Anonymous Public USB Dead Drops

“You Can’t Tell Your USB from a Hole in the Wall.”

Aram Bartholl is mortaring USB drives into walls, curbs, and buildings around New York. These dead drops, as he terms them, are peer-to-peer file transfer points with true anonymity.

… The furtiveness of squeezing your laptop or mobile against a wall is rather intimate — these may be dead drops, but they’re also data glory holes.

Glenn Fleishman @ Boing Boing

See also comments @ Slashdot.

Dead drops: “A location used to secretly pass items between two people, without requiring them to meet.” — Wikipedia

This could be useful in a multiplayer game: two players who are secretly allies use a dead drop to exchange in-game data (maps, passcodes, virtual items, in-game points, etc.). Other players try to figure out where the dead drops are located, and who is using them.

For example, in Team Fortress, Engineers would build the dead drops, and Spies would use them.

I’m guessing something like this has already been done in one or more games. If you know of any such games, please leave a comment.

Get Lamp

“Digital historian Jason Scott has an eclectic portfolio. At, he collects files and related materials from the era of dial-up bulletin-board systems. That work led him to create BBS: The Documentary, an eight-episode miniseries about the early history of online culture. His second documentary, Get LampGet Lampexamines text adventure games through interviews with developers, designers and players.”

— Computerworld

From an interview with Jason Scott:

Computerworld: Text adventures are no longer a financially viable form of entertainment. What caused them to fade into history?

Jason Scott: The idea of exploring a world, trying to figure out the meaning of that world, pull out answers from it and solve a quest was readily taken over by graphic adventures. These companies didn’t ask how they could improve text adventures, so they lost money and got bought out.


Via BoingBoing.

I played text adventures, back in the day … I have fond memories of Zork.


“Javascript- and browser-based games offer a very low barrier of entry.”
— Zach Johnson

Indie-game developer Zach Johnson is the author of Infiltration:

Infiltration was built in response to blog Boing Boing’s call for games to be developed that were inspired by “chip music”. Most likely very familiar to gamer cycles but not far beyond, chip music is inspired by early video game soundtracks. Think Asteroids, Pac Man and a host of Nintendo games. Grab a Casio keyboard and hang on …

Johnson, a fan of this unique musical genre, has spent more than his fair share of time listening to chip music and envisioning the game activity that it might accompany. A User Experience developer at Worrell, he says, “Video games contributed to shaping my entire career in computers.” It was clearly a natural for him to develop a chip-music-inspired game.

Indie-game-developer game designs tend to be very simplistic, with an almost nostalgic look and feel. “Part of the design is a nod to the old-school music, but it’s probably more about the amount of time and money indie game developers have to spend on the games.” He goes on to note, “It took nine people a year to write Pac Man; I wrote this in about 30 hours.”

Johnson also saw an opportunity to advance his passion for open programming. “I wanted to make a game that didn’t need a plug-in.” Hence the use of Javascript, allowing the ability to play the game directly from your browser. ” Javascript- and browser-based games offer a very low barrier of entry,” notes Johnson.

Phil Wilson @

Students Making Games Out of Math, Science

University students in Guelph, Ontario will be showcasing their original games based on math and science:

University of Guelph engineering students have designed games for children and teenagers aimed at making math and science fun.

Area students will be able to test out 65 new games at the Guelph Civic Museum Oct. 18-29 [2010]. More than 300 students from Guelph elementary and high schools have signed up to visit the game displays. Members of the public are welcome to drop in, particularly Oct. 23 and 24.

The game design project is part of a first-year engineering design course on campus.

“This is the first year we have done this, and I am very impressed with the games that have been designed,” said engineering professor Khosrow Farahbakhsh, who teaches the course along with engineering professor David Lubitz. “The students all came up with original ideas.”

The only rule: no videogames. Most are board games, card games or another hands-on activity. Math and science components match curriculum levels between Grades 1 and 10.

“We chose children’s games because designing games is a sophisticated process that incorporates all aspects of design from sketching the design and building the toy to writing the game instructions and creating the box the toy comes in,” said Farahbakhsh. “Plus, games are something that all the students are familiar with.”

Canada Views

The Path

The PathThis looks interesting:

“There is a single rule in the game, but it needs to be broken. There is a goal in the game, but when you reach it you die ….”

Frankfurt, Germany, 15 October 2010

During a glitzy ceremony at the Congress Center in Frankfurt, Belgian independent games developer Tale of Tales were awarded the Advancement Prize for Innovative Game Design by the European Innovative Games Award 2010 for their moody and mysterious Red Ridinghood-inspired exploration game The Path.

The Path turns game design conventions upside down. There is a single rule in the game, but it needs to be broken. There is a goal in the game, but when you reach it you die. There are many objects to be found in the large open environment of the game, but you need to let go of the avatar to interact. There’s 144 flowers that can be collected but no reward for doing so. And in the last part of the game, you can only move forward or stop. There are no options, no “meaningful choices”.


The Path story:

The Path trailer:

The Path main website:

Risk in MMO Design

Wolfshead recently published a thoughtful and extensive essay Risk: Mountain Rouletteabout risk, skill, and related topics in game design. Here’s an excerpt:

For risk to be leveraged effectively as an element of game design, there has to be some way for the player to mitigate that risk or risk becomes an arbitrary punishment. The way to do this is to ensure that your game requires skill on the part of your players. Without the requirement for skill all you have left is a game of chance where luck or a random number generator determines the outcome — not the abilities and choices of the player.

The art of game design is knowing how to calibrate the perfect balance between risk and reward to create adequate challenges that entice players to improve their skills.

Wolfshead @ Wolfshead Online

Brian Green adds this insightful comment:

I think [catLink slug=’bartle-richard’ text=”Richard Bartle”] said it best in that this issue is like the eternal struggle to get children to eat vegetables instead of candy. There are things that are good in the short term (candy, easy gameplay) and things that are good in the long term (vegetables, a sense of wonder). As adults, we understand that it’s important to eat vegetables to maintain our health, but kids would eat candy until it nearly killed them if they could.

The struggle is to convince players that they should seek out things that are good in the long term. However, this is about as easy as convincing kids that eating vegetables is the best option. The worst option, as Bartle quipped, is to try to serve candy-coated vegetables.

Consider children playing peek-a-boo: we want to be scared (but not too scared!), and then reassured that everything is okay.

“Sims” Creator To Debut Crowd-Sourced, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure TV Show

Will Wright, creator of The Sims, Sim City and Spore will be co-producing a new program on CurrentTV called “Bar Karma” —
Will Wright: Bar Karma: CurrentTV

Will Wright’s new TV venture makes producers out of the audience

Anchored by technology that Wright has developed exclusively for Current TV, the series, tentatively titled Bar Karma, will enlist viewers to join an online global community at a special web destination entitled, “Current TV’s Creation Studios.” At this virtual television studio, users will participate in the development of all creative and technical aspects of production and communicate directly with the producers of the show.

Evan Narcisse @ IFC

Further evidence of what I have been saying for years: computers, games, movies, and television will merge into a new hybrid technologies involving large numbers of people, around the clock and around the world.

Learn Game Design By Playing With Legos

Minotaurus: Lego game design tool

Minotaurus: Lego game design toolZen Albatross writes:

My colleague and former classmate Graham shared with me this customizable Lego board game as a means to familiarize oneself with the basics of game mechanics:

The game is 2-4 players. Each player has to navigate 3 pieces from the outside of the board to the center. A custom die decides a player’s action. Each turn a player either moves their pieces, a wall on the board or the “minotaur”. If the minotaur touches a player’s piece the piece is returned to the beginning. The board is shaped like a maze. When a player moves a wall it can dramatically change the layout of the board.

MinotaurusWithin the first round of playing I started to imagine all the different rules that could make the game more engaging and fun. There were already some weak points in the game’s mechanics so obviously those need to be addressed first. One problem showed me that the designers didn’t play the game themselves as much as they should have. For example there were too many walls that could be movable that resulted in a bit of chaos in the level design as the game progressed. Limiting the amount of walls could fix this.

Zen Albatross @

Minotaur — I like it.

This is a creative reminder that tools are all around us, waiting to be used — we need only awaken to the possibilities.

Lessons in Building Information Modeling Adoption

“The whole process becoming like a video game design with everyone together working around one work space for a true collaborative effort.”
Building Information Modelling

This article about Building Information Modeling (BIM) has interesting implications for game design:

For Scott Simpson, FAIA, LEED AP, senior director of architectural firm Kling-Stubbins, BIM is not a way of business; it is the way of business.

[BIM] includes visualization, simulation, coordination of the documents and quantification of what’s inside the building.

With BIM, “we can show the 3-D implications of the design decisions-the colors, the surfaces, the materials, the light … we can simulate how the acoustics will perform … how much things will cost, how they will look, feel behave, etc.,” said Simpson. “This is an incredibly powerful tool for us to make our clients true partners in the design process. I am a big believer that the more brainpower you get involved in the design process the better it’s going to be.”

… Simpson also shared some of what he views as “the brave new world of BIM.” This includes seeing every project [industry wide] being done on BIM; the whole process becoming like a video game design with everyone together working around one work space for a true collaborative effort; all documentation being done in 3-D and 4-D formats; all projects being done in a year or less; a world with no change orders.

USGlass News Network

See also Building Information Modelling @ Wikipedia

Speaking as a guy who has to deal with change orders (in software development, not building management, but the same complaint applies), I can assure you that “a world with no change orders” sounds good to me.