One of the primary reasons I don’t use Steam as often as I’d like is because I have to sit down at my computer, straight up, for hours to use a mouse and keyboard. It’s pretty uncomfortable.
The Wii U, a gaming console, or even my iPhone, is a more comfortable gaming experience in theory. But the Wii U doesn’t have many games worth playing, and most iOS games are small distractions. All the interesting titles, for me, are on PC - the experiences that folks like Valve spend years meticulously crafting.
Valve’s controller has an interesting design, but it’s pretty upsetting that this is just a concept. Valve has a bad habit of not being like Apple - that is, only announcing products when they are finished and ready to ship - leading them to frequently over-promise and under-deliver. I’m not sure if the Steam Controller and Steam Machines will dominate the living room, it even bring the Steam library to my couch effectively. But, if it does, Valve could generate a powerful presence in the living room.
Gabe Newell was the first to recognize that Apple was a threat to the living room, well before Nintendo and Microsoft and Sony (who still don’t see that Apple could usurp their positions with AppleTV, especially Nintendo). If anyone’s going to challenge Apple for that position effectively, it’s going to be Valve.
Warning: Some serious fan nerdery follows.
A long time ago - when I was in seventh grade - my friend Emilio Saffi and I, being huge fans of Sonic the Hedgehog, set out to build our own Sonic fan game. Under the alias Xoram, Emilio handled backend, and I handled level design. We never finished our flagship title, but our engines always had really impressive tech demos. Unlike most folks who were building their engines using Multimedia Fusion, we wrote ours from scratch in C. They had real physics and tons of features, like the wacky ability to dynamically change the size of any object on the screen, including Sonic himself. The whole system ran super smooth; smoother than any Sonic engine out there.
Unfortunately, we got caught in the trap of building and rebuilding our engine to be bigger, better, and more performant. We never finished an entire game.
It’s always been astounding to me that so many young developers and designers gather around the Sonic franchise. I don’t see this breadth of fan work for any other franchise. No group is as fervent or as dedicated.
Recently, a fellow under the alias LakeFeperd has done what Emilio and I could never do: build and ship the most impressive fan game ever made. (You should download it now for free.)
What makes it great? It does something that Sega attempted to do with Sonic Colors, but didn’t get quite right. Taking a page from the Super Mario Galaxy playbook and running with it, Sonic After the Sequel introduces an interesting and fun new platforming mechanic every single act. It’s remarkably successful and breathes new life into the 2D platforming world of classic Sonic.
However, what’s getting everybody raving is the absolutely outrageous four-disc soundtrack; an OCRemix-quality release full of completely original tunes. LakeFeperd and crew are the first people I’ve seen in a decade that actually understand how to compose music for Sonic games. Their soundtrack rivals the Genesis, and I’d put it on par with the soundtrack for Sonic Colors. I don’t think even the mobile Sonic titles were executed this well, at least as far as their music is concerned.
I hope Sega is scouting and picks this guy up.
Outrageously clever composition.
Every year, the United States of America celebrates a tremendous event by flying explosives across the country skyline. Hundreds of millions of people drop everything to enjoy the spectacle.
I like to think it’s in honor of my father. This year, more than any other year, I feel the pang of his absence. After his death, I wrote a eulogy to read aloud at his funeral:
There are things I’ve done in front of him that have made him so proud – things that he bragged about to his office, and that is being strong in the face of a crisis. When he cut his wrist on glass accidentally, and I held his wound shut with a towel. When he broke his ankle, and I didn’t even show any sign of being upset, because I knew he would be alright. Now I have to be strong – not just for me, but for my entire family, and my mother who needs someone to lean on more than ever. I will provide that until they’re calm, and then I can have my turn and lean on them. But they go first.
Seven years later, I apply this strength to everything I do. But this year, I think I will finally rest and lean on a shoulder or two.
I love you, Dad.
The blue, hollow box is the maximum area the icon can fill in this toolbar. If your icon is a “full shape” (one that fills space very efficiently) it would be a mistake to simply make it the size of this bounding box. It would look too big. Instead, it should be inset slightly. That way, “pointy shapes” (with a lot of “inefficient”, protruding parts) can extend to the edge of that bounding box, and the two kinds of shapes will look good next to each other.
This phenomenon can be more clearly explained with a bit of mathematics, I think. Icons of different shapes and sizes look good when placed next to each other so long as they both remain in the same bounding box and share the same total area.
Mrgan’s “pointy shape” (the star) and his “full shape” (a box), when both set to fill the size of his bounding box, do not occupy the same about of space. It is only when he shrinks the box to occupy the same area as the star that it becomes harmonious.via: mrgan
At E3 this year, I was fortunate enough to be personally invited to spend half an hour with Zelda series director Eiji Aonuma. Rather than ask Mr. Aonuma questions about future products that I knew he wouldn’t be able to answer, I wanted to focus on him and his work in a way that respects his individuality and unique approach to building a franchise that has shaped so many peoples’ lives. My hope is that, through reading this interview, you’ll feel like you were there in the room with him.
I think you’ll really like this interview, so check it out.
Neat moment at the Webbys last night. Fresh off the $1.1 billion sale of his company, David Karp was there with his mother, Barbara. Though I’d never met her before, Barbara came over to my seat and gave me the world’s biggest hug. She kept saying: “I am so, so proud of you.”
I said to David: “Your mom just made me feel like the most special guy in the world.”
He said: “That’s how she’s made me feel my whole life.”
(via codydaviestv)via: humansofnewyork
There’s not a lot of room left for game systems that aren’t also media centers and social gaming hubs, both of which Nintendo is still terrible at. And even those systems aren’t very profitable or compelling anymore.
The software side of gaming has also lost most of its middle class. At the high end, there’s room for a small number of huge-budget blockbuster titles that usually involve realistic sports simulations or killing people, none of which Nintendo does well. They compete by pushing the boundaries of cutting-edge graphics hardware, which Nintendo doesn’t produce anymore, and licensing real-life sports teams, which Nintendo doesn’t do. Or, more often on the PC side, they operate massively multiplayer online social fantasy worlds, which Nintendo also doesn’t do well. These successful blockbusters can charge $50.
At the low end is casual gaming, including the entire iOS gaming market, which is rapidly eroding demand for high-end gaming. Modern casual gaming almost always happens on computers or computer-like platforms, not traditional game systems connected to TVs. It relies much more on social features, which Nintendo doesn’t do well. Many of the big hits succeed by taking advantage of psychological tricks or gambling mentalities, which Nintendo is probably too proud to do. Casual games are usually free or nearly free up front, and they get money from frequent in-app purchases or advertising, which Nintendo would probably also hesitate to do.
Nintendo needs the profits of the high end, but they can’t compete there anymore. All of the growth is happening at the low end, which is mostly games that they can’t or won’t make. And even if they succeeded in casual gaming, it probably wouldn’t bring the kind of profit that they need.
This is an old post, but I’ve been wanting to talk about it for a while now. It mimics a lot of feelings I’ve had for the past several years about Nintendo and the gaming industry in general. Nintendo’s announcement of an A Link to the Past sequel, the news about Nintendo’s weak presence at E3 this year, as well as the scathing report that EA has no games in development for Wii U, have prompted me to finally post my feelings on this matter.
Since Nintendo announced the Nintendo 3DS system in 2010, I began to think that Nintendo was confused in its path to follow on the Wii and DS’s success. The 3DS failed to represent the reasons why the Wii and DS were so successful. It also painted Nintendo at its worst in a modern gaming era driven by online, social interaction. When it was finally released to little fanfare, reviews - including my own - lambasted its limited social features, chunky design, poor ergonomics, unacceptable battery life, and gimmicky 3D screen.
It always seemed odd that Nintendo could make such a massive misstep after it appeared like it knew what it was doing with the Wii and DS. However, looking back, there’s evidence that suggests that Nintendo has never known what it was doing in the hardware business.
Nintendo’s hardware cycle is marred by flops nearly every other generation. As many consoles as we fondly remember from the company, there seem to be just as many failures: the Virtual Boy, the GameCube, the 3DS, and now the Wii U all sit atop Nintendo’s list of good intentions. The real Nintendo doesn’t know innovation from gimmick. Although its earlier consoles seem to show true promise, the Nintendo 64 and the Wii seem more like luck; darts thrown blindfolded at a wall full of possible features.
Thinking of Nintendo this way explains a lot. Nintendo didn’t know why the DS was so successful, so it chose to follow up by building a DS with an added feature that looked like what consumers wanted. Why was the Wii successful? I’ll be damned if Nintendo knows, but its followup was a Wii with an added feature that looked like what consumers wanted.
Marco’s post is insightful and reflects the reality of the situation Nintendo has put itself in. By having a limited presence at E3 this year, Nintendo is forfeiting both their largest software opportunity and their only opportunity to prove that the Wii U was the right hardware decision.
The more I think about it, the more I’m unsure that Nintendo can have a good future. Nintendo frequently fails at making hardware; Nintendo has never understood social gaming; Nintendo will always refuse to make software for other platforms. In a few years, will there be a market for what Nintendo does? I’m not so sure. Knowing Nintendo, though, they’ll go down kicking and screaming. It will be slow and painful, because they’ll do it to themselves. In the end - if there is an end - we won’t have another Sega; we just won’t have a Nintendo.