Posts tagged: Consoles

Storytelling and technology

By , April 30, 2007 8:57 am

This isn’t digital storytelling from the traditional (it’s more than a month old online so it’s ancient) definition, but it’s more aligned with interactive storytelling. Warren Spector, a great game designer has written an article in Escape about the new storytelling and how the new hardware might actually be a barrier and that to do these properly by looking at new ways about how to think about the story and the interaction – ala verb thinking from Chris Crawford’s Interactive Storytelling. It’s great to see that these classic designers are starting to think about the story (check out Storytron), even though their games have been classed as shooters for such a long time.

PS2 backward compatibility suffering

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By , February 24, 2007 7:49 am

Ars has a rather pointed article as to why… and how… Sony is losing it’s way when it comes to gaming. Dumping the Emotion Engine (a whole $27) for software simulation to push BlueRay.

Apple Inc – Convergence is more than just what happened to it’s name

By , January 9, 2007 2:23 pm

Ok, so to be ever so original, but perhaps unique to the small group that read this blog for their Ed related content, here is my take on the Apple TV and the iPhone.

First the shortcomings, the phone doesn’t have a camera and the Apple TV is only a way to cue and play media – not interactive. Why are these shortcomings? Well the first should be rather obvious – if RIM finally figured that there should be a camera in a consumer device, then why didn’t Apple take the hint? (I guess I missed this there is a camera – a 2MP… but I’ll still complain as there are no video… so that is still to complain about… and RIM hasn’t done that either) I think it may have been a comprise for the thickness of the unit and the interface/display. And Apple TV – no interactivity? Well this is only a shortcoming if you are looking at it from my point of view – there is no way way to add data to what you are viewing – that means that in an educational sense, this is only marginally useful – basically if you have an educational podcast, you can now view it “large and in charge” using your home theater. Having said that, the specialized use that I would think to use the Apple TV for (at least staring songs) is not really going to matter, nor (I think) are the other specs that people have jumped on (720p vs 1080i). To it’s credit, Apple has had a knack for being able to see what the essential specs and functionality for a product are and take off from there.

The “long-goings”? Well, Apple has edged closer to the complete convergence device with the iPhone (if the entire phone runs OSX – then like the WinCE phones, why not run other applications?). They have also come very close to providing everyone a reason to (as Bill Gates mentioned at the CES keynote) to have a computer… any computer in every house. Computers exist to feed iTunes (for Apple and every iPod based system) data or to provide for whatever the Windows Media Manager thing that will run the Zune and the MS/Ford – I would never even think about getting that … not only is it a Ford (Found on Road Dead), but it’s freaking MS BSOD!! -. So the real master of all this computing power that we are seeing enter the home is the music/video/photo manager – not the word processor or even the web-browser. The iPhone also has it’s “internet device” element which is good (with an amazing Minority Report-esque interface), but unless the rates for mobile data come down, I don’t think this will be as hot, but with so many of these iPhones likely to be out there, mobile data rates should go down, but that hasn’t happened yet with the Blackberry Pearl, so I’m not holding my breath, but then again it’s Apple – a different beast than RIM. Even if they don’t there is the WiFi connection that will connect into the Apple TV or anything else (Skype :)) and then the data rates might be a mute point, especially with all the free wireless out there. This might even beat Nokia to the punch if it can do the GSM/WiFi handoff trick.

Convergence or ubiquitous computing seems like it’s going to emerge through entertainment and communication – the iPhone lets people keep in touch and at the same time remember those they care about with photos, Apple TV (or XBox 360) allow people to manage their considerable photo, video and music collections from the place where people congregate and not the den/office. What this suggest to me is that the organization and processing is largely a solitary pursuit and it’s not likely to emerge from the back rooms any time soon (though those rooms will become less dungeon like). But the enjoyment of products from that toil are shared with everyone, even easier now with the new Airport Extreme that supports network drives.

So having said all of that, what about the current heavyweight in the living room? XBox 360 has a leg up there, but its primary function for many is just a video game console. So what about the others like the Wii (which I was quoted as saying will likely win out in 2007)? I’m thinking that just as where the strength of the Apple TV and 360 are their connection to networked computers, the massive advantage of the Wii and other devices that support removable memory is just that – you can take your SD card like the slide carousel of old – and go to your friend’s place and show your pics in their TV or their photo frame (which people are just now warming up to thanks to dropping prices).

In the end, I think we’ll have two steams for ubiquity – the low investment stream where people just take their pictures and drop it onto a card that is played by various devices all over (I’m sure many of us have seen or overheard people stocking up on memory for a trip because they don’t want to erase pictures because it’s too hard to do) and a second stream that is based off the computer that, while limited to the home of the slightly more tech savvy, will be much smaller in size because of the increased investment of time and money required.

Now if Apple can just get the movies studios to allow “registered” DVD owners to rip or download iTunes friendly copies of their exisiting DVDs to their computers… that would just be great. After all, they did get Yahoo and Google to be in the same keynote and on the same device (I’m just sad that it’s not push from gmail). Finally where are the ’07 iApps/Suites?

Wii Cards

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By , January 1, 2007 7:16 pm

Over the last few days, I picked up a couple of SD cards, one for the photo frame that I got for Christmas 😀 and the second for the Wii that I hope to some day get. While I was hunting for these cards (London drugs had them on for $20/GB) I noticed that there were Wii branded cards from Sandisc and others. So I was wondering if they had anything special about them. A quick check on the interweb revealed that they do nothing. I was thinking as much, but at the end of the day, they suggest the smallest card to get is 512 and on average 1GB. Something to think about when you are looking for memory. There isn’t anything special on any memory card that is branded out there – other than maybe having some utility software on them. Why? Because the devices that use them will all be able to format them to whatever they need them to be.

Wii Opera

By , December 20, 2006 3:48 pm

I’m glad that the full version of Opera on Wii isn’t quite out yet, because I still don’t have one and at this rate, it may be June before I do. So, there is some news about the first trials of Opera via Skeptical Gaming. It’s not going to be a complete browser (that is expected in March), but it should be enough to let people get a few bits of information online and more importantly let Opera and Nintendo see what they need in this test phase. Interestingly if YouTube is the focus of development, it bodes well for YouTube as a preferred video delivery service. It seems that many people already watch more YT than TV, so I’m not really surprised buy this.

When your gadgets blog

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By , November 29, 2006 9:51 am

This was put out a few weeks ago, but I’ve just now got around to it. The Escapist writes about how there is a system that allows Xbox 360s to have a “voice”. In the article, the author, Mur Lafferty mentions that this is possibly a slippery slope to give machines voices. I don’t know about how these blog posts are really generated, but considering that everything with an OS has some manner of logging system, it would not take much to take those logs and anthropomorphize them. If it’s limited to this (reading the log, looking for usage tags and then adding comments and maybe offering suggestions from an existing database), then I don’t think there is much of a slope. Basically what it’s doing is search. The same thing that Google does when it gives results and presents ads. But when you consider that the “semantic web/web3.0” is coming soon, then things could get interesting as these machine blogs could start to go out and find information online to include into their own database to help augment their voice.

I don’t think we have to worry about a Skynet type situation any time soon, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to consider the possibility of one day turning on your blogging device and asking it to do something and having it say no after having evaluated your request in light of what the blogosphere has said. But as long as the machine has to obey local operator commands, I think we are safe (now how do I log into my Wii… assuming that I get one).

Wii Workout

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By , November 27, 2006 1:24 pm

If you are one of those few people with a Wii reading this, and feeling a bit stiff, you are not alone. WSJ (more on gaming from the WSJ, if that is not getting gaming out from the basement, I don’t know what is) has a story about how Nintendo is telling those who are sore to work out more. Can this really be bad?

It’s not the technology!

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By , November 27, 2006 10:25 am

This is something that I’ve noticed working in professional development, that technology doesn’t solve problems that it didn’t create and usually creates more problems when it’s put before user experience. I found an interesting site that talks about how Nintendo has thought about the user experience first on the Wii and how (at least in the console world, if not elsewhere) through focusing on the user experience has always been the way to win the successive generations of console wars. Even the venerable PS2, won because it had a better experience, not because of it’s technology.

Console weekend sends the world crazy!

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By , November 18, 2006 10:16 am

This was an interesting shocker after seeing a listing at over $50K, I flipped the price sort over and found that people are selling ps3 email addresses! And even theofficial domain (I wonder who is going to fall for that?). Of course, you can see the same things for the Wii as well. Many of these people are even trying to get attention by using the old standard of sex to get attention, using some pinup or another to pull people in. Of course, online is just art imitating life as people have hurt much more than their wallets trying to get the PS3.

Edit 11-23 – Apparently one of these email addresses went for $890!

Wii, the almost $100 console

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By , November 16, 2006 5:40 pm

Business Week has an interesting interview with Shigeru Miyamoto and Ken’ichiro Ashida about the Wii and how they took inspiration from just about everywhere but CPU horsepower to create the system. They also wanted to make moms (and wives I would say) happy with the cost and the lack of wires. In the end they hope that the new interface (like the DS has already shown) will create the space for new types of game play.

I think Wii will do everything that they set out to do and within a couple of years will be $100 to boot. If you look at arcades, DDR is the game that the kids are lining up for. It’s a game that you can’t play with a regular controller. Guitar Hero is another that requires a special controller. If these control schemes were just fads, why are they taking off? The Wii-mote and the nunchuk will certainly allow for many new control schemes to be at least “virtual” versions of these kinetic controllers. Edit – Nov 20th – Wired has a pretty good take on this.

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