Lord of War

I’m looking forward to Lord of War, the latest movie from Andrew Niccol. His previous films include everything in Gattaca, writing The Truman Show, and the misguided S1m0ne. Reviews are coming out quite positive, but I don’t really know why I already had really strong positive vibes about the movie just from the main logo and the 10-word concept.

Of course we’ll have to wait three months to watch it in Spain. 🙁

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Next-Gen Development, Rockstar

Looks like Neil Young of EA gave a very interesting talk at the Tokyo Game Show. In particular, the way he summarizes EA’s product strategy as "high-quality execution, 1-3 design innovations and audience appeal [being] the ideal combination to produce both a critical and commercial hit."

Lots of comments all over the place about the Nintendo Revolution controller. It feels like the Big N is going all-or-nothing: either it redefines gaming and Nintendo becomes the top dog again, or it is seen as a short-lived gimmick and Nintendo is definitely relegated to the niche gamer audience. My personal bet is on the latter; I can’t see this controller making gaming more natural and attractive to people who don’t already play games.

This is really funny! The people at Rockstar have some attitude.

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Life on the corporate land

Mini-Microsoft is an interesting and fairly critical blog about life at Microsoft. Lots of insight at the bureaucracies and internal politics that take place at Redmond. Many people consider Microsoft to be well on its downhill path to death. Not like it’s going to happen next year, but life teaches us that nothing lasts forever; why would nations and companies be any different?

Microsoft still puts out a number of solid products, but most of them have outgrown their level of usefulness – new releases consisting of features nobody really needs, and the odd improvement (read: bugfix) here and there. Computer products (hardware and software) have thrived on their seemingly endless stream of improvements, iterations, evolution and revolutions. When there is essentially nothing left to improve in a certain product, you either cut your losses and let it rot on its own, you keep it updated with the bare minimum to encourage user loyalty, or you keep adding make-up to an already bloated monster. Meanwhile, someone, somewhere, is working on a whole new approach to being useful and desirable.

Internal company processes seem to follow a similar path. Will Microsoft reinvent itself? Will it be able to reach a plateau of long-term viability?

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Cheat Sheets, Escapist

This is kind of convenient, a collection of quick reference charts for popular topics like PHP, MySQL, etc:

I mentioned my feel that the Escapist was a bit elitist… well it’s annoyed me that in the latest issue, two articles bash Doom 3 and World of Warcraft, essentially labeling them "bad games". I usually wouldn’t care, but since those are among the best games I’ve played in the past few years, I had to position myself: it is perfectly OK to personally be uninterested in them, but attempting to imply that they are objectively bad games only shows how little care has been put into creating that opinion.

There’s plenty of games (and movies, music, books – any form of entertainment) that I don’t find particularly enjoyable, but I can still respect their level of quality in more or less acceptable "universal terms". I expect, no, I require anyone attempting to write a piece of serious game journalism to make the same effort.

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2nd Masters Course on Game Development

Now that August is in the past, we’re again meeting and discussing our approach for the 2nd year of this Master course at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Hot topics are:

Student projects: should they figure out and design their own game?
Assignments: should we require assignments to be completed in order to complete the degree? Should we hand out assignments that can be integrated in the student projects?
Content focus: should we further reduce the amount of non-programming material (art creation, design) to make room for more software development classes?
Calendar: should we reorder topics, so those that students are unlikely to apply to their own projects, are left for the end of the course?

The first batch of students left a handful of very informative comments which we are using to guide the changes for this new edition.

By the way, 3 of them have now joined Pyro Studios’ various development teams. If they can survive the overdose of documentation and source code, they’ll do well. 🙂

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