You Know, For Kids: Game Design, World Creation as Microsoft Research Previews Kodu

“This is my tree. It makes music.” It took “actual 12-year-old girl” (as Microsoft described her) Sparrow to rescue Microsoft’s drab CES keynote (and drab tech news week) and get us back into the Future again. That future is one in which the dazzling interactive 3D world of games becomes a playground you can shape. In this case, the showpiece is a game called Kodu, but that may just be the beginning. The reason all of this is so deeply significant is that what you need to make something work for kids could say a lot about how the rest …

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Happy New Year with Augmented Reality, Flying Words of Wisdom

Need some New Year inspiration on several levels? dickypan points to this brilliant New Year’s video. It’ll make you feel good about all dimensions of 2009. Motion graphics fly out of augmented reality, triggered by small objects on the screen. The work is based on an open source framework. Here it’s running in Flash, as: FLARToolKit That means you can try it out for yourself on the website of the creators, AID-DCC and Katamari Inc.: http://09.aid-dcc.com/ The code is all open, and comes in turn from NyARToolKit (Java), which, you’ll note “seems to executes much faster than the original C …

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Beatles, Harmonix Collaborate on New Game; Let’s Hope it’s a Real Trip

We all live … here. Photo: “DJ” Dave Whelan. It’s official: we had heard rumblings that game maker Harmonix was about to announce something, and it’s here. It’s a collaboration directly with the Beatles to make something that isn’t Rock Band or Guitar Hero — something completely new. And something completely new is exactly what’s needed. Before Guitar Hero and Rock Band, before being purchased by MTV/Viacom, game developer Harmonix were a very different creative house. Co-founders Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy were MIT friends whose first project was an application that let you play guitar with a joystick. (Sounds …

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Wicked Ohm Force Effects, Whimsy as Utility, and a Group Buy Discount

Software: it looks bland. It often sounds the same. Then there are the gems, like Ohm Force’s incredibly tasty line of plug-ins. Their delay plug-in Ohmboyz really isn’t over-hyped when they call it “the best delay money can afford,” as it’s almost frighteningly deep, with wild special effects and dirty-sounding vintage-style possibilities. And those wacky interfaces aren’t incidental, either. Dave Cronin of San Francisco design firm/consultants Cooper just posted a great blog entry on “whimsical interaction design.” He says he’s been pondering whimsy in design, pointing to the playful music app Bloom, but also humor by industrial designers Droog, wacky …

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Tiction: Animated, Nodal Generative Music App in Progress, in Processing

Electronic music is filled with grids and repeating loops. But get off that grid, and you can quickly wind up, well, floating in space. The challenge of marrying music that’s pre-sequenced with music that can generate itself, between self-evolving music and music that you can control live, is the challenge a lot of people are exploring right now. Hans Kuder has been sharing a promising-looking project on the CDM forums, built in the code-sketching tool Processing (site | CDMu | CDMo). The idea: explore nodes live and let your sequences float free on the screen. Hans writes: tiction – early …

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MultiTouch Cell: Ready-to-Use, Modular MultiTouch, And Other Options

Clockwise from left: a proposed design for the MTmini project, which you can get your hands on on the cheap; the open-source multi-touch TouchKit project, developed by resident researchers at Eyebeam and open to developers; a new entry, the lovely (but apparently not yet available) MultiTouch Cell promises to be a plug-and-play product. Multi-touch for visualists? It’s coming, and it may have nothing to do with names like Apple or Microsoft. But while many projects now are experimental and pricey, your hands do seem to be close to being liberated from the mouse and keyboard alone. No word on pricing …

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Wii Music: Improvise Freely

I’m not an E3 so I’ll have to rely on others for coverage, but Nintendo has announced the long-awaited Wii Music at their press conference today. Now, of course, a number of readers here are already making Wii Music of their own, using custom software to turn Wii remotes into controllers. (Finally got my Balance Board working, by the way; more on that soon.) But it’s great to see mainstream games giving players more freedom; the new game promises to allow you to improvise freely instead of just time pre-determined reactions as in conventional music rhythm games. Joystiq has a …

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Highlights from Motion Graphics Festival 2008

I had the pleasure of participating in this year’s Motion Graphics Festival, and just being there provided enough inspiration for a year’s worth of projects. I’ve tried to track down and compile some of the highlights that really struck me as being innovative and interesting. The actual environments were so saturated with visual media that it was tough to take it all in, so I’ve also enlisted the help of a few participants/attendees to sort it all out.

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