Well, here we are folks: Mid-August. Summer's wrapping up so let's dive headlong into some cool articles that our team has been reading in this season of extended daylight and broken-down subway cars.
Our featured article comes from a blog titled "Programming in the Twenty-First Century" written by James Hague. Hauge looks at what he jokingly refers to as the "growing literary genre" of "Wrote an [app] and it didn't make any money." Which is true or true enough for most programmers, especially independent ones or those working for small, local businesses trying to get their foot in the door of digital distribution. Hague, however, has no comforting words for those developers, nor is he quick to blame app-hungry consumers spoiled on a cheap apps from big, profit-heavy development houses that can afford to eat their initial losses.
Instead, Hague lays the blame of an app's failure strictly on its creator. More succinctly, Hague's argument is "You've created an app--so what?". But Hague's argument can be blown out and applied to any creative endeavor: writing, music, art, dancing, whatever. Point is, most creators fail in one of two very basic ways: conception or execution. Obviously those projects that are hastily conceived usually fail to make it off of the cocktail napkin. For those projects that make it to design and define or beyond, execution is literally everything.
Well, maybe it's not everything, but it's a large part of everything. Consumer tastes will change and people's whims will come and go. Not everything will remain in the designer/developer's control. Hague wants developers to approach app creation as craft, much like other artists would their art. Apps should look good and be fun to play or easy to use. Developers need to engage with their prospective audience and really have a firm understanding of what works and what people expect. Only after they've put in that work, and only then, can they complain that the system is stacked against them. Until then, there's no one to blame but yourself when you only sell a hundred copies of your "Angry Birds" knock-off.
Kids. When they want something, they really want something. And there's really only two ways that scenario can end: they beg you for it until you're ready to scream (or acquiesce) OR they go on ahead and use the tools at their disposal to make low-tech versions of the gadgets and toys their little, still-developing hearts desire. "Little Techie" is a Tumblr run by Summer Allen who documents all of the paper and LEGO creations of his son London. And here's the thing about London: he LOVES Mac gadgets. So much so that he's constantly building, creating and reinventing his dad's devices. Check out the pictures behind the link.
Time to toot our own horn! Entertainment Weekly has named its thirty favorite celebrity appearances. And while Tina Fey and Will Arnett (who appeared as a magician, ha ha. We love Arrested Development humor) stole the top two spots, Oprah Winfrey's The O Network skit made it to spot #4! The animation was developed by FableVision Studios and features the letter O -- voiced by Oprah herself --hosting her own O-themed talk show. In typical Sesame Street fashion, the skit is equal parts silly and educational, with just a hint of pop culture satire. It's a project that we couldn't have been happier to be a part of and are still very proud of. Watch the full animation below.
So you want to become a video game designer? Well it's going to take more than just playing a lot of video games. In fact, even if you know how to program and can do so competently, it's still going to take more. Knowing how is important, but having some evidence that you can and have is just as important. Which is why the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute set up a program at Becker College in Worcester, MA to facilitate just that kind of experience. The program invites students from across Massachusetts to design and develop their own game on a tight schedule. At the end of the program the students get to present their projects and network with The Tap Lab, a local Cambridge game company. It's a great way to help students cement their growing skill sets while giving them real-world experience they can use for resume building.
Tearaway is a new game coming out for the PlayStation Vita (successor to Sony's PlayStation Portable game system). Tearaway looks like it will take advantage of all of the ways a user can interact with the game via the game system. Users can tap, turn, shake, scream and blow at or on the system to effect in-game changes. It's a cool way to modify how people play games. Game systems just sit on a shelf while we hold a controller on the other side of the room. Even handheld systems require a limited amount of interaction. However, it looks like the developers are using every feature of the handheld to their advantage. While we're not ready to shell out the money for a handheld gaming system, we love the idea and would be totally cool with you lending us your PS Vita to play it.