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Blogged Out: New Tech, NTI*, Rocked Star

'Blogged Out' looks at the world of professional game developers' weblogs, charting the conversations happening between bloggers and the community at large. This week’s c...
'Blogged Out' looks at the world of professional game developers' weblogs, charting the conversations happening between bloggers and the community at large. This week’s column includes a look at the new frontier of user interfaces, a toy story from the NFT and some familiar overtones of controversy. - If there’s anything likely to get game developers thinking and blogging then it’s the application of interesting new technologies. An incredible experimental interface from Sony, the so-called ‘data-tiles’ is just one such technology – check out the video over here. Pretty impressive, eh? Well it’s down to the applications to make such things great, and the apparent impracticality of Sony’s new toy inspired developer Jurie Horneman to blog about user interfaces: “An open, bottom-up, build-it-and-they-will-come approach seems to work well - after all, this is how the Internet was built,” says Horneman. “Web services, the current incarnation of that trend, are a good example. Google started their Google Maps API, and already there's a ton of ideas about what could be done with it, and with mapping in general. Even games!” And if someone could make a game based on Google Earth, we’d like that too. - Another major event for developers this week was the NTI* games conference at the National Film Theatre in London, which was chaired by Difficult Questions About Videogames editor Iain Simons and attended by speakers such as the ever-prolix Peter Molyneux and the ever playful Jonathon Smith, lead designer from Lego Star Wars. Jon Jordan wrote up an overview and wrap-up for a Gamasutra feature, but Alice over on the Wonderland blog took some more detailed notes on what both Molyneux and Smith had to say. Particularly fresh are Smith's notes on the difficulties of turning Lego into a digital world: “Lego is a cultural institution, and it had a way of talking about what it is.. it could become jargonised. A certain rhetoric comes into force. Sometimes this acts as a barrier. We fell into that trap as well, talking in terms that pleased the company but didn’t actually mean much sometimes.” - But it’s not always developers who have something insightful to say about videogames, and for the second time this week a old cyberpunk author makes it into our Newsplus editorial – Meridian 59’s Brian Green has blogged in depth about Bruce Sterling’s discussion of the power of story-telling and the particular weirdness of games, from GDC way back in 1991. It is, of course, still relevant to our contemporary concerns, but nevertheless Sterling’s advice has not been heeded by a cash-hungry industry, as Green laments: “But, can we still embrace our weird? Can one create art and still make enough money to eat? Or, are we doomed to become another cultural wasteland like TV and movies? Will we see 99% crap with the occasional brilliant work that reminds the us why we still care about the medium? I guess we'll see.” - From embracing the weird to another kind of embrace altogether – the industry courts controversy once again with Rockstar’s hidden sex-game code. Greg Costikyan posted his own feelings of ire about the affair: “given the nature of these minigames, if they are indeed on the disc, there are only two possible explanations: either they were included by some of the developers without the knowledge of their superiors, or they were purposefully and quite intentionally left on the disc.” If this is the case then, Costikyan suggests, a ‘bitch-slap’ might be appropriate. But is sex really the most unacceptable thing in San Andreas? Sometimes, it seems, we get our priorities a little muddled... [Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his progressive games journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times, to name but a few.]

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