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Archive for July, 2009

Now I *can* play my music…sort of

July 24th, 2009 Bartman No comments

In the past I posted a few times in the past about the desire to play my favorite music inside games like Rock Band. Harmonix claimed almost 2 years ago that they have the technology to allow gamers to do this, but licensing was a huge issue. How do you legally allow a gamer to point Rock Band at any MP3 file, then be able to generate the track and play?

It appears that Harmonix has figured out the licensing issue by going with Apple’s App Store model: anyone will soon be able to download and use the tools that Harmonix uses in the studio to create Rock Band tracks. Then users can upload that track into Rock Band, the community can approve it, then it moves on to the Rock Band Network on XBL. Harmonix is encouraging everyone from big bands and labels to small garage bands to leverage the service and spread the music. Check it out.

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Living experience to experience

July 14th, 2009 Bartman 1 comment

This post has been in the que for a while. I haven’t been able to put the right words around it to convey my thoughts. So…I bagged the drafts and started anew.

I read a few years ago that the job of “experience designer” would be one of the top 10 emerging jobs over the next 10 years. In the context of the article, they were talking about people who designed, say, the Nintendo store in Times Square. Even if you did not buy anything, you likely will have a memorable experience after visiting.

I see experience design a bit differently. I like to think of what I do in this light from time to time, but I’m trying to create powerful learning experiences (in the classroom and online) for my students. Do you have a specific memory of a teacher doing something unique and engaging you remember 10 or 20 years after the experience? I recall an anthropology teacher in college putting us in various ‘cultures’ that we had to research and role play in something of a cultural simulation throughout the semester. I also remember a college sex ed teacher assigning us all various roles that we would play periodically throughout the semester, re-creating a story from an imaginary high school.

These were memorable, powerful experiences in my education. If we look outside of education, who else could be considered experience designers? For me, it’s game designers. They craft very compelling, powerful experiences. Sometimes directly through a story or a level, sometimes indirectly by creating a vast environment where the player can create his or her own powerful experiences. I recently had one such experience with Half Life 2: Episode 2. It’s a moment in the game where everything came together at the exact right moment to make the hairs on my arm stand on end.

  • The story: Alex Vance is dying, you need to give the Vorts time to do their work and keep her among the living
  • The action: you and your NPC friends are being bombarded by ant lions. If you don’t fight them off, they eventually get to the Vort and Alex…all is lost.
  • The audio: the NPCs have somewhat comical but entertaining commentary, then the audio kicks in around the 7:30 mark when the pace really picks up.
  • Hit the “HQ” button next to the volume slider for a higher quality version of the video. Once you get the story background, you can jump to about the 7:30 mark where the action really picks up

    In closing, a quote from designer Karim Rashid:
    “Experience is the most important part of human living, and the exchange of ideas and human contact is all life really is. Space and objects can encourage increased experiences or distract from experiences.

    Consume experiences, not things.”

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Anatomy of a Warcraft Raiding Guild

July 9th, 2009 Bartman 1 comment

I’ve been working on an infograph in my spare time over the last month or so. This started to take form when the Profdaddy was telling me about his NSF meetings and how some of the reviewers of grant proposals around games are starting to be less interested in the game itself, and more interested in all the things that go on outside the game. With that in mind, I put together this inforgraph with the help of a colleague, Wade Shumaker.
Anatomy of a Warcraft Raiding Guild
This is very rough, so feedback is more than welcome. From a high-level, this is what I’m trying to convey:
The HEAD: this represents leadership and the decision makers of the guild.

The HEART: it’s all about communication, primarily in-game communication.

The TORSO: to support in-game communication, many out-of-game websites are leveraged (forum, DKP, etc)

The ARMS: guilds rely on primarily two types of external sites: raiding-centric sites (news, boss strategies, etc) and user interface (UI) addon sites to help succeed in the game.

The LEGS represent the majority of the guild members, usually consisting of a mix of socializers and achievers (based on Bartle’s MMO player types)

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