I’m tired from the early plane trip back from Athens, mentally exhausted for all the stuff I saw at ACE 2009 and I am also slightly sick to boot.

Given all the above, I am seriously unable to even comment on such shocking news…

“[Baby and Me] takes doll-playing to the next level by incorporating motion control (and balance board support!) into 18 game modes (…). Not only that, this hellspawn will actually cry through the Wiimote’s speaker. You quiet baby down by rocking, burping and teaching him/her/it to walk. There’s even a feeding exercise. I’m sensing a Wiimote breast pump attachment down the line.” – via Kotaku

Couldn’t have said it better.

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Remember the intro to the first Resident Evil movie? We are introduced (to the sound of a stomping, gritty theme which I love) to this whole underground secret virus lab  where they are producing the T-virus, the ingredient to make zombies, let’s say. Or the Regenerate Commercial? Here it is directly from YouTube to freshen up your memory.

So after that, how would you feel about buying this… uh, Derma-Full X3 Facial Filling Serum, from Avon?

Avon Clinical Derma-Full X3 Facial Filling Serum

Avon Clinical Derma-Full X3 Facial Filling Serum

Or, as Joystiq puts it:

Via Joystiq

Via Joystiq (click on picture to link there)

But hey, that’s just a strange coincidence. I don’t assume that the folks who design the Avon product packaging ever saw the Resident Evil movie. And then again, I might be assuming too much, and that’s just where they got inspiration from 😛 On the other hand, I wonder if the asset designers for the movies inspired themselves on Avon products. Given that the Avon product was released this year that is seemingly impossible.

Here we have a toy made to the image of a Halo assault rifle. No mistake here folks, it’s quite clear where the inspiration came from.

Via Kotaku (click on picture to link)

Via Kotaku (click on picture to link)

The Halo Plasma Blaster (via IGN)

The Halo Assault Rifle (via IGN)

And last but not least, my own finding. Last month I was walking around the Urfahranermarkt (a seasonal fair in Linz) with my new flatmate Vesela. I couldn’t resist the calling of my inner child and check out the toy stands. And then I saw this.

The Sword of The Great King War Craft

The Sword of The Great King War Craft

I have my doubts as to whether there is a similar item in World of Warcraft. I honestly don’t believe so. But in such an expansive game world, there might surely be something similar. So it’s not really a game asset come to the physical world, it’s a cheesy trick from some cheap toy company. Nevertheless, interesting to note how videogame culture – here represented by something so recent as World of Warcraft – is pervading so many aspects of modern life.

One of the last things I would expect to find at an Urfahranermarkt stand would be The Sword of The Great King War Craft.

Thanks to Ricardo Nascimento I came to know of The Fun Theory, an initiative by Volkswagen that aims to show that “something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better”.

My crystal ball tells me that if you have an idea for such a fun and beneficial behaviour-changing project, there might be a 2500€ prize in you future.

Anyone want in with me?

This then leads back to the notion of Persuasive Games. Ian Bogost wrote a whole book on the subject (a book I have yet to read) and became founding partner of the Persuasive Games studio.

Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames

And quite recently Prof. Luca Chittaro posted once again about one of my works. Headbang Hero is attracting a lot of attention and everyone has his/her own view on what this beast really is, it’s intentions towards the player. In Prof. Chittaro’s view,  it’s a persuasive application with two faces: initially it seems to try and make headbanging more fun by awarding points for it and allowing several players to compare their scores; then it seems to try and tame down the players by pointing out the risks they incurred.

If computer assisted pervasive gaming were to become much more commonplace now, and by comparison to current state-of-the-art videogames, it would still be in the 8-bit era, or even worse.

It seems to me that the major problem in what concerns input/output in what could be a commercial, widely-adopted mobile pervasive game, would be – still comparing with current-gen videogames – realistic output.

I could imagine players walking around with head-mounted displays to provide a (more or less) mobile output channel for mixed reality graphics, or even portable projectors (which don’t work very well in broad daylight). But in a situation where real objects are used in-game and the developers want the game to autonomously affect these objects’ position in space (and other physical properties such as size, color, shape and whatnot) there is still a major problem as far as I can see.

Let’s imagine that I am playing a wizard or telekinetic character of some kind. How would I go about moving real objects with my mind? Maybe my powers can only affect objects from that other dimension or plane – the virtual.

I might not be completely serious about this. But what it tells me is to expect the current design of pervasive games to be much more about metaphors – just like in the times of the Atari 2600 when everything graphics-wise was blocky and you really had to fire up your imagination there for a bit until you could understand what was going on in the screen in front of you.

As a more extreme example, consider the Magnavox Odyssey, which had no sound output whatsoever and came with these transparent overlays which you would stick to the TV screen to define the game-world. Most games didn’t even enforce the rules by themselves so, for instance, you were free to cross a wall with your “avatar” as long as other players didn’t mind.

I think that if you watch the Angry Video Game Nerd’s review of the Odyssey (NSFW) you’ll pretty much get the point. The Odyssey even came with chips, dice and cards, something that would be unthinkable nowadays because computers handle all the logic and representation in videogames.

Oh no, wait, I forgot Eye of Judgment, a PS3 game released only last year. That one uses cards 😛

Anyway, would something like what happens with the Magnavox Odyssey make sense for a pervasive game? To further ponder about this, please do take a look at this article from Wired, which is accompanied as always by witty comments.

Pocket Players: 13 Great Portable Games

Sony has seemingly filed a patent for a system that allows everyday objects to be used as videogame controllers.

I’m not going to go on and rant about it now. But well… I really have to start promoting my own work. Let’s hope that the reviewers at SIGGRAPH Asia like Noon.

[via Kotaku, Siliconera]

Sony_Objects

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My next post about game-asset-inspired real objects is being kept in the drafts yet, but I will post it sometime soon. Hmmm, define “soon”

Yesterday Ricardo pointed out this video to me, which seems to be an evolution of the Invisible Train from the Graz University of Technology (TUI). The TUI Graz seems also to be involved into this mobile, augmented zombie goodness. And you can use Skittles. Not any other colored spherical objects, Skittles. Sponsoring deal, anyone?

Without further addue, here is the video of Arhrrrr from the Augmented Environments Lab of Georgia Tech.

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Zeemote? Seriously…

June 4, 2009

In late 2006 I began working on the Gauntlet. I remember when, back then, I came to know about the upcoming Nintendo Revolution controller – nowadays known to children, adults, seniors, hardcore and casual gamers alike as the Wiimote.

I still have to accept the fact that I will never beat the Japanese to a great idea, although I get to be constantly reminded of that fact. For instance, by Ichiro Katsumoto’s Amagatana. But hey, this seriously rocks! I can say at the very least that I was happy to play with it and to say hi to the man himself. As I will hopefully be when wielding a sword in Red Steel 2 using the Wii Motion Plus, when it comes out later this year.

Amagatana by Yuichiro Katsumoto

Amagatana by Yuichiro Katsumoto

Red Steel 2 swordplay using Wii Motion Plus, via IGN

Red Steel 2 swordplay using Wii Motion Plus, via IGN

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Where is my Sheep?

April 7, 2009

News about Wolves and Sheep (WAS now, for short)!

Taking the footage that Dolo Piqueras so patiently shot during Ars Electronica 08, Thomas put together a really fun video of WAS. The video was uploaded on Vimeo, hopefully we’ll have it on Youtube too!

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Noon: Lisa holding the snowglobe

It’s been a long time since I posted the original video from Noon. It is made up from very bad footage I hurriedly shot during the exhibition at the Campus 2.0 Exhibition during Ars Electronica Festival 2007. 

As new version of Noon has been produced and shown at the Long Night of Research, or whatever it’s called – in German it’s Lange Nacht der Forschung and the homepage seems not to have any info whatsoever about Linz.

Anyway, this new version uses a projector and loudspeakers for audiovisual output, a smaller Gauntlet interface and some proper candlestands. So finally I took some time to shoot some footage of it and in a couple of weeks it should be assembled together with a moody soundtrack made by yours truly. This should be an improved version of what is heard throughout the original video.

Many thanks to Lisa for being my model! Besides having made the perfect choice of clothes from your wardrobe, you make everything look prettier 🙂

Third time is the charm. Or so they say.

So we got the camera rolling and shot some footage to assemble a documental video of Headbang Hero

Featuring (free!) music from Kevin MacLeod and Slow Death Factory!