Just wrapped up spending a few weeks blitzing on a small game for an installation by Intel/Vice/The Creators Project with Hide & Seek. I’ve always appreciated these sorts of short term projects - a looming deadline lends itself to a kind of focus and resourcefulness that is hard to find on longer projects fraught with the usual delays and scope difficulties.
Some of the most gratifying projects I’ve ever worked on have been on game jam games and seriously rushed studio projects - crunch projects yes, but short term, with no room for deliberation or indecision - it just needs to get out the door. And out the door it goes.
The indecision, the hemming and hawing, the endless stages of higher-ups’ reviews and greenlights, the reshuffling - I’ve found that this is all harder for me than a mere few weeks of intense focus.
Bill Murray pen doodle
Knocked this out last minute last year as part of our GGJ ‘12 team portrait. In retrospect I kind of like it.
2012 in design notes, pt 2
2012 in design notes, pt 1
For two years now I’ve thrown some impromptu shindigs at ARCADE in Shanghai for an unofficial IGF China after-party. This was something sorely missing from GDC China as far as I and my fellow organizers were concerned, so we thought, eh, what the hell - let’s get everyone drunk at least.
This year was made possible with the help of my friends at Coconut Island and some other folks too!
LA Game Space is a nonprofit, interdisciplinary center for art, design, and research. Our upcoming space will explore the potential and expand the possibilities of video games through residencies, exhibitions, research labs, speaker series + workshops.
Most events will be streamed worldwide and archived for free online.
I was privileged to be asked to speak about international game development and culture at two different events in the last month - first at Freeplay Independent Games Festival then at the EB Expo in Sydney. I was honored to be involved, thanks to the organizers for putting on those events and inviting me! Photos are from the Gamespot panel.
It’s been fun no doubt, I thought it was time to take these other pictures of the event out of my digital closet…and why do I kept them there for so long? no one can tell.
Thanks again to all the awesome people that visited us, thanks Lavie Sak for these great shots, to Bryan Ma that made this Australian edition possible, to Luca Francesco Rossi for the great poster, to Serial Space, and all those who helped (as I will, as with these pictures, inevitably forget some of them…I know, I’m an asshole).
The use of the word “creative”, especially in the context of something like “industry creatives vs. non-creatives”, has always struck me as problematic. That notwithstanding, “creative coding” is something of a useful idea. There should be a distinct difference in the way programming is taught to artists from the way programming is taught to aspiring engineers, and creative coding ideally is a reflection of this.
Creative coding is about building something that is in the end usually non-practical. It requires practical components to be coherent and useable, but is most often not about building something that is explicitly utilitarian.
I’ve had a chance to participate in quite a few classes on this subject during my time off this year as well as in 2011. In these classes, most of the students in these classes are new to programming and come from various backgrounds in design or the arts. Processing, being extremely visual, is the natural choice. Nonetheless, I am often stunned at the failure of these classes to realize their potential.
At their best, they teach the basic concepts of programming in an exploratory, visual way. But most of the courses I’ve experienced this year were excrutiating live coding example after example after example, or long discussions and explanations on the technical nature of the issues at hand. These discussions are all eventually crucial to be sure, but they are not the way to introduce these ideas to design students in something like Processing.
What these classes should be about, before anything else, is the joy – the joy of exploration and discovery.
I keep coming back to this video, years later, to explain to people what I mean about joy. One of the game designers I admire the most, Steph Thirion, used to teach classes on creative coding. This particular video was using footage of the results from a 6 hour crash course with students who had no programming experience. They began with the source code for a simple breakout clone provided by Thirion, and ended up with this beautiful montage.
The wonderful thing about the computational, the generative, the procedural, is that things emerge that often cannot be accurately predicted by the person responsible for the underlying logic.
When you have a system and logic as a starting point, with creative expression as a goal, all it takes is a tiny bit of context followed by experimentation. You learn something new – “I didn’t know THAT would happen!” – and your brain follows up with “What if I do THIS…?” Its something like Jon Blow’s explanations on ‘letting the game design itself’ – its a process of taking a step, seeing something new, and taking another step, and something emerges in and of itself.
It’s also analagous to design thinking in general: design has long been discussed as an exploration-focused domain, rather than a problem or solution-focused one. Problems and solutions emerge and evolve together.
There is a joy to this process. There is a beauty to this process. It makes people feel wonder and want to understand and explore more. And for people who already have a design background, its familiar. This joy is why I started programming in the first place. Exploration is the key, and Thirion gets it – this video still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.