Bacon and Games

Category: General News (page 1 of 2)

We Heart Games, #shmamershmate

While I don’t generally like these “let’s all change our avatars to support X” kind of things, I do like this one. I appreciate it because amidst the confusing shit-storm that is “hashtag rhymes with shmamer shmate” this message is clear:

  • We want games to be a space where everyone feels welcome.
  • We think critical thinking in games should be applauded.
  • We want to play all kinds of games, made by all kinds of people.
  • We think games are for everyone.

When someone says “I support #shmamaershmate” or “I’m against #shmamershmate”, I want to say: “I don’t know what the f*%k you think you’re talking about.” We Heart makes a clear statement. It’s not about choosing a side, it’s about making a positive declaration outside of the maelstrom.

I’d like to amend that last one to read We think games are for and by everyone.

If you want to be a part of the love-in, check it out here: Here’s a link to the avatar generator if you don’t feel like doing it manually.

Many thanks to Andreas Zecher for (apparently) starting this. I definitely choose to stand with you.

New Site Coming

For a while having my entire site simply be a WordPress blog got the job done for me. I’m at the point now where I’d like greater control over the top level domain The intent will be to call out projects, introduce myself and feature certain articles. So the blog will be moved to this .blog subdomain and I’ll be maintaining more custom content at the root level.

And if you’re still reading, this post is mainly a test to make sure that WordPress is working properly at its new location.

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture

I realize that I’m about 3 years behind with this one, but I think those who have seen Randy Pausch’s: The Last Lecture would agree his message is timeless. I can’t describe it any more eloquently than has already been done, so I’ll lead with an excerpt from his website:

On September 18, 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that is devouring his pancreas and that will claim his life in a matter of months. On the stage that day, Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. He seemed invincible. But this was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged.

Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon, as has the book he wrote based on the same principles, celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. Sadly, Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008, but his legacy will continue to inspire us all, for generations to come.

I’ve had a copy of this lecture for almost 2 years now and, for whatever reason, only sat down to watch it tonight. Randy’s message, his delivery and his spirit would have been more than enough to inspire me to pass his message along, regardless of its relevance to this site. Imagine my delight when Jesse Schell and other components of my game-related universe started cropping up in Randy’s talk.

I knew when I sat down to watch this that the lecture was going to be about life goals and personal reflection, about how you can impact others’ lives and maybe even about changing the world. These are all things I think about, and so I expected his words would have a great deal of meaning to me. I had no idea game design would be among the topics.

On a daily basis I wonder about what I’m doing with my life and whether it has meaning beyond meeting my day to day needs. When the theme of games turned up, I felt like I was cresting the first drop of a roller coaster that I hadn’t been told I was riding. My obsessive introspection cast into the same room with my love of play, of games, was a lot to take. It hit me in a way that I haven’t quite fully grasped yet. The thoughts it’s jarred loose are still a bit too tender (and maybe too incomplete) to even begin to share, but I can feel the approaching impact.

As I said earlier, I know I’m late to the party but I’m sure there are plenty who still have not seen this. If you haven’t, you can watch it below. You should watch it. It was so thought provoking that I’m certain I could ramble on for a few thousand more words without batting an eye (or dotting one, the computer does that automatically….har har). Instead I’ll leave you with this:

I don’t believe in luck, I never have. It’s how the lazy explain their misfortune and the shortsighted hope for success. My dad once told me, “There’s no such thing as right place, right time. Only right place, right time, right person.” I’ve discovered there’s a lot of truth to that. Toward the end of the lecture Randy shares a quote, “Luck is truly where preparation meets opportunity”. As a result I’ve updated my feelings on luck, because I think that definition truly explains the phenomenon casual observers tend to describe as luck. The better prepared you are, the more likely you’ll be equipped to take hold of the right opportunity when it comes along. I’ll admit that’s not the most insightful statement anyone’s ever made, in fact it’s well deserving of a “no shit Sherlock…”. But as a person who likes to make his own way, I’m a lot more comfortable with the idea of luck floating around if I can think of it simply as an opportunity landing on the right person. Randy’s lecture is filled with moments like that.

Whether you’re a fellow soul searcher, game designer or just a person with 70 minutes to spare, The Last Lecture is for you.

This lecture has changed me. I’m excited to find out how. Thank you, Randy.

Well That’s Just Peachy, Apple

Apple announced today that they would be lifting their ban on using 3rd party development tools to create apps for their store. It only took about 4 months for Apple to remove the ban, which was enforced in early April of this year. In their official announcement Apple wrote:

We have listened to our developers and taken much of their feedback to heart. Based on their input, today we are making some important changes to our iOS Developer Program license in sections 3.3.1, 3.3.2 and 3.3.9 to relax some restrictions we put in place earlier this year.

Whether their change of heart is truly due to developer backlash or if it’s a result of legal pressure is unclear. I think it’s important that we focus on the outcome. Developers can go back to building games with the tools they are most comfortable. Apple still holds the key to the kingdom, but they can no longer discriminate simply based on platform of origin.

A fun game that runs well is… a fun game that runs well. Whether an app has been built with Unity, Objective C or Actionscript is immaterial. The onus of writing reliable, efficient code is still on the developer. The patrons of the App Store should be allowed to decide what belongs on the store by voting with their dollars. And now they can.

To Apple, I say thank you.

To the developers, I’ll say this: When you’re cooking up your next app, keep the words of Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm in mind. “…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Make apps that fill a need, innovate or do something better than an existing app. Flooding the store with dress-up games and soundboards just because we can will only leave us with: I told you so.

As an added bonus, Apple also announced that they will finally be publishing their App Store Review Guidelines. Developers now have a clearer picture of whether their app has a shot at getting to see the wizard… before they make the long trek to OZ. TechCrunch put together a decent summary article that points out Apple’s casual tone. To me, Apple sounds like a parent taking a first cautious step with their teenager… “OK, I’m going to let you stay out past curfew just this once, don’t disappoint me.”… Let’s not get grounded again.

And no, I’m not apologizing for the title of this article…

Help Get Everything to Everyone

Everything, By Everyone may sound like the most vaguely titled movie since Stephen King’s “IT” and perhaps it is. But it happens to be aptly named.

In 2006 Newgrounds, the web’s oldest and arguably most popular Flash portal, changed its slogan from “The Problems of the Future, Today!” to “Everything, By Everyone”. On the surface the change was an attempt to distance Newgrounds from its reputation of being a haven for negativity, teenage angst and childish toilet humor. But in reality, Newgrounds was updating its slogan to reflect what it had grown into; a collection of talented and passionate artists and programmers sharing their work with the world. Newgrounders were creating games, cartoons, music, art and a thriving community around all of it. They were, and still are, creating everything, by everyone.

Nathan Kuruna, a filmmaker and fellow Pennsylvanian, is working on a documentary that will tell Newgrounds’ story. Besides that he’s telling a story about the evolution of online entertainment, of user generated content and how the web (and Flash) have changed the way we get, make and perceive entertainment.

I had a chance to sit down with Nathan last August to talk with him about Newgrounds, Flash, and where I think they’re going. He shared with me what he’d learned in his other interviews and also what he hopes to accomplish with his film. I promise you this is a film that will not disappoint. Not only that, it will turn some heads in the process.

We’re so used to the web as it exists today that it’s hard to remember what it was like before Newgrounds, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and blogging. In roughly a decade, the web has gone from being primarily about content consumption into a forum for self expression. User generated content has undoubtedly changed the web, but its reach extends far beyond the browser. In November of 2004, Tom Fulp and Dan Paladin leapt off the pages of Newgrounds onto the XBOX with Alien Homid, the first Flash game to cross over to a console. Edmund McMillen, another prolific Newgrounder, brought us Gish (which is now open source, by the way) and is now readying the debut of his first console game, Super Meat Boy. Meanwhile, Bo Burnham is writing a musical for Judd Apatow and Brain Waterman is making a movie with the Leslie Nielson (yes, that guy from the Naked Gun movies). User generated content has given creative minds who would have otherwise gone unnoticed a chance to compete with traditional media outlets.

Nathan’s movie is about how this transformation came about and Newgrounds’ role in all of it. Appropriately so, he’s found his way onto Kickstarter to help get his project across the finish line. He’s shot a ton of video but he’s got hundreds of hours left to sift through, editing to do, more interviews to travel to, dvds to press, festivals to enter and lives to change. OK, that last part might have been an overstatement but we’ll never know if Nathan doesn’t get a chance to make his movie, so please consider throwing him a few bucks. He’s a hell of a nice guy and I can tell you first hand that he believes in this film and has a passion for its message. Hell, his movie may end up being proof of its own message. It’s a story worth telling and we’ll all benefit from having it told.

For more information, head over to the Everything, By Everyone website. If you’re already sold, click here to help him out. And if you can’t donate, that’s cool but do Nathan a favor and click one of the share buttons below or put his Kickstarter widget on your website or blog.

People are often inspired by others’ generosity, so if you find yourself reaching into your pocket to help out, leave us a comment and maybe you’ll incite a few others to follow your generous lead.


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