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Welcome to 'The Esoteric Beat', the news report that provides new and unusual ways to think about games and culture. This week's column looks at scholarly network organis...

Simon Carless, Blogger

September 27, 2005

3 Min Read

Welcome to 'The Esoteric Beat', the news report that provides new and unusual ways to think about games and culture. This week's column looks at scholarly network organisms, Grid Quake, and game art. - The Norwegian city of Trondheim has just opened a school in which all the students are equipped with networked laptops. Seems like quite a nice place to get an education, but it's also home to a peculiar piece of interactive art, Nomen Nominandum, the Network Organism. The organism software is a project rather reminiscent of a number of game projects, such as Lionhead's Black & White, but this virtual pet exists on a working academic network. Web technology specialists Bengler have created the 'animal' program so that it can move between the various machines in the college and interact with students. Those interested can call the creatures using their machine, and it may or may not appear to be played with. Bengler explain: "Nomen Nominandum (Name to be Known, for those of you who didn't major in Latin) floats around on the school network. If you call for it by voice or mouse movement it may come to your machine. If you play with it in the right way it will stay until it gets bored... It has real-time moods, sleeps in on Mondays and may decide to go away for a month in January." Every school should have one, and you fortunately, you can see video of Nomen Nominandum [5mb MOV] if you don't go to school in Norway. - Also this week, The Esoteric Beat received an email from Frank Carlos at IBM under the subject line "How big can Quake II Grid?" The answer it seems is 'quite big'. Carlos explained to us about a new grid application (based on the idea of distributed computing) which simplifies the process of making things work over a grid framework. One such grid-enabled application was Quake II, as Carlos explains: "OptimalGrid is a self-contained middleware designed for developers to create grid-enabled parallel applications without themselves becoming experts in grid or high-performance computing. The Linux compatible middleware now includes automatic distribution and provisioning on to Grid nodes. See how the first release of Quake II was made massively multi-player (PDF link) by running on a Grid. Get modified Quake II from Sourceforge to run with OptimalGrid and let the massive Grid games begin." These grid games rely on no one server, and can potentially support hundreds or even thousands of players. It's a technology that will likely grow enormously in the next few years, as developers work out how best to harness the processing power and bandwidth of the audiences, both on PC and next-gen console. - Speaking of Quake, we've also stumbled across some more interesting Game Art galleries online, such as the 'War Reports' by Mark Cadioli. He takes black and white stills of games, given them a touching, sentimental feel. His reduced-texture Quake III shots have a touch of Picasso doing Calvin Klein adverts. Also playing with the way we look at first person shooters is Tom 'Nullpointer' Betts, who has been producing reams of digital art of the last few years. His most recent project is a modified spectator mode for Counter-Strike, which gives it the look and feel of grainy battlefield surveillance. Finally, this week we're throwing open the floor to readers. Do you know of any academic, conceptual or downright wacky developments that might be of interest to the games dev community? Then please contact us at [email protected]. [Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]

About the Author(s)

Simon Carless


Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.

He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.

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