Jeff Minter and his Llamasofties have released some screens of their new game, here.

Jeff really has his own style, and despite the years of new technology, it really hasn't changed unduely.

For me, he's one of the first true digital artists, in that he has always embraced the technology. With his VLM style stuff, he doesn't seem to aim for any specific realization of the world around us. He just asks "what techniques are computers most permissive to?", and runs with it. He's immune to the fetishism of photo realism, or, infact, to any indoctriated style. He's like a sculpter who works with the grain of the wood, while many of those around him move completely against it: how many times have you seen beautiful concept art destroyed by being approximiated by low-fi faceted edges?

That said, it can become a style until itself, as soon as the concept art is ignored, and the actual canvas is engaged - Mario is a low-fi representation of a cartoon plumber, but his 8 bit incarnation is nothing short of iconic - a kind of digital Pointillisse. Pixel art is certainly a style unto itself, and so is low-poly art.

Anyway, back to Minter. Like I say, he's working with the grain of the wood - possibly to extremes. That means he's sculpting trees. If you think about it, a tree is this natural artifact - one expression of how the universe's systems collaborate, and give rise to this emergent object. In Minter's case, the focus is on the microcosmic universe inside the computer. The fascinating blurrs he produces are artifacts of those collaborating systems: digital life.

By bouncing his experiments off the canvas of a computer, he allows us to see the very nature of simple, deterministic machines, at their most elaborate.

That's more than enough art-faggery for now. I only mention it because in doing our graphics (most of which, like Minter's, are generative), I'm finding that it's less and less about what I want, and more and more about what the system wants. When I let it guide me and let it find its own form naturally I get far better results than forcing the system to bend to my will.


Hi to me

Hi, I'm Tommunism, Bez's partner in crime and engine designer / programmer extraordinare. I'll be posting on here every once in a while. I usually don't have much to say because I usually don't care about enough stuff to say things. I care about some stuff...but not too much stuff. Sometimes, it's hard to keep track of a lot of stuff that you care about, so I find if you don't care about that much stuff, then you don't have that much stuff to take into consideration when figuring out what stuff is more important to you. One thing I definately don't care about is spelling, I can write a fast spell checker, but I can't fill it. So ANYWAY...I figure my introductory post I would talk about something that I DO care about, and that's computer hardware.

I remember back in the day, back when I graduated Highschool in 1999 the fastest chip you could buy was a Pentium 3 550Mhz. You could get the Alpha chip, the first 1Ghz chip, but...I didn't have like 5grand to drop (*sigh* the days of Pollywell computer wet dreams). My parents bought me my computer for college, a Pentium 3 450Mhz machine that I use today as a backup server. I remember 4 months after I started at NC State the new 600 Mhz chip came out, a few months later the 700, then the 750 and so on...so forth. At the rate chip speeds were increasing back then, we should be up around like 10 to 12Ghz easily, but...we aren't. Back in my highschool physics class my teacher, Mr. Ashcraft (Who is a god), was telling us that scientists and chipmakers alike felt that we would reach a limit as to how thin we could cut the circuts and it would limit the total amount of Mhz we could push out. At the time of the article that he was referring to, they were guessing 90Mhz. They were wrong, obviously.

Though I don't feel we're approaching the Ghz limit any time soon, I feel we are going to start shying away from "How fast a chip is" and lean more towards "How many chips does this chip have" Speed, obviously, will always be the main goal, but speed can be attained through various outlets. I think chip Ghz are going to be put aside for the time, and bus speeds between chips are going to be the focus for, at least a while. Take for instance the chip I have, the Pentium D 965 Extreme Edition, and the new Core 2 Duo Extreme edition chips. Both of these chips are dual core chips with hyper threading...so basically you're looking at 4 hardware threads. The clock speed of my 965 is 3.75Ghz clocked to 3.8Ghz. The biggest and baddest Core 2 Duo Extreme clocks in at about 3.2Ghz. Now...you might be thinking to yourself "Hmm...Tommy, you're both awesome, AND have the most powerful chip on the market". Though, I would agree with you that I am awesome, I would disagree with the whole powerful chip statement. The Core 2 Duo beats my chip by a considerable amount. Why...WHY you're probably screaming. It's the bus speed in which the two cores communicate to eachother. Intel came up with a new architecture that boosts the performance of the Core 2 Duo chip quite a bit. I won't go into it in crazy detail, but it works and it works well. I think these is the first steps towards a new era of computing and software development, Multi-Threaded Programming.

Each next gen console (with the exception of the Wii I think) has several processors avaliable to spread out the software load. It's going to be the job of future, and current, game developers to use these processors to squeeze the maximum amount of power out of these consoles. This is going to take careful planning to accurately balance load on these processors. The days of single threaded programming aren't dead yet, but the best of the best of programmers are going to be spreading their code out and getting some serious performance out of these consoles eventually leaving programmers that only know single threaded programming in the dust. I really feel with the direction chip, and console makers are heading that companies are going to be looking for people who have practical and I do stress PRACTICAL experience with multi-threaded programming. I for one am excited and ready.

That's all I have to say right now. If you're a hot chick, pix pls.


I got Satellite!

Look upon me, mere mortals, with dread, for I have a dish-shaped ear to the sky! Mercury himself is my ISP and I shall download Charlie Brooker's Screen Wipe faster than David Freeman can invent a new rule to force an emotion upon his audience.

(Just don't mention the upload speeds.)

Muahaha! Muahahahahahaaaa!

Uplink anxiety

Oh God. Uplink was the cause of some major freakouts in University.

After 10 hour playing sessions, delving deep into my own insomnia, I'd start to hear things. That satellite outside was blinking directly at me. It would have passed my notice, if only it hadn't moved slightly faster than the rest of the blinking dots in the sky. Bastard satellite, zeroing in on my location, after I got too cocky with a trace-progress bar. I should have heeded its "be-be-beeps".

Footsteps outside the door obviously belonged to an inevitable squad of FBI Cyber Hacker agents, ready to come stop my hackzoring ways. My heart stopped as three knocks rapped on the door on the door: "Oi Bezzy? You ever going to leave your room?" says the one.

THEY'VE COME FOR YOU! But don't answer! It's a trick! Those mancunian accents don't fool anyone, Fed! You're just pretending to be my friend to coax me out! This is university! I know for a fact that I've got no friends around here! Shoulda thoguht of that first, gumshoe!


Don't answer. Just keep quiet. Wait until they're gone. They don't have jurisdiction in England anyhow!


Ahhk. They're all over the door knob now! It rattles!

"Why do you always lock the door? Are you having a wank?"


"Fine, fuck you then. We're in the pub. Just wash your hands before you come down there."

They're going away now - their footsteps receed down the hallway. But it could all just be a trick! Maybe they're just standing outside the door going "TAP, TAP, tap, tap" with their feet.

And then you slap yourself. It's only a game.

What's great about this is the incredible, unprecedented immersion. Introversion don't have any kind of intermediate avatar which the story/game/experience is experienced by. And because you don't have to project your ego onto "Trevor Nova: Elite Hacker", there's this direct connection between you and the game world.

You are your own avatar: When the game's protagonist earns a monitor tan, it's YOU getting a monitor tan. When you interface with a hacker terminal - holy crap, that terminal looks so realistic! It looks just like a real computer, partly because, it IS a real computer. It's not like those computers you're used to, made up of 50 polygons and a 256x256 texture, words on the faux screen blurring into unreadable green lines. It's almost like you're there in the hackers shit-strewn room. Partly becaue, you are there. Your fictional hole is your own hole.

DO YOU GET IT YET? THE LINES ARE BLURRED. DO I HAVE TO SPEND ANY MORE TIME EXPLAINING IT? You're sitting ON the 4th wall, and until the Feds fail to knock it down and take you in, there's very little to prove that what you're experiencing isn't real.




Greg Costikyan has some (not unusually, and not unreasonably) strong words about Microsoft's Creator's Club. I have to agree with the sentiment to a degree. I was trying to be a little detatched, and unemotional in my previous post on the matter.

As a couple of people who just wanted to get onto XBLA so that we have the option to work on small-but-perfectly-formed original games (and earn some wonga to feed that goal), we're hoping that this won't be an extra hurdle - one where we're tripping over enthusiasts for attention. We don't want to be lost in the noise. Equally, we don't want to be the loudest guys on the block, vying for attention. A game shouldn't be picked up on the basis of the most extreme self promotion. A game should be picked up because it's GOOD.

And, knowing a few of the people behind XBLA, we actually don't worry too much about having to scream to get noticed. They're smart, and reasonable, and certainly listen to you if you take the time to talk to them.

As far as I can tell (and this is my hope) the Creator's Club is not a required step to develop for XBLA. You don't have to rely on your peers acceptance. If a concept is strong enough, and the implementation doesn't stink, I don't see any reason you couldn't bypass the holding pen altogether, and just see what MS think. However, it is still an option if you work 9-5, and do games on the side.

We don't, though. We're on this all day, every day. To be told that we might just be overlooked amongst the mass of other developers... it does us a disservice. Not that anyone owes us a salary for just wanting to be indie, but our money is where our mouth is. Or... if we had money, it'd be where our mouths are, but our mouths don't get much use anymore for that whole "food eating" thing (due to the whole "no money" issue). So, perhaps more accurately, our air is where our sound hole is.

Okay, that one got away from me. How about... our hearts are on our sleeves, and please don't make us get other people's bodily organs on our clothes by making us fight it out with other developers, thunderdrome style.



Sling Shot

God I'm loving RayHound. It's the new game by the maker of Warning Forever, which is already classic indie shooter. Although Hizoka T Ohkuba isn't quite as prolific as Kenta Cho (maker of rRootage, Tumiki Fighters, muCade and other insane bullet riffs) his ideas certainly seem a little more divergent from typical shmup themes.

RayHound is currently only at version 0.8, but already demonstrates this beautifully: You are an itsy bitsy cybar space ship (TM), and have no weapons of your own. You can, however, snatch incoming rays within a radius around your ship, at which point, they'll become dangerous to anything that isn't you. Freely moving around a circular arena using the mouse, you alternately dodge and ambush bullets thrown your way, and sling shot them back at their originators (tonnes of identical, circular groups of twisting turrets). Take out a number of enemies at once with a cluster of bent bullets, and you'll earn a 2^n multiplier to that shot. The more skillful the shot, the more you'll earn. Simple, elegant, and encouraging of interesting play.

You're also able to "Boost" by nudging your mouse quickly in a direction. This triggers a bounce-shield around your craft, which knocks any pink bullets in the direction of the nudge. The shots lock onto anything roughly in the same direction. When the bounced, rather than slung shot hits, it earns less points than a sling shot (100, as opposed to 300) as, depending on the number of bullets flying around, and the number of enemy targets, it can be a bit easier to do. It's excellent for cleaning up smaller numbers of enemies quickly, but risky when trying to deal with many different enemies firing at sparodically. Essentially, the sling shot is great for taking on enemies en mass (chuck a swarm of rays their way), while the bounce is better for taking out the last few enemies in a cluster.

There's not a whole lot in this version which I can fault. It's already shaping up very well.

Aesthetically and semiotically everything's fine apart from a few tiny nit-picks.
  • The bullet slinging is given about a +/-5 degree auto aim so that a higher pace of play can be maintained without successful shots turning into total flukes. To help clarify this point further, I'd love to see little targetting icons pop up over enemies to show that my slung bullets will meet a target if I only let them fly that instant.
  • Bullets that have locked on all fly straight after releasing, after having been very bendy. Because of this, occasionally their direction will snap straight toward their locked on target creating unnatural, sudden bends in the bullet's path. It should be possible for the bullet to inheret the momentum at release, and calculate the required arc to hit the target without simply snapping to a straight line. However, this'd have minimal impact: as I say, the bullet is already flying off roughly in the direction of the target, so most of the time you're oblivious to the fact.
  • Being hit by a bullet shows a big "-105" flashing over your craft. This refers to the amount of time you lose on your health/clock. However, as far as I can tell, it's actually 105 hundredths of a second (1.05 seconds). Though hundredths are displayed, the primary display of time is still in seconds, so this is a little confusing. I keep thinking I'm losing 105 seconds. Buh. I must just be stupid, eh?

  • Interestingly (referring to two posts ago) the lack of a high score board means that I've no real "goals" to aim for, self made or otherwise: The level number passes so fast that if I blink, I miss my progress. The game over screen doesn't even give me enough time to write down my score. I may be achieving new highs, but I'm blind to it, trained as I am, to expect the computer to keep track of it for me. As a result, I end up playing the game almost totally intrinsically, and am probably having a lot more fun because of it.

    Certainly I'm not arguing against a high score board, but perhaps this gives us an idea? Maybe it's worth suggesting to the players of our games to play without explicit aims? Perhaps this is what make the open GTA model so wonderful - there's always a chance to just play. Perhaps, to have them toy, rather than game our systems, will see them enjoy themselves more when we DO start to challenge their playfulness and creativity with solid goals? Playing this early version of RayHound makes me feel like I'm playing a Sandboxed version of a typically high-score obsessed shooter. And to its credit, the core gameplay is enguaging enough in of itself that it has me hooked on the intrinsic appeal alone.

    Do it your own way, the way you've been doing.

    Since Tadhg has turned the discussion of interactive storytelling into a fucking quagmire, I vote we move on to something more interesting: Interactive Haikus!

      Jump on a Goomba,
      Jump! Jump! Jump!
      You fell in a hole.

    Me, playing Super Haiku Bros, yesterday. Here, I'm using the rather non-existant unpopular 5,3,5 syllable structure.

    Seriously though, I hope all this discussion with its constant re-definition of battle grounds terms doesn't see us forget that we don't have to fulfill any grand Crawfordian dream with what we do. We can do anything from "interactive dance" to "interactive history", and not even have to give it a name, and still be equally artistically justified and bankrupt simultaneously.

    I just feel like we've propped up a target for ourselves, and it's paper thin.

    Just make anything you want. Find your own way... Your own path... through... hnnng... possibility. *gagh*.


    The Need to Want.

    That which follows this is a post made by good friend JeanPaul LeBreton. JeanPaul has been both a mentor and comrade on game design for a good 7 years now, so forgive me if I end up agreeing with everything he says. Our minds often seem somewhat locked into parallel trains of thought. I add my own comments at the end. DO read the linked article first.

      Gnu.org: Studies Find Reward Often No Motivator

      This is an old article. It's cited in the context of the Free Software movement, as a refutation of the arch-capitalist strawman, "but if people don't do things for money, there will be UTTER CHAOS!!!". Interesting enough in that sociological sense. I of course applied it to game design, and it was something of a mini-epiphany.

      The phrase that jumped out to me was "work that involves creativity". Most people probably do not think of videogame playing as "creative". This is partly because few games really recognize or foster creativity, and players who do play creatively in such games are often going well beyond the demands of the game's rules (see: speedrunning, trickjumping, etc) [1] [2]. However, there is more chicken and egg to this than you might think. I think there is a very compelling argument for saying that games to date have not fostered creative/stylish/interesting play precisely because they have tended towards extrinsic rewards, which in turn springs from their desire to "addict" players in consistent and reliable ways, as per the fetishization of "pacing" Aubrey[3] identified recently.

      GTA3 is an example of a game I would say offers many intrinsic rewards. Doing basic stuff in the world is just fun: driving, doing crazy stunts, getting into and escaping from trouble. Indeed, the extrinsic rewards of many actions, eg the money you get from killing people and completing missions, is pretty much an afterthought. It's not the reason you were doing X, X was just fun to do on its own.

      One of the reasons Aubrey and I dislike the trend towards making "unlockable" things a major feature of games is that it turns many things that were previously about intrinsic rewards into extrinsics. You play 60 hours to unlock Waluigi not because the game is fun for 60 hours, but because you get Waluigi.[4]

      Probably the biggest reason MMOs turn me off is that they have such a brazen, rigidly codified extrinsic reward structure, and for most people that is the only reason to play the game. The carrot becomes your entire reason for living, and it's tied into a business model that is designed to keep you pressing on that Skinner Box lever while the cash continues to flow out of your wallet.

      Interestingly, when you hit the level cap in many of these games, the biggest reasons to stick around are the social connections you have built with other players - intrinsic rewards (unless you're a sociopath who views friends as instruments).[5]

      It's almost startling in retrospect how much of my personal design philosophy can be explained by this principle. I am very passionate about expanding game design beyond the (now very established) realm of extrinsic rewards.[6] I think the result will be games that people feel are more entertaining and even enriching, rather than just a way to kill time. To put it another way, it's hard to imagine humankind's enjoyment of Art as anything but a big, profound intrinsic reward. Games will be further down the road to becoming Art when they lose the obsession with being Disneyland rides and graphically intensive slot machines.

    [1] Players who are creative enough to find their own forms of expression within a game must implicitly go beyond merely understanding the game mechanics. That is a base requirement. Expression in games (finding one's own "way" - one's own "style", like Jeet Kun Do) seems only to occur in the emergent strategies thrown up by the core rules. In Deux Ex, placing a Mine is not creative - it has been coded strictly. Equally, jumping is not creative - it has merely been allowed by the developers. But in combination, players have been able to climb sheer surfaces with these two simple actions. That's creativity - not because it was unanticipated (which it happened to be) but because it was at a level of expression higher than the simple use of an existing verb. For many games, this stratosphere of creativity is only met after autistic levels of engagement with the game - typically, video games are quite complex when compared to folk, and board games. There are such a breadth of verbs to learn that the entry level for actual strategic creativity often lies well after total appropriation of a tombs' worth of button combinations and context sensitive verbs. And often, this breadth simply exists to hide the lack of depth present (I do not believe that breath is necessarily inversely proportional to depth - sadly, it often seems the case).

    [2] We are not well versed, on the whole, on the art of creating creative tools. They are difficult to conceptualize, design, and produce, and it is easy (too easy) to dismiss the undesireable emergent strategies as un-forseeable... a product of the magic of game design. I wish that we did focus on this side more - the management without contrivance of our own possibility spaces. I have my own scrappy ideas for methodologies which seem to get me by. They basically come down to this: systems that are complex enough for its results to become percievably random not only to its own designer, but to its player, are pointless. Obviously this is rather subjective, but the point is, while we should not sit on our laurels and make shallow game play out of fear of emergence, we should equally recognize that too much depth can turn dull, too. After all, it could be the overwhelming amount of depth that hinders us from being intentionally creative within our play - if we cannot percieve the full result of our actions easily, we may be frightened to make certain expressions.

    [3] I had posted something earlier on the subject, but took it down for a re-write (still pending).

    [4] I've felt this quite often, and seen friends succum to it too. The technique of well-paced-unlockables doesn't make a game implicitly bad, but it has certainly seen me play more than a few games more than they probably deserved (Need for Speed: Underground, I look in your direction). I'm certainly averse to the idea that this technique "saves" otherwise uncompelling games. They say that you can't polish a turd... but this pavlovian approach makes me think otherwise.

    [5] It's also at this point that the exploration of the breadth of the game (the constant opening of new verbs as you level through your different disceplines) dries up, at which point, you've been exposed to the idea of exploring the depth thrown up by your endless verbs. I witnessed four great friends from my childhood, this weekend, all sit around a table during a wedding celebration, trying to figure out the most efficient barrage of spells to take out a single, incredibly tough enemy. So, my point in [1] stands. With enough saturation in the problem area, you establish an accurate mental model, and start to really be able to riff creatively with the game-qua-musical-instrument.

    [6] I agree (of course!) but can also sympathise with why such games have been successful - or atleast, why mankind has allowed them to be successful. It's the Need to Want. As Jesper Juul pointed out of Sid Meier's fleeting description of games: "Games are a set of interesting and uninteresting choices". Yes, a player's voice has been sadly unheard in most of the games we play, but often, we like to follow paths. We sometimes like to press the correct button. We sometimes like to be told "you did the right thing", rather than "any approach is as good as the next". We also just like extrinsic rewards (at least until their novelty wears off due to too much repetition). But what this article clears up so elegantly is why, even though intrinsic rewards are so much more fulfulling, why so many people put up with extrinsically biased games. Things like Guitar Hero, where we follow the same track every single time, or Half Life, where we try to follow the "Hero's Journey" - both cases punish unsanctioned creativity. But these games seem to work because they are the ones where the extrinsic end is the intrinsic desire. The need to want to sound like Jimmy Hendrix. The need to want to be Gordon Freeman. The Need to Want is built into all of us through evolution. The need to suffer for even an unfulfilling reward still fills us with a sense of worth. It's the reason we build pyramids and climb mountains and fuck each other over for the top spot. It's evolutionary. It's a bit sad, really.

    Up creatively empowering games, I say.


    The Indie Gold Rush

    I'm pleased to see that Microsoft are living up to their pre-release promise of making the XBox360 "your machine" with the new XNA/Creator's Club dealies. For the last year, the console has felt as closed as any other... even more exclusive to developers than platforms that were supposed to be closed - the PSP, for example.

    Opening up any console sees a platform holder walking a narrow line. On the one hand, you'll gain a more avid user base, projects of great imagination undiluted by the mitigating forces of investors/publishers/marketers/crackpots, and utilities that make the console more than just a games console - take the XBox Media Center program, which allowed you to stream just about any type of content off a networked PC, or off the XBox hard drive.

    On the other hand, you're opening up all kinds of legal shenanigans - modifiable content undermining ESRB ratings (good grief), pirated software, hacks, exploits, enabling the piracy of games, music, and films - take the XBox Media Center program, which allowed you to stream just about any type of content (obtained legally or no) off a networked PC, or off the XBox hard drive.

    As Xbox Media Center demonstrates so perfectly, the opening up of a console, while a boon for the consumer, is a legal mine field for the platform holders. When the hardware they've designed so thoroughly to be a legal platform for media (to satisfy professional content creators worried about piracy) is undermined by the hobbyist, they become obliged to do their best to stamp out illegal use - endless PSP patches are a testament. (Tangent: Every PSP game I've bought has had the requirement of an incremental update to the firmware. As a result, my "first play" experience has always been sullied by the process of charging up the PSP so that it has enough juice to safely install, and then the install itself, and then the restart, and the re-entering of clock times and such).

    With this in mind, any move to open up a console should, in my view, be applauded - it takes quite an effort for the platform holder to accept the bad with the good.

    Microsoft are trying to find a happy middle ground between the Explicit Openness, and Bullet-Proof Closed-ness by creating a kind of "containment area" for open developers - the "Creator's Club". Developers who sign on (and pay) for this service will be placed along side peers, and will have a similar level of access to the console's workings as a real developer would (minus a few key areas: distribution and networking being the main two).

    While this is a good step forward, this means that there's never going to be an easy way to distribute new software to average-joe XBox 360 users (which puts a stop to the mass proliferation Media Center equivalent programs (sadface)), but the cream of the crop (the legal crop, that is) may be picked up, polished, and presented to the masses - possibly through the existing online marketplace, or as part of updates in extenuating circumstances. Microsoft become the arbiter of quality and legality. It's not too much to ask, I think, on their own damn console.

    Distribution of these open projects is an interesting matter:

      Q: How exactly can I share my 360 game to other 360 users? Will my game only be available to people with the XNA "Creators Club" subscription? Will it be available to all 360 users that have an XBox Live account?
      A: There is currently no supported way to share binaries on the XBox 360. Currently, there are four requirements that must be met in order to share a game targeting XBox 360 which is developed with XNA Game Studio Express.
      1. The individual you are planning to share the game with must be logged in to XBox Live and have an active subscription to the XNA Creators Club
      2. The receiving user must have downloaded the XNA Framework runtime environment for the XBox 360
      3. The receiving user must have XNA Game Studio Express installed on their own development PC
      4. The game project, including all source and content assets, must be shared with the receiving user. The receiving user then compiles and deploys the game to their XBox 360.

    (Source: XboxScene)

    In other words, distribution for use on the 360 itself implicitly requires you to be open source: forced sharing. This should have a lot of interesting trickle down effects - Microsoft may see interesting techniques and solutions come up in the "Creator's Club", and start pointing professional outfits to them. In the same way, open-spirited indie developers can happily share knowledge between each other, creating a collaborative community spirit. There will inevitably be "leecher" accounts - those that get in on the creator's club to reap the benefits of custom code jobs, but provide little in the way of input. You also open the door to hackers and crackers who will endlessly probe possible flaws in the SDK, looking for a way to gain greater access to the system. Microsoft can also take a fine tooth comb to anything you want to submit as a professional piece of work, making sure that no damaging exploits or illegally gained libraries etc. are built into the code (assuming they can spare the resources to do this).

    Since everything using XNA should implicitly work on the PC, it may be that a game's popularity in the existing PC indie scene is the only thing that gains it MS's attention - a diamond in the rough, lost in all the noise. This grass roots popularity could be the single thing pushing some indie games over into XBLA - (not that popular opinion is always the right way to go).

    Is this a happy compromise between the totally open and the totally closed? Time will tell. To me, it seems like a bubble of chaos: internally free, but ultimately restrained (or as friend Mike Nowak suggests: "Closed Open Source"). It'll be interesting to see what happens when the bubble (almost inevitably) bursts, and development becomes unconstrained. Will we see illegally distributed programs on Joe Gamer accounts? Will MS feel the need to deal with a clean up which actually benefits the consumer? Could they not, in fact, claim that such a clean up is an impossible task, while watching word of mouth spread about hardware sales increase? And in the same way, if a game has to rely on grass roots popularity in the PC sector, won't the pirates have already distributed the game to the masses, rendering an XBLA version (somewhat) redundant?

    These questions come from my paranoid side. I have a countering feeling (from my GUT) that everything's going to be alright. Optimism: If determinism is to be believed, then the lay of the world is the only way the world can be, and thus, is simultaneously the best and worst possibility thrown up by the universe.

    It has been clear for years that the publishers' race for blockbuster revenue (earned by a meager number of titles each year) has by now created a flood plain. Over saturation within genres (and franchise fatigue), increasing budgets (leading to) constrained innovation and burned out workers have created a desire for the polar opposite: sustainable, low budget, innovative crews of indie developers. These crews are springing up to harvest the gaps between the big budget blockbusters. Introversion call themselves "The Last of the Bedroom Coders". Personally, I think it's more a case of "The return of...".

    I believe that we are past the brink of an Indie Gold Rush. I believe that it has already begun. So rejoice! But pay heed my brothers: If history is anything to go by, then it is not the prospector who will win out. Instead, it is man who sells the shovels.

    Then again, regardless of all attempts to funnel them into some kind of neatly structured, harvestable form, indies in all fields thrive in the cracks between identifyable structure. They exist despite a conventional industry, not because of it.

    Let me link Naked War to examplify the Pickford Brothers, who are repeatedly proving this point.