Where’s the Manifesto?

Two years ago I wrote some 5000 words discussing rules for creating computer games [An Economy of Rules]. I left off with some statements about the volatile nature of computer games, and a promise to continue the series with something called The New Forms Manifesto.
Clearly I haven’t written it yet.

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Looking at White Chamber

I first played Crimson Room around February, 2004, hearing about it through Nick’s GrandTextAuto post. Viridian Room came out in June of 2004, and Blue Chamber later in 2004.
It has been over a year since we have seen a new locked room puzzle from Takagism/FASCO-CS. Interestingly, the news on the site, dated August 4, 2004, claims the next room is going to be “Pink Prison”, followed by “Tangerine Room”.
(update 26 Jan)

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weblog usability

I thought I would do a self-evaluation of my blog, as per Jakob Nielsen’s Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes, or as I like to call it: “blusability” (pron. blue-za-bill-it-ee)
1. Author biography: Hm, nope, don’t have one. This is pretty much a personal blog, though I do use it for self-promotion. I probably should provide some kind of bio.
2. Author photo: Don’t have one of those either. My bad.

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I recently came across the Internet Book List, a community driven book database which aspires to be as comprehensive for books as IMDB is for movies.
Picking a book at random, I did not find Dickey’s Deliverance in the database. I was hoping for a useful research tool for my 20th Century handicapping project, but it is not quite there yet.

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proper audience

Indulge me as I muse about the value of criticism and its conflict with popular culture.
In the news: Hobbiest programmers — known as “modders” — have discovered hidden sex scenes in the popular game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and have published code which will allow players to access the mature content. Harry Potter fans are anxiously awaiting the Friday release of the sixth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is a computer game; Harry Potter is a popular book series. They both have their champions, and their critics.
The GTA champions are those who defend the game’s hyper violence and mature themes. When you buy GTA, they claim, you know what kind of game you are buying. The critics claim that the game in unsuitable for children and that, in the extreme, should have never been made in the first place.

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I recently read the first two books in the Dune series, Dune (1965) and Dune Messiah (1969). An interesting feature of the Dune story is that the books only cover key events in the adventures of Paul Muad’dib — in the first book: Paul’s adolescent exposure to Dune, the attack by the Harkonnens, Paul’s transformation into the Kwisatz Haderach, the spectacular defeat of the Emperor. Then the story jumps forward twelve years, years which are presumably full of exciting action sequences that we never get to see, because they only serve as exposition to get to the next interesting part of the story.
There is also a rich backstory for the characters and the story universe. Through the story we get hints at how Paul was trained as a child, of the actions of the Bene Gesserits, of a long distant galactic colonization. This backstory is both detailed and vague, providing room for new elements to be pulled into the story as needed. For example, the Bene Tleilax (or Tleilaxu) have little importance in the first novel (which was originally a serial), but become central to the plot of the second novel (also originally a serial).

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Game Studies

This afternoon my attention was caught by an exchange between Julian Raul K

sitting on the floor at SIGGRAPH

So I’m sitting on the floor near the Emerging Technologies booth at SIGGRAPH, wirelessly connected to the web. Getting wireless working takes a little perseverance, there are plenty of hotspots set up but something, perhaps sunspots or people with Intel laptops or cars with loud stereos, tend to send network connections askew. The most amazing thing about wireless tehcnology is that people are willing to put up with such low reliability with these things — rather than admit that wired connections are simply a better way to live.

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Algorithm for constructing locked room puzzles

Just thinking out loud here, with no real context.
The player is confronted by a locked door. How does he open it?
A common construction for this puzzle is the paper-under-the-door skeleton key setup: the key is in the opposite side of the lock, and can be pushed out of the lock with a small pointed object, to land on a sheet of paper which can then be pulled back under the door. This is a slightly sophisticated puzzle, because it requires the interaction of three objects: the door, the small pointed object, and the flat object. (The key is not part of the interaction, it is the reward for solving the puzzle.)
Step 1: operate the flat object on the door
Step 2: operate the pointed object on the door
Step 3 (obvious): retrieve the flat object

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An Economy of Rules (part 6)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Games and form. What is the form of a computer game? Should the form be restricted by certain requirements, so that one form of computer games requires a “PC” system with a certain level of video and audio support, and a certain operating system? That would make things easy in many ways, so that “computer game” would be shorthand for a PC-based game with certain requirements. Normally the PC part is referred to as a platform, so you have the PC platform, the Mac platform, the Gameboy platform, and many others.
Some computer games exist on multiple platforms. Are they the same games? Sometimes. Are they the same form? No, I think they are different forms. The title, or brand, of a game may be the same, but the PC version of Diablo is different from the Playstation version of Diablo.

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