Last Updated 18.02.06
a PS2 game by Fumito Ueda
a majestic journey through ancient lands to seek out and destroy gigantic mythical beasts.
Shadow of the Colossus is a game which succeeds in conveying an atmosphere of purity and refinement, partially by means of its sense of aesthetics and gameplay, partially because of its technical achievements, and mainly because it avoids or even twists most of the common places in videogames in such a way that it is unique without being pretentious. There´s no hurry to reveal the story too quickly, nor unveil it completely, and no interest in adding elements alien to the core of the design to lenghthen the game. These decissions are certainly risky, but they pay off by making the whole look coherent, special and more than just a game (less is more, they say). Sometimes finding the beasts can be tedious, the camera angles unreliable and certain fight patterns frustrating. However, those are small shadows out of a truly brilliant whole, from which two highlights overexcel: the beasts, which are the most incredible creatures I have ever seen in a video game, and the music, great in both how it is made and what it adds to the overall experience. Together with ICO, which shares most of its values and quality, Shadow of the Colossus stands as an all time masterpiece of digital art.
Update 18.02.06 Link to a recent interview with Fumito Ueda and Kenji Kaido.
Last Updated 28.02.06
I have been interested in tag clouds since I first knew of them, as they are a very effective way to highlight relevant elements among a cluster. As you may see in the cloud I added to the Archives section, there´s a number of words which correspond to topics I have written about. At a glance, you should be able to know which ones are more relevant, the more frequent ones the bigger and brighter, and clicking on any of the words will get to the list of related articles. Continue reading It´s raining tags, alleluia!
Our philosophy that complexity is not necessary for fun, and that it is possible to have fun even with basic primitives given a compelling interaction and goal.
Born by the initiative of four students at the Carnegie Melon University, Experimental Gameplay is as much a project as a manifesto by which the participants commit themselves to make games under three constraints: one person, one week, one topic, an attitude which parallels that of the Dogma 95 filmmaker movement.
In a situation where mainstream videogame developing is quickly moving towards the same practices of film industry, with evergrowing companies and games which aspire to comprise as many different experiences as possible, it seems a paradox that some young creators want to refine their skills by putting boundaries to their work. However, there are in fact many benefits in doing so: a seven day deadline underlines the need for accuracy and self criticism, both in analyzing the problem and giving solutions to it; that the work must be all done by oneself forces to face all the elements of game creation, which will result in a better understanding of the teammates in bigger productions; and limiting the subject focuses the problem, thus stimulating creativity and putting the technical and craftmanship skills to a test. Moreover, an emphasys is made in that the main goal is not to show off those skills, to output “tech toys”, but to make playable games: wise words! Continue reading Dogma05: Experimental Gameplay
People Putty is a tool (and also, a toy!) that allows you to make your very own interactive 3-D character, then use it to play dress up or act as a tour guide for your own web page.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, in fact it´s true and, even more, it´s fairly easy to accomplish. Right after you start People Putty (try to read the funny descriptions while loading), you face… no, well, actually a 3D character faces you, a nice girl who quietly stares at you while behaving in a very realistic manner. (actually only the face is represented, though it is possible to get full bodied characters from the company) . This is already quite impressive, but it´s only the tip of the iceberg. The interface to the program is self explanatory, intuitive and very well documented, comprising all the stages which take part in the creation of a character in a single row, from top to bottom: skin, shapes, emotions, accesories and theatre. Continue reading Let´s make a mini-me! now, in 3-D
the betasound version of sodaconstructor is an extension to the current sodaconstructor beta version, including all new functionality like fixed bar springs, variable model area etc. In addition it offers a new sound feature, enabling hi-fi stereo sound generation in realtime response to model motion.
Soda constructor has been out there for quite a long time (more than I can remember; the first models in their records point to October, 2000). For those who may not know what it is about, the constructor is a java simulator where you can create 2D models made of masses and springs, whose movement you can control by means of a simple interface. Over the years there has been a constant flux of new, amazing machines and critters, with initiatives like sodarace preventing the project from coming to a standstill. The latest of these refreshing ideas, betasound, improves the sound capabilities of the system up to hi- fi levels, by means of two different sound generators which act like choirs, each of their voices associated to an element of the model: “each spring and node of a model has its own voice”. Besides the classic controls, there are some new sliders that can be used to tweak certain parameters in the generators, and are intuitive enough to play with without bothering about the technical details. The whole is still too constrained, since one of the generators uses sine waves, while the other uses “more complex waveforms” (which isn´t saying much, since sine waves are the simplest ones). However, even with these limitations the results are already very interesting and highly promising. It´s amazing to perceive the organic correspondence in between a model´s behaviour and the sounds it produces, which are sometimes cloudy, sometimes percussive, and at least as interesting as the models themselves. Installing the simulator is really simple, and whether you are interested in sound or cOol ideas, it really worths to check it out.
The Revolution is our latest concept synthesizer providing an intuitive interface which we feel most accurately represents the principles of time and music (…) We must conclude that music is cyclic, and should so be represented in its natural form. And so it is… the Revolution.
Ok, in fact it´s a synth, but I must claim in my defense that it can make weird songs which will escape out of your control. 😛
Coming from a company named Future Retro, it´s no wonder that the Revolution looks like it could be the synthesizer of choice of the Discovery ship in the movie 2001. I haven´t played the synthesizer myself, but from what I heard in the demos it looks proficient, and it features an “auto pattern variation” (they call it Remix), which must make it a joy to play with, especially if the controls are as intuitive as they say.
The Revolution sells for $699, which sounds fair enough (both the synth and the price), and it would make good company with the perhaps more intellectual evolver.
Design is very often, perhaps even mostly, a struggle in between aesthetics and function. The masterpieces of design would then be those which excel in both aspects without compromising any, but usually though, tradeoffs are made in favour of either one or the other; the success of the result depends on there being a good reason for the imbalance, one which makes the bias worthwhile, and the ultimate proof of its success, the ability of the users to feel, even better verbalize, said reason.
I hope that the paragraph above will give a new perspective on the deep meaning of the at times blamed as shallow term “cOol”, as in: why do I like so much a clock so hard to read? because it´s sooo cOol!!! ;P
Ps: Actually, I found a different breed of “visual clock” that is easier to read : the TIX Led Clock.
This version improves particle blending. You can see what the improved particle effects look like here.