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Blink and It’s The Future

November 13, 2010
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This is how time works. One day you’re marveling at moving hologram on a credit card (I remember the dove appearing on Visa cards) and the next everything has totally upskilled and you’re slightly baffled by what you’re looking at on a video online and then you realise it’s not a 3D screen, it’s a hologram.

I still love the Visa dove - although I now have my own credit cards and don't have to get my dad to give me the hologram off his old ones...

Of course, this day actually spans 26 years, but really, where was the middle ground?Where were the fairy steps? I didn’t see them. Holograms that move as you walk past them, to full colour, see the subject from any angle, was never actually a real object but was born out of an Autodesk product (and a skilled 3D artist, I grant you) in the blink of an eye?

This is Michael Klug of Zebra Imaging explaining the technology that got me blathering. Although, in searching for this on the net I discovered a whole lotta crazy holographic tech...

I doubt there was no intermediate stages, but I didn’t see them. So, could this be the case with other things? Picture the scene:

Me: Dum dee dum dum. Wow, these shoes are nice and comfy, but I had nice comfy shoes back in ’84.

Someone Else: Hey look at this thing on youtube Jon, these are spider shoes. No, not like grippy things that let you walk up walls, no, they’re covered in loads of little legs that walk with you. So you know that time your foot is planted on the floor, pushing you forward? Well the spiders legs do some walking in that time, it’s like being on a travelator all the time.

Me: If they have hundreds of legs why don’t they call them centipede shoes instead?

Someone Else: Shut up Jon.

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Giving Back

November 11, 2010
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Many years ago my brother bought me a book called Virtual Reality, by Howard Rheingold. Over the course of a summer holiday I read through this book and my mind was genuinely expanded. Like many at the time I thought of VR as headsets, strange black gloves and the future. But the book told a more interesting story than that, it covered medical imaging, Spitting Image puppets and Myron Krueger’s digital Dionysian caves. I particularly liked the part about Krueger’s work and I distinctly remember my friends mocking me whenever I mentioned him, presumably I mentioned him a lot, and liked to pretend I was talking about Freddy Krueger; philistines. We didn’t have the internet in those days, so I couldn’t point them to awesome videos like this.

Video Place - a digital cave...

For many years the ideas that were in that book floated around my head; I think they still inform my thinking to this day, and when I get to work on Microsoft’s Kinect I will surely be aware of how much we’re doing was actually done first twenty or thirty years ago, in research labs around the world.

Since reading the book I have occasionally looked up Mr Rheingold on the web, and read the odd bit about him, every now and then. However, it was when I started to use Twitter seriously that I realised I could follow him, and absorb a river of interesting stuff on a daily basis. Although HR wasn’t the first person I followed on Twitter, he is probably the most significant; many of the most interesting folk I follow on Twitter have come to my attention via a Rheingoldian re-tweet.

Howard Rheingold - creating almost as much internet content as the porn industry...

But today the knowledge came full circle and I was able to give back. For today Howard was searching for an appropriate adhesive to hold decoupage to his shoes, and I was able to get in there quick with suggestion of PVA glue. Before I knew it he’d ordered some on the interwebs. I hope it does the job because I have become ridiculously excited and proud at the prospect of being part of the evolution of Howard’s famous painted shoes.

Just another ambition I didn’t know I had…


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Clone Him

November 10, 2010
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Victoria University, here in Wellington isn’t really an institution I know all that much about, but what I do know I like very much. All my visits there are to the School of Design, specifically to classes organised by a Senior Lecturer called Doug Easterly. Even though I am actually on the same side of the teacher/student fence as Doug whenever I visit his classes (handing out design gems like “I think you should use FarmVille’s monetization system and make lots of money,” and “clearly, some of you didn’t listen when I told you to keep the scope small,”), I think Doug might actually be responsible for my long term plan to don a jacket with elbow patches and become a don.

 

Doug looking really serious - he's a lot more happy looking in real life...

 

In times past, I went to university for one term and one week before quitting. This bold move was caused by a multitude of things. Often, people ask me what I studied and when I tell them it was economics they say something like “I’m not surprised you quit.” In truth, what surprises me is that it’s taken me so long to start studying economics again – of late I’ve been wandering too and from work listening to books about the history of the subject. Economics is cool, don’t let anyone tell you any different. I even had a really good economics lecturer, who was probably an advisor to the government in the UK, during the very stable mid ’90s. Like I said though, there was a lot of reasons I quit my degree.

However, much as my economics lecturer was good, and much as he knew what he was talking about, I doubt very much that he ever got up to such fine japes as Doug. One of the things that makes him interesting is that his background isn’t in design, it’s in art, and one of his recent pieces of art work was ruled paper. Nothing too special about that you’re thinking. Well, the lines on the paper were actually micro printed words, like love and peace – apparently normal paper, with hidden depths. That’s a fine piece of work in its own right, but then someone he knew worked in the White House (or perhaps it was someone he knew, knew someone), and was able to smuggle some of the paper into the stationary there.

Paper with an Easter Egg, genius.


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Ludography

November 9, 2010
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I’ve recently added a new page to the sidebar – my Ludography. This is a write up of all the games I have worked on as a game designer… almost. Although the omissions are few and insignificant, except for my board game, Posers, which I will put on there when/if it survives play testing, cost analysis and all the other hoops, to make it onto the shelves.

I’ve also updated the About page, which now contains the latest version of my resume and a work example – a game design document from a way back in 2002.


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Bon Voyage

November 4, 2010
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Today is a sad day for the New Zealand games industry, as we bid bon voyage to the esteemed James Everett: Game designer, Canadian, tall – mostly concurrently. It seems like only yesterday I was sat outside a pub drunkenly slurasking my boss when we were going to get another game designer. Next week was his answer. Excellent, was my response. And lo, he did appear and I could pass work to him. But it’s not just his utility I shall miss, no, it will also be his mad skills, boundless enthusiasm, cunning creativity and general person that I will miss.

You should see him when both hands are going...

As he wings his way back to his native land to be cold and work hard at Ubisoft in Toronto I’d like to raise a glass to him, although I’ve pretty much given up drinking, so we’ll all have to pretend that this glass of cherryade is something harder and more fitting, perhaps a quality glass of Drumguish. Here’s to you James!


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Blood Drive

November 3, 2010
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Today is the launch of the latest game from Sidhe, Blood Drive. It’s a zombie car combat game, which isn’t to say the cars are zombies, although I did suggest that to the team, and they told me to sod off.

Driving cars and killing zombies...

Tonight we’re having a company party to celebrate the launch and it will have a zombie fancy dress theme. Wisely, I shall be recycling the costume I made for Halloween. If only everything in life was so simple.

Find out more in this interview with Chris Cervantes, the lead designer.


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Crispy Jon

November 1, 2010
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If you’ve been reading my Mars Rocks cartoons of late, you might have noticed one or two references to sunburn. Sometimes these cartoons are a little bit autobiographic and this is just such an occassion. Pretty much all last week I spent my time fielding questions regarding the state of my face. It must be said, it did look pretty bad. As you can see…

This photo really doesn't do justice to how crispy I looked...

Sadly, the effects were wearing off by Halloween. I never quite get the timing of anything right.


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