Saturday, 22 December 2007

Small in Brasil

Thinking about the little game prototypes I have knocked up, and the why of that has led me ambling across the internet. So it was a bit of a surprise to see SCMIV turn up at a Brazilian site redistributing freeware. What surprised me was that it has 719 downloads. So at least it gets played a bit.It only has 92 plays on YoYo, but I might BabelFish the Brazilian commentary and see what makes it attractive. [Edit: Ouch -- the grabled translation I got seems to indicate that whoever posted really really didn't like this -- from the black and white design to the deferred control. Go figure.] I know it gets some traffic on a Czech site (mentioned somehwere below), but I have no idea, in this age of Web 2.0 and hyperbole about numbers of hits and downloads etc. if that is good or bad, or indicative of the grazing of web content that is endemic. Is it good (perhaps) to have wasted the time and computing resources of 800+ internet persons?

Meanwhile, almost no one will touch Flight of the Snowman. I wonder why? The core of the game was knocked up in a few hours over couple of days (to show the students just how rapid prototyping can be. Since then I have added a fair amount of gloss and playability, but it just doesn't seem to attract anyone. Oh well, it is all a mystery.

And in my ambling I came across the Experimental Gameplay Project site, which seems like a fantastic idea. Just need to work out whether I should join in. Some very interesting ideas, and the same focus on something different that I kid myself I am trying to explore.

Mind you, I was in a staff development event early in the week dealing with IP issues (the upshot of which seemed to be that we should all cling like limpets to any idea rather than allow distribution without gain), and I begin to wonder if the university would approve of chucking my work out into the ether in this way anyway.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Doubts. Lots and lots of doubts.

Should those who teach game design actually design games? If so, why? Answers on a postcard to…

I am seriously wondering about this – I don’t teach design per se (despite having been shunted out of the Film School into the Design department) but project management, game histories, game studies, and the basics of academic, intellectual and professional practice. So that’s OK. I am not a game designer, and would not want to swap my academic job (for all its faults) for that of a designer. Mortgage to pay, kids to feed etc.. And then there is the little matter of not having the prerequisite talent.

And yet I am still wondering. After the Arden project went the way of so many other academic projects, including one or two I was linked to at ICDC, it reminded me that academic departments are not in the main – and probably shouldn’t be – developers. At least unless they have the same funding and drivers (and the drivers are evil) so that it makes no difference.

So why do I feel the need to make scratchy little game prototypes? Does it help me professionally, or is it just a hobby that I should separate from the job, probably by using an untraceable pseudonym and not signing my posts with my real name?

I liked Shush. I really like Snowman. But it isn’t the job. Maybe practice should be left to those who really know what they are doing and I shouldn’t dabble, even on a hobby basis. I can’t even remember when I took my game links out of the sidebar, but there must have been a reason. Do I feel some strange need to disassociate myself from game-making to keep my credentials as cultural critic/academic?

Long term, long year.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Happy Holidays

Hah, this actually works (unlike the prototype below which did its job as a prototype by showing me just how much unplayable mush what I thought was a good idea actually was).

Anyway, this is a very strange thing. Sort of a slow building bullet hell, but with a snowman in flight. And all the stylings are all wintry and mellow. Had fun putting the menu system together, which actually involved me sitting down and understanding some proper scripting/code. Maybe I was a programmer in another life. Certainly not in this one.

I think it is fun. And its seasonal too. Built for class, to show my lovely first years how you can throw something together fast for a presentation without relying on PowerPoint to drain all enthusiasm from an audience.

It lives here, and is a PC download.

Ho Ho Ho.