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Original author: 
Cyrus Farivar

Aurich Lawson / Jonathan Naumann / Joi Ito / Stanford CIS

Fifteen years ago, I was living outside Geneva, Switzerland, spending my lunch hours screwing around on the nascent Web a few dozen kilometers from where it was created. I popped into chat rooms, forums, and news sites, and I e-mailed family back home. I was learning French and getting my dose of tech news by reading the French-language edition of Macworld magazine. (Génial!)

I returned Stateside mere months after Ars began, reading more and more about the people behind many of the technologies that I was becoming increasingly fascinated with. I consumed just about every book I could find describing the history and personalities behind graphical user interfaces, networking, the Internet itself, and more.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all that, it’s that most people involved in technology continue the Newtonian tradition of humility. The most iconic innovators all seem to readily acknowledge that they stand on the shoulders of giants. In fact, when I met Vint Cerf and thanked him for making the work I do possible, he was a predictable gentleman, saying, “There were many others involved in the creation of TCP/IP, not just me.”

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Original author: 
Alexa Ray Corriea

33lk11w

Last night, the 10th annual Games for Change conference wound to a close with two keynote speeches discussing how games affect us mentally and emotionally.

In his talk, game designer and academic Eric Zimmerman proposed that there is a problem in the way our field handles educational games and games about social change. As we move into what Zimmerman calls a "ludic century" — an era of spontaneous playfulness and playful technologies — he believes there needs to be a drastic shift in how we think about these types of games.

"We make games and integrate them into our lives," he said. "I think it's possible we're mistreating them, and not treating them with respect."

Zimmerman called attention to the fact that many research...

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jones_supa writes "Shawn McGrath, the creator of the PS3 psychedelic puzzle-racing game Dyad, takes another look at Doom 3 source code. Instead of the technical reviews of Fabien Sanglard, Shawn zooms in with emphasis purely on coding style. He gives his insights in lexical analysis, const and rigid parameters, amount of comments, spacing, templates and method names. There is also some thoughts about coming to C++ with C background and without it. Even John Carmack himself popped in to give a comment."

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Kimber Streams oculus rift stock

A breakout Kickstarter success, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset has the support not only of its many backers but of gaming industry greats like John Carmack. From homemade prototype to finished product, you'll find every step of its journey here as soon as it happens.

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(AP) — A powerful earthquake killed at least 15 people as it rocked a swath of northern Italy on Tuesday. Factories and churches collapsed, dealing another blow to a region where thousands are still homeless after a stronger quake just nine days ago. The 5.8 magnitude quake added to the misery being felt in the [...]

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Waiting For Horus

As the sole programmer behind Polytron's widely-acclaimed Fez, Canadian game developer Renaud Bédard had his work cut out for him in creating a perspective-shifting 3D world using his home-grown Trixel engine. But for his next project, he's teaming up with Montreal-based audiovisual artist Aliceffekt and Henk Boom of Phosfiend Systems to create a very different (but also familiar) game experience.

Waiting For Horus is a work-in-progress from the group, and it immediately evokes the raw, cathartic glee of fast-paced mutiplayer arena games like Unreal Tournament and Quake 3. It's a genre we haven't really seen much of lately, with most modern shooters like Call of Duty relying on realistic theme park-style set pieces and Ramboesque,...

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The teaser trailer for Warballoon Games’ Star Command has landed, giving us a glimpse into the fantastic pixel art of their upcoming spaceship-management game.

Star Command allows players to take control of a starship in humanities distant future. Players build their ship, staff and manage their crew, explore the galaxy, battle other species, discover far off worlds and attempt to control the universe.

The game is scheduled to launch this summer on iOS and Android devices, but the developers have plans for a future, “Ultimate” PC version as well, which would include “all the campaigns, all the expansions, [and] possible multiplayer.” I can not wait!

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IGF JE.jpg[The article was written by Ben Abraham and appeared originally on Gamasutra.]

On the same day caucuses around the U.S. line up to vote for their preferred candidate in the 2012 presidential election, two candidates squared up to debate the best practice in game design and whether it's better to build or buy a middleware engine.

In a GDC 2012 session moderated by thatgameocmpany's Kellee Santiago, Alexander Bruce of Antichamber fame and John Edwards from thatgamecompany debated whether game design is best served by licensed middleware or a custom made solution.

Alex Bruce began the debate with an opening statement aimed at those that create their own tech: "Building your own engine is like building your own Photoshop." His argument rested on the fact that developers need to balance an artist's needs with the practicality of engineering.

Instead, Bruce prefers to start with something (in his case, the Unreal engine) and then add, subtract, bend and twist it until it does what he wants. There are numerous precedents for this -- Team Fortress Classic, for instance, was built on Half-Life, which was itself built on top of the Quake engine.

The advantage, said Bruce is that "engines are about optimization" which means he can spend more time and energy worrying about other aspects of the design.

He was also realistic about his abilities -- sure, plenty of developers do well with homemade tech, but Bruce said, "I would not be where I am" without using a licensed engine.

He also learned about the dangers of internal engine development from one of his previous jobs: "I worked for a studio that burned itself to the ground thinking they could do everything cheaper, faster and better... but didn't allocate the resources to do it."

Bruce finished his statement by encouraging developers to prioritize how they want to invest their development time: "Technology is getting faster, but we are never getting any more hours in our day."

John Edwards then stepped forward to defend internal engine development, and conceded that he and Bruce "agree on all the points, but [not] on the conclusions." Edwards' conclusions were influenced by three problems that come with licensed engines: "Pay to pay," "leaky abstractions," and "avoiding the hard problems."

When developers and studios decide to buy a licensed engine, he said, they first pay for the engine before they even begin to make content for it. Once developers purchase this shiny new tech, "some interesting psychology takes place in the face of all these possibilities... with all its features unused, the engine is hungry... like a small child, starving for food," distracting developers from the core design of their game.

"Then you wake up months later... wondering what all these normal maps and bloom are doing in your text adventure."

The second point of trouble with licensed middleware is what Edwards called "leaky abstractions" -- when you use a licensed first person shooter engine, it becomes harder to make a game unlike a first person shooter, for instance.

The third and final problem is what Edwards called "avoiding the hard problem," noting that developers can often become distracted by fancy tech with exciting bells and whistles.

"If technology were the hard part, [games like Braid or Castle Crashers] wouldn't have taken three years to make!" said Edwards. "Engines can give you the illusion of progress."

Santiago later questioned both debaters, asking whether they had any regrets about their particular approaches -- suggesting that Bruce could have collaborated with an engineer.

"Yes and no." was Bruce's enigmatic reply. "Only once I got to knowing what my game actually was." The process of tinkering and twisting the engine was quite integral to his development process. "The game would not have ended up where it was if I had someone build an engine from scratch."

Edwards referenced the recently-debuted Indie Game: The Movie, which he felt exemplified how his company makes games, in that developers place themselves in the space where "there are a lot of unknowns" and a lot of creative uncertainty.

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