On the way to Daikokuya, my favorite ramen place in the United States - sorry Ippudo, I ran across a father and daughter trying to solve this Rubik's Cube inspired art installation piece in Los Angeles' Japantown. You could spin it on its axis and rotate the top two layers as you see the father doing. The strange part was that it seemed like you could only solve one side at a time. When you would complete a side to create a complete face, all of the other sides look garbled. Maybe the artist was trying to make some kind of statement?
This is what guarana looks like when it's growing from a bar code. I had never heard of this plant until this last weekend. M. Butterfly ordered a "Brazilian soda" out of curiousity. Not only was it tasty, but it had great product design!
Turning a commercial function of the can into a novel and fun design made me smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside. Attention to small details like this stand out especially when you are not expecting them.
This is what the main can looks like. Supposedly this is the rage down south, and I don't mean the Dirty South. It's highly caffeinated. So I was only able to have a little of it. Beware if you are sensitive to caffeine.
Going to the SFMOMA is always a fun and amazing experience for me. Being back in San Francisco for the holidays, I felt drawn to drop in even though I had not checked out what was exhibiting. I was most impressed by a work done by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer entitled Frequency and Volume.
It's an engaging installation that tunes into radio frequencies based off the length of your shadow. It's really hard to describe, and it something that is better experienced. Relating to a radio frequency through my shadow was an exercise in abstraction. Moreover the piece was constructed to challenge the rights of pirate radio during a tenuous time in Mexico.
If you are in the Bay area, don't sleep and make your way out to check this out. Maybe Kinect developers can get some inspiration from this piece.
Watching waves of ones and zeros
Crash against the surf of snowy fields
The black ether holds no warmth
I sit waiting your cold judgement
Calculating and unforgiving I must submit
Abortions are the cost of my folly
Precision in your world order
Guides me to the only hope I have
To find the lusty dreams I seek
This is not a full length game. But how sweet would it be if it was?!? For a bite sized dosage of delicious art style and clever puzzles, check it out. Thanks Kynan for pointing this gem out.
Make it a night out in Japantown of San Francisco this coming March 9th.
Come out and engage in an evening of creative dialogue with myself and brethren game makers, Jenova Chen and Suyin Looui. We will be discussing our works and brainstorming with you - the audience - on game ideas at The Play Salon. Come ready to jam!
The salon is part of this year's San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF). Follow the link below for more details. Come one come all!
The Play Salon
March 9, 2012 7:00 pm
SuperFrog Gallery 1746 Post St (at Webster), San Francisco
I recently made my way over to the SFMOMA with a fellow game designer friend to geek out over Dieter Rams' works. It was inspiring to see his designs that he produced anywhere from up to 50 years ago still stand the test of time. His style is one of less is more. Yet what little he did focus on was elegant but purposeful.
One of my favorite pieces that I saw was his loudspeaker design. Being a fan of music equipment and a recreational musician, I wished that I could afford to buy this wondrous speaker.
There was a familiarity to the shape and lines of this speaker while I admired it. My friend chimed in as he noticed me gawking at it. He mentioned that Apple has referenced Rams' works as a source of inspiration to their own products. That's when he dropped the knowledge on me that the speaker looked like a current iMac. I nodded my head in agreement as Rams' influence over current industrial design sunk in even further.
The exhibit is coming to a close on February 20th sadly. So if you haven't already, make your way over to view some of the cleanest and innovative industrial design.
One great thing that freelancing has provided me the opportunity to do is to explore contributing to different projects. It's a sticky issue working on staff at a studio and diving into other game projects due to possible corporate conflict of interest. Now that I'm a free agent, I can more easily juggle various projects. I still make sure that I am not treading into areas that could create conflicts of interest. However I feel that I have true creative freedom now.
It's creatively liberating to have the space and freedom to pursue different projects when I want. It was a bit daunting during the initial phase of my venture into freelancing. I felt like I had been conditioned to operate in a certain way for a very long time. Focus and work on one project for 1-3 years and that's it. Now that I wasn't under those constraints any longer, I felt a bit lost since I didn't have that narrow focus to guide me. Freedom is something I think that we all wish for, but sometimes when you have it you don't know what to do with it.
One project that I have become involved with is The Last Sleeper. My involvement started with a friend of mine connecting me with The Deacon. Starting from a simple Skype call, we just started creatively flowing. He pitched me what he was imagining. I was excited about it and responded with complimentary ideas and designs. Since then things have evolved organically and in a way that is unique to the project. I am enjoying contributing to the project in a way that is different from a typical staff position experience.
Moments like these reassure me that creatively wandering and exploring the vast landscape of video games is a reward in itself. I feel fortunate that I have been able to create space for myself to do so.
Back in the day when vinyl was more commonly associated with music rather than clothes, I remember the countless hours of flipping through stacks of music records looking for surprise gems. Sometimes they would be stuck between pop hits. Other times they would be sitting on top of record stacks in plain sight. Occasionally they would be showcased on the staff recommendation racks. However they found their way into my hands, when I donned the headphones and the needle hit the groove of the record it was a magical moment of head nodding discovery.
That is the moment of discovery I also search for in video games. To find games unbeknownst to me that capture my imagination and bring a smile to my face. These are the games that aren't household names but deserve your attention.
This is the beginning of an ongoing series. I will highlight games that I stumble across that may not be on MetaCritic or be the featured App in the iTunes Store. These are the sleepers that light up the rest of the gaming landscape and provide creative inspiration to all of us in small and big ways.
Michael loves making games almost as much as he does playing them. He has worked on numerous hit titles and is currently traveling the world to help fight crime and champion clean design practices.