Saturday, December 08, 2012


I recently played the remake of Karateka (1982). It is a great arcade style game, a wonderful remake full of visual, combat and musical beauty. The game is quite short but very enjoyable and although it can be finished rather easily, finishing it the proper way is very hard.

Jordan Mechner has done a great job for the remake.

I don't remember whether I played the original game on an Apple II or a 286 PC. Either way, I still remember the fluidity and smoothness of the pixel art animations and the great feeling from the combat.

The introductory game trailer is quite nice and funny:

Sunday, December 02, 2012


The verdict is here, before I turn 37, I am going to select the best music album of my entire life! Something I never thought would be possible but for some strange reason is quite obvious now. Drums rolling .... "Bad Motor Finger" by Soundgarden (1991) is at the all time number one position! Decision is made based on the music, vocals and lyrics and the magical fact that all of the tracks in this album are exceptional. The mysterious note is that every track you hear from this album feels better than the previous one, once you reach the end, listening to the first track one more time feels even better than the last. This is the concept of a strange loop, exactly like an Escher painting, an ever growing loop, like everything else in life.

Another major point is that for some reason I am absolutely certain that there will not ever be any album better than "Bad Motor Finger" in the future! Thank you Soundgarden for this miracle!


Bad Motor Finger
Strange Loop
Honorable Mentions: 10 by Pearl Jam, Jar of Flies by Alice in Chains, Far Beyond Driven by Pantera, Undertow by Tool, Black Album by Metallica, Use Your Illusion by Guns 'n Roses

Free Style R&D

It has been a few weeks that we have revived our weekly game design R&D sessions at the office. These sessions include a presentation about a topic by a developer followed by open discussion about the topic. They have always been quite useful and fun. Talking to colleagues about different topics and passing ideas is probably one of the most important activities that can be done.

Recent presentations have been about multi-player level design, combat system techniques and designing for horror in games.

I was at bat this week and since I've been investigating the idea of emergence in games recently, I read a book with the same title, Emergence in Games. The ideas in this book are quite generic and it really does not add any valuable insight for the idea of emergence in games and it covers a lot of unrelated material. This is why we chose to discuss a different topic, Minimalist Games. I reflected upon an excellent paper called, Towards Minimalist Game Design from Rutgers University. There are a lot of interesting notes about game development in general in minimalist games and the way they abstract everything out to focus on the most significant aspects of the game for the player is something that we can learn a lot from. The ubiquity of games on mobile devices has resurrected these types of games.

One of the key notes in the paper is about the differences between perceived complexity and systemic complexity in games. It is always good to have low perceived complexity in a product, so do minimalist games but their systemic complexity is not necessarily low. This means they do not have to be very simple casual games. This idea has been tried out in different fields by expert designers, a lot of apple products such as the iPhone have benefited from such a view to product design.

There are references in the article to a great presentation by Jonathan Blow, "Conflicts in Game Design" which is quite fabulous. This talk discusses why games have not been able to have similar effects on their audience as novels or movies regarding emotional experiences. The conflicts mentioned here are mostly conflicts between gameplay and narrative. A highly recommended talk.

Other references are to articles by Ian Bogost. Puzzling the Sublime is one of the most interesting of these articles which investigates about the meaning of puzzle games. Sublime, being a word with roots in philosophy has been discussed by numerous philosophers including Kant. Sublime talks about a kind of aesthetics which can be found in unbounded phenomena and infinity. Hegel believed that the aesthetics of the excessive use of details in eastern and Islamic art are examples of the sublime. There is quite a lot to inspire from in these areas.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Enemies ... oh .. so wise!

For some reason the enemies of Batman have a lot of philosophical quotes! Joker had lots and this is my favorite one from Bane: "Victory has defeated you!"  ...aah ... how Victory can defeat people indeed... indeed ....

By the way, I feel that the recent Batman series are going down a kind of uncanny valley, once you get too deep in the meanings and become serious, then the guy wearing the strange custom and jumping around kind of feels out of place! Maybe super hero movies should find a different direction?