Tuesday, November 21, 2006

PS3 and Wii - first impressions not that euphoric...

So, at last, it has happened! Both PS3 and Wii were released in US. It was fun to read about extremes some people would go to just to get the box on the first day of the sales. However, according to the multitude of articles and blog posts published in the last couple of days, the first impressions about those two next-gen consoles are not all euphoric. There are bugs, problems with the new Wii controllers (some people find them poorly suited for games, while some other claim that the motion-sensitive Wii controller broke off during play and cracked their TV screen (!)), and some incompatibility issues.

However, for me the most interesting was the article in NY Times called “A Weekend Full of Quality Time With PlayStation 3”. The author is disappointed in PS3 usability, and summarizes his feelings:

And so it is a bit of a shock to realize that on the video game front Microsoft and Sony are moving in exactly the opposite directions one might expect given their roots. Microsoft, the prototypical PC company, has made the Xbox 360 into a powerful but intuitive, welcoming, people-friendly system. Sony’s PlayStation 3, on the other hand, often feels like a brawny but somewhat recalcitrant specialized computer. (Sony is even telling users to wait for future software patches to fix some of the PS3’s deficiencies.) The thing is, if people want to use a computer, they’ll use a computer.

Goes surprisingly well with my thoughts

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Web 3.0

Here is a new buzzword: Web 3.0!

Well, the word itself is, probably, not that new – it seems it was used for quite some time; but almost always it was used to describe just “something beyond web 2.0”. However, an article was published recently in NY Times which caught some attention. The article is written by John Markov, and it, basically, puts an equality sign between this new buzzword and something called “semantic Web”. The idea of the semantic web is simple, but powerful: to make data stored on WWW not only human-readable, but also machine-readable; to enhance the markup so that automated processors would be able to “understand” the meaning of each piece of data and its relation to other pieces. It will be possible, thus, to do many exciting things with the data found on the web: to analyze and aggregate data from multiple unrelated sources and to do extensive data mining.

Here are several more links to some quite interesting texts about semantic web:

“Minding The Planet -- The Meaning and Future of the Semantic Web” and a follow-up to Markov’s article “What is the Semantic Web, Actually?” written by Nova Spivack, a founder of Radar Networks, one of a few companies that are working on semantic web technologies.

So, should we say goodbye to Web 2.0 and switch to Web 3.0? Obviously, not! The two concepts are quite orthogonal, so the name “Web 3.0” is, probably, as misleading as it gets. (It’s funny to try and search WikiPedia for “Web 3.0” – the article is removed, because there is still no consensus about what “Web 3.0” is.)

Personally, I am quite happy about the development of the semantic web. New tools will mean more capabilities for Internet users; and new paradigm will mean more work for programmers – clearly, a win-win situation for me!

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Friday, November 03, 2006

More on interactive storytelling: Ernest Adams

While writing my previous post I totally forgot to mention an extremely interesting talk on interactive storytelling presented at GDC 2006 by Ernest Adams. Unfortunately, my notes on the lecture – which, by the way, was called “A New Vision for Interactive Stories” - are very brief, and I couldn’t find a full text of his speech on the web. (On his own site Ernest has a full text of his previous presentation on the same topic – but just a short paragraph about his last one). However, here you can read a pretty good summary of Ernest’s speech. It’s interesting to compare his ideas with the ones of Chris Crawford – similar and yet different at the same time (at least, according to what I’ve read at the Storytron site).

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling and Storytron

In September Dr. Dobbs Journal published a very interesting interview with Chris Crawford. (I’ve discovered this interview just yesterday). Chris Crawford, a prominent game designer and writer, talks about interactive storytelling. Chris shares his views on game design in general, but the bulk of the article is dedicated to his new brainchild: interactive storytelling technology called Storytronics. I was excited when I found this conversation, for I am very interested in game design and interactive fiction. With discussions of the way the narrative in the games should be designed being all over the place, I was anxious to hear what the famous game design guru will disclose.

Well, after reading the article I was somewhat disappointed. In the beginning of the conversation Chris told that

The Sims is neither interactive storytelling nor a game. Will [Wright] considers himself a toy designer. It's the finest toy anybody ever developed, but it's not interactive storytelling.

But the more he was telling about his new system, the more I felt that he actually is building something very similar to “The Sims”. And, at the end, I thought that now he plainly contradicts himself:

Basically, it's a social interaction simulator. In fact [it might be] better to think of it as a simulator, because the stories it generates are very different from conventional stories. They don't have plots.

Personally, I think that stories with no plot just aren’t stories. And Storytronics – at least, as Chris described it – seems to be no different from “The Sims”. I was also surprised that Chris didn’t mention the whole genre of Interactive Fiction. Even in the page called “Different Approaches in the Quest for Interactive Storytelling” on his site he never mentions it – which is really strange, because IF is all about interactive storytelling, and can provide a humongous amount of useful information, experience and insights.

The Storytron site allows everyone to download a pre-alpha version of their software. I definitely will do it, because I respect Chris, and I don’t want to judge his ideas based on just one interview. As soon as I try his software, I will post my impressions.

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