Years ago when we were just getting comfortable with the idea of “friending” another person with a computer—that is, storing a value in a database that represents your belief they will also store a value in a database that, when queried, will display for others to see—a strange little site appeared out of nowhere.
It was called Breedster, a play on the name Friendster, and it briefly took over people’s lives only to (as planned) utterly destroy and eat itself.
Every year or so I think about Breedster. Part of why I am writing this is so I can spare Google attaching the terms: “social site, friends, bugs, std, disease, eat poo” to my profile every time I want to tell someone about it.
Yes really. I wasn’t as active on it as most people, but the gist (from memory) was you were a bug hatched from an egg, ate food (or poo in a pinch) for energy, and then had sex with others to create more eggs of your own. The whole point of the game was to consume food to have energy to have sex and then repeat.
A few weeks into the game, when players were inviting as many people as they could to then have sex with them, something strange happened. First it was simply disease found in poo that would sap your energy over time. But then it was a sexually transmitted disease that people had already unwittingly contracted.
Their eggs would no longer hatch. Bugs died due to lack of energy. The whole site became infected and everyone died.
This is from memory. I may have gotten some details wrong (and would appreciate any corrections) but what I loved about Breedster was that they were exploring an idea in real-time with hundreds of other people and had the good sense to see a conclusion. A few people, like me I hope, think about that site every so often and marvel at how cool it was that they did that.
We’re so comfortable now with, as Adam calls it: the “Ad Supported Like Economy”, that it doesn’t even bother us we effortlessly move back and forth from asymmetrical (Twitter) following to symmetrical (Facebook). That we willingly store our relationships in relational databases for ad networks to scan and learn about us so that we can have a pinch of validation of our ideas, photos, taste, and meta-tastes.
I put Jonah Peretti’s tweet at the top of this post because it reminded me of sites like Breedster. They had an opinion about these new social sites and rather than write a blog post or complain bitterly on the nearest PHPBB forum, they created something that burrowed so deep into my brain that 8 years later I still think about it.
UPDATE FROM THE DRUNKMEN (MAN) HIMSELF:
@torrez Tiny correction: though the std was called AIDS by many members, it never killed. Deaths were self chosen (= terminate account).
One of the things about having a child is you find yourself returning to things you loved as a kid. We went to Disneyland recently and every single damn ride was AMAZING. I was watching my son’s face light up as we turned corners inside of It’s A Small World when all of a sudden I was grinning at the dancing kids and singing along.
Same with Legos. Painting. Rolling around on the floor. And rockets.
I was a HUGE model rocket collector and launcher. Here’s a family launching one if you’ve never seen one go before:
We built every sort of rocket and dramatized stories around each launch. We pretended to be astronauts and walked slowly around empty fields like we were performing astronaut duties like fixing transponders (whatever those were).
So the other day I saw this:
It’s a Windows/Mac game/simulation that lets you do an incredible amount of planning, building, and launching of rockets into space, and to the moon if you wish. Apparently they plan is to also allow your astronauts to explore other planets as well. So cool!
My son is 3 so not quite ready for this, but I cannot wait until we finally get to the point where this stuff is interesting to him.
I have started tagging games I want to play or games that I want to check-in on later with the tag: playmelater on Pinboard. A while back I registered the domain name playmelater.com to make something like a Svpply for video games, but I doubt I will ever get to it.
It’s something I do want. I hope someone makes it. Every week it feels like there are 10 new games to check out, and these aren’t just big publisher games but small independent games I will surely lose track of unless @brandonnn tweets about them.
Here’s your yearly reminder that Fez is landing on the XBox soon. If you know what Fez is, you’ve probably already jumped to the next blog post by now. But if you don’t know, the developers have put together a page explaining what Fez is.
There are no enemies in FEZ. No bosses, no combat. In fact, no conflict of any kind. You can die, but there is no penalty for doing so. FEZ aims to create a non-threatening world rich with ambiance, a pleasant place to spend time in.
Fez is also prominently featured in “Indie Game: The Movie”:
I started playing this game last night called Swift Stitch and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I guarantee it is unlike any game you’re playing now. (Unless you’re playing Vib Ribbon or Tron.)
There is a demo for both Mac and PC as well as a web embedded (you can embed Unity games!?) demo so you can try it out.
Her post-mortem on the game is definitely worth reading.
But I think having 140 characters didn’t give me enough space to fully explain why I am so excited about it.
So go ahead and read this post and be sure to watch the two videos. The first is a simple iOS app with some physics completely unattached to Glitch. It’s just an iOS app probably written with some stock game engine.
The second video is that same, simple game that has been given permission, via OAuth (not unlike you giving permission to a Twitter app to do something with your Twitter time-line), to pull in the player’s face, body and surrounding Glitch-world imagery.
This is incredible!
Lest you think this is some kind of fun hack, remember these are some of the people behind one of the finest APIs ever written. While there have been games that have exposed services and player statuses, I can‘t remember any being this accessible and web friendly. The rest of their developer post goes on to point out how this is just the beginning of what they’re going to add.
For the last couple of weeks I’ve spent hours solving, playing, and re-playing a game called The Last Rocket by Shaun Inman.
The main game itself could probably be finished in one sitting if you have a bit of time. The controls are very simple to understand, but require a play through to get enough practice to have the timing right. Once you get the two ways to control the main character figured out the game gets even more fun.
Quickly: the style of the game is commonly referred to as retro or 8-bit. The music is appropriately chip-tuned. The graphics are some of the best pixel animations I’ve ever seen. There is so much animation in these little characters that part of the entertainment is just watching them cycle through.
Of all that TLR has going for it, it’s the genius in the level design and timing of the elements inside of them where I was won over. Once you’ve played a level many times, and return to it trying to get a different achievement, the level feels completely brand new. This sort of planning is amazing when you see it.
I’m kind of in awe that this game exists. There is so much stuff in it worth going on about but I didn’t want to give too much away. I wrote this because I wanted to make sure anyone who likes this style of gaming doesn’t miss out on this game. It’s easily one of my favorite iPhone games I own. More here.
I've been kicking around the idea of a site where you could be transported back in time to what was being released a year ago. Of all the products I buy, video games seem to have the greatest run up and fall in prices. So I figured it'd be interesting to see what that would look like if I could automatically roll back the clock when you visited.
The site I made is called Old Bits and it's simply a way to see what was being released last year, two years ago, and three years ago. You can also navigate forwards and backwards week by week.
You can follow the Twitter account @old_bits where I will send a weekly update.
Looking for a new iPhone game to play? You might like Shaun Inman's new game called "Horror Vacui". It's a card-based game that just does everything right. The 8-bit design is perfect, the music and sounds are fun and never get tiring, the rules are simple and the app is speedy. It's the perfect sort of pick-up-and-play-type game that works so well on the iPhone.
Here is my wish for a Tetris variation: I call it Slowtris and the only difference between an actual game of Tetris and Slowtris is the pieces don't fall. The fun in the game is just figuring out where to put things.
I've always wished my old games had a walkthrough option, where the game just starts playing itself and maybe you could jump in at some point. Especially during the grinding that happens as filler to the actual story. Someone could breathe new life into those old games if there was a pre-loader that would do this for any game sitting on my shelf.
The Game Libratory (Library + Labratory) is just getting started. It aims to provide research opportunities on video games, and likely provide the chance for these researchers to play every freaking game imaginable.
There are very few games I would say I consciously wait for. I tend to make my decisions about games after they've been released, when I know I can walk down to the store and get it. The last time I think I really stressed about a release date was back when we used to scan .plan files of our favorite developers and designers.
Braid is a game I am waiting for. Jonathan Blow has been hinting on his weblog that the game is really close, but can't announce the release date due to some XBLA rule. He did mention, and so I will too, that this post on Joystiq gives some idea of the time frame. [psst, 4-6 weeks]
If you're like me and have very few games you get excited about these days, check out Braid.
Wikipedia says Mario (of Nintendo fame) is named after a one-time landlord of Nintendo of America's warehouses Mario Segali. Since no photo exists of Mr. Segali, IGN decided to play a joke by inserting a photo of an IGN staffer into the entry for Mr. Segali in their gamer database.
I do not need a new Flash game! Especially not one so very clever! I love the ghosting of your previous attempt, it's like in racing games when you get to race against your previous lap. found on n0wak
Remarkable. The XBox 360 managed to outsell (by about 200 units) Sony's PlayStation 3 in Japan last week. That's huge.
The XBox 360 is an excellent console. Knock Microsoft all you want but the Xbox team really hit it out of the park on their second try. The PS3 might dominate next year, and the Wii might inhabit a dusty spot in everyone's TV stand, but the 360 owned 2007. found on Wonderland, will not see on Sony Defense Force.
Some day, when I have the time, I would like to work on a game with a large group of people. I wouldn't mind just being a cog. I think the experience would be very satisfying. It's just on my list of things I'd love to do some time in my life.
A couple of years ago everyone was hot about virtual worlds like Second Life or There.com, but it's games that you should be playing! Games both online and offline. It's probably great to walk around a virtual world and wear no clothes (tee hee) or have penises for eyes (seriously?), but give me a world with something to do and some achievements and I'll happily go right to work.
And the caring about quality - that's what I yearn for. I want to experience things that were designed well. That you pick up or experience and feel that the creators cared and were brilliant.
Portal the idea was pretty good, but Portal's execution was what made it one of my favorite games ever. Not too long, not too short, with enough surprises, humor, and balance to make it a truly perfect game.
There's a theme here for sure. I was really into Populous on the Amiga and Age of Empires and Diablo on the PC. Just seeing that screenshot of Populous brought back some happy memories of college time wasting.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 35. Good bye 18-34, hello 35-I don't even know what—something old.
In my final act as a member of the coveted 18-34 year old demographic I have a small confession to make: I stayed up an extra 30 minutes last night so I could find a pair of shoes my skater wears in a video game I'm playing.
(By the way, I found them, but they're sold out. I'm going to be so proud the day my kids find this post.)
I spent about an hour last night trying to perform a combo in skate. called "Manny Madness". A whole hour! I'd only put up with a skateboarding game for an hour like that, just as I did back when I used to actually skate. I'd spend hours trying one trick and sometimes days until I was able to do it, once I figured it out then I'd spend another couple of days trying to tweak it out in some way.
Amber was cheering me on when I finally did it: ollie from an odd angled ramp onto a box, manual across the narrow box, ollie a gap, and then manual across a second box to the end.
In case anyone else is searching how to do it here are three tips:
Practice ollie-to-manuals to ollie-to-manuals on flat land until they're so dialed it's second nature.
Don't accept the default start location, reposition yourself a bit to the left and further back to get speed and an angle. Drop a session marker so you can restart there over and over.
Try to land as straight as possible to maintain speed. The hardest part about doing this trick is doing the second ollie to manual. It helps to be going fast and straight when you land.
You should also practice the trick a few times without the manuals just to get the right angle.
The best part about skate. is the controls. I had heard a few skaters featured in the game praise it for being "more like actual skating" which I thought was just a way of saying "they paid me to say that", but it's true. I skated for most of my teens and I'm impressed with how innovative the controls are. I can't believe nobody had thought of that before.
People had been saying for years that Tony Hawk was getting long in the tooth and I kept expecting them to innovate the brand and refresh it, but it just kept missing. The last version I bought was THUG, and they just seemed to be looking at the video game landscape at the time and integrating whatever was happening—in THUG's case that was Grand Theft Auto.
Tony Hawk's Project 8 (a fancy way of saying they'd made eight of them) had a pretty cool Matrix-inspired slow-motion trick feature, but I rarely used it when I was really playing. In the end all you really want to do is skate and find good lines, all the extra hoop jumping is just noise.
It's worth giving skate. a chance if you gave up on skate games and Tony Hawk.
Probably due to the success of "Guitar Hero" UBISoft has licensed the Japan game "Hiite Utaeru DS Guitar M-06" and renamed it "Jam Sessions". I've had the Japanese version for almost half a year now, and it was always a challenge to play because the menus are in Japanese and it was tough to play along to popular Japanese songs I had never heard before.
But it sounds like they did a good job, licensed some interesting songs (Nirvana, Death Cab for Cutie, Blind Melon, Coldplay, and Bob Marley) and added a few new features (though it's possible I just never found those features due to the language barrier).
Skate video of skaters bailing, the twist is it's from the upcoming video game by EA called skate. There are lots of real videos you can buy full of this sort of thing, and most skate videos have some section devoted to it now, so why shouldn't a video game?
"The Slide" on Flickr - Photo Sharing! - Wow, I totally missed this controversy. How did I miss this controversy? I read blogs. Lots of blogs. Maybe not enough blogs. Found on http://daringfireball.net/. I'd like to say I would have walked out but I probably would have given him the benefit of the doubt like everyone else did.
I got the new Sony PSP in an amazing peer-induced hysteria. I showed up to work today and some of the guys were making a run for the Toys 'R Us down the road. Before I knew what I was doing I had committed to buying one.
Now that I have it in my hands it's an amazing gadget. Can I call it a gadget? Appliance? It's beautiful. The screen is beautiful. The fact that it has a USB port and real working, standards compliant (AFAIK) WiFi is incredible. The number of applications that could be written seem limitless.
Before the weekend started I realized I had lost my GameBoy Advance and about six games. I replaced the GBA with a new Classic NES styled one and Final Fantasy Tactics to get me started.
I just ordered a GBA linker so that I can make backups of all my games in the future. This also, of course, gives me the ability to download games from the Internet to my GBA and play them for free. I probably will do it.