Thursday, 8 November 2012

Groovy new RMIT Building

Universities are often great places for exciting pieces of architecture to spawn because of their more adventurous nature and their ability to use buildings as advertising of their research and teaching. The new building for the business school at RMIT brings a wonderfully zany feel to the place. The architects (Lyons) look to have delivered on a very playful and skilfully crafted structure both inside and out.
Check the full DEZEEN article for more in the RMIT Swanston Academic Building.

[new RMIT building by Lyons, photos via DeZeen]

ps - Lyons Architecture is very Guild Wars 2ish in my head (Lion's Arch)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Moths, Butterflies and Board Game Destiny

Since I/we have been playing many more board games over the last two months and having a heap of fun doing so. I have been thinking about porting over the Moths vs Butterflies realm to a board game instead. Apart from the fun of designing and then playtesting such a thing, the world now has a suite of ways to compliment the realisation of such a thing. We have stunning ways to print in both 2D and 3D as well as funding mechanisms like the now runaway success of Kickstarter.
I am keen to explore some mechanics that would embellish the world, the concept here would not be to re-skin an existing game or system, but to generate a new game that flows from the ideas already developed for the MvB world. What might some of these elements be, well we have both the 'races' plus the threat of the world itself. The idea that battling the mutating landscape could be powerful and naturally progresses the game towards an epic conclusion. Perhaps the game is cooperative but with limited scope for the Moths and Butterflies to really help each other until later. The backdrop of the conflict between these two races is essential, having to overcome the animosity there sounds like a mechanic already. The setting of the valley could make for an interesting board - long and thin perhaps.

Reference games.
These are some games and mechanics that I will delve into a bit more, see how they might fit into such a transformation. The D&D board games like Castle Ravenloft which use a fully coop mechanic are fascinating and also include things like Arkham Horror, Zombicide and Defenders of the Realm - all of which are dripping with theme as well. Extending from there is something like Descent which adds a player taking on the role of the antagonist while retaining a largely cooperative game. The idea of a campaign or an evolving story is something very tempting here in either format.
While things like Talisman or the fun of Small World etc have lots of interesting elements, in the end, the current lore for MvB is driving towards a coop solution.

Digital Media
As far as it fitting with the Masters of Digital Media (COFA), the interface would be in the generation of the 3D models that would form all the game pieces, such a cool way to have cool board game components. There is also all the board, box, token, manual artwork that could be generated and a cool CG trailer to top it all off. I am not sure where CryEngine would fit into this, I would like to keep it, but the fit is less clear.

There could be two other ways to include the digital elements. One is to bring an tablet INTO the game board itself - having the tablet generating gameplay elements as well as embellishing the visuals. This idea has a uniqueness to it that I like, imagine a board with a screen at the heart that you interact with as part of the board. So not an iPad or something sitting on top of the board, but make the board 3D and encapsulating the tablet so only the screen remains. Perhaps with a curved border making a dark pool at the centre of the forest. Anyhow, the second way would be in playtesting, creating simple software that could iterate through random elements to see how games may play out. This may need some AI to help it along, but at minimum could generate card sets and dice rolls if they are part of the game.

Finishing up with a gameplay pic from Descent via boardgamegeek:

[Descent game play pic via boardgamegeek]

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Win8 progress and the ASUS TAICHI

I have the release copy of Windows 8 running on my HP 2760p and it is a little cleaner again than the previous iterations. I still have 'issues' with how the machine handles Win8 in tablet mode - so I dont use that, but as a touchy laptop it seems to be working ok. We still have the whole dual interface complexity though, running a mixture of metro and win7 apps is far from smooth and friendly.

One of the things I liked about Windows 7 was that applications functioned in a fairly predictable fashion, I could find help, get to settings, full screen etc with buttons generally up the top. Enter the Metro world and every app looks different and behaves in its own way. Plus most of the apps arent utilising their icon/tile in the  main menu view. Even the Desktop tile doesnt show a pic of your desktop, let alone others that should like the twitter apps or skype.

I have been playing more with the Store though and have a suite if interesting experiments from a host of vendors.


[ASUS TAICHI via the official site]

Hardware wise, we are waiting for our first Microsoft Surface to arrive, that should be interesting. In the meantime I like the idea of the ASUS TAICHI which instead of dealing with flippy screens, they just have a screen on both sides of the lid. It does take a pen (not a WACOM solution, but still 256 levels of pressure) - see the TrustedReviews article for more on that. One thing I am disappointed by is that the inner screen isnt touch - I really like touching the screen on my little laptop now, and as people start using things like the Surface by touching the screen even in laptop mode it will be missed.
While not quite available yet, it looks like it is going to be expensive here in Oz - soaring over $2K.
Despite all of that, I love that we are another step closer to having screens on all surfaces...
More info and their promo vid: