For me, the most interesting details are about how much they considered the need for abstraction to make the game successful — so much of the game is modeled on reality but very carefully distilled into primitive shapes and textures (despite the capabilities of newer hardware) for aesthetic purposes but also to help the player inject their own memories and feelings into the experience:
In this way, the degree of symbolization is selected according to the role in the game. However, reducing the amount of information by symbolization can be considered as discarding the amount of information. Regarding this, Mr. Takahashi said, “I think there are many artists who hesitate to reduce the amount of information in images on high-resolution screens. So why can we confidently throw away information?” I don’t think that the amount of information in the picture will decrease and the response will be lost, but I think that it creates an “imaginary gap”. ”
By having an imaginary gap, the user tries to fill the gap by recalling information from his or her memory. And by projecting one’s thoughts on it, it will lead to creating goals and motives for play.
The article also explores the ways that the game has very intentionally placed “play triggers” pretty much everywhere except for the sky (where you even have balloons to shoot down from time to time), as well as an emphasis on leading the player to desire communication while playing. There’s a lot going on below the surface of Animal Crossing!
PS: for the fans of the series, there are quite a few shots of development versions of the game — always interesting to see how the designs progressed from earlier prototypes.
I’ve long wanted a name for the dot-dot-dot-dot sound effects that have stood in for speech in video games since the early NES days — here described as “beep speech” which works for me! This video is a great roundup on how those beeps function, how they’ve been used over the years (up through Simlish and the even more recent Animal Crossing hybrid speech, which is actual vocalization skewed into psuedo-gibberish), and how they’ve been tweaked when games are translated and localized for different cultures’ languages.
This also reminded me that I’d also seen his name on early Lucasfilm Game products — he was the one who had to bowdlerize the NES port of Maniac Mansion for the NES! Go read his Expurgation of Maniac Mansionpost, it’s worth it if you’re a fan of that era of adventure game.
Been having fun playing with Google Map’s Quest feature, creating some lo-fi Austin scenes. I’m sorry to say that this is likely a Google April Fools’ joke, as I kind of like poking around places as though they were background scenes from a forgotten third-tier Sierra adventure. I’ve posted a handful of Austin 8Bit pics on Flickr — what other locations would be good choices?
We prove NP-hardness results for five of Nintendo’s largest video game franchises: Mario, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Pokemon. Our results apply to Super Mario Bros. 1, 3, Lost Levels, and Super Mario World; Donkey Kong Country 1-3; all Legend of Zelda games except Zelda II: The Adventure of Link; all Metroid games; and all Pokemon role-playing games. For Mario and Donkey Kong, we show NP-completeness. In addition, we observe that several games in the Zelda series are PSPACE-complete.
Translation: video games might provide interesting fodder for complexity theory, and possibly provide a model for novel ways of looking at difficult decision problems. In any case, I just like seeing Metroid mentioned on the arXiv.
Archeology Magazine has a feature story about the “digital archeologists” behind Visual6502, the group “excavating” and fully remapping the inner workings of the classic 8-bit MOS Technology 6502 microprocessor. That might not sound interesting, but if you’ve been alive for more than 20 years you know the chip: it was the heart of early home computers ranging from the Apple I and Apple ][ to the Atari game consoles all the way up to the Nintendo NES.
Very cool and all, but in case you’re still not interested, here’s some excellent trivia slipped into the article:
In the 1984 film The Terminator, scenes shown from the perspective of the title character, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, include 6502 programming code on the left side of the screen.
Whaaat!? The SFX team working on The Terminator went so far as to copy actual assembly code into their shots? That’s pretty awesome! So where’d they get it? It was copied from Apple II code published in Nibble Magazine (even the T-800 enjoys emulators when its not busy hunting down humanity, I guess).
I wanted something nice to have at the office that tell us every time someone make a purchase on our game. Every time we make a buck Wario rings the bell and flash his greedy green eyes. If we made a lot then Wario shoot smoke from his ears!
Mechanical engineering student Terry Garret plays through a few levels of Bit.Trip.Runner, one of my favorite games of the past year. It’s a very challenging game, with simple actions but difficult timings that are set to fun 8-music and sound effects.
Nobuyoshi Sano (composer on the arcade series Ridge Racer and Tekken) and Yasunori Mitsuda (who worked on Secret of Mana and composed the music for Chrono Trigger, along with a number of other Square games) have started a new studio called Detune to continue their work on bringing synthesizer emulators to the Nintendo DS. Here Sano demos their upcoming KORG M01 release, which replicates the late 1980’s sounds of the KORG M1.
BIT.TRIP.RUNNER, one of the best games I’ve played this summer. A hypnotically synaesthetic music platformer, something like an inspired cross between Vib-Ribbon and Michel Gondry’s Star Guitar video. Well worth the few bucks if you’ve got a Wii.
(Seen above is a run of level 1-11 by YouTube user NintenDaan1, the level that I’m currently stuck playing over and over again trying to get all of the bonus gold…)
MyDsReader, Nintendo DS text-to-speech document reading software for the visually impaired. It’s using the Flite synthesis engine designed for embedded devices, implements gesture controls for ease of use and even throws in an integrated email and to-do client. Excellent use of homebrew development.
NewForestar’s NESynth, bringing 8-bit style waveforms to an iPhone app. It supports P2P collaboration with other iPhones, but it if it had a full tracker built into it it’d be killer. The accelerometer-tilt pitch-bending and “Famicom controller mode” are neat additions.
Kraftwerk’s “Pocket Calculator” faithfully played on the Nintendo DSi. There’s a new version of the KORG DS-10 software coming out in September (in Japan, anyhow – here’s hoping that it comes stateside), which will be a must-buy.