Short version: I got to spend an hour playing an unreleased game for the Nintendo Wii developed by a small startup studio in Austin, for the purpose of late-stage fine-tuning. And anyone in the Austin area with an interest and ability to not be a total jerk can, too. Read on for more.
Nearly three years ago, Richard Bartle gave a keynote speech at the Austin Game Developers Conference. Some time after that, I was at a party where some people hadn’t been attendance of it, and I summarized it thusly: “He drew a line from World of Warcraft all the way back to MUD1, then basically said, ‘Bitches better recognize.’” Got at least one good laugh from that.
I’ve not been a student of Dr. Bartle’s, and can only imagine what his lectures are like from what I read from him and have heard him say. The Guardian published a column of his in reaction and support of the Byron Report on Britain’s video game regulation system. Short version of the report: Yes it needs overhauling, but education rather than fear must prevail.
Bartle’s shortform: Byron knows what she’s talking about because she grew up with computers and probably played games on them, and all the politicians making hay over them can wither and die. Bitches.
Tonight I went to one of those free lectures offered by Austin Community College’s game development institute, which I’ll write up tomorrow. Yeah, it’s been a while since I did such a thing, when I used to do them all the time. It’s even feeling like a change of pace to actually update this site more than once a day, so bear with.
The real news besides the talk, however, came from program coordinator Bob McGoldrick. Seems that he is no longer the “director” of the institute, as he had become on perhaps an interim basis. Turns out, the new director is Spencer Zuzulo, notably the founder and director of GameCamp, an organization I’ve praised before (though apparently not on this site. Hmm.)
What’s more, Bob said, this fall will have a substantial expansion of the programs offered, as well as associate’s degrees in game programming, art and design. There’s also been quite a bit of effort to coordinate with 4-year colleges, but as Bob said, there are very few bachelor’s degree programs in existence when it comes to game development.
Anyway, there might be more news about this another time.
I have more than a few friends in the game industry. Comes with the territory, especially when they start out, that they might be forced to look for new work when their project, or worse, the company tanks. I feel awkward about it sometimes, because I’m just the guy who periodically gets bursts of interest in working in games professionally, but lacks specific talent or drive to get noticed. People who don’t have this problem need to be employed.
Two guys come to mind, because they were respectively the project lead and lead worldbuilder for Lazarus. The latter built pretty much the entire “overworld” map for Lazarus, recreating the landscape of Britannia faithfully with few obvious differences, in Dungeon Siege. Well, that guy got a job at a company that’s still in business, but who laid off a bunch of people and he’s still in the lurch. Anyone who needs a really good worldbuilder, especially in the Seattle area, I’d be happy to give him a referral.
That guy I’m still worried about. The other guy landed at Iron Lore Entertainment, which you might have heard about closing. He worked on Titan Quest and its expansion pack, and on their last project, Soulstorm, the final expansion pack/re-release of Dawn of War, he was lead designer and producer. And he had to clear out his office before it hit shelves.
He’s also spent the past six weeks pounding the pavement looking for work. He’s struck out several places in the Boston area, where Iron Lore was, but he just told me he’s had at least one offer. So things are looking up.
Oh, and EIEIO was cold and miserable. Saw some good stuff, though. Can’t talk about it right now. I’ll probably chuck it up on my Destructoid blog when I can.
Not that I’ve given my dwindling number of readers much to keep their attention of late, but I did have an outage today. Thanks due to the host for the quick fix.
So, what shall we talk about? I’m in a feisty mood.
Only took two extra years since the initial release, but now the game I spent a year and a half helping to write and polish is now available to download with translations for German speakers. Dungeon Siege 1 (or as Doug the Eagle calls it, “the Lazarus runtime,”) still required.
You know, when I’m doing arm curls, I always think smoking a cigar adds a lot to the experience.
I also like to talk about taking a shit in obtuse terms.
Oh yeah, video.
Note: This will probably not make a whole lot of sense to anyone who does not read Destructoid, is not aware of Gamecock Media, or did not watch (or care to watch, like I didn’t) the SpikeTV Video Game Awards show that aired Sunday.
Yeah, those are worthy songs, particularly the Metallica and Black Sabbath ones. I think they could call the Dec. 18 pack the “navel-gazers,” but that might give people the wrong idea. That’s not what I’m talking about.
Look at the Police pack, which is already out.
Look at the third song.
Yeah, I know part of the appeal of this game overlaps with the desire to sing along at concerts and possibly even karaoke, and maybe bring your buddy’s girl/guy-friend in on the mic because s/he might not be able to play the toy guitar or drums. But does no one remember the “Elevator Fans” skit on Saturday Night Live with Sting, Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey? I’m linking the script because I couldn’t find a video of it as an example of what I’m talking about.
Docubloggers is one of several projects by KLRU-TV, Austin’s PBS station, also home to Austin City Limits (the TV series, not the outdoor concert.) They just got around to posting their report on the UT Videogame Archive and the fundraiser at Richard Garriott’s house from back in September.
Wheels are indeed turning, as Uncle Warren stated. My brother, who just happens to be a library scientist, pointed out that they’re already hiring for a librarian/archivist position, though it’s only part time at present. It’ll probably be years before they find a proper physical place to put it all, much less make it available to students or the public in any usable fashion.
Bit by bit.
Edit: Here’s a new interview with Brenda Gunn of UT about the archive.