Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Ian: SACKBOY SECRET ORIGINS: REVEALED
Me: Surely he came from a sack somewhere...SOME SACK, a prolific sack full of little boys. Sack o' boys. Hmm...I approve of this! I would like a sack of sackboys o_O OH GOSH I DO. PLEASE, YES. I am extremely taken with this concept.
Emily: I require an amigurumi knitter NOW. NOW! I'm not even kidding. Find one for meeeeeeeee, plz lol Someone who will make me a legion of plain sackboys and a sack to put them in. OH GOD IT WOULD BE BEAUTIFUL!! I'm not even kidding AT ALL. I'm going to blog about this and everyone will think I'm crazy. AHHHHH!
Friday, April 17, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I've started a new column because I have a friend named Ian who links me to things. Most of them are videogame related, so I figured since I don't really have time to surf around and find cool stuff on my own, I will just steal the things he sends to me and put them here.
This thing I put together of an awful lot of awesome Keita Takahashi quotes sort of got lost in the shuffle a couple weeks ago, so it's here now. Anyone who is a fan of Katamari Damacy or Noby Noby Boy *raises hand* should really enjoy the things he says. I've always wanted to hear him talk, so it was really great to have the opportunity this year at GDC.
"Damashii" is a Japanese word for "spirit" so I think it applies to this talk. "I'm very normal -- I don't use drugs at all or drink at all; please do not worry about me -- I'm ok," remarked Keita Takahashi, creator of Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, near the beginning of his presentation on Thursday. Not only did he reveal some news about the Noby Noby Boy update coming probably near the end of April, with four-player local co-op (and what sounds like some new tunes with horns and vocals instead of the the simple, relaxing guitar), but he spoke very openly and genuinely on his creative process and goals in designing the game.
He started with a look back on Katamari Damacy: "In that game, i wanted to show a little bit of an ironic point of view about consumption society, but I wanted to use more objects -- if there are fewer objects on the map I feel lonely or empty. So I wanted to make more objects so my game would look lively, colorful, and enjoyable. As a result, I decided to make more objects, but when these objects are rolled in and absorbed by the ball, they disappear into the katamari -- they're gone. I feel the same way about the disposable society..."
This time around, though, he had a little bit different philosophy: "Katamari Damacy had basic rules in there meaning you wanted to have a huge katamari, so the size was a goal and there was a time limit as well, but I wasn't happy with the fact that that existed. ... [T]he fact that as the stages become bigger, the size of the goals increase as well -- this just seemed like a formula and I felt somehow betrayed ...
"This is perhaps a little bit abstract, but I wanted to make something that didn't necessarily have a visible goal, that did not have set formulas. I wanted to create a game where the developers maybe couldn't even imagine what would happen. Of course, at this stage, I didn't think about debugging..." If his team had asked him what counted as a bug he wouldn't have been able to answer.
His concern about consumption still carries through, as well: "You know, Hayao Miyazaki, movie director, he said once that children these days are not playing, they're consuming. I think that's really the case, isn't it? Perhaps I'm getting a little sidetracked, but in Japan, people who sit in front of games are called 'users." Maybe this is only in the game industry. I always thought there was something wrong with this. Games are meant to be played, but why do we say they are 'users.' Weren't we supposed to PLAY games?
"Perhaps it's a little bit minute, but that had bothered me. We just throw around the terms 'users' without even thinking about it so perhaps it's natural that is all about consumption just like Miyazaki says. But of course, in order to run a game development company, what's created has to be something that is consumable ; but, having said that I wonder if it's really right for a person who just came to the company to just start talking about 'users, users.' It makes me so mad, it makes me want to bonk them. Sometimes I think maybe they should just die."
There are a couple reasons Noby Noby Boy ended up on PS3 despite an Xbox 360 prototype, which he actually showed video of. One is that he was dissatisfied with the way the 360 controller's analog sticks were not directly across from one another -- he drew us an illustration live over the top of his presentation slides, and the other had to do with ethical concerns:
"In Japan you will often see people playing DS and PSP in trains. You see that very often, well...everyone is looking down at their devices, their consoles and bleeping and blooping, playing their PlayStations... Now, saying this, certainly for games to sell and for the companies to make money it's really good -- especially for those of us who make a living off of that, but are we really making games because we want to see the world reacting like this? ... [E]ven if the parent is sitting right next to him, the child will not even talk to the parent and just keep playing the game. This made me think that maybe it's not so good if a game really sells, so I thought maybe I should make sure that Noby Noby Boy should only be on PS3 and only by download. That would mean it's not going to sell that much. So it's been about one month since we launched it, but I was right -- it's not selling that much. Well, actually that's probably not so good, but..."
The development took longer because they ended up adding in a physics system (and this was after even changing the engine already), but not Havok, because "...if you use it you have to show their logo somewhere. I didn't want to do that. I thought it would be awful to hae to put that logo out every time." They ended up going with some physics tools that Sony Computer Entertainment has on offer. "In the end, we had to put out the Namco Bandai logo, so in the end showing someone's logo was not something we could avoid."
He then admitted that, "...despite the fact that there are problems with having definite goals, Noby Noby actually does have a goal as well and that goal is to take this character, this space girl, this huge character, and make her longer by communicating to her the size of the Boys. And the goal is to connect the solar system. Why did I create a goal like this? Well, because I thought it was such a huge goal that it won't really qualify as a goal for the game, so perhaps it will pass that muster. And it's also full of dreams, in a sense."
He revealed that at the current pace of girl extension, it will take 820 years to completely unlock all the planets. The title Noby Noby Boy comes from the world "nobiru" to stretch, but "nobinobi" also refers to feeling carefree and -- ha, procrastination. Noting his own eventual death, he sounded concerned, "What should I do? What should I do?" but later on during Q&A when someone asked whether he would shrink it down or cut off at Jupiter, he seemed more sure of himself, "If we can't do it, that's OK. I'm not going to shrink it."
In tow for the presentation was a really adorable and comfy-looking Noby Noby Boy scarf. The head and butt are actually mittens, and you can even put your arms in like sleeves, near the ends. He had been planning on rewarding players with an item like this, a big stuffed "pillow" Boy that his sister made, or the traditional wooden kokeshi dolls he had been making -- in fact, he joked that if the game sold well he would just retire and make kokeshi. These presents were meant to thank the player for enjoying the game. Unfortunately, realizing something like this on a global scale would be next to impossible, but he joked again that even postal mix-ups could be fun, and that items might end up on online auctions so he could buy them back and resend them.
Among the pictures of his family with various Noby Noby Boy paraphernalia, demos of the new multiplayer mode, and concept art slides, he pulled out an iPhone to show us Boy squiggling around on that platform. When asked during Q&A about a date/price point he said, "The iPhone [version] was just started a week ago. Probably the price will be almost free if we decide to do it." Clearly no PR wranglers in this operation, and we love it.
Takahashi had some generally inspirational things to say near the end of his talk: "If we love videogames, then we have to think about [the potential of the medium] more, and feel more, observe more ... perhaps we have to ignore the players and the company and create a game we like. Maybe we should just rely on our own inner feeling." More freedom and less constraint "...will create something fantastic or fantastically awful, but even fantastically awful still has value ... To create something new is one of the missions we game developers have."
To that end, he is also working on something entirely different -- a playground (as we keep hearing). When asked for news on that project, he confirmed, "We haven't had a concrete plan yet, but last month some source asked me, 'You'd like to make a playground?' and I said, "Yes."