Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NYU 9th Floor Talks: The Cutting Edge of Game Research

Ken Perlin, a Computer Science professor at NYU, presented some of his cutting edge research in procedural animation and education games.

  • Ken is the founding director of NYU's Media Research Lab and the Director of the Games for Learning Institute. He is a mathematician who has won an Academy Award for his noise and procedural texturing techniques that have been used in film and television.
  • Ken started his career in computer graphics. Being in the industry for so long, he has experienced the power of Moore's law, seeing computers get twice as faster every two years.
  • He has developed several hundred Java applets. Some of his work can be found on his NYU homepage (http://mrl.nyu.edu/~perlin/).
  • When researching something, you have to boil it down to the simple possible version.
  • One of Ken's biggest research interests has been conveying emotions through artificial characters.
  • In Polly's World (http://mrl.nyu.edu/~perlin/experiments/polly/track.html), Ken tries to convey emotions with the least possible number of vertices and polygons. The procedurally animated character is made up of only 6 vertices, but displays a wide range of emotions through its movements. Our brain maps simple animations to emotions.
  • Why do we care about animated characters? Ken researches the human body as an instrument to understand psychological emotions.
  • In Responsive Face (http://mrl.nyu.edu/~perlin/experiments/facedemo/), Ken researches what's the simplest emotive face possible. At the very least, an emotive face requires movements of the eyebrows, lid, gaze, head, and mouth. A person has n-points in the face like a keyboard has a number of notes and facial expressions are like chords.
  • Micro noise movements and procedural variations makes the emotions more realistic. Without these micro movements, the face is just a lifeless still picture.
  • Autistic children have trouble looking at other human's faces and thus grow up not knowing how to read emotions. However, they don't have that problem with artificial, computer-generated faces. Many autistic children used Responsive Face to learn human emotions.
  • Plan 9 From Outer Space, often regarded as the worst movie ever made, is almost unwatchable because the acting is so bad. The actors' faces are so emotionless that it's impossible to identify with the characters.
  • In an attempt to create an "interactive Pride and Prejudice," Ken developed an applet with five birds with disembodied feet. The birds showcase procedural walking animation, which is tons better than canned animations.
  • We should think of avatars the same way a director thinks about actors in a live play. We shouldn't communicate actions to the avatar (ie. "jump here", "punch that", "open this door"), but communicate emotions (ie. "you love her"). Likewise, actors shouldn't indicate (ie. "I am feeling happy!", "I feel very sad."), but actually emote.
  • With Fish Tales (http://cims.nyu.edu/~perlin/fishtales2/), players can record a one-minute story using Bob the fish and two bouncing balls.
  • In Candy Circle (http://mrl.nyu.edu/~perlin/candycircle/), players make procedural music using a spinning wheel filled with candy. It researches the rule of the fifths; when the further away the chords are, the more dissonant the sounds are.
  • Ken also experimented with spiral escalators (http://mrl.nyu.edu/~perlin/escalator/). Spiral staircases always go right going upwards because they were designed solely for battle. Since most knights were right-handed, it would give the advantage to the person who's above.
  • The barrier of entry to making games is so high. Ken would like to have more people coming into the arts that are enabled by programming.
  • There are "fake languages" such as Code Do It and Scratch that enable people to jump into programming. Ken is researching how to make programming more integral to education.
  • Ken's New Line Fractals (http://mrl.nyu.edu/~perlin/newlinefractal/) show mathematical visual examples of fractals. Students can move vertices around to experiment with creating their own fractals.
  • Using a real-time interpretive version of Java, Ken created Flower, in which students can directly edit the code and immediately affect the flower. In Musical Rubber Ducky, students can affect the ducky but also the music too using live code. Can we invite them to the narrative as well?
  • Ken developed a Pride and Prejudice reader. Before the invention of books, literature used to be written on scrolls. Someone later introduced the concept of pages, a fixed length record that changes per edition. But writers wrote and thought in terms of sentences and paragraphs, not in pages.
  • In this interactive map of Pride and Prejudice, you can see the entire book's topology. You can easily identify the key chapters of the book using filters and highlights.
  • Asteroid is a game that topologically and mathematically exists on a torus or a doughnut.
  • The second book to use the interactive map is Winnie the Pooh. This version also includes a procedurally animated bear that users can play around with using live coding. The code editor includes tools that enable learning programming easier. When you insert a 2D array, a map will appear that lets you set dots and automatically generate the points in the array for you.
  • Everyone should be able to program. It should be as accessible as painting, filming, and writing. People need immediate feedback to instigate learning.
  • Ken is really interested in how to power up this maker culture.
Question and Answer
  • Learning tools should be like Google Docs in that they are collaborative, shared documents. People should have conversations with each other about creation. Learning is a performative activity.
  • Just like how jazz is to music composition and improvisation is to acting, we need live perfomative structures for coding to learn programming.
  • What's the difference between games and simulation? Games have goals.
  • We need to increase programming literacy and convey programming as a liberal art. Kids need to look at code in their early stages.
  • Ken remembers reading a children's book when he was a child and at the end were the advanced notes for the teacher to read. Although Ken couldn't read the notes as a child, he understood that that's what he was learning and that he'll eventually be able to read the advanced text. Kids shouldn't be using a fake language, but rather be looking at what the grown ups are using. They should be exposed to C++ or Java-like languages.
  • Kids are learning reading through other subjects such a history and science. We should teach coding gradually in the same way.
  • Many people are reluctant to learn coding, but that's okay. We should focus on teaching the kids. We don't currently live in a society that requires that level of technical knowledge, but this might change ten years in the future.
  • Excel is a programming environment that many people use, despite not being programmers. Max/MSP is a programming language that non-programmers such as visual and sound artists use. Both of these programs are always running live and give immediate feedback. There's no intermediate building or compiling stage.
  • People don't necessarily need to learn C++ or Java the same way that not all writers have to linguists. Guitarists don't need to learn how to make guitars.
  • Programmers have a sense of being macho. Music, on the other hand, is more inclusive. We need a real-time sharing structure and a more inclusive environment for non-programmers.
  • Will books become non-linear in the future? This may very well happen, but it won't replace the books as we know them. Different media can coexist the same way that different instruments can coexist. It's not all about hacking and recombinations. Technology is the wrong word to describe media; these are instruments.
  • Will the secondary functions of the interactive reader overshadow the literary work itself? The work lives on if they're great. Beethoven lived on when the Beatles came around and the Beatles didn't go away when Lady Gaga came around.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NYU 9th Floor Talks: From Boticelli's Venus to Super Mario

Chris Solarski, author of Drawing Basics and Video Game Art, gave a talk at NYU about how video games can learn from the foundations of art.

  • Chris was a 3D artist at Sony but always wanted to be a concept artist. He quit his job and studied traditional art and painting for two years. He later worked at Gbanga.
  • He was selected by the Swiss Arts Council to present at the Game Culture Conference and argue for games as an art form. It was the first time for him to think about game art and fine art as the same.
  • His book, Drawing Basics and Video Game Art, covers character design, environments, fundamentals of art, and many other topics. The constant thread throughout is emotions.
  • The fundamentals of art such as classical composition, volume, light, perspectives, and proportions can all be applied to video games.
  • Many classical artworks have hidden composition lines that dominate our eye flow. For example, Johannes Vermeer's Diana and her Companions uses a circular composition to guide our eyes towards the soft nature of the work. On the other hand, Peter Paul Rubens' Massacre of the Innocents uses very angular and diagonal lines to convey aggressiveness. Emotions are communicated by displaying composition over details.
  • Edgar Degas's Waiting shows a good contrast between a circular composition and an angular one.
  • "Reality can be reduced to simple shapes."
  • Games, unlike fine art, have dynamic composition. While fine art captures a moment in time, the composition of a video game is constantly changing based on the player's path.
  • There are many ways emotions can be communicated.
    • By level design and pathways
      • Gears of War is a very aggressive and angular game. The way the characters move, the sudden movements of the camera, and the level design and pathways are all very angular. The level design include many corners and sharp turns.
    • By character movement
      • Vanquish is a very angular game in its character movements.
      • Journey, however, uses circular composition in its open canvas and the way the characters move.
    • By character and environment design
      • Sword and Sworcery uses an art style that's halfway between round and angular. The use of rectangles communicate tranquility.
      • Mario uses a sphere concept to denote that he's a good guy. His head, nose, stomach, hands, feet, and even his mustache are composited using circle shapes. Wario, on the other hand, has sharpening details to make him a more aggressive character. In the Mario games, many enemies have spikes and triangles to indicate their evil nature.
    • By the relationship between character and environment
      • In Chris's own game, MORF (http://www.solarskistudio.com/games.html), there are only two levels with no technical differences between them. There are only aesthetic differences in that the first level, everything is rounded, and in the second level, everything is angular. However, playtesters treated the second level as dangerous and even said "ouch" whenever they run into the spikes.
    • By narrative and character development
      • Link in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time always stands and moves in the same way the entire game. There's nothing about his movement that shows you he's becoming more of a hero. However, his heroic progression is shown through the UI icons. As he becomes stronger, he will have more options and icons in his inventory.
      • Eugene Delacroix has said that we're not all flat, we're always changing every minute.
      • We're too focused on creating one experience (aggressive vs. passive) that we're not focusing on character depth.
      • Journey does a decent job of conveying emotions through character movement (walking vs. running vs. walking against the snowstorm).
    • By player's movements
      • Motion controllers, camera, and touch use the physical body language to control the game. This revolution bring artist collaboration between the developer and the players.
  • Mario Kart has smooth turns while Tron Revolution has sharp, abrupt turns.
  • A game designer is like a music composer.
  • Immediate actions require immediate communication.
  • The three most basic shapes are circle (representing softness), squares (representing stability), and triangles (representing danger and aggressiveness).
  • In The Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit homes are very circular, the castles and the forests are very rectangular, and the towers and Sauron himself are very angular. Even the volcano is the shape of a triangle.
  • Industrial design of cars also take into account of these three simple shapes. Compare a Volkswagon beetle vs. a minivan vs. a Ferrari.
  • We do judge books by its cover. We think of speed, stability, or softness just by looking at its shape.
  • GlaDos from Portal is a circular character, yet she turns out to be evil. She is a very deep and complex character. Her design was inspired by Boticelli's Venus when turned upside down. You can see the zig-zag hair and the opposing curves.
Question and Answer
  • Lines, shapes, and composition all have powerful influences on emotions. So do complementary and conflicting colors. Mario's colors are near complementary, while Wario's are super contrasting.
  • Halo's characters move in circular, slow arcs, while the enemies are more angular and aggressive.
  • Pixar's Wall-E has a slow, lonely introduction and a large chase at the end of the film. Games are often the opposite with the chase at the beginning and the slow grind afterwards.
  • The Art of Journey is a wonderful book that covers level design and color composition of Journey.
  • In-game photography is not a surprising trend to come out of video games, since many game environments and composition are very beautiful.
  • The talk reduced emotions to three fundamental shapes, but reality is much more complex. Designers should find inspiration from outside world and real experiences to drive their design.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

NYU 9th Floor Talks: Bennett Foddy on Creative Practice

Bennett Foddy, creator of QWOP and GIRP, gave a talk at NYU Game Center about his creative practices.

  • Bennett breaks down his creative practices into five principles.
  • Principle #1 - Put down the controller and think outside the computer.
    • Figure out ways of input before you start developing your games with the computer.
    • His latest game, Get On Top, is played with two giant trampolines with Playstation move controllers strapped underneath them. Jump on the trampolines to make your character jump.
    • It's a wrestling game where you have to get your character on top of the opponent's,
    • He was inspired by Japanese arcade games that utilizes large elaborate peripheral controllers.
    • There was a fan critique of Armored Core's control scheme, which almost demands players to have 15 fingers and constant active input of the face buttons. One fan joked that the best way to play the game is to turn the controller around.
    • Although this was just a joke, Bennett thinks it's pretty cool and sees it as an opportunity. Why not make a game that requires you to play like this? The control scheme is complicated and clumsy, but there can be an interesting game that can come out of it.
    • The NES controller is very simple and recognizable. It only has a directional pad and two buttons, essentially giving players the total of 3 verbs. But designers should start thinking of their game design in terms of verbs first, and then map the controller to their actions.
  • Principle #2 - Integrate
    • In Fable 2's seduction minigame, a radial HUD with icons appear. The player's attention moves towards the icons and bars, and the characters and world are faded to the background. The HUD becomes the focus and distracts from the world.
    • Health bars are a non-integrated system. They are out of field and floating in the air, and breaks the players' immersion. Fighting games are a genre in which fans and developers alike claim that health bars are completely essential. But even fighting games can deal with health bars. For example, Bushido Blade is about fast-action and one-hit kills.
    • Bennett's own fighting game for Indiecade, Fistmonger, has no floating health bars. Both fighters are standing on top of a cliff and the point of the game is to knock the other off. Instead of health bars, every time a fighter is hit, the clifftop degrades, making it easier for the fighter to fall off.
    • In Tim Roger's Ziggurat for the iOS, your shots will explode and you can cause chain explosions. This combo system is invisible to the player and never shown onscreen.
    • CLOP's difficult ramp is an actual ramp.
    • The 2nd room of VVVVVV has a difficulty spike in the form of a floor of spikes.
    • QWOP and Super Hexagon have integrated rules. You immediately know what to do when starting the game. Non-integrated rules need to be explained.
  • Principle #3 - Build for immediacy
    • Don't include a tutorial in your game. Tutorials rob players of any sense of discovery and exploration. It's like a person who always finishes sentences for you.
    • Good examples of non-tutorial games are Limbo and Bennett's own cricket game, Little Master.
    • Bennett attaches a MIDI mixing controller to his games and connects every relevant variable to a slider. He can tweak fast and test all variables in real-time.
    • No tutorial leads to discovery which leads to elation and satisfaction.
  • Princple #4 - Play with the player
    • The developer's role is traditionally like a mentor or a tour guide. Bennett likes to have a warped perspective of this relationship.
    • The developer should be standing in for Player 2, trying to defy, confuse, and embarrass the other player.
    • In Secret of Monkey Island, there is a fishing minigame where a bird comes in at the end and steals your fish. Inspired by this, at the end of GIRP, when you reach for the gift box at the top of a cliff, a bird might swoop in and steal it.
    • In CLOP, many players might exploit the game by only using the horse's front legs to drag the rest of the body forward. The game can catch players doing this and unlock the "Lame Horse" mode where the hind legs become paralyzed.
    • By reacting to the way the players play the game, you can play together.
    • Watch players play through a designer's eye.
    • During playtesting, don't fix your game based on one playtester failing. If the player is lost in the maze, it doesn't mean you should remove the maze.
    • Proteus has no tutorial.
    • In Eradica, if you put the disc upside-down, the intro screen would be shown upside-down as a prank.
    • Playful tricks have a personal contract between player and developer. It makes the player more aware of the game maker.
  • Principle #5 - Push, don't press
    • This principle is derived from a Jonathan Blow quote.
    • Pushing is understanding the promise of game design.
    • Don't do the obvious because it's not surprising to the player. You have to push yourself to find more.
    • Push the mechanics to their limits and exhaust their functions, but don't force the mechanics to be more interesting than they may turn out to be (pressing).
    • Bennett's Sun God is a game where two characters are tethered by a rope. It's a player game that can also be played by one player (just like a xylophone). The characters leave cherry blossom trails.
    • Bennett was happy with how the game ended up looking, but not so satisfied with its gameplay. He might have pushed too hard. He forced the tether mechanic to work, instead of scrapping the idea when he realized it wasn't working.
    • "The most creative are no different in IQ with their peers, but are able to get themselves to a specified mood to be most creative. They get themselves into a state of play and exhibit childlike behavior." -- John Cleese
    • Alfred Hitchcock would sometimes tell completely irrelevant stories during stressful times on set. While odd to many of his colleagues, he did this deliberately to ease his cast and crew and get them into a mental state of play.
    • It's easy to tell forged signatures from real ones. Forged signatures starts and stops, while real signatures flow naturally. This is similar to calligraphy vs. sculpting from stone marble.
    • SVN makes your creative thinking too safe. Game design decisions feel like they don't matter anymore because you can always just rollback to an earlier version. Game jams and prototypes solve this problem because they keep games small and light.
    • Long full production of games is a drudgery that takes away from the fun of the prototype.
Question and Answer
  • What's a light physical game? Catch.
  • Jesse Schell has said to make a fun toy first.
  • There are different types of frustration and Bennett thinks that in-game frustration is good.
  • Bennett's games require a bit of literacy of technology. But relying too much on literacy and conventions would limit your game design.
  • Bennett wants to make a game where you play as a bird and is pushed out of a nest. You have to learn to fly immediately. This is an appropriate metaphor for how he wants players to play his games.
  • Hokra is a game that Bennett thinks is easy to get into a state of flow because it has an easy learning curve.
  • Bennett's has had several collaborations in the past including the boxing game with Tom Rogers and Get on Top with Douglas Wilson.
  • Designers should learn to code.
  • Don't be too systemic and delete changes. Knowing that you can possibly lose everything liberates you to make big changes and take risks.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Babycastles Summit: Why Make Games

Evan Narcisse (Kotaku) moderated a panel with Nate Hill (Race Warriors), Joe Ahearn (Silent Barn), Michael O'Reilly (I Wanna Be The Guy), and Zach Gage (Spelltower) about why they make games.
  • Zach's game design deals a lot with randomness. Zach recently deconstructed what he's actually doing and he finds that randomness shows the beauty of the system in a way better than designed levels. "Randomness feeds into the system to speak to itself."
  • Joe designed a LARP to be played in a bar setting. In the game, everyone writes down their goals and is assigned a random animal. They must hunt other animals by asking them yes or no questions, and ultimately, figure out the other players' goals. If the person being questioned refuses to answer, they are kicked out of the bar. The game was designed to get people to talk and flirt with each other, which was supported by the fact that they were getting drunk.
  • Nate designed Race Warriors, a hack of Ikari Warriors. The game starts off with a survey with ten random questions such as "Do you sing in the shower?", "Would you rather be a fish or a bird?", and "Are you afraid of spiders?" After the player finishes the survey, he is assigned a race and is told to kill another race in a very derogatory manner. All the enemies in the game are turned into racist stereotypes and the player must perform genocide. The concept of the game was to be extremely racist and extremely absurd, therefore making the connection that racism is absurd. Nate chose the video game medium to drive this concept because he wanted the experience to be immersive and interactive. However, the game does ask for a heavy amount of cognitive dissonance from the player.
  • Michael mashed up old-school games when he developed I Wanna Be The Guy. He did so because he wanted to learn how to make a game, so the best way for him was to experiment with several game mechanics. Old-school games, for him, are very solid because they can't hide behind spectacle, and rely completely on gameplay and interaction.
  • Zach's Scoundrel is a rogue-like where poker hands are your weapons.
  • Zach's Spelltower is a great metaphor for indie game development. You must manage your resources, saving them for the long run or using them for short term gains.
  • Zach has recently developed a word game, a card game, and a music game. He doesn't necessarily think of genres mechanically (shooter, action, puzzle, etc.) or thematically (fantasy, scifi, military, etc.), but in terms of equipment (cards, words, etc.).
  • The Silent Barn, run by Joe, is a Brooklyn-based punk house where Babycastles operates from.
  • The Cory Arcangel exhibition at the Whitney Museum shows off games in the art space. But there's still a lot of work for games to be accepted in the the art culture.
  • Michael's first game, I Wanna Be The Guy, uses a lot of copyrighted art from other games. His next game, however, will not be a mash-up of other games. He wanted to make something that's his. But art takes a long time to make and you should never say "that'll be easy."
  • Nobody wants to make a bad game, but people often run into walls.
  • Papa y Yo turns gameplay into a metaphor and turns emotional aspects into an impetus to play.
  • Games are a powerful medium that is still finding its own language.
  • Nate created a twitter bot called White People Smell which collects tweets and elicits opinions of what white people smell like.
  • Zach's Lose-Lose is a Space Invaders-like game where each enemy killed deletes a random file from your computer and losing the game causes it to delete itself. He wanted to bring to light the uncomfortableness that many people have with computers.
  • Race Warriors was not distributed well enough because it required gamers to have a NES emulator. The message wasn't well-carried either since the hardcore gamers probably already knew racism is bad. The game was built on the wrong platform with the wrong audience.
  • Can a game be popular without being fun, like a Schindler's List of video games? There is Phone Story, an iOS simulation game about conflict minerals, poor work conditions, and cheap labor involved with phone manufacturing.
  • "We must free games from the tyranny of fun."
  • LARP has a clear distinction between what's in the game and what's outside the game. Lose-Lose, however, blurs that distinction because what's happening in the game is affecting what's outside.
  • Zach has been making games since he was a child. His mother used to read a lot of Greek mythology to him and he would often build games revolving around its characters and their trials. He would design games and make all his childhood friends to play them. The teachers actually had to take the other kids away and teach them that they don't have to be "bullied' into doing something they don't want to, but the kids responded that they were actually having fun.
  • "The system is more interesting than the components."
  • Can conceptual art games go mainstream? Not really, but they will definitely get more popular than they are now. Most conceptual art films or conceptual music don't penetrate the masses either.
  • Super Mario Bros. is actually a conceptual art game. During an interview, Shigeru Miyamoto admitted that the game was influenced by the surrealism movement.
  • Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Nier, Catherine, Limbo, Spec Ops: The Line, and Heavy Rain were cited as examples of conceptual art games that were popular. Killzone 2 is surprisingly a conceptual anti-war shooter, masked in a common first-person shooter affair.
  • Both Killzone 2 and Killzone 3 have really surprising anti-war stories, but there is a great lack of conversation around video game plots.
  • Super Columbine Massacre is a really horrible game to play. It is not fun or pleasant, and the mechanics are not melded with the story. It is a traditional RPG where you have to level your character up before you can tackle the high school jocks, but this mechanic doesn't capture the brutality and random violence of the actual attack.
  • Most of the games mention make you feel bad through narrative, but Spelltower is effective at making you feel bad through its mechanics. Playing the game gives you a lot of anxiety and managing your letters as resources is quite stressful.
  • Spelltower's rush mode, which was timed, was the first mode to be developed and playtesters said it was entirely too stressful. Puzzle mode, the untimed mode, was created to be relaxing. However, as players got better and more skilled at the game, the puzzle mode turned out to be way more stressful because the player has all the time in the world to plan their moves. The rush mode turned out to be the relaxing mode because it's constantly forcing you to make a move.
  • Emotions are not mutually exclusive. Players can be angry and happy at the same time.
  • Games are good at creating a sin wave of frustration and catharsis. MOBAs, especially, have really low lows and really high highs, creating a compulsive emotional loop.
  • Doug Wilson's games are sometimes called "broken" because rules exist outside of the game mechanics.
  • Sometimes bugs are great, ridiculous, and can be turned into a feature.
  • What's some advice for making your first game? Find an easy engine (Scratch, dice, Gamemaker, ZZT), start with a small scope, expect small progress, and fail often.
  • Games where cheating is built-in are interesting because the systems are not static and rules can be input in like in a math function.
  • Desert Bus is a game built off of negative emotions.
  • There already is a Schinder's List of games -- Brenda Brathwaite's Train.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Babycastles Summit: In Conversation With Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson, of Die Gute Fabrik (The Good Factory), gave a talk about his game development philosophy in a panel moderated by Jesse Fuchs of the NYU Game Center.

  • Doug started his talk by showing a demo of Robo-CLOP, a recent game jam project. It is a mod of CLOP played with four Playstation Move controllers attached to each limb. The mod was done in Unity, reading in inputs from the Move controllers and mapping them to the keys necessary to control the horse.
  • His talk was called "Games, Subversion, and Simplicity."
  • He's been doing installations based around Bennett Foddy's games (QWOP, GIRP, and CLOP). Playing these games with physical controllers make it more performative and public.
  • Doug's previous game, Dog the Wag, is similar to Robo-CLOP. Players tie a Move controller to their behinds as if it was a tail and shake frantically to score points. Periodically, a player's controller would glow, prompting other players to tackle him and press a button on his tail. It ended up being a pretty violent game.
  • Doug finds joy in subversion. In a Playstation Move ad, Kevin Butler holds two controllers as if he's shooting an arrow and a holographic bow appears in his hands. The tagline underneath says "This changes everything." However, in actuality, the technology is limited and can only go so far. Doug likes to exploit the weaknesses of the technology in his games; in other words, turning a bug into a feature.
  • These technologies are self-effacing game technology and deliberately oppositional to marketing rhetoric.
  • In Dark Room Sex Game, you and a partner try to reach orgasm by swinging the Wii remotes at the right rhythm. Doug subverts the family friendly game tech into something adult and perverse. The Wii remotes, in essence, are phallic devices. He also spliced a Wii commercial with pornographic sound effects, taking his subversion outside of the game as well.
  • B.U.T.T.O.N. (Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally Okay Now) is a very physical game where people wrestle over controllers. The game almost encourages you to "cheat" because the game itself doesn't enforce many of the rules or instructions.
  • Doug embraces the DIY aspect. The XB360 controller has a giant home button in the center that brings up the dashboard and takes the players out of the game. It's often accidentally pressed due to the game's frenetic nature and there's no way to turn the feature off in software. So, in the beginning of the game, there is a page of instructions showing the player how to duct tape a bottle cap on the controller to cover up the home button.
  • MegaGIRP is a mod of GIRP played with four Dance Dance Revolution pads. It turns the game, commonly known as Twister for your fingers, into actual Twister. It also makes it great for public spectacle.
  • Doug has an idea for a Twitter game called the Silent Game, where players receive points for not tweeting. To prevent players from creating a bunch of dummy account, the amount of points you would get is tied to how many followers you have. He wants to subvert Twitter by using the platform against itself.
  • Johann Sebastian Joust is a competitive sport that sprinkles in silliness. It was developed in parallel to Lemon Joust, both unbeknownst to each other. Lemon Joust is a non-digital games where players balance lemons on big spoons and try to knock other players' lemons off. It was a coincidence that they both settled on the word "joust" for their games.
  • Doug considers Johann Sebastian Joust to be a very different game than Lemon Joust. The lights on the move controllers and the music change the experience, and the computer keeps track of the win/lose conditions for the players.
  • Why does Doug use so much technology? They're expensive and there are a lot of negative political associations with them regarding conflict minerals and bad labor conditions in manufacturing plants.
  • The act of complicity, and the subversion of commercial products, artistically and intellectually make these games art.
  • He quotes Johanna Drucker's Sweet Dreams: Contemporary Art and Complicity. "Complicity suggests mutual gain. This relationship is not direct or unmediated, and not obtained through a simple sellout but via a complicated set of interconnections. The "other" was never outside of culture but was an integrated component of its values, systems, and operations. This insight doesn't spoil the game. It renders explicit some of the terms on which has been operating."
  • Doug received awards for innovation at GDC, but he doesn't necessarily think that Johann Sebastian Joust is that innovative. It's only considered innovative because of its subversion of the Move controllers.
  • We should think of game culture as context in our game design. The cultural aspects of these technology is as important as their formal description.
  • Doug recently built an installation game with Bennett Foddy called Get On Top. It is played with two giant trampolines and Move controllers.
  • "My inhibitions are the closest thing to a personality." - Jesse Fuchs
  • Doug doesn't necessarily consider his games to be folk games, since they don't have years of history behind them, but he hasn't found a better word. Maybe he'll use playground games.
  • He is interested in functional fluidity, finding uses for technology outside of their intended use.
  • He finds indie games a little homogeneous because of bedroom coders.
  • He personally calls B.U.T.T.O.N. a "broken" game because so much is left to the players.
  • Games are not just systems. They are also performed and shared experiences.
  • Bennett Foddy's games deliberately have crappy graphics and weird music to invite the player to join in on the silliness.
  • There is a scavenger hunt game that has good luck and bad luck artifacts that the players can pick up. These doesn't affect the system at all and are purely aesthetic. But the game puts a lot of emphasis on collecting these artifacts. Doug thinks it's forward thinking to add in silly rules.
  • Liar's Dice, in the U.S., is played to eliminate down to one winner who takes all the money. In Europe, it's played to isolate a loser. Winning is boring; it's more fun to make someone lose so everyone else can laugh at him. 
  • Doug builds a lot of "open" games in the sense that they require a lot of players to self-police. He's inspired by Mafia and Werewolf, which have DIY game design. Every group of friends have their own house rules of how to play these games. Negotiating the game is as fun as playing it.
  • At one venue, people played Johann Sebastian Joust by dangling the Move controller in front of their pelvis. It makes moving much harder and defending yourself more precious. It didn't occur to Doug to play the game this way until he saw it in action.
  • He calls Neal Stephenson's Clang project "fucking ridiculous." Building a sword-fighting controller is fighting against abstraction, yet it doesn't have the real tactile feel of actual sword fighting.
  • He loves abusive games like Zach Gage's Lose-Lose, Bennett Foddy's games where they all ridicule you for failing, and Kaizo Mario. He finds abusive games to be the best way for the designer to have a back-and-forth dialogue with the player. The player has to get into the mind of the designer to beat them and there are several levels of reverse psychology.
  • Kaizo Mario is a mod of Super Mario World that someone actually made for his friend, who posted his playthrough online. Doug considers the Asshole Mario series to be "objectively the best videos on Youtube."
  • Inuit, also known as Mouth Pull, is a 2-player game where players put their thumb into the other player's mouth and play tug of war.
  • Tony Conrad, who was suppose to be in this panel but didn't show up, is a minimalist composer and a structural filmmaker. He made a film called Flicker, using really minimal media to maximum effect.
  • Doug doesn't consider himself an artist; just a game designer.
  • Agatha Christie would've been a great game designer. Her mystery novels are filled with red herrings, constantly challenging the reader.