Push the Button: One-Button Game Design Challenge with Kokoromi's Gamma4

Photo: Steven Depolo. Game design may be trending toward neural inputs and cameras that sense your body in three dimensions and intelligent agents that respond to your every gesture and word. But interaction design – whether in gaming or music and visual performance – is often about doing more with less. Kokoromi have the ultimate in minimalist challenges for their annual Gamma independent game design competition. Think you can embody fun in just the contact of one fingertip? Then it’s on. Behold the one-button game. You have until January 31 to come up with something really brilliant and make it …

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Push the Button: One-Button Game Design Challenge with Kokoromi’s Gamma4

Photo: Steven Depolo. Game design may be trending toward neural inputs and cameras that sense your body in three dimensions and intelligent agents that respond to your every gesture and word. But interaction design – whether in gaming or music and visual performance – is often about doing more with less. Kokoromi have the ultimate in minimalist challenges for their annual Gamma independent game design competition. Think you can embody fun in just the contact of one fingertip? Then it’s on. Behold the one-button game. You have until January 31 to come up with something really brilliant and make it …

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Inside the Rock Band Network, as Harmonix Gives Interactive Music its Game-Changer

There’s a lot of hype around the latest schemes for changing how artists get their music to fans, but not actually a whole lot of news. (It always seems to boil down to a website with some unpronounceable name.) Well, this is news: Harmonix is opening up Rock Band to anyone who wants their music in it, and giving you the same sophistication of tools they use themselves. That’s a real game-changer – literally. And I don’t mean just for the actual game Rock Band. Sure, Harmonix was the house that made music games a phenomenon in the US. They …

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More on Project Natal: Latency Concerns, Johnny Chung Lee, Freaky Interactions with a Fake Kid

Microsoft’s Project Natal unveiling for Xbox 360 was no question a blockbuster of technology presentations, nothing short of sheer magic in a games industry that has lately looked somewhat backward-looking. The combination of a 3D-capable camera with facial and object recognition and vocal recognition and mic interaction takes already-smart elements and puts them together into something bigger. But demos are just that – it’s the reality of what’s happening in interaction design that’s interesting. So, some more details on Project Natal: Latency? Note that the video in the post yesterday carries a significant disclaimer: it’s essentially a conceptual mockup, not …

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Full Body, No-Controller, No-Tag 3D Motion Tracking: Microsoft’s Project Natal for Xbox 360

Anyone for a game of Harmonix Mime Hero, with the Marcel Marceau expansion pack? We’ve seen simple computer vision applications, “augmented reality” systems and object tracking schemes that use specially-printed tags, 3D tracking using IR emitters, and specialized motion detection sensors (most notably Nintendo’s Wii). But the holy grail, of course, is getting tracking without any of that stuff. That’s the idea behind the widely-anticipated release today of Microsoft’s Project Natal for Xbox 360. What’s different about the new tracking systems that makes them work better? In short, a z axis. By detecting depth from the camera, you can track …

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Generative Music Interfaces of the Future – Look to Games?

I’m going to make this a minimalist post because I’ve said what I’ll say about Kodu, the one really cool part of Microsoft’s keynote yesterday, on Create Digital Motion. (Am I the only person who wishes Sparrow had just done the whole keynote?) But have a look at the shot above. One of the complaints about generative and algorithmic music software (and music software in general) is that the interface has been so complex. Clearly, there are many other ways to design these interfaces, and in turn, to shape the way we use these to compose and perform music. Forget …

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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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How to Use Rock Band Controllers (And More) with GarageBand, Mac

Bill Pendry wanted to use his PlayStation 3 Rock Band controllers with GarageBand on the Mac, so he’s posted step-by-step instructions to do just that. The secret formula: a wonderful utility that helps you use HID-compatible game controllers on the Mac, sans drivers. GamePad Companion (US$15 shareware) Of course, the nice thing here is that the basic steps apply to other controllers, just in case Rock Band doesn’t float your boat (or rock your socks, or whatever). I ended up choosing kick, snare, two toms and one cymbal, since the other cymbal I wanted was in a inactive area of …

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Microsoft Readies DirectSound Replacement: XAudio2 for Vista

Look out, PCs: you’re getting the audio engine from the Xbox 360. That’s the message from Microsoft, which abandoned the old DirectSound APIs in Windows Vista. They’ve got a new audio system called XAudio2 ready and waiting, however, and it looks good — though it also begs the question, why didn’t Microsoft ship it with Windows Vista out of the gate? (Instead, Microsoft actually suggested users turn to the OpenAL open audio architecture, and now appears to be getting XAudio2 ready for Vista SP1.) Geek alert: the rest of this post may be interesting only to developers… XAudio2 does look …

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The New Standards: Halo on Quartet + Laptop

Are game music themes becoming the new equivalent of the old jazz standards? Maybe, as game covers are going from novelty to meme. Matrix of Matrixsynth sends along this YouTube find. Yes, you can get any timbre you want out of a guitar; nice violin effects, as well. (Now we only need a “Give the Children Some Tripods” fund.) And, in the bizarre world of YouTube, this is only one of many Halo theme song covers: Say hi to this quartet over on MySpace. Sorry to Mac users who like me remember hearing this theme for the first time at …

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