I was in Old Town Pasadena the other day and noticed the new crosswalks they installed. They’re made to look like brick but it’s really just black asphalt that’s been poured out and stamped to look like it has a brick texture. Who even needs brick layers anymore? How much longer until lego block style toys no longer represent how our world is built?
Meanwhile those crazy kids who are obsessed with Minecraft are finding all sorts of ways to bring the 8-bit block world into the real world. In our high-res world, it’s like blocks are already vintage. Like the minecraft blocks, real world things can be textured to be something else with just a surface treatment. Part of the idea behind the sausage links is that it more accurately represents the way our idea of making is shifting from a physically accurate blocky system to a more fluid representational system. Even our physical things are just surface level abstractions of what we want to imagine them being.
Also, a side note of a pretty sweet minecraft + kinect hack.. more examples of the real world invading the virtual world…
Another version of the tangible tile interface, the main difference here is just that it’s round, which allows for looping. Also allows for the idea of making it something clock based, where you could potentially see the images change based on the time of day it’s set to (or the time of day it actually is).
Also, there’s options for changing the “playhead” to car, bike, or pedestrian which would account for the speed. There is also a separate ”viewer” object which you can place on a tile to peek a preview of the what the street view looks like. I’m looking into maybe using something like this full screen jquery slider instead of the google interface if I can’t figure out how to work with the api to get the tiles working. There would also still be supplementary props which you can add to the physical board that will change the street view as well. The added element is that the view can be edited by people online as well. It’s sort of similar to the idea of a massively single player online game like Spore where even if you don’t directly interact with other people what they do affects the whole world. I’m also still thinking about the potential in thinking about the pieces not as flat things but dimensional things, like the sausages.
Also, some related references from my mental archive. There was another project where someone had pieces of vinyl record cut into tracks with a little car driving over them but I can’t seem to find it anywhere…
Playing with the animation within the pano makes me think about other ways to show time passing within the constraints of the navigation tools. The pan example is certainly not a new idea within the world of film. I’ve been thinking about Michel Gondry a lot lately and remembering some of my old favorite videos which I realize are almost 10 years old at this point! But they’ve certainly been burned into my brain.. and watching them again now, I still love them even though I now notice the seams of the compositing & CG. There is just something lovely about life on loop and manufactured landscapes.
Ah finally… it’s been 3 years in the making but Microsoft Productivity The Sequel has finally arrived… And with the same cast of characters! (Oh Ayla Kol, what are you up to this time?) Let’s play a game shall we? It’s called try and guess which of the two images is Microsoft’s 2009 vision of the future of productivity and which is the 2011 vision of the future of productivity.
I can’t really tell the difference either, but the left side is the “new” stuff. Apparently Ayla and Qin are still stuck in their sterilized parallell Microsoft Productivity universe. I feel bad for them. At the end of the first one it looked like Ayla and Qin might have had a budding romance. But I guess Qin is still too busy showing off his artist palette/cutting board/tablet’s ability to throw things onto a bigger screen. And Ayla’s daughter is still missing her jet set mother. Now I sort of want to make a spin off comic book fan fic series about Ayla and Qin’s lives in their parallell universe.
Actually to be fair their new and improved world does seem to have some new efficiency enhancing technology, but I guess some things never change (click to see full res):
On Tuesday I headed back to Santa Monica to meet with Chris Bell who also works at thatgamecompany. But aside from that he is also working on an indie game called Way that’s getting a lot of press lately. He’s also part of the Friends in Play podcast I listened to a few weeks ago. This is just some of the stuff we chatted about…
A collaborative face drawing
We talked a little bit about how Journey was going but mostly about Way and his philosophies behind designing for friendship. When designing Way they asked “Can we use play as a way to break cultural barriers?” They knew they wanted a game that was constructive and involved building something collaboratively. Some of the initial influences were things like drum circles and other music games. They also looked at collaborative drawing games, like the face drawing game that produced the image above between the two of us. They were also inspired by games like Endless Forest, where silent deer in an expansive forest use only their body movements to communicate with others.
Then the question became “What if communication is the game?” Since they wanted the game to cross cultural barriers they didn’t want to have any text, speech, or cultural bias. Even the choice of player keyboard controls were considered (because, for instance, a Q on my keyboard is not the same key on another keyboard in a different country). They also tried to keep the character design gender neutral. Way shares some similarities with Journey but while Journey allows for multiple players it doesn’t require it, whereas Way is intentionally collaborative. They were also careful to not prescribe meaning in the motions and respecting the player’s intellect. He mentioned they tried to avoid canned animations, although there are a few basic ones for the basic emotional states. But for the most part they didn’t want to put meaning into gestures when the same gesture can mean many things around the world.
We also talked ab bit about the idea of Designing for Friendship. Chris mentioned that one of the important principles when thinking about designing for friendship is letting people be themselves. The designer’s job is creating the framework people to construct meaning through. He also specifically mentioned the importance of allowing a range of possible expressions. For instance, by having the option to hurt or negatively treat others actually gives more meaning to the positive behaviors. It’s important to give people space to work in because working with polarities is empowering to the player.
Play is also a good way to form attachment. Chris mentioned a study where children were given a toy without having it’s meaning prescribed. Instead the adult just asked the child to help explain what it was for. By being involved in forming its meaning the children were more engaged, more attached to the toy, and more likely to return to the toy repeatedly.
I was listening to a few of these podcasts from friends on play. The ones that seemed the most relevant to me were Episode 3: What We Mean By Gamey and Episode 6: Collaboration In Games. Some notes from the 2 episodes:
What we mean by gamey:
Gaminess is an immersion killer.
Things that don’t have a direct corollary in the real world kill immersion.
Points and achievements are an abstraction of progression.
Extrinsic motivations are artificial and gamey.
Breaking or changing the narrative rules kills it.
Present the rules of the world and stay true to those.
Collaboration in Games:
Some like local collaboration in the same space combined with virtual collaboration around the world.
Hard part is the symmetrical real time aspect.
Rockband is a good example of roleplaying to enjoy the collaborative aspect.
There’s a spectrum of collaboration from non-competitive to combative.
Successful collaboration usually entails different roles but the same goals.
Interesting systems allow for organic player collaboration & temporary alliances
So called “social games” lack any meaningful collaboration since there’s no greater goal.
Social games’ collaboration is usually driven by personal gain + developer values.
But social games also have to deal with asynchronous play.
Maybe they need some team based global struggle?
Needs to be able to communicate & play together for a shared goal.
Needs to enable emergent collaboration and emergent creation.
As scale goes up the sense of collaboration often goes down.
Are people collaborating or consuming?
There’s more room for social collaboration.
Before digital games almost all games were inherently multi-player.
More streetview stuff! Played around with a “working” interactive game salad demo, first with a little clay man and then with some footage of me dancing awkwardly, because I just happen to have that already keyed. (The video is a little wonky at the start. The black shouldn’t be there..) Got me thinking about what you can do in this space. I initially thought of it more as a prototyping tool for building objects. But maybe it’s more interesting as a prototyping tool for imagining how people can potentially use the space?
I also went for a comped version in AE because I felt like it would better convey what I was talking about. I like the idea of this dynamic people adding tool. Like, what if it was a tool for simulating/prototyping flash mobs? I sort of relate it to how people simulate massive armies. I would just prefer my armies to be full of people dancing in the street. I’ve had this deep desire to have a dance troupe for quite some time…
I’ve been trying to think about what it would be like as a multi-player experience, partially inspired by the ideas from conversations @ thatgamecompany the other day. I just think it would be amazing to be able to see other (non-static) people who happen to be in the same streetview space as you. When I was playing Journey the most pleasant surprise was when I was suddenly joined by a second person and we got to run around the space together. The question then, is what can the two of you do together once you’re there in street view land? Another thing I really like about Journey’s multi-player aspect was that you just sort of sing/shout at your friend, which keeps it all part of the same world.
Streetview space is really just as virtual as something like second life but at the same time because it’s backdrop is the real world (in all it’s blurry low-res glory) it’s so much more appealing to me. Plus there’s the fact that the avatars don’t have to be CG people, but in fact real people though perhaps animated in a sort of stop motion way. Stop motion is actually pretty fitting for that world since it’s all just photographic stills. I think it would also be sort of funny if the avatars also all have blurred out faces so there’s still some level of anonymity and it fits into the world. That doesn’t mean it would be limited to “real” things though. I can imagine the fact that you’re using photographic models as opposed to CG models it would open the world to a wider range of interesting creations.
One thing I really want to avoid though is thinking about this as an “augmented reality” thing, because I’m really not that interested in AR. Or at least not in the ways I’ve seen it implemented. It’s also not quite “virtual reality.” Perhaps it’s something closer to “real augmented virtuality”. Does that even make sense?
I feel like a lot of the technology to make this happen is already there. I started looking into the Google Maps API and it seems like there’s a lot of potential in there (see Streetview Zombie Apocalypse). I’m not sure how the multi-player aspect would work though. And I wonder if there is a way to make it include collaboration within the same physical space. Like can two people use it at once?
Anyways, things like this make me think it’s not too far off….