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Blogged Out: Terra Nova, Awful Games, SIGGRAPH

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 we look at ...
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 we look at Terra Nova, gaming research, and reactions to this year's SIGGRAPH. - MMO-focused group blog Terra Nova, which likes to sit at the academic end of the game commentary spectrum, has had a busy couple of weeks. As you'd expect from a site with a large number of posters it picks up a whole load of issues, often coming at the same subject from numerous angles. Recent highlights include Greg Lastowka on a number of ludicrous aspects of law that might apply to virtual world (the latter example being the fact that "mere knowledge of a 14 digit number can constitute criminal possession of stolen property"), Timothy Burke on the creation of fanclub guilds, and even some job openings related to gaming study, which were blogged by celebrity EverQuest economist Edward Castronova. - David Jaffe, the director of the popular slay 'em up God Of War, has been posting about the tribulations undergone in the space between games. What will work in the next game? What should be coded up, and what ideas can be thrown away before they take up precious programmer time? More importantly, what games should a designer play when researching a new title? Jaffe bought $400 of awful games, but that's not the approach everyone takes. "I know one designer who NEVER plays games in the same genre as the game he is working on," says Jaffe. "Instead, he counter plays. So, for example, if he's doing a platformer, he'll play lots of RTS games...or if he's making a shooter, he'll play adventure games. The goal being to be influenced by other genres and then use those influences in a genre that has never seen those concepts before." - On the engineering-focused Games From Within, High Moon's Noel Llopis has drawn up a series of impressions of his time at the SIGGRAPH convention in Los Angeles, earlier this month. "Unlike GDC, you can't expect to apply what you learned in every session directly to your game," says Llopis. "Most of the time, we're years away from even starting to consider most of the solutions presented. The true value of SIGGRAPH comes in the form of giving us a different perspective on graphics, explaining a different set of problems, and using a different set of tools to solve them. So what you're likely to walk away with are new ideas, different thoughts, and lots of excitement." Llopis notes that a lecture on noise functions was one of the best he'd ever seen, while much of the lecture time at the convention was devoted to either rendering fluid dynamics (12mb PDF link) or deformable models, two subjects which are becoming increasingly important in next generation game apps. Llopis regards off-center venues for discussion like SIGGRAPH as essential to the continued evolution of gaming - it's only by cross pollination that our industry will remain fresh and attractive. Although whether anyone will be able to find a gaming application for a straw simulator remains to be seen. [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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