August 31, 2008

PSP lost its edges, to regain them soon

Just a quick shot, it's always nice to observe things corresponding to what we learn at KISD. This time, it's regarding product design. Not strickly game design but it's about the PSP.

During the project "Sparschwein" (Piggybank), Herr Horntrich gave us a hint saying that chamfering all edges is no way to make an attractive form.

Well, what do you know? The PSP slim did exactly that in an attempt to make the handheld more hand-friendly. The result? A cheap, toy-like feel, as if the cheaper material wouldn't reduce the preceived value and build quality already.

But I didn't realize so clearly that the form was heavily contributing to that, not until SONY announced the newest model, nicknamed PSP Brite.

To make clear the "evolution" and the differences, I compiled the following image. Red marks the sharp edges and green the chamfered ones. Note how the Slim lost the hard edges (dotted line), and the Brite has now both, giving it a nice rhymthm. The source images were found on, except for the PSP phat.

check out the edges

again, without distracting lines

I'm tempted to buy this revision, since it looks like what it should have been in the first place. (Yeah I know, Nintendo needed a second try, too.)

Now if it only plays Divx/Xvid natively and is less picky about the H.264 profile than up to now... wait, that's why I got the Archos 605. Hey Sony, take a leaf out of Archos' book if you want to tout with PSP's media playing capabilities.

[Yu-Chung Chen was born in Taiwan, studies at Köln International School of Design, and has been working professionally in the games industry in Germany since 2001. Shipped titles he had worked on include: Legend of Kay, Meine Tierklinik, Anno 1701/ Anno DS, DDR - Disney Channel Edition and others.

He is now working on his portfolio so this signature could become shorter.]

August 30, 2008

I’m not a planespotter (more hardships)

It does not go wider

So tired of stepping into hobo-shit I've decided to leave the urban jungle for some real jungle. If I have to wade through shit I want it to be raw, wild shit. I tried to get around Cologne/Bonn Airport on my Mountain Bike to maybe find a nice spot for Illucinated and possibly try myself at planespotting.

The area around CGN is a nature reserve called Wahner Heide. It was great to be mountainbiking trough forest again. Reminded me of Darmstadt, the place where I grew up. However, my Bike was stored in the basement for too long and it seems to be in need for some repairs. I found myself praying that my handlebar wouldn't come off at a crucial moment. Also because of some military base at the airport, getting to a spot where you can see the planes landing is very hard. Even if you do - the sight is not so great because the elevation of that area is quite unfortunate. Getting around the airport is really tough too with TONS of fenced-off areas everywhere and sometimes even no real paths for bikes or pediestrants. If you want to go planespotting on CGN, go by car. Also I've discovered that I seem to have a kind of phobia of extremely loud sounds. Or maybe I'm just not used to it. Or maybe I should have brought earplugs. Or maybe I'm just not a planespotter.

In other news, I got me a Flickr Pro account and I've uploaded some more photos from CG 2008.

August 29, 2008

The Hardships of Location-Based Games Redux

On the abandoned railway bridge panorama

Just to be clear about "Hardships": Imagine it's 4 in the morning, pitch dark, you are inside a jungle on a secluded abandoned railway bridge and searching through the bushes you step into moist, diarrheal human shit.

(But geotagging is fun!)

August 28, 2008

The Hardships of Location-Based Games

The 10 Gnomes series by Mateusz Skutnik was a big inspiration for the current project I'm working on, Illucinated. I'm currently in contact with Mateusz and he is a very nice, down-to-earth guy with a great sense for visuals (check out his graphic novels!). I can't really remember if I decided to use photography in Illucinated before or after I saw 10 gnomes but the mere existence of the game series was an assurance for me that it can be done.

Mateusz recently told a little story on how the newest part of 10 gnomes came to be. He had to endure some hardships in getting to the right location, dealing with weather, shooting permissions and so on. In fact, this is not the first time. He also had some stories about episode 4, episode 5 and episode 7. It's funny how simply by choosing a similar technique I encounter so much similar problems.

Illucinated - The Chicane

My game will only have 4 locations but I choose to do the shooting by night which means I need a tripod which makes me much more visible. I have also much more severe restrictions on the kind of locations I can use because my game is much more spatial and the layout of the location is more relevant to the content. I also need location which have at least SOME lightning. So I end up walking for hours trough the night in very risky locations, being attacked by giant (mutant?) spiders and being chased away security guards (Germany is much less relaxed then Poland). I spend days searching for good places on Google Maps only to find out that the route which looked simple from space is actually fenced off (HOW do you get AROUND the Cologne/Bonn Airport without a car?!?). Then you maybe found the right spot and it starts raining.

But the experience is amazing at the same time. It brings so much physical experience into the Game Design. It becomes almost like a game itself. Like a strategic version of Parkour. You start seeing places in different ways. Every time you see a path in the bushes your reflexes to investigate kick in. Going by some piece of architecture you wonder how it will look in the night and you start appreciating seemingly mundane routes in the cityscape.

August 26, 2008

Digidrive is Awesome

If you got 6,40€ to spare, here is a nice way to spend it: get yourself Digidrive. It is a game from the Bit Generations we've already talked about. It is also one of the last two titles from that series still available over at Play-Asia and it is even DISCOUNTED. Trust me, getting the other ones is much more expensive and inconvenient. And why would you do such thing when Digidrive REALLY is a Highlight of the series? Even the guys from GameLab agree.

Don't even try to understand the screenshots, they are confusing. Explaining the game is difficult too. It is generally a very simple, short action-puzzle game with lots of exciting rules which add a nice strategic layer to it. It also features great music, crazy visuals and a VERY handy automatic save/continue function for mobile playing. If you always wanted a Bit Generations game it's now or never. With the discount, I don't think it will stay available for long.

(Oh and if one of my colleagues decides to grab it: Guys, I've got a Play-Asia coupon... and I might want to add something to your order)

August 25, 2008

Jahtari Riddim Force LIVE cassette

Two nice Jahtari live recordings from this summer are available for download now. One at Plastic People London, June 13th, and at the mad Fusion festival, June 28th, with Instruktah D and Bankil on the mic. All recorded to lovely tape by Jackson “Bassbin” Bailey with the in-built mic of a great old-school deck. Check loads of upcoming Jahtari smashas, w/ Soom-T, Mungo’s Hifi, MAFFI, Bo Marley, Mikey Murka and performed by disrupt and Rootah.

Impression from GC

EA Coocoon again at GC 2008

So, I was at GC 2008 for a day. It was nice seeing EA Cocoon stand being resurrected again. I think we did a good job designing it after all. I just wished I could claim more authorship in designing it. I was in the project but we were separated into different teams and my team's design didn't make the final cut.

I just wanted to get out some brief observations:

  • I've played Braid very briefly. It was alone in some corner. Can't comment much on the puzzles as it was VERY brief but the game is a quote was obvious Super Mario quote, even to my uninitiated companions. The animations seemed nice and the controls felt very comfortable. Looks like a solid game but I won't buy an XBox because of it, sorry Microsoft your games portfolio still just isn't diverse enough. No amount of coverflow will fix that.

  • While we're at it: WHY was Braid in a corner. And WHY is there no Indie Games Panel at GC? Maybe somebody should propose something like that for GamesCom?

  • Maybe I missed something big but after that EDGE Special, playing Fracture felt like an EPIC disappointment. Wow, hight maps! That was a cool technology but back in 1994. And back then they were at least original, instead of just cloning Halo.

  • Little Big Planet is cool. At least the jump & run part feels nice, especially playing cooperatively. It looks simply jaw-dropping. However, I have big concerns about the interface. So far no complex task then painting with stickers has been demonstrated (and that was buggy enough). The first problem will be to develop a flexible and precise interface for editing levels. The second will be to actually browse through the sea of user-generated content that should appear release. Both tasks are very difficult and the success of the game will depend on how well they will be solved.

  • Spore looked very good. I didn't play it but I watched in awe as some player went with his creature over a hill to discover a herd of procedurally generated giant floating pink balloons with penis-like noses emerging from the fog. This episode was at least the kind experience we were promised. I making a note here: huge success!

  • I actually played a bit Space Invaders Extreme and I liked it. Might buy.

  • There was a discussion if the iPhone will be a gaming device. I think: it will be "The Gaming King of Mobile Phones" because it does feature cool hardware and is a very stable, popular platform among the myriad of different Cell Phone types. However, I doubt it's popularity as a gaming device will match an actual console like the DS or even the PSP. It is too expensive to be bought just for games and its usual clientèle is not interested in more demanding games then another Tetris clone. Also, it's hardware seems too alien to allow easy ports from other consoles. So we will see a plethoria of "Casual Games" like Bejewled but I think that's all the iPhone will do.

August 21, 2008

thank god i am not an artist

die künstler- wird zunehmend zur witzfigur – mit freundlicher unterstützung des marktes, welcher nach immer mehr kleinen prinzen giert, um diese dann fröhlich zu pampern und zu pimpern.

mit beachtlichem erfolg haben sich die künstler im laufe des vergangenen jahrhunderts zur gesellschaftlich anerkannten witzfigur entwickelt. kreative, egozentrische genies, hochgradig asozial und nicht selten leicht beknackt, schleichen sie auf den kunstmessen und galerieeröffnungen herum, um sich im eigenen licht zu suhlen. aber längst ist der dort gefeierte egotrip zum allgemeingut geworden: ‘express yourself’ ist schon lange gesellschaftlisches lebensmotto und missionstatement ist einem - künstler benötigt es dafür keine.

so braucht es auch nicht weiter zu verwundern, dass der kunst so langsam die ihr eigene kraft abhanden kommt. es ist in keinster weise erstaunlich, dass man dieser elementare kraft in weiten teilen der gesellschaft nun im besten fall noch mit einem müden lächeln begegnet.
thank god i am not an artist! 


installation mit photoportrait, kerzen und räucherstäbchen sowei artiststatement. 

August 20, 2008


As I've already mentioned, I've ordered a set of Moo MiniCards to use them as business cards. The company offers a very simple procedure to upload your own images and oder the cards over the Internet. They are sold in packages of 100 cards which is perfect for business cards. Sure, you can order elsewhere 1000 or more for less money, but what will you do with 1000 cards? You will never give them ALL away and after half a year you will start hating the motif or your address changes. You can print each and every MooCard with an individual motif and they have an exciting format.

MooCards Packaging

As you can see they come in a small plastic box with a cheeky slogan - very British and very Web 2.0. Here are some more insights with more photos:

MooCards Opened
I must say I really like the format. They are smaller then normal business cards. The aspect ratio is way above Widescreen, comparable to a chewing gum strip or a Sony Memory Stick but a bit bigger. If you use a photo, you will end up with a heavily trimmed motif or one with a ton of negative space. It will always look exciting.

MooCards Overview

I've used 20 screenshots from my game. Having photos on a business cards makes sense. This way, it can also be used as a flyer for your game. As a business card, it gives the people you give it to something to look at. It might also create good context to talk about your projects if you meet somebody. This is much more memorable then some fancy but hollow printing extravaganza:

I also ordered a dispenser for MooCards. Quite smart of them using a custom format. This way, you HAVE to buy their apparel.

MooCards Dispenser

The dispenser is nice. The only problems I see with it is that it only holds 15 cards and the opening mechanism might damage the top-most card if the dispenser is full (Might! I'm not sure yet). The mechanism also doesn't close too firmly so you can't use the dispenser as a key chain, even if Moo provides a metal ring to do so.

MooCards cutting quality issues

Finally, the printing quality is good for digital print. The cards are printed on firm, thick paper and feel as if they are coated with a matte finish. The only problem I have is that SOME of the cards have fuzzy edges caused by low-quality cutting. This is somewhat troublesome if you have dark motifs as I do.

But all in all, I'm pretty happy with the result. Too bad they arrived ONE DAY too late for c/o pop. I will use them tomorrow on GC, though. I plan on using MooCards in the future too. Maybe I will come up with a cool way to use them. I'm trying to come up with an Ideas on how to make a GAME with MooCards... hmmm...

August 18, 2008

c/o pop is over

Business hours are over! Baby!

(The photo is from c/o pop 2007 and obviously not from my stand but I like the face of the guy in green shirt. He's so inTENSE!)

I would like tow rite a few impressions I've got from c/o pop this year. It was my first time there and my first exhibition and I really enjoyed it. I'm defiantly planning on exhibiting next year, too! So here is what I've learned:

What went right:

  • I was a bit afraid that showing a game on c/o pop was a bit out of place because it had almost nothing to do with music. I was wrong. The Affair area is suits this kind of projects perfectly. On top of that, because it is not a dedicated games trade fair, you expose your project to and audience outside of your expertise and you get less competition. Good idea overall!

  • I've leaned a ton of new, cool people which I realized is tremendously helpful for an indie developer like me. I see now that this is also the way things get done in Europe generally, where the infrastructure and social networks are very dense.

  • The game features cool technology, which is interesting for people on its own. This was planned deliberately as you could read in my thesis but seeing how it works in real life was very assuring.

  • The game also has a very unique visual style which people can relate to on different levels. Some recognized the places I photographed. Some were generally fans of fucked-up industrial areas. This - again - was deliberately planned but it was even more assuring finding out how people reacted.

  • Having a portfolio is good. Because people can immediately check out your work if you give them your address. Having the address on a business card is even better.

What went wrong:

  • Never use a beamer (=digital projector) if you don't have a room with EVERY FRIGGIN WINDOW SEALED OFF. A digital projector has the advantage of producing a large image quickly but it just doesn't work if there is any kind of natural light in the room. I made that experience too often now. If you can't seal off the windows, don't even try. Setting the whole thing up so that people don't accidentally cross the beam is difficult enough. I've ended up only frustrated since there were times where you could see NOTHING and my game does depend of visuals. Next time, I get myself a nice big flat screen TV. In fact, this solution might be even preferable in almost every case.

  • I had the wrong kind of game. Even if people found the technology and the viusal style cool, the completely missed out on the mood and the story. These things are just impossible to show off in this kind of environment. They are better experienced alone and sealed off from other people. So next time I might want to try to show more action-oriented games.

  • The game was not finished. That's really a bummer. An unfinished game looks less impressive and the whole presentation does become slightly pointless. I would have liked to give out flyers with the web address of the working game or even giveaway copies. Now I don't even have a website up.

  • Didn't have a business card. I've ordered some from Moo Mini Cards but they didn't arrive in time. The first day way very bad since I had NOTHING. On the second day I've managed to print some on my home printer but they weren't as spiffy as the Moo Cards. Oh well.

So overall great opportunity! I've gained a lot of EXP and I now know how to do better next time. :-)


Seen the new videos from the upcoming Star Wars: Force Unleashed already?

Compared to the Euphoria animated Stormtroopers, the Apprentice just seem so... videogame-y. I suppose he has to use "choppy" animations which cancel each other so player inputs feel snappy.

But than again, there's Altaïr, so it can be better.

So far the Force abilities look cool, but I'm not so much impressed by the fighting, and the Apprentice looks like a metrosexual, skinhead-version of Anakin "God-what-have-I-done?-but-OK-lemme-turn-evil" Skywalker.

August 13, 2008

New Work!

Some blu moppelhase for you!

New Work!

Some blu moppelhase for you!

August 7, 2008

Rootah and Afrikan Simba @ Mary Anne Hobbs

Wowee Zowee! Yesterday Rootah and Afrikan Simba’s killah “Alternative Power” was being lifted from it’s original JAHTARIAN DUBBERS VOL. 1 album and shot through the air via BBC1′s own Mary Anne Hobbs during the legandary experimental radio show. Check the awesome almost- toasting towards the end of the tune by Mary in her unmistakable style! This absolutely screams for a Dubplate.