simoniker writes: "In a new interview, BioShock creator Ken Levine has been talking about his studio's philosophy and teasing, at least abstractly, his next project, of which he says "we had a scope and ambition in mind which is more ambitious than anything we've ever done. Even more, substantially more ambitious than BioShock." He also commented on 2K Marin, currently working on BioShock 2, wishing them luck but making it clear that he is not majorly involved in the game: "I'm not working on BioShock 2. I make no claim to anything on BioShock 2,and I think it's important that that's their product, and their culture. Because you can't just clone a studio.""
simoniker writes: "In the latest in his Game Design Essentials series for Gamasutra, which has previously spanned subjects from 'mysterious games', through 'open world games', 'unusual control schemes' and 'difficult games', writer John Harris examines 10 games from the Western computer RPG (CRPG) tradition and 10 from the Japanese console RPG (JRPG) tradition, to figure out what exactly makes them tick. From the entry on Pokemon: "The front-line Pokémon do all the fighting. They are traded back and forth between trainers, even into, effectively, other universes through either a strange link-cable portal or, these days, converted into photons and broadcast through the ether. Do they question the motives of the god-beings who command them? Do they treat their lot philosophically? Do they pine for the pixel-grass in which they spent their childhoods?""
simoniker writes: "Over at Gamasutra, a new feature article discusses how much money free-to-play MMO games make, with specific real-world stats from game developers willing to discuss how they make money with PC microtransaction-based games. In particular, Puzzle Pirates co-creator Daniel James reveals that "the average revenue per user (ARPU) is between one and two dollars a month, but only about 10% of his player base has ever paid him anything. As a result, he says, approximately 5,000 gamers are generating the $230,000 in revenue he sees each month." It's obviously quite a different model from the regular $15/month for World Of Warcraft, but it evidently works for some companies."
simoniker writes: "Over at Gamasutra, there's a massive new interview with Epic (Mega)Games founder Tim Sweeney, with the guy who's still a key technical figure at the Unreal Engine/Gears Of War developer discussing his early programming days, the story behind classic shareware game/tool ZZT, the origins of Epic, the '90s shareware business, and even a bit about the future as well. Particularly neat is his revelation that you can still order ZZT via mail, with orders fulfilled by his dad: "My father still lives at the address where Potomac Computer Systems started up, so he still gets an order every few weeks... he's retired now, so he doesn't have much to do. Every week, he'll just take a stack of a few orders, put disks in them, and mail them out. So you can still buy ZZT.""
simoniker writes: "Game Developer magazine's annual Top 20 Publishers report has debuted for 2008, revealing that publisher Nintendo, which last year unseated the long-dominant Electronic Arts, has maintained its top position on the chart. The Kyoto-headquartered publisher's extremely strong stable of first-party game releases for Wii and DS, alongside chart-topping reputation scores, again left it atop the chart. After Nintendo and EA, completing the top five are: Activision, keeping its #3 spot for the third year running; and Ubisoft, which maintained last year's impressive four-place surge. Sony Computer Entertainment also jumped into the top five thanks to an increased slate of titles, improving on a review record already higher than most, and maintaining positive relationships with its surveyed partners."
simoniker writes: "Following the recent announcement that Microsoft-owned Age Of Empires creator Ensemble Studios would close after the completion of Halo Wars, Gamasutra has discovered that a now-canceled Halo MMO was in development at the studio, unearthing prototype UI and level screenshots of the Ensemble-developed project. The prototype art, which was at one point made available on an Ensemble-linked online artist portfolio website, further confirms previous rumors that the studio was working on an MMO based on the Bungie-created sci-fi franchise."
simoniker writes: "Over at Gamasutra, Steve Fulton has published a massive 23,000-word history of Atari from 1978 to 1981, encompassing "...some of the most exciting developments the company ever saw in its history: the rise of the 2600, the development of some of the company's most enduringly popular games (Centipede, Asteroids) and the development and release of its first home computing platforms." Best quote in there for Slashdot readers, perhaps: "Atari had contracted with a young programmer named Bill Gates to modify a BASIC compiler that he had for another system to be used on the 800. After that project stalled for over a year Al was called upon to replace him with another developer. So... Al is the only person I know ever to have fired Bill Gates.""
simoniker writes: "Following up on their profiles of the Commodore 64, Vectrex, Apple II, and Atari 2600, game historians Loguidice and Barton examine the lifespan of Mattel's cult '80s console the Intellivision, from Astrosmash to AD&D and beyond. From the article: "When Mattel released its Intellivision video game system in 1980, Atari knew it finally had a serious contender for the console crown. The Intellivision was more advanced than Atari's VCS (later known as the 2600) and featured distinctive software, clever marketing campaigns and sophisticated (though quirky) controllers. Mattel cultivated a unique and long-lasting brand identity, and it's not hard to find loyal fans of the system even today.""
simoniker writes: "How do you work out who's a real star in the programming interview process? Over at Dr. Dobbs Journal, Chris Diggins has been discussing how to find high quality programmers, noting: "The really outstanding candidates are very hard to recognize on paper and in interviews. They can sometimes be shy, or nervous, or not particularly good at promoting themselves", and also suggesting: "Don't test people's knowledge of language specifications. In our jobs we have access to books, people, and the Internet. Good programmers know how to look up references, and use their tools effectively to write code." What's the key questions you can ask to separate wheat from chaff?"
simoniker writes: "Over at Dr. Dobb's, C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup has given an in-depth interview dealing with, among other things, the upcoming C++0x programming standard, as well as his views on the past and future of C++. He particularly comments on some of the difficulties of educating people on C++: "In the early days of C++, I worried a lot about 'not being able to teach teachers fast enough.' I had reason to worry because much of the obvious poor use of C++ can be traced to fundamental misunderstandings among educators. I obviously failed to articulate my ideals and principles sufficiently." Though he notes: "Given that the problems are not restricted to C++, I'm not alone in that. As far as I can see, every large programming community suffers, so the problem is one of scale", is there anything specific to C++ that makes it trickier to learn/teach?"
simoniker writes: "In a new weblog post on Dobbs Code Talk, Intel's James Reinders has been discussing the growth of concurrency in programming, suggesting that "...programming for multi-core is catching the imagination of programmers more in Japan, China, Russia and India than in Europe and the United States." He also commented: "We see a significantly HIGHER interest in jumping on a parallelism from programmers with under 15 years experience, verses programmers with more than 15 years." Any anecdotal evidence on this from Slashdotters?"
simoniker writes: Agile development is meant to be a 'silver bullet' for improving programming productivity and output — but as Scott Ambler explains in a possibly apocryphal article extracted from the (ahem!) April 2008 issue of Dr. Dobb's Journal, that's not always the case. He claims: "Last year, I was brought in to UK-based Gorwell Financial Group to assess a failed software process improvement effort", and explains: "A gentleman whom I'll refer to as Winston Smith (not his real name) had attempted a grass roots, stealth agile adoption effort within his project team.... In the end, Winston's agile adoption effort was squashed. By putting an agile façade on top of traditional strategies, Gorwell managed to derail the productivity improvement potential of actual agile techniques."
simoniker writes: "Over at Dobbs Code Talk, Chris Diggins has been discussing programming languages beyond C++ or Java, suggesting options such as Ruby ("does a great job of showing how powerful a dynamic language can be, and leverages powerful ideas from Smalltalk, Perl, and Lisp") but suggesting Scala as a first choice ("Very accessible to programmers from different backgrounds.") What would your choice be for programmers extending beyond their normal boundaries?"
simoniker writes: "In a reprint from the August 1988 issue of the classic Byte magazine, new Dr Dobb's Journal-related website Dobbs Code Talk has published Bjarne Stroustrup's thoughts on 'a better C', describing what would come to be known as C++, the superset of C he created. As he explains in the conclusion: "What distinguishes C++ from other programming languages? C++ was designed under severe constraints of compatibility, internal consistency, and efficiency.""
simoniker writes: "Obviously whimsical but slightly mindblowing — an Eastern European coder has published video and the Excel tables to get full 3D wireframe and even solid polygonal graphics running in Microsoft Excel. This isn't an Easter Egg by the Excel creators — rather, he's using formulas to output the graphics, using two different methods, and showing all the variables on screen in real time as the 3D is created."