Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Xmas Sales.

Hey Ho.I'm just sat in a class right now, waiting while my students run through a mock exam (theyre sitting the real ones next week).

Looks like we might be able to ship our first game in the next 4 weeks. Although thats not really saying much, because this is our first *highly experimental* mobile game!

I say experimental not in game design, but more in testing the waters of mobile development. I'll post a screenshot once we have some final artwork, suffice to say with a 64k limit we arent going to be pushing any boundaries of the art of game making :)

The game itself is a relatively simple breakout game. Although we're looking at a few twists that might make it more interesting.

Breakout is a great testbed for other games though, because its relatively simple and has most of the elements you need (plus the left/right control system is good for phones). Next up for the mobiles will be some slightly more "out there" projects that might take a week or two to complete.All of the mobile work is being done by Mark (the other programmer of scaryhead), so it doesnt take me away from the AI pack development at all.

I seriously doubt that mobile games are an avenue that will hold much revenue for us, as with the normal retail industry, mobiles are all about license titles and sequels. Strange isnt it, anything thats supposed to appeal to the "mass market" has to be dumbed down to licenses and sequels it seems.

Out of interest, if you'd seen the data for Xmas sales on consoles, you'd be not very amazed to see that out of the top 10 titles, both us and uk, the ONLY "original" game in the list was "Killzone".

All the remainder were licenses or sequels. With EA unsurprisingly taking 5 of the top 10 games in each list. Man, things are strange in developer land right now. NewsCorp buying Activision? EA buying the rights to ESPN for 15 years?

Bleh. Give me something original.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Web based functionality versus desktop programs

Hmm, Ive been reading recently that a lot of people are moving towards web-based functionality over desktop applications.

I can definitely see why that would be the case. Web-based mail for instance has saved my ass on many occassions when I have had assignments or lecture notes to take to uni and havent had my USB key with me. I usually gmail them to myself from my mac and download them in the lab onto the local machine just before the lecture.

The great part of this is that the lab has almost ZERO connectivity outside web access. But it just works and thats good enough for me.

The problem with this whole notion of course, is that essentially we are making ever increasing complexity rely on what is frankly an abomination of a protocol (that being http). I'm just thankful that people arent still calling themselves html coders anymore.

But the issue is more serious than using just a crippled protocol. The problem is that essentially with this model, your data is stored at the server end and not the client. The client is essentially a thin client which just accesses server functionality. This isnt new of course, its been around as a model since the days of terminals accessing mainframes. But what scares me is that we're seeing a push towards centralized resources again. Only this time, those resources are funded by third party companies with a need to make a profit.

I havent got any real rational arguments against it all quite yet. Hell, Ive not even figured out why I'm so scared of it. Other than to point towards the success of the PC versus the terminal and look at the empowerment that happened when PC's were introduced onto everyone's desktop and control was taken away from "the man" who administered the mainframe.

Maybe I dislike this move away from empowering the masses towards essentially aggregating them and essentially making them into a resource to be used (via advertising, data farming, spam or whatever).

However, you cant argue with the usefulness of having a platform independant thin-client architecture for these things. Gmail, Bloglines, Blogger et all seem to do the job at hand very nicely!


Towards a new year of opportunity.

Hmm, now this is definitely going to be an interesting year. After the wash-out that was 2004 I think I'm about due.

2005 sees the start of a new chapter in the history of ScaryHead. I'm definitely expecting much more to happen business wise this year.

Frankly, if we dont have at least 2 games finished and shipped this year I'm going to re-think the whole of my development plans. I'm not the only person hitting these kind of watershed issues I'm sure, but I feel like I *need* to be making more constant progress to really justify the amount of time I put into development, put into being a game maker altogether really.

Professionally this year looks to hold several opportunities for some interesting work, I cant really say what until its signed-sealed and we're on our way to delivering, but I'd just say that there are plenty of small grants out there for minor research projects. I'll be quite busy the next semester looking at going after plenty of those.

I'm also going to submit a proposal for a fellowship grant, which would let me do some study into the problems of indie gamers and hopefully produce some suggestions for solutions.

So a new year of opportunity indeed, but one thats definitely going to play havok with my timetables.