Plan for a Game Design course

Three sessions per day, five days

1. Sunday Evening Mixer
9 am – 10:30 11 am – 1 pm 2 pm – 4 pm 5 pm – Close
1. Game Design 2. Concept 3. Monetisation 4. Project work
1. Game Design 2. Creative Narrative 3. Storyboards 4. Project Work
1. Game Design 2. 2D Visuals 3. 3D Visuals 4. Project Work
1. Game Design 2. Shooting 3. Editing 4. Project Work
1. Game Design 2. Audio 3. Scripting Basics 4. Friday Night Pizza & Beers

Would you want to do it? Think of it as a week-long Ludum Dare?

Spot the difference

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll likely remember this artistic monstrosity. It’s relatively famous in terms of the nudity, the cheesecake and the general imagery.

If you’re a lot younger, you’ll likely not go to the cinema to see this artistic monstrosity. It’s relatively famous as the first movie was quite good, very stylised, but quite good.

And then you spot this …

Linked list of interesting stuff…

  • Franklin Leonard’s Black List, an annual compendium of the year’s most-liked un-produced screenplays as determined by the hundreds of executives in Hollywood that spend their lives reading scripts.
  • Italian software house company has developed a safe, ultra stable electric powered micro-drone for a variety of applications, either for business or leisure purposes, such as: geology, topography, real estate, historical/archaeological sites and monuments, coastal monitoring, aerial measurements, communications, etc. The company is looking for new downstream users of the technology, interested in broadening the range of current applications.
  • BBC CONNECTED STUDIO: There will be a one day Creative Studio held on January 23rd 2014. This will be held in Belfast and London venues simultaneously and video linked at points throughout the day. No matter which location teams attend they will be working to the same Brief and receive the same access to BBC experts, insight and Audience Feedback.
  • British Library releasing images into public domain: We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books.

They weren’t born wanting to do this

President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet:

…’Joy cometh in the morning,’ scripture tells us. I hope so. I don’t know if life would be worth living if it didn’t. And I don’t yet know who set off the bomb at Kennison State. I don’t know if it’s one person or ten, and I don’t know what they want. All I know for sure, all I know for certain, is that they weren’t born wanting to do this. There’s evil in the world, there’ll always be, and we can’t do anything about that. But there’s violence in our schools, too much mayhem in our culture, and we can do something about that. There’s not enough character, discipline, and depth in our classrooms; there aren’t enough teachers in our classrooms. There isn’t nearly enough, not nearly enough, not nearly enough money in our classrooms, and we can do something about that. We’re not doing nearly enough, not nearly enough to teach our children well, and we can do better, and we must do better, and we will do better, and we will start this moment today! They weren’t born wanting to do this.

Professional, Personal, Prejudice and Politics

Pretty much un-followed all of the political class on Twitter (and used the block-unblock truck to get them to un-follow me).

There are some stars there (Long, McCrea, McAllister) but I have my reasons. And one of them was a veiled threat from a head of an agency who said that my angry non-partisan activism for a better, working NI was likely to severely prejudice decisions on my projects. Like it or not, there is no separation between professional and personal because of social media.

Add to that the whataboutery that ensues when you’re not unionist for one category of idiots and not nationalist for another category of idiots. I figure that if you’re being attacked by both sides then you must be doing the right thing.

It’s just not right for me. I don’t enjoy the limelight. Things are a little in flux and for the sake of my own sanity I’m focusing on doing the things I want to do rather than doing the things I feel socially obligated to do.

On that, there’s a couple of new things on the horizon. I hope you’ll be pleased to see them when they go public.

Do Digital Natives Exist?

I think they do, but they’re not who you think they are.

This, for me, was coming home (noting that this is probably not the same server nor the same people who ran the Masquerade MU* back in the early 90s.)

And, frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over it.

Evaluating Social Capital

The core idea “that social networks have value”. Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a university education (cultural capital or human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so do social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups.

By social networks I’m really not talking about Facebook or Twitter. They’re just a communication layer. I’m talking about the building of bonds between people. Building trust or even just realising that some people, by their very presence, add value to a process.

Last night I had the privilege of hosting a BLOC54 meeting. BLOC54 is a term we crowdsourced on Google Wave (remember that?) to describe our nascent games industry. It represents a political bloc (in that we want the local developers and designers and artists to stand together) and it’s located at 54° North of the equator.

I have an intention to try and prove the value of a network through the interactions contained within. (Confession: I attempted to try and get this funded as a research project but it’s difficult when the subjects are all pre-revenue. The EU doesn’t value pre-revenue companies.) I have an idea that could vastly accelerate the development of games in Northern Ireland and if it works for games, then it would work for other sectors.

Part of the thinking came from Google 20% Time (which has mostly been abandoned by the search giant) but the major part came from the work I’ve been doing over the last 20 years. Some people might remember NiMUG and other things. We can be better together.

Now, again to reinforce, this is not about bringing some superstars into a network. We have some great people here – they’re the people who organise things while being incredibly talented themselves. They’re always the same faces at things, they’re always on the panels and they’re always the first thought when organising things.

This isn’t about them.

This is about the value of groups as collections of individuals. This means the potential of a small company with two keen developers bring in close proximity to an enthusiastic artist. This is about putting some structure onto their relationship, putting a social contract in place that is designed to contrive collaboration. This is designed to influence serendipity. And if we can use this serendipity to help pay the rent on the building for the small business, isn’t that worth it? Isn’t collaboration worth the investment?

This is what a hub is about. It’s not about providing cheap rents. It’s not about just making people sit near each other. And it’s not about having an open plan office which just has the word “Hub” on it. It should be obvious but a Hub should be some sort of hub. The closest thing to this in Northern Ireland is Farset Labs but this project isn’t supported the way it should be. It’s a credit to the folks there that it still exists at all.

I have tried to implement this (and I’ve invested thousands in the idea over the last 10 years) but I can’t do it alone. My solution isn’t Farset Labs – it’s actually too open and free for my needs. Structure is sometimes good. And through a programme of collaboration we can boost individual success, we can measure the social capital of individuals in groups.

I’ve spoken to local property developers about this and come up with nothing. Without the ability to pay rent up front, without the ability to take on a long lease, without the financial backing of sponsors, without the coalescing of a community, it’s simply not possible.

I look at social enterprises like Bento Miso, Seats 2 Meet and the Dutch Game Garden as examples of how we can do things better. If we value social capital the way we value cash then we can achieve great things.

I have knocked every door and there simply isn’t the will to do anything. The economy here is so tied to property developers that every argument boils down to square footage and rental income. It’s demoralising and it’s disappointing but there simply isn’t the will to “dare to be great” among individuals whose livelihood is based upon rent, rates and taxes.

But, sadly, I know I’m right so I’ve got to keep going.

Eric Says No

Eric Schmidt says drones should be banned by international treaties.

Reasons?

  • Terrorists (and the Reds under the bed)
  • Democratising war (funny, you’d need weapons so is Eric banning guns?)
  • Harassment and Spying of neighbours (like Google Earth, Plus, Maps)

The thing is, Eric, drones are not new. People have been fostering around with remote controlled unmanned vehicles for years. It would be a shame if people just flew them over your back yard in response to your own laissez-faire attitude to privacy.

WE MADE THE GAMES WE WANTED

A beautifully formatted rant about the representation of women and girls in the games industry that segways into every other industry.

Carol Shaw was the first female developer Atari hired. She is best known for designing and programming River Raid for the Atari 2600 at Activision. She says never got the sense that the games she made were for one gender or another, and there was never a mandate from higher-ups to target a certain audience. When she interviewed for the job, she didn’t believe she was at any disadvantage because she was a woman, nor did she feel that video games were the realm of men. She knew not many women held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and engineering, but she held both. She was qualified to do the job, and that was that. “We never really discussed who our target demographic was,” she says. “We didn’t discuss gender or age. We just did games we thought would be fun.

How many FTEs are there in a film industry?

From the Scotsman:

…just 62 people work full-time in film production in Scotland, a nation with a population of just over five million. Something, clearly, is very wrong with this picture, given the dizzying number of films shot in this country recently, from blockbusters like Skyfall, World War Z and Cloud Atlas to homegrown hits like The Angels’ Share and The Illusionist.

The fundamental problem – as laid out both in the report and in Berrie’s committee evidence – is lack of funding.

The fundamental problem is a thorough lack of understanding of how these industries work. It would be fabulous for there to be hundreds working full-time but these jobs tend to be production-based. A production arrives and staff are summoned up and they work through it. Once the production is finished they move on to other productions. They’re not going to be full time and permanent. I would have to ask what the people working full time are actually doing?

The numbers they quote obviously exclude television (BBC Scotland alone employs 1,250) so what are those 62 people doing. Is 62 a good number then?

Funding won’t solve that. Understanding the industry will. Bringing in more productions – especially home grown – will.

I have to wonder how many FTEs work in the film industry in Northern Ireland. I’m imagining you can count them on one hand.