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Robin Hunicke

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It starts as just another toy to play around with in a few minutes of distraction in your Web browser – as if the Web were short on distraction. But then, something amazing can happen. Like a musical Turing Test, you start to get a feeling for what’s happening on the other side. Someone’s stream of colored dots starts to jam with your stream of colored dots. You get a little rhythm, a little interplay going. And instead of being a barrier, the fact that you’re looking at simple animations and made-up names and playing a pretty little tune with complete strangers starts to feel oddly special. The absence of normal interpersonal cues makes you focus on communicating with someone, completely anonymously, using music alone.

Dinah Moe’s “Plink” is the latest glimpse of what Web browser music might be, and why it might be different than (and a compliment to) other music creation technology. You can now create private rooms to blow off steam with a faraway friend, or find new players online. It’s all powered with the Web Audio API, the browser-native, JavaScript-based tools championed by Mozilla. That means you’ll need a recent Chrome or Firefox (Chrome only at the moment; this is a Chrome Experiment), and mobile browsers won’t be able to keep up. But still, give it a try – I think you may be pleasantly surprised. (Actually, do it right now, as you’ll probably be doing it with other CDM readers. I expect greater things!)

http://labs.dinahmoe.com/plink/

Thanks to Robin Hunicke, who worked with multiplayer design and play at That Game Company’s Journey on PS3 and now on the browser MMO Glitch. I think her friends were more musical than most, because the place came alive after she linked from Facebook.

The browser is becoming a laboratory, a place to quickly try out ideas for music interaction, and for the code and structure that describe music in a language all their own. As in Plink, it can also benefit from being defined by the network and collaboration.

Dinah Moe’s experiments go in other directions, as well. In Tonecraft, inspired by the 3D construction metaphor of Minecraft, three-dimensional blocks become an alternative sequencer.

http://labs.dinahmoe.com/ToneCraft/

There are many reasons not to use Web tools. The Web Audio API still isn’t universal, and native options (like Google’s Native Client) have their own compatibility issues, stability concerns, and – because of security – they don’t do all the things a desktop application will. Desktop music tools are still more numerous, more powerful, and easier to use, so if you’re a reader out there finishing a thesis project, you might look elsewhere. (Actually, you’re probably in trouble, anyway, by any nation’s academic calendar, given it’s the First of May, but I digress.)

But think instead of this as another canvas, and the essential building blocks of interface design, code, and networking as shared across browsers and desktop apps. Somehow, in the light of the Internet, its new connectedness, and its new, more lightweight, more portable code and design options, software is changing. That transformation could happen everywhere.

If you need something to help you meditate on that and wait for a revelation to occur to you, I highly recommend watching a soothing stream of dots and some pleasing music as you jam with your mouse.

Of course, in the end, like a digital mirror, it might inspire you to go out to the park with a couple of glockenspiels and jam the old-fashioned way. But maybe that’s another reason to make software.

(Here’s a video, in case you’re not near a browser that supports the app!)

More, plus reflections on adaptive music:
http://labs.dinahmoe.com/

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UPDATE: It's emerged that another key employee, producer Robin Hunicke, has also jumped ship. She's now working on oddball MMO Glitch at developer Tiny Speck with Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi.

ORIGINAL STORY: Kellee Santiago has left the talented studio she co-founded six years ago - Journey, Flower and Flow developer Thatgamecompany.

"So much of my work at Thatgamecompany was really supporting Jenova [Chen's] visions for the types of games he wanted to make," explained Santiago to Gamasutra.

Read more…

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egs.jpgWith just days remaining before the Game Developers Conference 2012, show organizers have chosen to detail a special workshop dubbed "Experimental Gameplay Sessions," which returns to GDC for its 10-year anniversary.

This jam-packed, two-hour session -- which takes place Friday, March 9 at 2.30pm in Room 3014 of West Hall -- will showcase an eclectic mix of unusual game prototypes that defy convention and explore new ideas and genres.

Led by Robin Hunicke (Journey) and Daniel Benmergui (Storyteller), it's an exciting opportunity for presenters and attendees alike to explore some brand new territory in game design.

In fact, a number of 'experimental' titles that debuted in previous years have gone on to become some of the most well regarded in the industry. Some of these standout games include Katamari Damacy, flOw, Braid, Portal, World of Goo and Today I Die.

This year, the session aims to recapture that innovative spirit with 11 titles from some of the industry's most creative developers.

Among the presenters this year are Douglas Wilson (Johann Sebastian Joust) and Bennett Foddy (QWOP), who will demonstrate a special enhanced version of one of Foddy's acclaimed physics titles. WallFour's John Sear, meanwhile, will show off a particularly unusual large-scale cooperative game.

In addition, developers such as Vlambeer's Rami Ismail will take a moment to go over some seemingly broken game ideas in GlitchHiker, and Kurt Bieg from Simple Machine will detail his studio's new Twitter-powered golf game.

The session will even highlight a number of more well known titles, including Jenova Chen and Nick Clark showing thatgamecompany's much-anticipated Journey, and Daniel Benmergui showcasing his IGF Nuovo Award finalist Storyteller.

Other participants including Shadow Physics co-creator Steve Swink showing a new title, Pietro Righi Riva and Nicolo Tedeschi showcasing Mirror Moon, Alex Kerfoot, Anna Anthropy, and Mars Jokela displaying Keep Me Occupied, part of the OAK-U-TRON 201X, Mathias Nordvall showing Sightlence, and Robin Arnott exhibiting the claustrophobic Deep Sea.

Since limited information on many of these titles is available online, the best way to see what's on offer is to check out the Experimental Gameplay Sessions for yourself. Attendees will also get the chance to actually participate in a number of these games, leaving plenty of opportunity for spontaneous mishaps and hilarity.

The session itself is open to All Access and Main Conference pass holders, and will take place from 2:30 to 4:30 PT on Friday March 9. Interested parties that have not yet registered for a pass can do so on-site in San Francisco starting March 4.

For more information about previous Experimental Gameplay Sessions events, visit the independently run Experimental Gameplay website.

To check out even more updates for GDC 2012, please subscribe to the GDC news page via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS. GDC 2012 will take place March 5 through March 9 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and is owned and operated by Gamasutra parent company UBM TechWeb.

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 From Pac-Man to Mass Effect

Book description from Welcome Books:

In the forty years since the first Magnavox Odyssey pixel winked on in 1972, the home video game industry has undergone a mind-blowing evolution. Fueled by unprecedented advances in technology, boundless imaginations, and an insatiable addiction to fantastic new worlds of play, the video game has gone supernova, rocketing two generations of fans into an ever-expanding universe where art, culture, reality, and emotion collide.


As a testament to the cultural impact of the game industrys mega morph, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, with curator and author Chris Melissinos, conceived the forthcoming exhibition, The Art of Video Games,which will run from March 16 to September 30, 2012.* New York publisher Welcome Books will release the companion book this March.

Melissinos presents video games as not just mere play, but richly textured emotional and social experiences that have crossed the boundary into culture and art.

Along with a team of game developers, designers, and journalists, Melissinos chose a pool of 240 games across five different eras to represent the diversity of the game world. Criteria included visual effects, creative use of technologies, and how world events and popular culture manifested in the games. The museum then invited the public to go online to help choose the games. More than 3.7 million votes (from 175 countries) later, the eighty winners featured in The Art of Video Games exhibition and book were selected.


From the Space Invaders of the seventies to sophisticated contemporary epics BioShock and Uncharted 2, Melissinos examines each of the winning games, providing a behind-the-scenes look at their development and innovation, and commentary on the relevance of each in the history of video games.



Over 100 composite images, created by Patrick O'Rourke, and drawn directly from the games themselves, illustrate the evolution of video games as an artistic medium, both technologically and creatively.

Additionally, The Art of Video Games includes fascinating interviews with influential artists and designers—from pioneers such as Nolan Bushnell to contemporary innovators including Warren Spector, Tim Schafer and Robin Hunicke.

The foreword was written by Elizabeth Broun, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Mike Mika, noted game preservationist and prolific developer, contributed the introduction the introduction. *After Washington D.C., the exhibition travels to several cities across the United States, including Boca Raton (Museum of Art), Seattle (EMP Museum), Yonkers, NY (Hudson River Museum) and Flint, MI (Flint Institute of Arts). For the latest confirmed dates and venues, please visit The Art of Video Games exhibition page at http://americanart.si.edu/taovg

Visit Amazon to check out more reviews.

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Today's collection of independent game links includes more indie game previews, a couple of development updates, and the usual round-up of interviews with developers from around the 'net. (image source).

TruePCGaming: Jamestown Interview
"TruePCGaming caught up with the fine gentlemen from Final Form Games to discuss their smash hit, Jamestown. They also talk about the origins of Jamestown, how they got their start in the PC gaming business, Valve and more."

The A.V. Club: Sawbuck Gamer, August 8th
"Game developers are testing their freshest ideas in the medium's Off-Off-Broadway productions: experimental indies, iPhone curiosities, Facebook add-ons, etc. In each edition of Sawbuck Gamer, we'll round up a bunch of cheap thrills for your idle gaming pleasure, and we hope you'll pipe up in the comments with your own finds."

Stratagonline: A Conversation With Jason Rohrer
"I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jason Rohrer and pick his brain about his development methods, his thoughts on being an independent developer, his experiences working with large publishers, the gaming industry's nasty case of 'sequelitis', and garnish some details about his upcoming strategy game for the Nintendo DS, Diamond Trust of London."

indiePub Games: Jeff Vogel gets us caught up with Spiderweb
"Many people seems to get into game development for love: Love of video games, love of programming and code or maybe even to express love. Jeff Vogel's switch to a career making games may have included an element of passion but it was a little more conflicted than that."

Kotaku: Two Hours with Jonathan Blow's The Witness
"The Witness is the new game from Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid. It comes with high expectations, given the critical and commercial success of that previous indie. It's planned for PC and at least one console and is at least a year away from completion."

GameTrailers: Journey Post-Beta Interview (video)
"Go behind the scenes of the development process of Journey including reactions on the closed beta in this Interview with Executive Producer Robin Hunicke."

Joystiq: The Witness preview
"'Hey man, come in,' a weary looking Jonathan Blow said. He was welcoming me into his temporary New York City abode, a swanky hotel in midtown where he'd been put up for a few days to show off a preview build of his next game, The Witness. His bare feet indicated to me that I'd either just woken him up, or that he was very comfortable with strangers."

Digital Spy: Okabu Preview
"Okabu is a new co-op puzzle game from the makers of the excellent iOS title Rolando. Heading to the PSN this September, the title is part of Sony's Pub Fund initiative, which sees the platform holder invest in and support a batch of promising indie games from the brightest and best up-and-coming studios."

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