Saturday, September 27, 2008

good post about importance of game designers

Chessboard with Staunton chess piecesImage via WikipediaClick here to read post written by Dr. Lewis Pulsipher on his board game blog. He had his students create games by giving them a vinyl write-on/wipe-off chess board and some pieces. One group randomly scattered pieces to start the game.

he pointed out that the designer should take the time to come up with some interesting starting conditions, interesting pieces placement instead of leaving it all up to the player.

Made a lot of sense and it's a part of the design process that we talk about but his example drives home how the designer has to carry thru on all the decisions.

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PLaying Spore Creatures

The graphics are creative

But I'm tired of trying to match up flowers to make friends

More later

Friday, September 26, 2008

Observations from a class on Furries

I went to a class in SL about what's it mean to be a furry in SL and in RL. The class was held in a tree house.

The sim was really pretty - - their piece of it anyway - lots of woods and greenery. To get there you had to go up a long spiral ramp that went round and round the tree. Pretty, but hard to negotiate. They have a lot of freebies that I need to go back and check out. There were pillows to sit on and they had animations built in to make us sit cross legged. There were 6 or 7 pillows in a circle.

The person leading the discussion was a male lion in a suit. He said they'd been a furry for more than 10 years. He stood in the center of the circle and moved to face people as they asked questions. He either typed very slowly or there was a lot of lag on his end - his typing animation would freeze for long periods; I thought he had been logged out a couple of times he was frozen so long.

He would type small chunks of text, wait, and then sometimes we'd ask questions or he'd continue. The teacher kept the atmosphere light and encouraged people to ask questions whenever they wanted. At first people asked permission to ask a question but then we just started asking - we didn't type over each other's questions or his answers. The questions were polite - no furry bashing. The questions were also very introductory (mine included).

A little while into the discussion a lady lion avatar sat down and was introduced as his mate. She didn't say anything and they didn't say anything publicly to each other during the class (don't know of course if they were IM'ing or if they were together physically). She seemed to be more human, more anthropomorphized, than the teacher did but not sure why it seemed that way but I think it was because she was dressed revealingly and I saw skin, not fur. Neither seemed to have paws - I saw fingers moving while he typed.

There were 5 people in the audience when the class started and suddenly 3 of them disappeared -don't know if they teleported away or crashed. There were 2 women and a man who disappeared. one of the women asked a question and got an answer before they disappeared. The teacher made a joke about needing new material to keep his audience. The two of us left - me and a male avatar were still sitting and asking questions. The other guy was in jeans and a tshirt and had glasses. He was a human, not a furry. I was dressed as a human too. We all had voice enabled but the teacher used text chat and so did we.

After 90 minutes a few more people showed up but I had to leave before they asked any questions. It sounds like they try to have these talks about furries every friday - worth checking out.

It was kind of strange being in a group that small - kind of felt like you had to ask questions. And since the guy leading the discussion didn't talk much, it wasn't obvious what might be ok topics to ask about. I was originally worried about how to dress - should i put on some furry bits like a tail or ears, or should I dress up. In the end I just went with jeans and my hawaiian shirt, short hair and a pony tail. I forgot to put glasses on so my face looked weird to me.

I have the chat transcript on a notecard in world if people in class want to see it. I learned a couple of new things - some furries don't consider neko's to be furries (neko's are part human, part animal, like cat girls). There are ferals, anthros, and nekos - ferals are all animal and play as animals; antrhos are anthropomorphized animals and have human thoughts and usually walk upright. Nekos are human except for maybe cat ears or just a tail.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Peer Review Results

After the Introduction to Games and Society students created their podcasts, I had them complete a peer review of their teammates using a Google Form. Being able to give and receive feedback is a skill the game industry is looking for in their employees. I wanted to see how they did with the giving of feedback. I told them I would not share names , just general results. Here is my summary of the peer review results the students entered. Most of the students worked in pairs on the podcasts but some were groups of 3.

Peer Review Observation

11 people didn’t fill out the form – missed out on 10 points

Good skills people thought their teammates had

  • know how to use the media making software, how to edit
  • background/content knowledge, knew where to go for more info
  • work skills – doesn’t get distracted, efficiently finds the right info
  • creative, can improvise on camera,flexible, provides inspiration
  • good public speaking voice
  • good writer

Work Styles
7 plan ahead, 13 do assigned tasks on time, 2 do assigned tasks late and need editing

Could Do Better (both self and teammate)

  • start earlier, be more flexible in scheduling, use time more efficiently, be upfront about schedule
  • plan the project better, use a script, proof read before recording, be more organized, be proactive, better organization skills
  • speak up on tape
  • don’t try to do all by yourself, take turns better, everyone in the group should help and should talk on screen/tape
  • focus the topic earlier, be decisive
  • know more about how to edit so could help, know how to use the hardware
  • know more background info, know where to find more images
  • be assertive, communicate more/better especially at beginning

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Making Games Online

I'm trying to gather up links to sites that let you make games on the web. Many I've found are free. Some are in private beta. But at least they're pulled together for people to check out.

Are there other sites that I should add? Leave a comment to let me know.


Guest Speaker in Games & Society Class

Friday Joe Osborne will be speaking in the Games & Society class. He's a game designer from Rochester, NY

Here is his URL:

I will post photos after the talk.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Qual Class went shopping

I had the students do the tutorial from our SL text (by Brian White) about traveling and taking photos in world. The tutorial had them go to the International Space Museum on Spaceport Alpha. This was one of hte first places I went in SL also. They have an amphitheatre where you can sit and watch Nasa TV. They've had some good talks there too - including one about Santa and space travel. Here are a couple of pictures the students emailed me of their avatars in various places around Spaceport Alpha. Most of the students have modified their avatars, chagned clothes, gotten hair. Some have gone all out and created whole outfits.

I thought $L200 would be plenty for students to do a little shopping. But they were looking at expensive hair and dresses. They'll have to put a little money in themselves if they want that. I did give the role play group a little extra since the costume to play in the hogwarts game was $L200.

BoardGames in Intro to Games & Society

Close of up game board.Image via WikipediaToday we played board and card games in the Introduction to Games & Society class. I divided the students up into 10 groups of 3. Each group was assigned a game to play. We'll play each game for 2 weeks and then rotate to a new game. I gave each student a booklet with copies of the rules for 12 games. Hopefully over the semester we can get most of those 12 played by at least half the class.

The goal is to experience a lot of different game mechanics, different styles of writing rules and balancing the games. Game designers need to be mroe aware of how people learn to play how much people hate to read the rules, and how they try to compare new games with what they know already. They'll also see games from different publishers, different game creators, even different countries. We have some party games. We have some Euro games. Hopefully after they play a few games they will start to see similarities and we can discuss why the differences exist.

This is part of a bigger assignment where they have to learn games, teach them to other people and compare the games. So playing, teaching, writing, researching, and thinking.

Here's the game we played today: Carcassone, Ticket to Ride (board) Ticket to Ride (card), Amazing Space Venture, Colossal Arena, Apples to Apples, Nuclear Escalation, and Race for the Galaxy. 2 groups went together to play Apples to Apples and 2 others to play Nuclear Escalation - both of those games support larger groups. I'd seen all of these played at the Boardgame Championships in Lancaster, PA during the summer 2008, but I'm not expert at any of them.

They weren't all equally liked at least at first exposure. Race for the Galaxy is hard to get started playing. Amazing Space Venture has a lot of pieces which can be intimidating for new users.

Here are some pictures. We're all sprawled on the floor. We found tables for the 2 large groups. The noise level wasn't too bad fortunately.

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Games & Society Class Plays Calvinball

Calvin and HobbesImage via WikipediaWe're studying a lot of different kinds of games in the Introduction to Games & Society class this semester. And we're studying them for a variety of reasons.

One Friday we went outside to play Calvinball - created by Calvin, the little boy who played with his stuffed tiger friend in the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip written by Bill Waterson. Here's a link to the Wikipedia page about the strip. Here is a link to the official rules of Calvinball.

The rule structure of Calvinball is why I chose for us to play this particular game. The basic rule is that anyone can change the rules and they don't have to tell the other players if they don't want to. This rule leads to chaos and sometimes great fun. I pointed out to the students after class that to many non-gamers, videogames seemed as random and hard to grasp as Calvinball did to the students. And hopefully they also grasped the fact that ou can't give the player total freedom over the structure of the game because it will not be fun for everyone.

Here are some pictures of our game. They're wearing masks because that's one of the rules of the game - and as it says on the official rules, no one questions the mask. Some have on orange vests (that we borrowed from a group on campus who volunteers to clean a stretch of highway). We had a collection of balls and nerf darts. We even had a couple of kiddie golf clubs. The only rule I put into play was not to hit the buildings with our balls - and this rule they couldn't change. I didn't want to disturb the other classes.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Qual Research in SL

Second LifeImage via Wikipedia The Qual Research students are voyaging into secondlife. Most seem to be having fun - they're anxious to play in class. I've seen a lot of them online and on the park island. ONly a few have reported tech problems. They asked me to put some free stuff on teh island for htem to try on. They're taking pictures as part of the tutorial and many of them have totally changed out of the default look. The book we're using has some interesting tutorials. This week they're doing one on going to the Spaceport Alpha - they practice teleporting and taking snapshots. Hopefully they did some of the cool activities.

Friday in class we're going to go shopping - that's one of the tutorials too. Everyone new in SL is interested in changing their appearance. Ok - not just new users. All of us. There are even classes on how to shop wisely. Since 2 groups are doing fashion I thought that would be a good tutorial to do.

What would I do differently? Not sure. There's so much to do all at once. Learn SL. Learn qual techniques. Practice techniques in the real world...I hope the book is helping - depends on if htey do the activities. I will build in more of the tutorials next time I think. Definintely need to find hair that can be shared before next semester.

Total aside - why does it think that joomla and programming and c++ are tags for this post. Weird.
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