers that compile as you type (the example in the video is a natural extension of this process). I think with regard to drawing a line and it is coded for you, I understand the concept in principle but don't exactly agree with its entension to code - isn't that what artists' programs do already? A mesh isn't some abstract object that exists in the ether, it's structured data wrapped into a file by a program that acts as an interface between an artist and code. You could certainly tie everything together with an additional layer of abstraction, but you'd be relying on using pre-determined blocks. In essence, that's what an 'engine' with a UI is anyway, and it will come to its natural progression. I just think it is a bit wrong to assume that this would be a good way to develop interesting software - remember making 'games' is a collaborative process involving lots of creative people from many differing disciplines. As a coder, I can think of many ways to knock out the artists, too =P

I guess I see it like this:

Writing a novel using magnetic words
'Sculpting' using Lego
Painting with stencils

These things have all been done and some interesting work has arisen from them. However, I think you can needlessly limit yourself if you come to rely on tools and, ultimately, you still need to understand the fundamental concepts underlying your craft to utilise them well.

There is the famous story of some asking James Joyce if he had a good day writing. He replied he had, he had two whole sentences of words - now he just had to find the correct order for them! Perhaps coding is more like writing than painting.

I'm letting a brain fart loose here, please do not take anything too seriously. I love the artists, it's the designers I loathe Wink
7  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Games and notgames -- again! on: February 17, 2012, 09:56:27 PM
It's quite interesting that there isn't a word for game in Swedish, at least to my English speaking brain. In design textbooks a video game will often be defined using game theory before introducing the concept of play. I can only advise you forget about the English game and concentrate on play.

You've lit a lightbulb in me that I can't quite articulate.
8  General / Check this out! / Re: Inventing on Principle on: February 17, 2012, 09:19:10 PM
I'm a coder and I'm not really an engineer. My strengths were always in the creative arts and I don't feel this has hindered me in the slightest when it comes to coding. So I'm naturally curious, what is it about coding that doesn't work for you?

This is how coding looks to me:

first and foremost before coding anything, I need to have a logical argument with myself using my spoken language - really, an inner philosopical struggle (it can take me months to resolve one little function if I am feeling particularly creative);

then I need to plan what I have decided to do and I need to visualise it. This includes drawing flow charts, connecting everything together and organising what I will be doing. You'll often see me holding my hands out in front of myself, measuring invisible objects, drawing shapes in the air. I have notebooks full of abstract drawings, too - sound familiar?

finally I need to code the damn thing in a language. Languages is a great name for them, because they're nothing but a collection of symbols used to communicate something. My girlfriend, who is a linguist, used to think me a genius for being able to code (her who speaks half a dozen languages). Then I sat her down and explained the symbols and their use as logical constructs, something she understood with her background in human languages and philosophy. Hey, what do you know - she can program. If she can, you can! [/motivational bullshit]

Sure, we can abstract programming to a higher level - not saying there is anything wrong with that. Just be aware that a higher level isn't guaranteed to change the fundamentals. Forgive me if I am making assumptions, but it sounds like a fear of working in a different medium. I don't mean that to sound as patronising as it does and I wish I could get you all in a room to explain it to you better. I don't believe programming is out of any of your reaches, especially as artists. Programmers are a diverse group (who share a common distate of bathing =D) hailing from all sorts of backgrounds and who often blossom into wildly diverging directions, from NASA engineers to Lead Artists at AAA studios.
9  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Controlling characters, not puppets on: October 04, 2011, 11:49:25 PM
Yes, yes and yes.

And yes again.

You hit the nail on the head for me and this was my starting focus in the engine I'm developing. The powerful thing about this medium is the ability to literally be inside someone else's head. Any little gestures a character makes, any control taken from the player (however momentarily) and any behaviour that a player character exhibits external to the players helps to empower the gamer - at least the gamer that isn't in someone else's head to live out their own fantasies, but is instead looking for a deeper experience. The Path taught me that.

The natural progression from this (for me) is bringing this 'behaviour' further up the cortex (as it were). What that means is a pattern recognition/memory structure driving these behaviours (the beginning of 'personaility'). That makes me sound like a nut - ha! Rather than hijack this thread, I might post another tomorrow.

But, yes!

10  General / Check this out! / Re: on: August 10, 2011, 09:21:29 AM
Nobody was making big artistic statements (at least, nobody was doing that successfully), I agree with that. And there were a lot of bad, bad sites masquerading as art. In my experience they were built by flash/dreamweaver fiends who somehow went on to become very successful commercial web developers (not that I'm bitter or anything =:cD ), but I'm sure that wasn't always the case.

I do think there was a lot more self-publishing happening in general, though. Aside from limited profile pages that supported IM/chat networks, people didn't have much of a personal outlet. It felt like a new medium, the first people on it were, naturally, the most curious and it seemed like everyone could do anything. When I tell people now that I was a Web Designer/Developer it's like I was a rockstar or something - accessibility has beeen lost.

A higher percentage of people used to have a go at building a website and these were a more natural extension of their self than a template page on a 'social networking' site. The progression since then has been (forgotton the first few) > angelfire > myspace > facebook, each stage a watering down of the design side. That's mostly a good thing from a usability point of view, but does rather drown out personal creativity. That's why I feel like I've never known so many people (online) so little, because the things that are important (to me) in a person are no longer on display. Yes, it is true that the net was devised as a data-sharing network, but the potential that led to the net's explosion was one of personal expression and freedom. What led to its saturation was entertainment, shopping and curtain-twitching. I don't think it is wrong or elitist to claim the net was a different place back in the day, it only makes sense that as populism sets in that something changes - even moreso when the medium is one shaped by its users. If a band started out in a niche, went mainstream and then pandered to a populist tune, you would certainly be justified in saying they had changed. For the better or for the worse? That depends on who you ask.

Saying all this, the net can still be used in the same way we used to use it, so the blame most squarely lies on our (those moaning) shoulders. Hmmmm, time to start building websites again.

Does anyone know any good chatrooms?
11  General / Check this out! / Re: I want this and I want it NOW! on: August 09, 2011, 01:35:52 PM
One day we'll be using this, I think that's a given. However, I don't think these guys (who have been around a while) are going to give us a magical breakthrough that will allow us to utilise this on near-future systems. Hardware needs to move on too much for this to become a reality soon, even with clever software technology. Indeed, hardware needs to be developed around this and that doesn't look like a route that the big hardware players are aggressivley chasing.

The possible physics application of this technology gets me more excited than anything. Saying that, it's also another major drawback when competing with current tech.
12  General / Check this out! / Re: on: August 09, 2011, 01:17:39 PM
That's also a possibility.

My issue could be one of a personal signal to noise ratio, because I can see all the arguments in the other direction.
13  General / Check this out! / Re: on: August 09, 2011, 12:46:13 PM
I remember when this website came out and everyone was obsessed with it. I never much liked it, myself - always thought of it as a piece of pseudo-art used to sell a film.

I do, however, have to absolutely agree with Michaël's post above. I really miss those days of the net. If people had something to say online, they built a website. I miss all those beautiful websites which have been drowned out by social media which, let's be honest, are hardly the expression of one's self that the majority of users believe. The web has lost a lot of its do-it-yourself ethos and accessibility. I swear (and maybe I have rose-tinted spectacles on here) that, if you really wanted, you had a direct connection to everyone else using the net in those days.
14  General / Check this out! / Re: The Cat and the Coup on: July 07, 2011, 01:01:49 PM
I've just finished 'playing' this and I quite enjoyed it. The art direction reminded me a lot of the Monty Python animations and particularly an interactive  Monty Python CD Rom that was out in the mid-90s. As serious as the topics were, I definitely took a little satire from it. Plenty of little visual metaphors, too.

15  General / Introductions / Hello notWorld on: June 11, 2011, 11:53:29 PM
Hello everyone,

I'm Stuart and I registered here a few weeks ago. I promised myself I would post a few times a week, but I've not been doing very well thus far.

I know of the notgames forum from my time on Tale of Tales's forums, but was reminded of it recently when I contacted a Mr Jeroen D Stout to congratulate him on his interesting title, Dinner Date.

I'm a Web Developer by trade, but havne't done any of that sort of work in a long time. I don't even have a website to link to. Been a few things since then and now I'm in the fortunate position to chase my dream - designing/building games. I'm a one man-show and I'm known to prefer the path of most resistance, so I'm working on long (no) timetables. I truly believe 'games' can be more than craft or technical artistry and I will humbly chase that belief for however long it takes to catch it, assuming I'm not chasing my own tail.

I also have plans to make some games of pure craft in an attempt to cement a modest income, but I won't mention such toys here.
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