Wednesday, June 23, 2010

E3 2010

E3 this year happened just prior to the Foundation for Digital Games Conference (FDG) so me, Jakob Berglund, Mattias Görl and Don Geyer hit both venues. Me and Jakob had demos to show at FDG, and Don had a speech to make at the education summit in relation to E3.

IMG_3665

The best with these venues are as always the people you meet; I met with Brian Schwab and got to talk some AI, and was lucky to run into Richard Dansky the first thing in the Ubisoft booth when I arrived to the expo, and got to talk about narrative. On my to-do list now is to check out the coop conflict in splinter cell, and to use Richard’s advice when I start doing the play-testing scenarios in the Pataphysic Institute (3-tiered conflicting goals).

IMG_3658 Brian at Venice Beach IMG_3678 I found Richard in the ubisoft part of e3 IMG_3723
Brian Schwab Richard Dansky and me N3DS

IMG_3671 IMG_3680 IMG_3752 me and david tomas
Kinect Booth 1 Kinect Booth 2 David Tomas and me

At the show, the highlight for me was to try out Microsofts Natal (now renamed to Kinect). I got the demo where one interact with a cat (that I named Sigge) using the whole body to interact (tracking of 48(?) joints). It really worked. I’m impressed.
I was pondering on getting into the long line for trying out the Nintendo 3DS, but then I ran into David Tomas who told me that it was basically like a 3D postcard so I figured I could instead go to make an inventory of present booth hunks with Jakob. We were quite successful me thinks ;)

IMG_3755 one proper booth hunk

IMG_3773 jakob and his favorite booth hunk


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Final Fantasy at the Stockholm Concert Hall

Yesterday was dedicated to the Final Fantasy Series at the Stockholm Concert Hall (Konserthuset). I was part of a panel in the afternoon, and in the evening I had one of the most intensive musical experiences in my life.

The panel was organised by Goodgame, and moderated by David Westerlund. My co-panelists were Annika Bergström Olofssdotter (Nordic Game / Founder of SuperMarit), Matilda Lorentzon and Caroline Henningsson (students who wrote the essay about including Final Fantasy XIII).

We talked about reasons for how FF as a series has been able to attract an audience for twenty years, about games as culture, music in games, game research, and some of what we do at Gotland University. The audience was great - it felt like chatting with friends. Really interesting questions were raised, and we all kind of giggled at the same places in the conversation. It was an honor to get to meet this crowd. I brought Vivi along as well:

Vivi konserthuset IMG_3556


The concert in the evening was amazing. At one point - during Dancing Mad from FFVI there was Oskar Ekberg playing the organ, a full choir and the philharmonic orchestra blasting out music in unison.
organ choire and orchestra IMG_3589

It was such an experience to hear the different battle themes (the victory theme and other pieces that I have heard thousands of times through crappy TV-speakers) played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Oh, and there was the fantasic song of the soprano Jennie Abrahamsson, and the solo by Per Skareng on guitar (at which point I was moved to tears, literally).

In the end of the concert the whole audience (the concert hall was filled to the last spot) rose as one man and gave standing ovations until the composer Nobuo Uematsu appeared on stage. In the final piece he joined and sang with the Stockholm Music Gymnasium choir, here he is in the top right corner:
Nobuo Uematsu top right corner with the choir IMG_3615

Here is a link to more pictures I took during the concert.
Here is the program, cut from Konserthuset's webpage:

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Arnie Roth
Run from Stockholm's Music Gymnasium
Jennie Abrahamson
soprano
Per Skareng
guitar
Oskar Ekberg
organ

Uematsu
Final Fantasy Series, Prelude European premiere!
Uematsu
Final Fantasy VIII: Liberi Fatali
Uematsu
Final Fantasy Series Victory Theme European premiere!
Uematsu
Ronfaure from Final Fantasy XI European premiere!
Uematsu
Main Theme from Final Fantasy VII European premiere!
Uematsu
Prima Vista Orchestra from Final Fantasy IX European premiere!
Uematsu
Dear Friends from Final Fantasy V
Uematsu
Vamo 'alla Flamenco from Final Fantasy IX
Uematsu
JENOVA from Final Fantasy VII European premiere!
Uematsu
Opening from Final Fantasy VII
Uematsu
A Place to Call Home / Melodies of Life from Final Fantasy IX European premiere!
Uematsu
The Man with the Machine Gun from Final Fantasy VIII
Uematsu
Suteki da ne from Final Fantasy X European premiere!
Uematsu
Dancing Mad from Final Fantasy VI European premiere of the new arrangement!
Hamauzu
The Promise out of Final Fantasy XIII World Premiere!
Hamauzu
Fang's Theme from Final Fantasy XIII World Premiere!
Uematsu
from Final Fantasy Medley XIV World Premiere!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Accepting the Ring

The day before yesterday we had the Gotland Game Awards 2010 Awards Ceremony here at Gotland University. The main point of the ceremony is to give prices to the students who have produced amazing games during the year, but I also got five minutes in the spot-light.

Richard Bartle, who was one of the examiners when I defended my dissertation in February at Teesside congratulated me to the award of the degree of doctor of philosophy, and presented me the Ring with the words "accipe annulum". This means "accept the ring". In Sweden it is customary that one receives a doctorate ring. It is a symbol of the union with science, and is worn on the same finger as the wedding ring (but the wedding ring is kept closest to the hand). Gotland University can't give the award of PhD, and at Teesside University, in the UK, there are no rings. There are hats with tassels, but hey, I can't go around being just the mistress of science! So instead my parents (it is customary that the family pays for the ring) got the Gotlandic Hövdingaringen (The ring of the Chief), and by doing the ritual, I now consider myself an honourable scientist.

What we didn't realise was just how BIG the ring was. This is what my finger looked like just after the ceremony, Richard took a picture:

Quite an excessive burden of gold... So yesterday I trotted off to the smith.
I left both the big ring and my wedding- and engagement ring, and also wrestled off Rauno his ring: There was a mistake when the wedding ring was done, it has not the same shape as the engagement ring. We were short of time before the wedding so my engagement ring was melted down and shaped into the wrong shape.
Now all will be corrected - my wedding- and engagement rings will be made thinner and in the right shape, and the doctoral ring will be made smaller too. The rings will be ready in a month or so.

I had prepared a short speech, but standing in the spotlight in front of a thousand people (yes, the congress hall in Visby was full!) I forgot what I had prepared, and now afterwards I have no idea what I said. This what I had planned to say:

Thank you Richard, it was truly an honour to have you as one of the examiners at the Viva Voce. My research has concerned Virtual Game Worlds (VGWs), or massively multi player games. In these worlds the avatar, the player's representation, is one of the most interesting parts. Formally though, my degree is in computing science. I have built an AI module, the Mind Module, for semi-autonomous avatars which have been used in five prototypes. The Mind Module gives avatars personalities and emotions. Its purpose is to enable support for characterisation and story construction in VGWs. Most of my work has been done as experimental prototyping for AI driven game design. It is my firm belief that in order to truly understand game mechanics and its resulting dynamics it is necessary to prototype, build and test ideas. By doing this we can go beyond studying what already exists, and break new ground in game research. This type of work is not done in isolation. In the prototypes a too many people has been involved to mention here, but I would like to extend my thanks to all and mention those who are present in this room; Peter Kullgard, Musse Dolk, Ola Persson, Johan Sköld and Jasmin and Carsten Orthbandt. Again, this work is not done in isolation. During the years I have recieved support and advice from experienced mmo designers in the industry. They have helped me to avoid pitfalls in game design, and supported at times when I have doubted the very relevance of my work. The research has taken me around the world. I have been visiting scholar at Georgia Institute of Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology and University of California Santa Cruz. I am grateful to all of you who made me feel so welcome. But it is here on Gotland that my heart is. I do not have words for how grateful I am for all the support of encouragement I have been given from all of you at the game department and at Gotland University, especially Steven Bachelder and Don Geyer. Again, this work is not done in isolation. Even during the last months when I was writing up the dissertation I had all the support that I could ask for from my supervisors Michael Mateas, Paul Van Schaik and Clive Fencott. I also had the moral support from my good friends Lena Wikström and Jenny Brusk, and from my family and my husband Rauno. I have the result here, and I would like to present it to the head of the Gotland University Library, Almedalsbiblioteket, Kerstin Simberg.

What happened was that when Richard gave me the ring I started to think about the hero's journey, something that Richard wrote a lot about in Designing Virtual Worlds (2003), and I wrote some about in the thesis. And there I was, receiving this token, at the end of my journey... so I got distracted. To me it was important that Richard was one of examiners. Those of you who were at the Digra conference last summer know that he can be quite critical. I knew that if the thesis was approved by him and Alan Hind I would find it difficult to, in retrospect, try to diminish it, to talk myself into that I didn't deserve the award after all...

It was quite gratifying to hand over the thesis, it weighs 5.4 kilos! This is what it looks like:
bound

Links:

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Gotland Game Awards


Richard Bartle
Originally uploaded by mimmi
Gotland Game Awards is in progress. Yesterday the second-year students presented their work in the morning. The exhibition of all the students was crowded, and in the afternoon Susan Gold, Evan Van Zelfden and Richard Bartle gave interesting speeches. Today we continue with student presentations from the first, second and fourth-year students, ending with the awards ceremony and fireworks in the evening.



http://www.gotlandgameawards.se/gga10/