I just noticed that Aki Järvinen has got the 1.0 version of his GameGame (“fast-action ludology” / a game design process learning tool / an analysis game) out — great, congratulations! (link)
Monthly Archives: September 2005
A laptop is a very personal thing, for anyone who spends a lot of time carrying it around, starting at its screen and relying it to connect to the world as we know it. My old Fujitsu S-series Lifebook had taken more than three years’ of beating before it started to fall apart to my hands during last six months or so. So it was time to get another one, a task that I usually enjoy (toys, toys, toys), but as I knew how much of my life depends on this damned thing I carry around with me, and what kind of hell it can be when it is not doing things it is supposed to be doing, the selection process became a long, slow and painful one.
To cut the long story short, I made all sorts of compromises, and ended up with an IBM (Lenovo) ThinkPad T43, with a 1GB memory expansion, 15″screen, 80GB disk, and a docking station. Rather than going for optimal design or gaming performance, I had to get a workhorse which would handle all those travel miles, endless meeting rooms, airport wi-fis, and survive couple of thumps while on the road. So, an overall reliability in design, plus battery life and business performance were the emphasis areas. A fun website dontbuyjunk.com at least seems to think I’ve made the right choice within those parameters, in the “mainstream” category.
There are some hiccups, though. We have not been able to get the integrated fingerprint reader working yet so far. There is some kind of security chip inside this machine, but I am not carrying state secrets and need not strong encryption for the hard disk, but being able to replace the login passwords with a slip of my finger sounds like a nice concept. But the security client is having “initialization error day”. Or something.
This is also rather loud. I am not sure why the fan needs to be so busy: when I am having only a Word and few browser windows open, the CPU usage rarely goes above 4 %. But perhaps it is a feature.
Compared to the S-series ultra-light, this is also of course quite a lot heavier. But I am very happy with the keyboard, screen, and battery life (with the extra long-life add-on). And those are after all much of the user experience, how you interface with the services your machine is able to offer you. (My fingers are still automatically going into all the Fujitsu key-map places, damn.)
In Kaarina’s karonkka party, I met this little guy. Jonatan, I believe. Great party, food, drinks, music and people. Many thanks!
Edit: I took some really lo-quality video clips in the karonkka party; and put them here:
(The “a” version is a very small, “b” version a bigger, more hi-quality file.)
There are discussions and opinions focusing on the recent release of details about the controller for the Nintendo’s upcoming Revolution console; see e.g. the story in IGN.com. At first sight, having a two-hand, bluetooth controller which can “detect up, down, left and right motion, and also translate forward and backward depth” … while “controller’s sensors also recognize twisting, rotating and tilting movements” sounds really interesting – especially when combined with some force-feedback functionalities. While working with interaction and interface research, it has become accustomed to expect all kinds of “rich” modalities being explored, but the games industry has remained rather conservative on the traditional gamepad. (Not withstanding the various, mostly Japanese dance mat games, or the web camera games for devices like Sony PS2 & EyeToy.) It will be great to see how this feature (with new add-ons) will be exploited by the games developers.
Interested in experimental mobile game development? You might check out this Gizmodo story about Python and Flash for Series 60 mobile phones: see the link.
In September 20, the second year of our Games and Storytelling lecture series starts, with the visit by Tom Söderlund from Synergix. Rather than having the broad-ranging, introductory approach of the first year, there is a thematic emphasis on games breaking their traditional PC & console style gaming boundaries. Tom has been involved with Its Alive! in Sweden, and worked with games like Botfighters, the location-based mobile game. Other visitors this season will include Greg Costikyan, Gonzalo Frasca, Jami Laes, Tracy Fullerton, Sampo Karjalainen, Jessica Mulligan and Ed Castronova.
Looking for a moment wider from the player created game content into the broad fields of “user created content” (in terminology where even culture is a victim to the all-dominant producer/consumer model), there are couple of interesting recent fan films worth comparing. The other one is Star Wars: Revelations by Shane Felux and the (semi-professional) team, and the other Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning by Samuli Torssonen and his team of Finnish fans. I still need to see both in full (only trailers so far for me), but where the first appears as an attempt of “serious” mini-film in the Star Wars universe, the latter is an example of the common burlesque or ironic attitude among fan-fic makers: a parody set in Star Trek aesthetics. Somehow I feel that the latter is more typical to the fandom sensibilities as I know them: the object of love is as often also the target of loving laughter.
The Big Brother, the pinnacle of peeping television, has finally arrived to Finland. Even if you try to escape from the channel, there are still the street-side adverts, and they are even selling candy with the BB brand in every store. The Internet is of course filled with sleazy web camera content, but when a major broadcaster goes to all the effort needed for a Big Brother style operation, is just makes you feel dirty. Industrialized prostitution barely disguised, anyone?
In contrast, YLE, the national broadcast network is on strike today. What they have — five channels, and nothing on? The issue being of course that they are laying off jobs at the same time it seems reasonable to invest into new concert hall and digital networks. Go figure.
We have now both of the new hand consoles, Nintendo DS and Sony PSP in our lab. PSP is one flashy gadget, I must admit. I was particularly charmed by the networking capabilities; it even logged into my Wi-Fi network, and scaled web pages more or less effortlessly into its browser window. More complex scripts do not seem to work, though. And, did I mention: it plays some games, too. (Still waiting most for that Nintendogs for our DS, though. Those cute, cute puppies.)
Here is the PSP website, if you are interested.