From Babylonians to Boardgames

September 6, 2009

What do the movement of the Earth around the Sun has in common with boardgames like Settlers of Catan? That’s what I found and thought it would be interesting to share.

All this started when I read two following paragraphs talking one about the 360 degrees of a circle and the 365 days of a year the later, I immediately thought that maybe there was a relationship between them and did a little research on the internet.

It turns out that many people say there is a relationship and many more accredited say it’s just a coincidence, but if you read with attention you will notice that it may be a relationship, perhaps not a very direct one, but certainly some type of it.

According to this is all just a coincidence, but as we start to read different sources we can find references to the sexagesimal system developed (or at least used) by the Babylonians and many different theories of how they got to develop it, like in here or here and most interestingly in here, also relating all this to why we have 24 hours in a day and 60 minutes in an hour and 60 seconds in a minute.

All these has several sources backing it up and is widely accepted, but the relationship exists, and let me tell you why: Is not from the Earth movement around the Sun but the other way around, it’s from having a circle divided into 360 pieces and the proximity of that number with the 365+ days of the year. In ancient times is very common to find calendars of 360 days divided into 12 months of 30 days. Knowing ancient cultures and more noticeably the Greeks we know that they have the circle and the sphere as the “perfect” shapes, and combining it with the idea of beginning and end joining at the same point, is not hard to relate that shape with the recording of Time.

And when we look at how astronomers believed the cosmos was shaped, besides believing the Earth was in the center, all of them, until Kepler found the truth, thought that the planets moved in “perfect” circles, and the days are just how many times the Earth rotate on its own axis while traveling around the Sun, a travel that takes a little bit more than 360 of these rotations.

But the paper that impressed me the most was this one which makes a geometric relation between a circle and an hexagon, and from there is that we can relate it with boardgames like Settlers of Catan, as this type of games uses the properties of the hexagon in deciding player movements, because contrary to a square board any hexagon in which you are is at the same distance of any other one in the board no matter the road you choose.

It’s very interesting how, from ancient times and still in today’s world, we are still influenced and ruled by mathematical and astronomical notions even in the smaller things. Perhaps it will amaze you even more if you try to pay attention to little things of every day life like this. As for me, I think I’m going to start ordering my pizzas in 6 or 12 slices instead of 8, you know, for diet’s sake 😉


Digital Gaming and Simulation

March 28, 2009

I was almost resigned to have to move or go online to been able to study a Game Development Course here in Houston, until yesterday I found this: The Digital Gaming and Simulation Department on HCC Southwest.

The paths on the HCC degrees usually have a lot of Core Curriculum classes, but this is not the case, almost 90% of the classes are games focused and that is something that makes this course a good choice for those willing to step into the Games industry and not waste your time taking miscellaneous classes.

Now, let me note that everyone tells you that to succeed on the Video Game industry you should have a wide range of interests and studies, and I encourage you to do so, but in only two years you can get a degree on video games, and you have spent that time only focused on producing and delivering games, not only grades.

I can see this course in my future very clear, let’s just hope everything goes as expected.

Ten Tips to be a Game Designer

March 21, 2009

Yesterday I came across this article on Game Career Guide website about the ten things you should be doing or practicing to become a Game Designer and I couldn’t resist the temptation to see what I’ve already done and what is remaining in my path to become one. So let’s start with it.

1. Write a game design document: No, I haven’t done this yet and is probably the first one I should do on the list, although I’m still writing the story for the Graphic Adventure Game I have in mind, maybe I could merge those two.

2. Build a 3D level: No, haven’t done it, and I’m guessing it will be a really time consuming task, for now I’m going to push it back a little more.

3. Write a game script: The article means coding in this case and I can say I did this, so is one Yes on the list. Check.

4. Make a game, or a mod: Done it, another yes, whohoo!

5. Learn to mock things up in flash: Hmmm, this is a difficult one, I used to do thing in flash a while ago, but I’m using other things now like GameMaker, but I think it will count as a yes. Check.

6. Be an enabler: Well, I guess other people should be more qualified to say this about me, but all in all I think I belong to this kind of people.

7. Dissect games and their mechanics, even bad ones: Oh yes, I do this a lot, maybe I don’t put it in writing, which I should be doing in some degree, but this is another Yes.

8. Build an online portfolio: In the process, in the process. Check.

9. Work on your communication skills: Well, this blog is just that so I can say I’m doing it, also with other several activities I’m doing like going to College and posting on other English and Spanish blogs as well.

10. Learn something new every day: Hell Yeah! And I encourage anyone to do the same no matter what are you doing or your dreams are.

Result: 2 No’s and 8 Yes’

Hey, not that bad eh!? Well I guess I should be focusing my efforts on writing a GDD and doing some 3D stuff to have it all, not to worry really, but fun stuff to do anyway.

T-Minus: Comic about the Space Race

February 20, 2009

I read this story today and got exited about it. It’s a graphic novel about the US/URSS Space Race in the ’60 but focused on the scientists! At last someone put the view on those that makes everything possible.

And the thing that the author’s motivation is to show and encourage people that you can be part of this without being an astronaut is the best part. Indeed, of course you need to study a lot and really hard to get there, but YOU CAN.

Just yesterday I read an article saying that NASA is supporting the development of an MMO Game about Moon exploration. NASA and Video Games together, I don’t need to tell you that is the Dream job for me and a lot of other people, and something I thought we would have to wait several years to see it happen. And you know what? Is happening right now.

The author of T-Minus mentioned that we have lost that excitement about going to space and the Moon and that he is trying to get that again with this book, but I think that excitement is coming back already. Just the idea of having plans to return to the Moon, and even going to Mars on the schedule, only that should weak up a dead.

I just hope to be alive the day we’re back to the moon and the day we launch the first manned spacecraft to Mars.

No Action Jackson

January 25, 2009

Surfing games websites trying to find an Adventure game to play I met “No Action Jackson“, this game has the same atmosphere than DOTT, a game that I loved to play back in the ’90. Not only has the same kind of humor and graphics but you can see little jokes and reminiscences all over the game what makes it better. The only bad news is that it was kind of abandoned and not finished and has many bugs, but you still can play it and the quality is fairly high. It’s made using Adventure Game Studio which I recommend if you just want to spend time developing the story and not programming yet another engine.

These are the links to get it: TIGdb, AGS Page.

And talking about reminiscences and indie games evoking the classics here is one that is still in process but that looks like is going to be a big hit when it get released, and I’m proud to say that comes from Argentina. The name of the project is Monkey Island Zero, they’re also using AGS as the engine and trying to tell the story before Monkey Island 1. The best of luck for these guys and hope to play the game soon.

Chairs on Conference Rooms are better than the ones on the cubes

December 2, 2008

And why is that? Just the same reason as why employees needs to wear like presidents while working on a cube where no one sees them. The same reason as why a person is better or knows more just because the way it looks.

Aghh, I hate that! If I go into an IT company and see the personnel wearing ties then I know for sure that they are not good enough that needs to look like that to sell. If you are good, you don’t need that, at least you shouldn’t but the same people that believes that you need that is the people that can give you money.

I think that is changing slowly but still we have a looooooong way to go. Look at the big companies, like Google or Apple, their employees wear like college people and they are the leaders, so why is so hard to believe that the wear don’t make you good? Why?

I really hope that changes, I really do, I hate to wear like someone I’m not.

Minesweeper: The Movie

November 20, 2008

Yeah, I got lazy today so I’m posting a video, this is a really good and funny video about the game Minesweeper, I watched it a time ago but still remember it so here it goes, enjoy!