Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Game Designation

I've decided to offer my definition for the word "game" to the greater internet, for scrutiny.

This is such a contentious debate and it's been built up as this unattainable holy grail to one day know what a Game Truly Is as if it's quantum physics or something.  I think the main reason people have this problem is that they create their definitions not to understand more deeply, but rather to support their own ideas of what things are games and what things aren't.  To that end, they start creating lists of features games need, like win conditions, challenge, blah, blah, blah.  A difficulty curve!?  Ugh.

The result is a muddy debate and definitions that can't be used in place of the word itself, which defeats the point of having definitions.  You should be able to remove the word and insert its definition without changing the meaning of the sentence.

I'm not covering all the definitions for the word, just the one that describes a type of activity.  There are other meanings, but this is the one of interest.

So, here's my definition:

Game (n): an inconsequential, voluntary activity with arbitrary rules.

Let's break that down.


None of that.

"First guy to die loses."  That sort of thing.  This particular example is known as a lose condition.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Let me be upfront:  I am totally tweaking right now.  Like, on drugs.

I was diagnosed with ADD quite a few years ago, although I was already out of high-school and halfway through an unsuccessful attempt at an engineering degree when it happened.  It didn't do me any good at the time, though, because I didn't go through any effective treatment.  There was neurofeedback therapy, which was not offered to adults at the place I went to, and medication, which I was offered at the drop of a hat on my first appointment with a psychiatrist without a whole lot of discussion, explanation or qualification.  I said no.  Then I tried an unproven, ineffective treatment, then forgot about the whole thing, because ADD.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Things Wot I Did With Computers

So I've put my portfolio online, it's available at this place:

Prospective admirers may now witness my programming aptitude.  There are interactive demos and everything!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How to simply send simple instructions back to the User Interface thread in C#. SIMPLY.

After a few insane months where I had no time to give to this blog, I'm back with my first ever how-to.  All of the non-programming readers, which to date has also been all of the readers, may decide to switch off at this point.  Go ahead; I can't stop you, but let me preface the tutorial with a few reader-friendly notes.  If you just came here for the answer, there are helpful headings that you can scroll down for.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Let the Stupid Rats Die. For Science. You Monster.

Clear-headedness under pressure.  It's a skill that should come in handy if I ever find myself in a life-or-death situation where I need to keep my wits about me to survive.  Am I driving a FWD, RWD or 4WD car?  That will be key to knowing how to regain control of the vehicle and not slide off the cliff into the canyon below.  Will water extinguish this fire, or cause an explosion?  Should I put my hands out to stop my fall, attempt to roll with it or take the full force of the fall on my stomach so as protect my head?

That last one is a real situation I found myself in where I did indeed take the fall on my stomach.  With a metal bar acting as the delivery system.  I couldn't roll with the fall and putting my hands out would have catapulted me off a ledge and onto my head.  The stomach option was very painful, but I take pride in the notion that it was actually the smart choice.  The details mattered.  In the best games, the details matter, because then my decisions have meaning, and I have a chance to develop this crucial survival trait that I may need some day.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Narrow Window

The medium is always a limiting factor.  Otherwise it would be not so much the medium as the actual, and that's decidedly not what computer games are.

I'm going to talk about the limitations of viewing the world through the narrow window that is the computer monitora.  At first it seems like this is a trait that computer games have in common with film, but film has had many decades of experience to overcome this limitation with tricks that are invalid for a game, because they rely on absolute control over the camera.  These tricks have made their way to computer games in the form of cutscenes, but as games develop and mature, I think we'll see less reliance on cut & pasting from that other medium.

In most computer games, control over the camera is given to the player, and that means a serious rethinking of its application.  In a film, the camera is a tool for the creator, but in a game, the camera is a tool for the audience.  How that tool can be used will have an enormous impact on the experience of the game.

Some games allow you to move the camera independently of the player avatar, some allow you to select first or third person views, some allow you to look through security cameras, at least one that I know of uses security cameras exclusively, some use only top-down views, and some allow you to view the world from any conceivable angle.  The choice of viewpoint is important enough that First Person Shooter and Third Person Shooter are two separate genres, with very different playstyles.  It’s clearly a big deal.