Archive for June, 2008

Tabula Rasa

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

I signed up for the three day Tabula Rasa demo and am downloading the client right now. I’ve heard some good things about it, and it looks decent. I’ll post thoughts and comments later.

Data Organization

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

One of the things that bothers me about the standard computer desktop paradigm is that objects (files and such) only appear in one place. This fits in very well with the idea of a physical desktop — a paper document only exists in one place. If it needs to be in two places at once, a photocopy will do.

I often want to organize my files into categories. For example: I take a screenshot of a game that I am playing. Where do I store the file? My current convention is to follow my hierarchical folder structure down until the file fits: The screenshot is an image, so it goes in my “/images” directory. It is a screenshot, so it also goes in theĀ  screenshots directory (“/images/screenshots”). It is from game ABC, so it also goes in the ABC directory (“/images/screenshots/ABC”). This is fairly straightforward so far. However, how do I categorize it now? It’s a really cool screenshot of my character (I have a “/images/screenshots/ABC/character_shots” directory) but it also has a good capture of the in-game weather (I also have a “/images/screenshots/ABC/weather” directory). There’s no real clear answer to this if we stick with the standard paradigm.

What I really want to do is tag or categorize this file. My quick initial pass at tagging results in these tags:

  • image
  • screenshot
  • game screenshot
  • ABC
  • character
  • weather
  • rain

This becomes even more important when I want to look for files. The standard file hierarchy I have set up now won’t help me much if I’m looking for all game weather screenshots.

I know there are image galleries that will provide some of this functionality, and I’m sure that there are file systems or explorer applications that will do the same for all types of files. (And I read that Vista was supposed to include something like this with the new file system, but this was cut, which was a shame. That was one of the major things I was looking forward to with Vista) Even so, the vast majority of users are still using the old paradigm, or even some other paradigm that doesn’t really fit — I’m sure you all know people who save their Word documents to whatever default location Word chooses.

Great Expectations

Monday, June 16th, 2008

Lately I’ve been mulling over the idea that games contain hidden transactions. No, not monetary transactions, but the idea that games contain lots of miniature contracts between the game (or designer) and the player.

From a player’s perspective:

  • If I open this treasure chest, I will receive an item.
  • Killing enemies or monsters should reward me or otherwise help me to achieve a goal.
  • Rewards should be comparable to the effort I put in.
  • If there is a puzzle or goal, then there should be a way for me to legally complete it.
  • If I press a button or toggle a switch, something should happen.

Those are some fairly common high-level design expectations that players have. (There are obviously many others, and more-specific ones as well) If the player finds that their expectations are not met (the contract is broken) they may feel frustrated, angry, or even betrayed. If the player consistently opens treasure chests and receives no items or kills monsters and receives no experience, then the game designer has obviously not kept up his end of the bargain!

I think that game designers have a certain degree of responsibility to uphold these expectations, or if they do not, to provide obvious alternate contracts.

Something new

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

So here’s the start on this blog. I’m still in the process of figuring out what sort of image gallery or organizational solution I want to integrate with this, and I’m in the process of importing some older blog entries from elsewhere.