Sunday, November 27, 2005

There is no leash

So, there's Mario, Sonic, Lara Croft and [insert your own videogame icon here], but the games industry - unlike the film world - seldom throws up names from the production side of the operation; the names of the visionaries behind our much-loved games have a lot of catching up to do before they are on par with their filmic counterparts. For the mainstream at least, a big fat EA logo slapped on the box should suffice. There are however some names that do create an air of anticipation and excitement when they emerge from their secret laboratories to give us a (usually rather cryptic) glimpse into their future projects. One such man is Warren Spector, former Looking Glass and Ion Storm employee who has now gone underground, so to speak. The man perhaps best known for the seminal FPS/RPG hybrid Deus EX is now, like many others, is attempting to push the concept of play and interaction beyond what it exists as now. His new company - Junction Point Studios - is:

" independent developer of innovative console and PC games that focus on player-driven, improvisational gameplay in the context of strong, traditional narratives. The company's goal is to tell stories with players, not to them, allowing them to craft their own, unique experiences through in-game choices..."

With a distribution deal already set with Valve through their content delivery system Steam, Spector doesn't have to worry about his ideas being compromised by publishers keeping him on a short leash.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

World Usability Day

That's right, this Thursday (3rd Nov) sees the world rejoice as we celebrate all that is wonderfully designed in a huge orgasm of appreciation for the award-winning designers who make it all possible (or something). But are we ready for such a day? Tom Stewart, usability expert and managing director at System Concepts doesn't seem to think so ( His reasoning is understandable; yes, progress has - and is continuing to be - made in good design, citing the iPod as a classic example. But are we getting ahead of ourselves? Surely we have to achieve more than simply having an intuitive way to select our mp3s on the move? I would agree. The amount of potentially avoidable hastle we as consumers have to bear each day is reason enough to think twice about progress. Maybe World Usability Day is less of a celebration and more of a catalyst; a unifying protest against bad design, somehow awakening the sleepy sub-conscious to rebel against inconvenience. I say yes. Even if only a handful of companies and organisations take note, that is a major plus for consumers as competition will only drive progress in usability further, hopefully creating some kind of usable utopia (again, or something). Maybe then we will be ready for World Usabiltiy Day.

Read more about it here:

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