Track to the Edge of Minecraft

Here’s a thought. Can games provide us with no real goal, purpose or objective, but still provide a distinct emotional response?

Today, Twitch streamer JL2579 started streaming an 17 day zen-like ride to the edge of Minecraft. The trip is roughy thirty-thousand kilometers of straight track that he’s managed to generate with some friends. In his words:

I set up command blocks to clone a template bridge pillar in the spawnchunks in front of the last bridge pier when a minecart would ride over them. I also added some fancy overhang and Mountain detection to add tunnel segments when the track goes through an Extreme Hill. Then I let several instances of Minecraft run from different starting points at the same time with the help of some friends from zipkrowd, and together we were able to generate the chunks within few days. 

The rails and the world are therefore pregenerated, because the terrain and the bridge generation caused massive lag and would have ruined the smooth ride :)

I rarely know what to call these sort of interactive pieces but it’s really quite mesmerizing. All I know is that it has a reflective, peaceful quality to it and there’s 16 more days until that cart dives off into the digitally uncharted. It has my vote over your standard digital fireplace. 

What Nintendo Gets Right by Keeping the Game Industry Weird

I’m preparing a segment for my project that explores what Nintendo gets right that everyone else seems to get wrong… landed on this article in the LA Times with an interview of Shigeru Miyamoto.

Now in his early 60s, Miyamoto is something of a goofball himself. Mention the recent “Super Mario 3D World,” which enabled Mario and Co. to turn into felines, and Miyamoto will use his fingers to mimic cat ears and meow.

“Nintendo isn’t one simple element of an overall gaming industry,” Miyamoto explained through a translator at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), North America’s largest video game trade show, in Los Angeles. “I really think there needs to be a Nintendo genre, that’s almost its own entity.”

Miyamoto talks of designing games as making performance art.

“It’s not that I don’t like serious stories or that I couldn’t make one, but currently in the video game industry you see a lot of game designers who are working really hard to make their games seem really cool,” Miyamoto said. “For a lot of us at Nintendo, it’s difficult to decide what cool is. In fact, it’s a lot easier for us to laugh at ourselves. It’s almost as if we’re performers. Our way of performing is by creating these fun, odd and goofy things.”

I’ll be exploring a lot about the finer points of Nintendo and how, in the details, they manage to create properties that are more complex and fine tuned than just about anything else out there. Great read. 

Orbiting, In Earnest

I’ve joined Orbital Boot Camp for the summer for a 12 week program to launch a side project of mine. What this means:

1. I’m about to get publicly nerdy and I’m excited about that. I’m a lifelong enthusiast for games. However I grew up during a time where playing games was considered a juvenile hobby and, to most, a big waste of time. I never really felt that way. I’m going to take that enthusiasm, along with my design background and put together (aspirationally speaking) a mixed media approach at exploring games, the culture of play and the deep experiences we have with them. 

2. This is just a slice of what I, over time, plan on bringing to the art form. I’ll test the waters with audio and visual content. Depending on what I learn about myself in the process, there are more projects in the pipeline (or at least in my sketch book). 

3. I’m currently working alone on this, but I hope that by the end of this 12 weeks I will have connected with others and built relationships with a diverse group of minds who all have great things to say about the medium.

4. It’s very important to me that this production makes games accessible and interesting to those who aren’t just enthusiasts. I’ve felt, for a long time, that the way we present games as a medium tends to keep a lot of people at an arm’s length. I hope to aid in changing that. I want people to be comfortable with games and ignore the pre-constructed stigmas that come with them. 

5. There will be mistakes. There will be awkwardness. There will be iteration. Most of all, there will be passion and genuine care for the content that’s being released. For me this is more like an art project, not a business. I haven’t considered making money at this point and am solely focused on producing content that is worthy to serve as a record of the beauty in games. 

6. I will be promoting and communicating my love for games and the discoveries I make throughout on Twitter and Tumblr. It will be a mixed bag of info from this project as well as all the other things I’m working on. Follow me if you’d like to follow the process.

7. Feedback is welcome. All the way from my process to delivery. Everyone is invited. 

Being frank, this project is as much about the process as it is about the final outcome. I need to learn at every step. More to come soon!