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Jul 26 / Mike

Journalists on Journalists on Journalists

I’ve noticed lately, both on Twitter and the place-where-blogs-exist, that there’s a bubbling-up of “How I Got Where I Am” posts from some games journalists. They offer general advice to budding writers, and a little bit of anecdotal flavour. Before I go on any further, I should stress I am not a freelance games journalist. I might’ve considered myself one a year ago, but that ship has drifted away slightly. Despite that, I’ve written for a bunch of places and taken on a bunch of informal games writing jobs. I’ve also come to the conclusion that to be a games writer, you do not actually need to follow the advice of, or have a life story similar to, 90% of existing games journalists. What follows is what, as a reader now, I would rather you did than follow the advice of others.

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Jul 16 / Mike

The Saturday Paper – Avoid Missing Ball For High Score

Computer learns language by playing games” is the MIT headline that you probably saw sometime this week. Some plucky MIT researchers have taken ‘RTFM’ to heart and made a Civilisation-playing AI better at the game by giving it the ability to learn from the manual! “So what?” might be your first response to that. Actually, “lol skynet” might be your first response, but I’d wager “So what?” would come a close second. Before you go back to skipping tutorials and ignoring those little loading screen hints, though, let’s dip our toes into this research paper and see how this work might change the way games are explained not just to machines, but to humans too.

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Jul 7 / Mike

ANGELINA Progress And More

It feels like I’ve been doing too much writing lately, and not enough coding. Nevertheless, here’s the fruits of those labours:

  • There’s a paper in this year’s Computational Intelligence in Games conference with my name on it. Hooray! I’ll put up a copy of the paper as soon as it’s feasible, but for more info on the project in general, head over to ANGELINA’s site (where you can also play games the system designed).
  • I’m officially a PhD student now, pending a few changes to my transfer report, which you can grab an in-progress draft of here if you’re interested.

In the meanwhile, Dungeonesque is wobbling as I keep shuffling between it and another game design. Without solid days to work on it, I tend to flick between the ideas a lot, which is slowing me down. A shame indeed! I’ll post more on the game should I get closer to a playable demo.

Jun 9 / Mike

Dungeonesque and Other Games

In the months since an update last occurred, I’ve been working on ANGELINA, a system for automatically designing games using AI techniques! You can check it out on its site here and play some of the games made with it.

I’m also working on a game in my spare time as a pet project. It’s called Dungeonesque and it looks a bit like this:

It’s not particularly playable yet but I’ll be putting some details up on here before then with info on how it works and why it’s fun.

Jan 24 / Mike

A Thousand Blank White Pixels

TIGSource.com are running one of their development competitions again – the last was the superb Assemblee which gave rise to one of the best repositories of free art and music resources I’ve ever seen, as well as a bunch of great games. This one’s theme is Versus, where games are designed for players to go head-to-head, and this time I felt ready enough to take part. So here we are.

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Sep 30 / Mike

The Good, The Bad and The Mechanical

I’ve been having a lot of arguments about AI this week. With Civ V now completely taking over my Steam Friends list, and the latest F1 game making headlines for having ghost racers on its tracks, a lot of gamers have been breaking out that most cherished of soapboxes – why is game AI so terrible? Which rather misses the underlying question – why is game AI blamed for everything nowadays?

Good question.

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Sep 3 / Mike

MetaMetaCritic

Introduction

As we saw previously, gamers seem to like expressing their opinion, particularly when it goes against the perceived grain. But how reliable are these opinions, particularly when taken en-masse as they are in many websites? And if we have access to such a wealth of user scores, do we need games journalists at all?

In this post, we take a look at review scores taken off a popular review aggregator, and perform some simple mathematical analysis on them. We talk about the conclusions, what they might mean about user reviews in general, and why I might be wrong after all. More below.

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Aug 16 / Mike

Writes Like A…

Whilst I love Eurogamer, the site’s just too cluttered for me to read on a regular basis. Whenever I do go over there for a review or otherwise, it’s always the comment threads that leave me most entertained. My favourite kind of comment is one that seems more prevalent at EG than anywhere else.

“Good review. Reads like a 7 though.”

So I went to find just how prevalent these things are. Cue small amount of programming…

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Jun 28 / Mike

Greatly Exaggerated

Hey folks. I’m moving house this week, and Virgin Media have decided to keep my internet away for a further week after that. Tune in again soon!

Jun 20 / Mike

Non-Player Characters II – Azalea Raad

This is the second in a series of interviews with people who have more interesting relationships with gaming than just love or hatred. Last week I spoke to Nick Mailer, and we talked about how he found it hard to play games as they grew older and more narcissistic. Nick had some interesting things to say about how gamers rely less and less on their imaginations as technology marches forward – click here to take a look at what he said.

This week I talk to Azalea Raad, a graduating student of Computing from Imperial College, London. She’s experienced gaming from a young age and in many different forms, but chiefly only when playing with others. Unfortunately, gaming parted ways with her many years back, and it’s not been easy reuniting herself with it in the time since. We talk about why she did play, why she doesn’t now, and why she might in the future.

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