Just beautiful: an implementation of a Turing Machine, as described by Turing; not only is it ingenious – reading characters written on tape with pen via OCR – but it's also a beautiful piece of hardware; it feels as elegant as the point it is illustrating.
"…books are souvenirs of themselves." dingdingding.
Lovely little Unity game all about scale. You navigate the level as usual in a platformer, with one twist: the up and down arrow increase or decrease your size. And time goes faster when you're big, and slower when you're small. And from there, some fun begins. A short game – about twenty minutes, I reckon, to finish – but ingenious throughout. Worth your time.
"A videogame is a staggeringly beautiful canvas. It's a window into another world. A world that lives only as long as the machine is on. A living breathing world with depth and soul that actually exists, right there onscreen, limited only by the vision and imagination of its creators. Seize that thought, and don't let it go." Less talk, more rock. (And: I am enjoying the BB one-off feature art).
"I got my Miranda. I also found out how many times I'll kill the same person in order to get my way, which is also helpful." Great stuff from Dan on Mass Effect 2, and the hoops we go through to make NPCs like us.
Truth in Mechanics
26 March 2010
Frank Lantz on “The Truth in Game Design”:
…eventually this tiny detail, this thoughtful little adjustment of the pillow beneath the player’s head, became emblematic of something big and important at the heart of game design: Shouldn’t games be an opportunity for players to wrap their heads around counter-intuitive truths? Shouldn’t games make us smarter about how randomness works instead of reinforcing our fallacious beliefs? Shouldn’t games increase our literacy about interactive systems and non-linear possibility spaces? Isn’t contemplating the elusive truth about these things one of the most powerful cognitive benefits of a life spent gaming?
Yes, it should.
Lantz is right about Poker: there’s a surprising moment when you start to study opening hands in Texas Hold’Em, and you finally come to know – in your gut – the relative value of opening hands. Two cards never feels enough to make an informed bet, but it usually is. When you first learn the relative value of opening hands – either from experience or, more likely, a book – it doesn’t quite sit right; it doesn’t feel intuitive even when you’ve learned it.
It takes the application of that knowledge – a series of hands betting based on the numbers, not on your feelings, to learn what that list of probabilities really means. You begin to see just how some opening hands, being better than others, lead to better results at the turn and the river. And then the numbers become bound up in your gut, the system internalized, and the game becomes intuitive – until the next series of numbers and calculations need to be internalized.
It’s the same in Virtua Fighter, or Devil May Cry: games based on highly rigorous systems, punishing at first, that demand you understand the rules to understand the game. No player really bases their in-game judgment on frame advantage; they base it on their gut, on what they see on the screen and hear from the speakers. The secret is that the system – the windows for counters, the execution time of moves in frames, the incoming attacks signified by various sound effects – is in their gut.
You learn the system to forget it again, and in doing so, are presented with an entirely honest game: a game that makes its system clear and consistent, never beats you unfairly, but never makes life easy.
The best Lost Cities games I had were not the highest scoring, but those with the most entertaining narrative and best banter. The best Street Fighter IV games I’ve played weren’t the most technical, but the most entertaining. The best Left 4 Dead rounds I’ve played were the most haphazard and messy. And yet all of these games are based around rules engines of varying complexity: the rulebook, the movelist, the AI Director.
Games are clockwork, logical engines that are fun to play with. The very best are rigorous in the systems and fairness, and yet not to the point of destroying that fun. And, if we’re very lucky, offer a glimpse of the “computational heart of the universe.“
The single best Flickr comment I have ever received
25 March 2010
…was on this photo.
Seriously, it’s going to be hard to ever top this. I read it and re-read it, glad to share in memories, happy to have made someone else glad too.
"Shouldn’t games be an opportunity for players to wrap their heads around counter-intuitive truths?" Yes, they should.
“I’ve found that your chances for happiness are increased if you wind up doing something that is a reflection of what you loved most when you were somewhere between nine and eleven years old. At that age, you know enough of the world to have opinions about things, but you’re not old enough yet to be overly influenced by the crowd or by what other people are doing or what you think you “should” be doing. If what you do later on ties into that reservoir in some way, then you are nurturing some essential part of yourself.” And now, I love Walter Murch even more.
Depicted as a grid by artist Susan Wolf; to circumvent the large number of languages spoken in Joburg, taxi drivers have official hand signals to take you from A to B. This PDF shows all of them. (via Bobulate)
"No huge surprises, except maybe that I changed to dark toolbars. No multi-column reading, no fake book-page animations, and no giant newspaper graphics." Great explanation of Instapaper on the iPad from Marco. And: I'm sure it'll be great; in the past two months, I've become a total Instapaper convert.
"By decoupling their data to minimize exporting, they said their polish actually became fun, not to mention efficient. I think many projects would benefit from finding a way to similarly decouple their tunable data." Yup.
"How does it work? Just put your image size after our URL and you'll get a placeholder." Nifty!