For those in the Los Angeles area, stop on by LAFlashapaloozastock III in Venice this weekend for a full day of Flash goodness, including the debut of a new version of Swing. Swing has evolved into a typographic karaoke experience—we’ll use online services to stream your choice of song, download the lyrics, and get you waggling your way to Wii happiness. I’ll also have a number of “tuned” song/lyric combinations for you to play (yes, your dream of finally seeing a type animation of every single “ee-oh-oh” in Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic is about to be realized).
I’ll also be handing out postcards and generally talking up my upcoming iPhone game “Ruben & Lullaby,” which should be released in the next few weeks and has already garnered notice in TouchGaming. For more information visit opertoon.com.
Hope to see you there at LAFLashapaloozastock!
Excellent article today on Roughly Drafted about how the release of the iPhone SDK has suddenly catapulted Apple into a very strong position in the mobile gaming market. I heartily agree, having happily participated in the stampede that brought down Apple’s servers subsequent to the SDK’s release.
The fact that Apple is taking one of the hottest pieces of hardware around and making it so accessible is incredibly significant. In fact, when the SDK was released I had been planning to post a lengthy diatribe about the relative inaccessibility of Wii Ware to amateur developers. Nintendo’s insistence that Wii Ware developers be established companies (no home offices allowed) was a bit of a let-down, but the iPhone SDK more than made up for the disappointment—so far it seems to be everything I hoped for from Wii Ware and more.
Even though the SDK is still in a limited beta (and I’m one of the thousands who got my very own “we’ll be expanding the beta later, hang on for a while” email from Apple), it’s abundantly clear that they’ve gotten a lot right with the release, including the revenue sharing model. The ground is so fertile here that it’s convinced me to start hastily learning Objective-C (happily, C seems much easier to me now than it did eleven years ago, the last time I tried to pick it up...)
Such an exciting time right now. Man!
IGN Wii Editor Matt Casamassina recently posted video on his blog of 3DV Systems’ Z-Camera technology, which was showing at GDC. It looks pretty impressive--enabling body motion sensing in 3D without the need for an input device. As the comments on Matt’s blog indicate, there’s obviously going to be many applications for which you want to be holding something anyway, but the idea that that something could be a cheap plastic toy instead of an electronic device is an intriguing one. Matt hopes Nintendo is considering the tech for Wii 2--what should Nintendo do for Wii 2, anyway?
Raph Koster, president of Areae and designer of Ultima Online and Star Wars: Galaxies, made this and other interesting statements at a private GDC lunch as reported on gamesindustry.biz. Koster argues that Flash’s ubiquity and device-independence puts it in a leadership position among next-gen gaming platforms, and notes that as devices proliferate, “a lot of games… are not going to know what devices they are landing on”.
As it becomes increasingly common for a given experience to be run on multiple devices, some fundamental design issues come into play, as I’m discovering trying to develop works that will accommodate both the mouse and the Wii remote. While in this case I’m talking about multiple control schemes on a single hardware platform (a PC running WiiFlash), the problem is essentially the same as if I was designing a PC experience that could also run on the Wii.
It’s one thing to design a casual game in which the vocabulary of user actions is defined relatively independently from the control scheme, and then figure out how to make that game work with various input devices. It’s something else, however, to design an experience that takes advantage of the unique capabilities of the Wii remote, while still making the interface functional and rewarding for a mouse user. Of course, the fallback position is always to design for the mouse user and then use the IR pointer capability of the remote to emulate the mouse, and this might be perfectly appropriate for especially complex interfaces. A more customized bit between experience and controller, however, will always be desirable.
Los Angeles-area Flash aficionados were lured out under Wednesday night’s lunar eclipse to attend the monthly gathering of LA Flash, a great local user group. Sam Rivello (whose blitting seminar I attended at last year’s LA Flashapaloozastock) gave a solid overview of various techniques for maintaining state in Flash and Flex applications, including one technique (custom namespaces) I’d never heard of before. I’d be curious to hear if anyone else out there is using custom namespaces to manage state, or for any other purpose. Afterwards I got to thank Sam for his seminar last year, as it inspired me to build a blitting engine as part of the forthcoming Precision Targets project I’m working on with Caren Kaplan.
Next up was Patrick Matte of BLITZ, the interactive director behind the amazing “Creativity Conducted” multiplayer Wii remote interactive installation. Gasps of “wow” and “cool” were heard from the crowd as Patrick deconstructed the development process, which utilized WiiFlash. The biggest revelation for me (although it’s really kind of a no-brainer) was the fact that the Wiimote won’t generate mouse events; Patrick ended up using the VirtualMouse class from Senocular to connect each remote to its own virtual cursor that sent the appropriate events in response to button presses. I saw this piece on plasma screens at FITC last fall, but wish I could have seen the more immersive “holographic” version when it debuted at MAX (a new iteration is reportedly in the works for this year’s MAX). Great presentation, and great to hear from another WiiFlash user putting the server through its paces. Now if we can just get a Mac version...
Here’s a list of links to works cited in my recent talk “Storytelling in the Age of Divided Screens” at Gallaudet University.
I’m very happy to announce the launch of “Timeframing: The Art of Comics on Screens,” a new website that explores what comics have to teach us about creative communication in the age of screen media.
To celebrate the launch of Upgrade Soul, here’s a screen shot of an eleven year old prototype I made that sets artwork from Will Eisner’s “The Treasure of Avenue ‘C’” (a story from New York: The Big City) in two dynamically resizable panels.
The last couple of months have seen an uptick in published commentary on Strange Rain, much of it owing to notice the app received at this year’s Modern Language Association conference in Seattle.
Dialogue bubbles huddle together in the Unity authoring environment like backstage theatre performers awaiting their chance to shine in the forthcoming iOS and Android release Upgrade Soul, from Opertoon.