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.
UPDATE: The Adobe Connect archive of the workshop has been posted.
Workshop description: Flash is no longer just a plug-in; it has evolved into a massive suite of tools, services and techniques called the Flash Platform. Used for everything from character animation to interactive video to full-featured applications that rival their desktop counterparts, Flash plays a major role in shaping how users experience content on the Internet. This workshop will introduce the Flash Platform with specific emphasis on programming in ActionScript 3.0 and MXML and the basics of working in Flash and Flex (and how you decide when to use which).
For those attending today’s Flash Platform Workshop, this is the place to download the source code and slides.
I encourage you to leave comments on this post with your feedback (positive and negative!) about the workshop. Thanks!
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...
Adobe has posed a Connect archive of the ‘Designing for Convergence’ panel I was on with Dmitri Siegel of Urban Outfitters and Peter Lunenfeld of Art Center College of Design back in November. I enjoyed this panel—Dmitri showed a selection of his recent projects with Urban Outfitters and Peter spoke about some the ideas in his forthcoming book The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading. I showed some recent work, including Swing, SpringGraph database visualizations for Vectors, and a sneak peek at the Wii remote-enabled interface for Blood Sugar, the follow-up project to Public Secrets I’m currently working on with Sharon Daniel. We also got into some interesting discussions about professional vs. amateur creative output on the web and ways in which the Wii remote could be used to make experimental interactivity more accessible in installation or gallery settings. Take a look at the Connect archive here; there’s also a page featuring archives from other discussions in the series.
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.