informa
5 min read
article

Blogged Out: 'Content Index'

In his latest 'Blogged Out' column, veteran UK writer Jim Rossignol takes a look at the world of developer blogging, with thoughts on creating compelling procedural content, how many Schizoids go into a Spiderman, and questioning Sony's 'vis
Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week: procedural content, Second Life, and XNA. Mmkay Danc over at Lost Garden adds to the ongoing wide-ranging discussion about procedural content that is taking place across many game development blogs at the moment. His title is ‘Content Is Bad’, and his conclusion is that teams need to grasp “the broader concept of creating agile, refactorable content,” if they are to balance the advantage of both handmade content and procedural content. The comments section, too, is illuminating, with ‘Hanford’ critiquing Danc’s argument as follows: “I think it fails to recognize that making *compelling* procedural content is much harder and more abstract than throwing an artist or writer at a problem. Sure, it's easy to roll some dice and get something that's random, but how easy is it to tweak those dice rolls to make the results compelling, and have some context in the world?” Jason Booth at Harmonix also responds to Danc's thoughts with an extensive post on his own blog. “Procedural techniques, and tools in general, should be designed to allow their users to create the right amount of content. If a tool is hard to use, people will avoid it and you won’t have enough of that type of content. However, the converse can be just as bad. If a tool is too easy to use, you will see too much of the type of content it creates, and users will tire of its output quickly. For instance, when we designed the landscape system for Asheron’s Call 1, we designed it to allow an artist to quickly create large areas of terrain, and populate them with monsters, scenery, and ambient sounds. As such, we ended up with a huge world filled with this data. However, our process for placing hand crafted content was not nearly as refined. So while there were huge areas of procedural content for users to explore, there was a lack of the artists touch in many areas.” Perhaps what is most important is that people work out how to use procedural content artfully, which is exactly what Introversion, who sparked much of this discussion, seem to be doing. Comic Look Author and comicbook supreme Warren Ellis has continued his blogging exploits for Reuters on the subject of Second Life. It remains a source of some of the most measured and incisive observations about the evolving world, as well as capturing some of the odd flavour of the place. “EVA Unit-01 is looming over me. Someone randomly sent me a landmark, and I seem to have appeared in an anime Tokyo. Unit-01 is a giant robot from the groundbreaking 90s anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, a leering, horned thing sixty meters high and straddling the tramline that circumnavigates the region of Tonari Ku, Nakama. Jump on the tram and sit down — if you don’t sit, the peculiar inworld physics that allow complex objects to move will throw you off the vehicle — to be taken on a slightly rickety tour of the area. Some of it is still under development, so it may be a good place to watch how a sim-wide installation is constructed.” I’m quick to agree with folks who say Second Life is over-hyped, but it’s nevertheless an experiment that is worth knowing about. It’s one of the essential frontiers of the web. Happiness Is A C Language Jamie Fristrom is developing game for Xbox Live Arcade, called Schizoid. He’s a prolific blogger so expect to see plenty of updates on the process as he sees it. Most recently he’s answered a few common questions about developing using XNA and working with Microsoft. For the most part it’s good news: “C# is a great language. I'd much rather write in C# than any of the proprietary scripting languages that has been invented for any existing game engine. I'd much rather write in C# than C++. Someone once said in the comment section of this blog: "When you're happy, you're more productive." Fast build times, managed memory, array bounds checking, no stale pointers, higher-order functions, good refactoring and auto-complete in the editor, NUnit, happy.” He also points out that, staggeringly, you could make one hundred Schizoids for the price of Spider-Man 3... At The Seams Although it’s only tangentially related to the games business it’s worth reading this blogger's analysis of the recent Wall Street Journal interview with Sony CEO Howard Stringer. “Ok, Howard, you didn't want to change Sony's original "vision," but what is that vision? Are you possibly mixing up vision and execution? Sony has always been a company known for its design excellence, technology leadership, high-quality manufacturing and willingness to release products for which an established market does not yet exist. This is a pretty good legacy. And a pretty good vision. Good for those involved in software development, hardware design and manufacturing. The Sony culture and model worked for a long time, but has clearly broken down. Getting multi-disciplinary product teams to break down historical silos among software/hardware/manufacturing, focusing like a laser beam on the user experience, on creating lighter, more flexible yet powerful applications and devices. From my perspective Sony's problem is less an issue of vision than of execution and adaptation to the Consumer Era of Computing. Sir Howard, you've got it all wrong. You're not challenging vision here, you are challenging the way of bringing that vision to fruition in a changing world.” And so forth. [Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]

Latest Jobs

Disbelief

Chicago, Illinois
05.10.22
Producer

Build a Rocket Boy Games

Edinburgh, Scotland
05.12.22
Lead Animation Programmer

Windwalk Games

Austin, Texas
05.16.22
Game Designer

Sucker Punch Productions

Bellevue, Washington
05.10.22
Campaign Director
More Jobs   

CONNECT WITH US

Register for a
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Account

Game Developer Newsletter

@gamedevdotcom

Register for a

Game Developer Account

Gain full access to resources (events, white paper, webinars, reports, etc)
Single sign-on to all Informa products

Register
Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Subscribe
Follow us

@gamedevdotcom

Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more