Crazy Aquarium is a simple, but quite nice looking HTML5 game (you need to have a modern browser to run it). Anyone can easily learn to play, yet the mechanism of moving the ball makes it tricky to get it to go exactly where you want it. The graphics are colorful, cute, and seem appropriate. All in all, I think this is a fun diversion when I’m not writing or programming.
Maybe Mr. Peabody does belong among the “Top 5 Smartest Fictional Characters Of All Time.” Personally, I loved him in the old Rocky & Bullwinkle series. But since the list considers both humans and non-humans, where’s Data from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”?
I got a kick out of Stephen Colbert’s recent humorous comments on security. I particularly enjoyed his opening bits — so to speak.
uTest, the world’s largest provider of in-the-wild testing for mobile, web and desktop, is holding a haiku writing contest for member testers. I won’t publish my submission here until I see if I won or not, but here are a few of the other testing haikus I wrote. I don’t pretend to be an expert at haiku, but I had fun writing these.
Used to test only
with our family and friends
’til uTest arrived
Browser app loaded
All forms filled and buttons pressed
Bugs found by uTest
Mobile games are hard
to test each possible state
by the deadline date
Test cases written
Trying every option
Ten new bugs bitten
When it comes to blowing things up in a video game, I like the old-style, 8-bit graphics look. In addition to being less realistic looking, it affords developers the opportunity to reach ludicrous levels of entertaining cartoonish explosions and mayhem. Just based on viewing this video, Broforce looks like a game (developed with Unity 2D) I might like playing. I’ll reserve final judgment until I see the released product.
On LinkedIn, I recently responded to a post that asked “How do you cope with failing as a writer.” My answer below applies to any creative failure I’ve had or will have. I hope my thoughts here can be helpful to you in your creative efforts, even the ones that fail — whatever that means.
Failure can mean many different things to different people. The financial industry has good advice: DIVERSIFY. It is almost certain that you will fail at some point in your creative career, whether you’re writing, painting, designing, or composing. If you have a need to create, spread it around. Juggler’s Associations have good advice: WHY JUGGLE THREE, WHEN YOU CAN JUGGLE FOUR? Keep multiple projects going at once, so if one fails, you’ve already got a few more in the works that might succeed. Software engineers have good advice: THROW AN EXCEPTION. In C++ programming, engineers add exceptions to their code to successfully handle errors and special cases. Try and plan in advance for different kinds of failure and how you will cope. Abraham Lincoln has some good advice: “MY GREAT CONCERN IS NOT WHETHER YOU HAVE FAILED, BUT WHETHER YOU ARE CONTENT WITH YOUR FAILURE.”
I have several science fiction story ideas from last year that I plan to work on soon. I’ve also had a few game design ideas lately that I’d like to prototype, so I’ve been evaluating game development engines. If you are a writer and not a programmer, you can still appreciate the problem by thinking about how tricky it sometimes is to format and publish an e-book. Some game engines are equally frustrating. They look easy enough to use until you try them out. When my creative efforts are stymied by technology, it’s time to head out to the disc golf course for some fun.
IBM Researchers recently posted their findings on “Analysis of Watson’s Strategies for Playing Jeopardy!“. While you might not normally think of looking to IBM research for game design techniques, I think their analysis here might be quite useful to game design teachers and students. Particularly of note is their section #4 on “Lessons for Human Contestants”. When designing a game, it’s also important to understand the strategies that your players might use to win.
I’m one computer geek who has been happily married for a long time. Computerworld recently published some numbers on the subject that you might find interesting.
RootsTech 2014 is over, but people with an interest in genealogy can view some of the speeches on the RootsTech website. I particularly liked watching Josh Taylor’s “Information Overload: Managing Online Searches and Their Results”. Some of Josh’s family tree research ability was featured last year on “Genealogy Roadshow” on PBS.
According to the MIT Technology Review article “What Noise Does The Electric Car Make?”, Skeuomorphic is the technical term for incorporating old, familiar ideas into new technologies. Just as a battery driven automobile needs sounds to warn pedestrians and drivers, your writing may need noises to excite — or in the case of some too long passages, wake up — your readers. I like “Examples of Onomatopoeia” for a starting list of noisy words. These kind of noise words should not be confused with a programmer’s noise words, which are words that don’t count in searches.
According to reports, Google plans to make real world map data available to video games developers, with a full API expected in 2015.
Since I am a Mattel employee alumni, having worked on game in the Mattel Electronics division, I will always remember fondly the company orientation day when I watched the history of Barbie as part of my job. Today there’s a very pink Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse 10,000 square foot store in South Florida. Now, if only someone would build a life size university computer lab for Mattel’s discontinued “Barbie I Can Be Computer Engineer” (link and photo are Amazon.com) and her real life fans who want to study computer science.
The Verge recently featured an article about emotionally intelligent software. While it is easy to see how phones and computers might be able to better help us if they understood how we feel, science fiction is littered with stories about technologies that use their knowledge of our feelings to their own gains.
MIT Technology Review recently blogged about “Energy Teleportation Overcomes Distance Limit.” This would seem to be a very promising lead into further experiments and possibly the ability to “teleport energy over almost any distance,” such as for quantum computing.
Combined with research that allows people to control robot arms with their minds, and other experiments that attempt to understand our thoughts or dreams, could we one day see the beginnings of the technology described in the classic science fiction movie, “Forbidden Planet”?
I recently blogged about on “How Game Designers Think“. But what about science fiction (SF) writers?
Some SF writers might think that a story about ”Drilling surprise opens door to volcano-powered electricity” is an idea for a near future city or region dealing with political, ethical, and technological issues. Other SF writers might take a more Michael Bay (director of “Transformer”) approach to the subject, giving us gigantic robots that help humans control the vast power and dangers derived from trying to harness energy from a volcano.
While still other SF writers, like myself, might consider how explorers might one day create a human or robotic colony near a volcano on Jupiter’s moon, Io. The Terraforming Wiki has some interesting ideas on the subject, and NASA found out last year that they need to revise their understanding of volcanos on Io. A writer has to be careful to understand a bit about the subject before writing about it. For example, would I also need to consider the video below before assuming that Io even has volcanos?
“The Gamesters of Triskelion” is an old “Star Trek” episode that features three brains that chatter quite a bit considering they don’t have bodies.
I enjoy reading technical journals and blogs online, and sometimes the comment section is quite entertaining or even informative. Since the comments sometimes seem to come from thin air — e.g. no body — and can be argumentative in nature, there are times when I can’t help thinking that “The Gamesters of Triskelion” are adding to the comments.
Okay, if you’re wondering what makes a game designer’s mind whirl, here’s one example. I saw this article at theatlantic.com on “Why is Pennsylvania So Haunted?“, and I couldn’t help thinking that somewhere in this visual is a game. Granted, many of these kinds of ideas are fleeting and don’t amount to anything, but these are the creative inspirations that sometimes lead to a new game design.