Who do you wish did, who doesn’t? (Pt 2)

Finishing what I started below, here’s the rest of my list of people I wish would take a side-step into game development.

Colin St John Wilson

He’s not a man I know much about, but he designed a building I know very well: the British Library at St Pancras, in London. A lot of people loathe it – it’s a bit too square and a bit too red, but as this book cover shows, the inside is a very different proposition. Wilson designed the interior with a lot of thought for the people who would use it – people who would come to the building every day, perhaps for years, and always with heads full of abstract information. Consequently, there are no obvious routes through its sun-bright atrium. Rather than forcing its visitors into a daily, identical trudge, Wilson wanted them to wander, to find short-cuts and distractions. And it works. Even when I was going there every day, I would find that my feet downright refused to settle into a pattern. Which meant that a man who I’d never met was using 400,000 tons worth of brick and glass to control my movements. Games are only just beginning to understand how they can use their architecture to tell their stories and manipulate their players, but I suspect it will take the input of people like Wilson to fully exploit it. Other things to like about the British Library include the five-story, inside-out, library-within-a-library, the thing that looks a bit like a sniper tower, and the fact that it’s as useful for impressing your mother as it is for meeting girls.

Cornelius

This one’s a bit of a cheat, because the musician known as Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada) already makes games – or at least the sountracks for them, as anyone who’s had the chance to chime hypnotically with Coloris can testify. But what makes it less of a cheat is that he’s probably the only person on this list who’d stand a chance of actually making something you could play. His credentials, other than Coloris, are impeccable, in that his son is actually called Mario, and his (brilliant) videos make it pretty clear that he could give Minter, Mizuguchi and Iwai a run for their money. Especially since he doesn’t have a weakness for yaks, The Black-Eyed Peas or improbably impratical musical instruments, and would be be guaranteed to involve monkeys somewhere along the line. He might need a bit of help on the character design front, though.

Men Of Science

This is definitely a cheat, but right now it’s the one I’m most excited about. I would like (take note, any passing VC-samaritans looking to sink millions into a vanity project with a prospective market of one) these guys to make me a shmup. Look at that stuff! It’s astonishing, and ten times as extraordinary as anything I’ve seen in a game all year. I want to streak over the surface of two m-plane sapphire substrates at 200 miles an hour, never mind 200x magnification. I want to bury quad-rocket charges into the spaghetti-genitalia of a Copepod lophoura – surely standing by to take the ‘most phallic enemy since Xenon 2’s foreskin plants’ prize – and blast it to mush. I want to slice through the sky as cleanly as a microchannel for flow-stretching DNA. Who’s with me? All we need is Treasure, a million dollars, and the phone-number for the guy who’s got the Fantastic Voyage licence.

Who do you wish did, who doesn’t? (Pt 2)

Finishing what I started below, here’s the rest of my list of people I wish would take a side-step into game development.

Colin St John Wilson

He’s not a man I know much about, but he designed a building I know very well: the British Library at St Pancras, in London. A lot of people loathe it – it’s a bit too square and a bit too red, but as this book cover shows, the inside is a very different proposition. Wilson designed the interior with a lot of thought for the people who would use it – people who would come to the building every day, perhaps for years, and always with heads full of abstract information. Consequently, there are no obvious routes through its sun-bright atrium. Rather than forcing its visitors into a daily, identical trudge, Wilson wanted them to wander, to find short-cuts and distractions. And it works. Even when I was going there every day, I would find that my feet downright refused to settle into a pattern. Which meant that a man who I’d never met was using 400,000 tons worth of brick and glass to control my movements. Games are only just beginning to understand how they can use their architecture to tell their stories and manipulate their players, but I suspect it will take the input of people like Wilson to fully exploit it. Other things to like about the British Library include the five-story, inside-out, library-within-a-library, the thing that looks a bit like a sniper tower, and the fact that it’s as useful for impressing your mother as it is for meeting girls.

Cornelius

This one’s a bit of a cheat, because the musician known as Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada) already makes games – or at least the sountracks for them, as anyone who’s had the chance to chime hypnotically with Coloris can testify. But what makes it less of a cheat is that he’s probably the only person on this list who’d stand a chance of actually making something you could play. His credentials, other than Coloris, are impeccable, in that his son is actually called Mario, and his (brilliant) videos make it pretty clear that he could give Minter, Mizuguchi and Iwai a run for their money. Especially since he doesn’t have a weakness for yaks, The Black-Eyed Peas or improbably impratical musical instruments, and would be be guaranteed to involve monkeys somewhere along the line. He might need a bit of help on the character design front, though.

Men Of Science

This is definitely a cheat, but right now it’s the one I’m most excited about. I would like (take note, any passing VC-samaritans looking to sink millions into a vanity project with a prospective market of one) these guys to make me a shmup. Look at that stuff! It’s astonishing, and ten times as extraordinary as anything I’ve seen in a game all year. I want to streak over the surface of two m-plane sapphire substrates at 200 miles an hour, never mind 200x magnification. I want to bury quad-rocket charges into the spaghetti-genitalia of a Copepod lophoura – surely standing by to take the ‘most phallic enemy since Xenon 2’s foreskin plants’ prize – and blast it to mush. I want to slice through the sky as cleanly as a microchannel for flow-stretching DNA. Who’s with me? All we need is Treasure, a million dollars, and the phone-number for the guy who’s got the Fantastic Voyage licence.

Who do you wish did, who doesn’t?

Gamers are all chronic wishaholics – the inevitable side-effect of having a hobby which is mostly about making the impossible possible. But, for some reason, they tend to be wishes of improvement or alteration: ‘I wish Capcom would release Okami before Christmas’, ‘I wish there was more stuff to do in Just Cause’, ‘I wish Nintendo would sort out its Stars catalogue worldwide so I can stop feeling like a stamped-on snail every time I think of it.’ What we don’t do a lot of is blue-sky wishing. So, here’s my list, on a blue-sky day, of who I wish made games, but doesn’t.

Akiyoshi Kitaoka

He’s a professor at the department of psychology at Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University, and world leader in the design and study of optical illusions. Those of you who aren’t already on the brink of a migraine may want to spend some time tickling the inside of their brains with the hundreds of examples posted at his site. And why do I wish he’d make games? Aesthetics, partly. I’m tired of the real, in a big way. For years the real was brown and grey – sludgy roads, porridgey buildings, pasty people. And I’m even tiring of the new real, which is mostly green (Far Cry, Just Cause, Test Drive etc.) I want the impossible, and unimagined and I want it to be packed with colour – and it seems Kitaoka is qualified on all three counts. And I’m sick of verb/object puzzles – doors that need keys, people that need information, switches that need pressing. How about some persistence of vision puzzles? How about enemies who use visual anomalies as camouflage?

Mark Dunn

He’s a writer and playwright (not long, I guess, before that gets bastardised down to ‘playwrite’), best known for Ella Minnow Pea, initially introduced as a A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable, but itself bastardised down to A Novel Without Letters. It’s set on the island where the phrase ‘the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’ was first discovered, and documents what happens as successive letters of the alphabet are banned by a totalitarian and fusspot government. It’s a puzzle book, partly for Mark Dunn who has fewer and fewer letters to work with in each successive chapter, and partly for the readers, who are co-opted into the islander’s desperate hunt for a replacement phrase for the rapidly disappearing brown fox. It’s an enormouly playful book, as well as a cracking read (the climax is so satisfying it made me accidentally holler in triumph on a flight to the US, back in the balmy days when such behaviour didn’t get you arrested), and it shows there’s a different way to make games out of words than the narrative-led, conversation-driven techniques of things like Facade.

Continues above.

Who do you wish did, who doesn’t?

Gamers are all chronic wishaholics – the inevitable side-effect of having a hobby which is mostly about making the impossible possible. But, for some reason, they tend to be wishes of improvement or alteration: ‘I wish Capcom would release Okami before Christmas’, ‘I wish there was more stuff to do in Just Cause’, ‘I wish Nintendo would sort out its Stars catalogue worldwide so I can stop feeling like a stamped-on snail every time I think of it.’ What we don’t do a lot of is blue-sky wishing. So, here’s my list, on a blue-sky day, of who I wish made games, but doesn’t.

Akiyoshi Kitaoka

He’s a professor at the department of psychology at Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University, and world leader in the design and study of optical illusions. Those of you who aren’t already on the brink of a migraine may want to spend some time tickling the inside of their brains with the hundreds of examples posted at his site. And why do I wish he’d make games? Aesthetics, partly. I’m tired of the real, in a big way. For years the real was brown and grey – sludgy roads, porridgey buildings, pasty people. And I’m even tiring of the new real, which is mostly green (Far Cry, Just Cause, Test Drive etc.) I want the impossible, and unimagined and I want it to be packed with colour – and it seems Kitaoka is qualified on all three counts. And I’m sick of verb/object puzzles – doors that need keys, people that need information, switches that need pressing. How about some persistence of vision puzzles? How about enemies who use visual anomalies as camouflage?

Mark Dunn

He’s a writer and playwright (not long, I guess, before that gets bastardised down to ‘playwrite’), best known for Ella Minnow Pea, initially introduced as a A Progressively Lipogrammatic Epistolary Fable, but itself bastardised down to A Novel Without Letters. It’s set on the island where the phrase ‘the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’ was first discovered, and documents what happens as successive letters of the alphabet are banned by a totalitarian and fusspot government. It’s a puzzle book, partly for Mark Dunn who has fewer and fewer letters to work with in each successive chapter, and partly for the readers, who are co-opted into the islander’s desperate hunt for a replacement phrase for the rapidly disappearing brown fox. It’s an enormouly playful book, as well as a cracking read (the climax is so satisfying it made me accidentally holler in triumph on a flight to the US, back in the balmy days when such behaviour didn’t get you arrested), and it shows there’s a different way to make games out of words than the narrative-led, conversation-driven techniques of things like Facade.

Continues above.

Videogames and things