A Maze Berlin 2014: Presentation Addendum

While posting all those pretty colourful and shiny photos I almost forgot to talk about that tiny talk I gave. The CliffsNote version: Have the courage to deviate from the perceived norm when necessary and avoid the boring garbage that everyone seems to write because everyone seems to write it. Daring, I know! I uploaded the slides, but they’re probably not going to be super-useful without the delivery. (Not that they were super-useful with the delivery.)

Yes, that’s quite a load of slides I chose to carpet-bomb the audience with during those 5 minutes. Fortunately enough, no one in the audience was prone to epileptic seizures. A slight behind-the-scenes bonus for those who stumble across this blog for whatever reason: That one slide that I had to cut because I simply wouldn’t have been able to stay within the 5-minute limit otherwise.

Mysterious Slide

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

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The A Maze Berlin 2014 Aftermath Post

So yeah, that thing happened again. And it was absolutely grand as I got to listen to many presentations covering a diverse range of topics, ran into many familiar faces and got to know new interesting people.  It’s hard to believe that it’s only the third event given how quickly it has grown, and there’s pretty much no way the A Maze Berlin (technically: “A MAZE. / Berlin” … yeah…) is not going to grow further next year due to the momentum.

For the first time the festival was split across two locations: All presentations and workshops were done in the WYE, whereas the exhibition now received the full space at last year’s location, the Urban Spree. I’d say it would be nicer if the two places were a bit closer to each other, making it more convenient to spontaneously switch if needed. Still, after last year’s conference it was pretty much inevitable and the exhibition did benefit a great deal from becoming a separate entity. According to the A Maze team 3800 people (conference attendees included) stopped by over the course of 2.5 days.

Zee Germans among you can read my write-up at the usual place. I also took tons of photos, trying to capture talks, the general atmosphere and the sense of wonder, joy and surprise people expressed at the exhibition.

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A Mazing News. I guess.

Oh hello there! Yes, this thing is actually in some way–dundundunnnnn–ALIVE. Just wait for the shock to settle before you read on.

I signed up to be a part of the Indie Arena line-up at the upcoming A Maze Berlin next month and will deliver a micro-talk on how (not) to do press releases. Or so I’m thinking. Surely, you don’t want to miss out as it could very well be the most grandiose 5-minute piece you’ll ever see*. To quote the synopsis:

BERLIN – April 10, 2014 – “In an innovative and revolutionary presentation one of the leading journalists in the industry will push the envelope by talking about press releases”, said one of the leading journalists in the industry.

Well, they asked me to provide a link to my personal website for their speaker overview. Turns out this is the only one I have! And since completely strange and weird people might accidentally follow said link, I thought it might be a bit embarrassing to not have any sort of recent content. Yes, I’m talking about you right there.

If you can make it to Berlin in mid-April and are somehow in the business of being creative, I highly recommend attending the A Maze Berlin. It’s been an absolute delight in the past years and you’ll run into an abundance of fascinating, inspiring, open, and curious people. Well, and me. I embedded some photos I took last year for your viewing pleasure.

*Assuming you’ll only ever see one 5-minute presentation in your life.

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Don’t worry, people!

This blog’s not dead. It’s just resting its eyes, not breathing, and smelling funny. Anyway, here’s a bunch of links for the people who attended my presentation at the most recent meeting of the IGDA Berlin chapter.

AGOF & Magaziniac
Jonathan Blow vs. CVG
Christian Schmidt über die deutsche Spielekritik (ungekürzte Fassung bei Gunnar Lott)
Schmidt-Repliken  von Petra Fröhlich & Mick Schnelle
id Software interview on Rage at Gamasutra
Brandon Sheffield ‘explaining’ said interview
Chris Kohler on Famitsu ratings
GameJournos
Semprafi

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+1′ed

By now you’ve probably heard that Google just recently has launched the latest way for mankind to share pictures of adorable cats and videos of people getting hit in the crotch , Google Plus. (Funnily enough, that was also the week MySpace got sold off for $35m after News Corp. had sunk an estimated $1.3b into this venture.) As of right now, it’s invite only, but I was able to try it for a few days now while everything is still in the second of the three phases all new things on the mighty intarwebs go through inevitably.

  • Phase 1: Access is still highly limited. You’re not a part of it, but you seemingly don’t care enough. You don’t have enough time for all those superfluous shenanigans anyway. Which, at this point, probably is true since you’re busy begging people for an invite.
  • Phase 2: You’re in! Make sure that the rest is reminded of this by constantly babbling about how they’re missing out because it’s the coolest thing ever. Also follow other general recommendations for what science has come to describe es ‘probably slightly being a dick about something’. (Bonus point: Write a blog post.)
  • Phase 3: Everybody and their mom is in by now. You will reminisce about how it used to be much nicer and less bloated in the early days, i.e. some time last month. Before, you know, they sold out.

Now that we’ve established that for no real reason, let’s briefly talk about Google+. It’s actually somewhat snappy and useful the way Wave and Buzz never really were. People seem to be embracing it with a fair amount of goodwill which, I guess, is partially based on Facebook’s perceived disregard for user privacy, their inability to fix exploits, and their tendency to sneak in new ‘features’, enabling them by default while not informing anyone properly. (Obviously, it’s not like Google is a complete saint either.)

The Circles feature works nicely and feels more manageable than Facebook’s list – and it only took a few days until someone tried to copy adapt the concept. The video chat (Hangout) was implemented rather well. Oh, and you can edit status messages in order to get rid of that one bloody typo that somehow made its way into the text. There also are other features you may or may not be aware of — see also here.

A few aspects need to get fixed/improved though:

  • The interface needs to be more compact: Google surely does love their white/line-spacing, but combined with another Google+ design choice –pictures and videos not being minimized the way it’s being done in Facebook– this means you’ll be scrolling a lot. Let’s not even talk about what the Stream looks like on a netbook. This can be slightly compensated by decreasing the font size in your browser, but it’s not exactly an elegant look.
  • Link edits: While you can edit status messages, the same cannot be said about content you’re linking to. Rather than being able to fix a broken or improper headline or pick the best excerpt of an article, you have to rely on whatever Google+ fetches automatically.
  • Search functionality: Good luck finding that one website you or someone in your friend list on Facebook or Twitter neighborhood mentioned a few weeks ago. Neither of those services provides an adequate search option. If only Google knew how to search content… oh wait, you guys do! Google+ integration, anyone?
  • Group hug: Another of those “but Facebook does it!” pieces: If several people in your Stream link to the same piece, it would be preferable if those links were grouped/clustered. As of right now, that’s not being done, and only increases the scroll factor (see first bullet point).
  • No Google+ version of ‘poke’: How will Google+ users annoy each other efficiently or try to establish contact someone they fancy in an awkward way?!

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And Not A Single Flag Was Given

Hey there! I know that the local media outlets are really trying hard to convince us of your existence. You’re here in some shape or form, they say. There aren’t as many artifacts or gatherings to honour your appearance ‘as usual’, but people are getting excited nevertheless, they claim. People are ready to fall for you, they note.

I’ve been following what you’re supposed to be since 1986. After biking through Berlin today and having not seen a single flag, jersey, or TV viewing announcement in pubs, I’m going to go out on a limb and state:

You, Sir, are no soccer world cup hype.

(P.S.: Quarterly blog post quota fulfilled! You may remain excited.)

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Hey. HEY! Look at me!

My plan to post one article per quarter has turned out to be an utter and total success! I may have never talked about it before, but trust me: It’s always been in motion.

Other than doing the usual work–something’s got to pay the rent, eh?–,I’ve been consuming lots of articles and papers on knowledge elicitation and transformation. Or rather: The circumstances that keep them from happening properly. Needs to be done for that one eternal project of mine, but chances are I’ll also incorporate some of the topics into my lecture material at some point. Until then, I choose to remain vague. Minds may or may not be blown.

I noticed that I’m getting some visitors from Sascha’s blog, who apparently follow the link to the What’s Wrong With Your Face? piece through his feed view. I assume that 95.6 percent of them are 2D/3D artists hoping to stumble across some words of advice on how to draw or model faces. Haha, suckers!

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What’s Wrong With Your Face?

Hey, it’s a new year. And I’m not even going to pretend that there will be a lot more content in the months to come. I guess most of the potential blog material simply either ends up being posted at some other place or shredded and then pooped across Facebook or Twitter. Or was it pooped and then shredded? I wouldn’t know. What I know is that I, like most human beings, probably enjoy the sensation and the thrill of writing the word ‘poop’.

Anyway, Mike ‘Harry Plinkett’ Stoklasa has finally published his review of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. It concludes his take on the prequel movies, and if you haven’t checked out any of his pieces so far, I highly recommend doing so. It might seem overly easy to pile on something that never was really held in high regard to begin with, but he does it with great attention to detail, references to other movies and general notions on why some element simply might not work.

I had watched each of the movies exactly once and only remembered being bored enough to not have the intention of ever going through that experience again. It wasn’t until Red Letter Media’s Episode I review that I remembered how stupid the plot and the overarching setup really was. Naboo trade boycott? Good grief. Watching ‘Plinkett’ point out the flaws, inconsistencies, contradictions, and the making-of material he sources to great effect is quite the joy regardless of whether you can appreciate the serial killer shtick that’s attached to the analysis. The most telling parts are probably the behind-the-scenes pieces in which George Lucas presents ideas or make suggestions while everyone else in the room looks highly uneasy, nervous, and uncomfortable. No one dares to speak up though.

In some cases, going unchecked and unchallenged is how brilliance comes to be. This was not one of them.

Linkage: RLM reviews of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. And, yes, the other reviews are both, entertaining and informative as well.

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GDC Europe 2010: Swag Review!

Trip to Cologne

Once again I’m off to Cologne to attend GDC Europe. The train ride was remarkably uneventful. Well, except for that 80 minute delay thanks to an “accident” at some other place. I had the pleasure of sitting next to an older man who was creating one of those awful Powerpoint presentations with vacation photos. You know, the ones where the dullness of the pictures goes head to head with the insanity of the slide transition effects.

Anyway, yeah, GDC – I’m looking forward to find out the answer to the one question that ultimately matters: Is this year’s conference swag anything good? Seriously.
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Inception Essentials

Inception

Now that Inception finally got released over here, I instantly waddled off to the movie theatre. I enjoyed it a lot, appreciated the way they set up and unfolded the different layers, kept them connected, and concluded the narrative threads with a nice cascade of kicks. Christopher Nolan and his crew crafted a well-paced ride. The few elements that didn’t seem consistent with the concept or were left unexplained didn’t really hurt the experience.

The cast was superb. (Side note: I probably spent minutes trying to figure out what movies  Tom Hardy had been involved earlier. The face, the voice – he seemed familiar. It wasn’t until I was back at home and dove into IMDB that I saw that he had played young Bizarro-Picard in Star Trek: Nemesis. I guess I’m just bringing that up to have an excuse to link to Red Letter Media’s excellent review of what could have been a carreer-ending turd.)

The biggest gripe I probably have: As always, many, many signature scenes were already included in the trailers. I guess I too am at fault though for never being able to resist the urge to watch trailers in general.

Inception leaves plenty of room for speculation and interpretation. If that happens to be your cup of tea, you might find the links after the jump interesting. Obviously, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should avoid this journey to the republic of SPOILERSTANIA.

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