Sunday, October 28, 2007

Some boardwork

There's a lot of advantages to having a massive chalkboard in my house. One is the quenching of my large writable space fetishism. Another is being able to work on my thesis and a set design at the same time.

Image processing algorithm design for my thesis on the left, set design scribbles for the opera on the right.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A few weeks spent underwater

It's been a while since I've updated this blog. I'm sort of beginning to wonder what the purpose of it. The last few posts have been all over the map. Am I using this to disseminate things I find cool? Am I using this for commentary or musings? I'd like to use if for all of the above, but it may be time to consider a serious design change.

Every once in a while, I make a consciously drastic change in my daily life. This may be anything from forcing myself to sing in the shower in the morning, or moving my furniture around to a very different configurations. I find this forces me actively adapt to new situations, so I never actually settle into unproductive habits. I'm beginning to think I need to re-think this blog in the same manner. Another problem is that most of my casual updating about my life (with pictures!) now happens over the almighty facebook.

These last two months have been busy. Oh man oh man oh man. I'm so anxious to finish up this undergrad degree it hurts. I've also been on a school hunt. After an especially good find while I was in Vancouver, I've decided to broaden my horizons and look around a little. I'll likely apply to many places, but several factors may influence my final choice. I've also been doing Improv, producing a show and finishing up my degree. This has left me pretty lacking in new interpersonal relationships, although I have to say that the people I'm living with are amazing (sorry, there's no actual link there).

I've managed to play Halo 3, Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and Portal during the wee hours of the night after I've been mentally capable of doing schoolwork. My reading has been lacking lately, although I've managed to organize the giant list of rss feeds I read into Google Reader. I currently read 62, some of which are more news-oriented, some are less serious, and some are rants or laments on the nature of game design. I've taken to watching video of the latest Johnathan Blow speeches while doing laundry or relatively boring homework, too.

Somewhere in here I have a list of art projects to finish. Some involve flash, some involve the internet, some involve text. As usual, thanks for reading and I promise to bring some more coherence to this space in the near future.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Neuroticism is optimal?

I just read this article:

Neurotic software has winning personality

Austrian researchers made several different AI classes (agressive, defensive, normal and neurotic) and pitted them against a real-time strategy game's built-in AI engine. Turns out the neurotic AI was the most successful of them all

In other news,

Lately I've been watching a lot of Johnathan Blow's speeches, where he often mentions "unethical gameplay" (article). He defines unethical gameplay, in one specific case, as designing a game with "rewards" built in. So, the user keeps playing a game for these moments of reward (cutscenes could be one example) while the underlying gameplay is crappy or uninteresting. He says that the play that results from the game should be interesting in of itself, not because of the "rewards" that the game doles out.

Both of these items are interesting to me. While the majority jury is out on whether violent games cause violence (I don't think so) I am of the belief that the cognitive structure of a game has a significant effect, in the short term at least, on how you behave. After playing a few hours of the Thief series, I find I always stick to the shadows in real-life for a while afterwards. After playing a "twitch"-style casual game for 15 minutes, I have a little trouble concentrating and feel hyper afterwards. But these are always short-term effects. The violence in videogames is different because it is representational. I'm not going to get deep into this right now, but you aren't actually ACTING violent, you are DOING violent things. If you're doing them with a friend, such as completing Halo 3 on Legendary (me and my housemate yesterday) then the primary behavior that is being encouraged is cooperation.

So, if game designers want to design ethically, they should think of the type of personality that a game encourages. Cool.