Homo ludens @Gamescom 2010

As i am currently in Cologne working for a client I used the chance to visit this year’s Gamescom 2010, the german CVG (that’s “Computer and Video Games”) expo formerly known as Games Convention. The former GC was held in Leipzig but the powers to be in the CVG business decided to move to the more central location of Cologne. Pity for Leipzig but in this case lucky for me.

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Staging area at the entrance. Might be confused with a LARP (Live Action Role Playing) Zergling rush.

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Nowadays one can inform themselves about most things on the web. The thing you cannot learn from online media or trailers are new hardware experiences like the recent motion controls by Sony and Microsoft. They finally seem to catch up with Nintendos’ innovativeness. Sony is more the me-too product almost identically copying the Wii controller including the “Nunchuck” side-kick controller for the left hand.

Here folks are being photographed. The photographer also took some pictures of me while I played, I wonder where they will show up (if they do at all).

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It seems that most of the early games they showed had either some kind of dancing or some kind of fighting topic. Here is an example of the swords play variant:

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Microsofts’ Kinect motion controls work without any physical hand held controller. The players are tracked via a camera array. While at Sonys’ booth I was wondering if someone standing by will accidentally be punched Microsoft had separate booths for each demo station.
I remember reading about some people throwing their Wiiimotes into their TV sets when the Wii was new. This made Nintendo send wrist straps and soft silicone sleeves to all customers.

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Microsofts’ booth was located directly next to Nintendos’.

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Nintendo brought most of their trademark IP to the show. They had a new Zelda game, Metroid: Other M and a new Kirby game amongst others.

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They were showing the new Zelda game. There were some cosplayers at the fair. They young lady in the picture was not on Nintendos payroll but a regular visitor. In case one wonders as who she dressed I took a convenient picture for your leisure:

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For basically all of the big name titles there were lines of some length. For the Zelda game the line went around the corner twice:

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Football (the one you actually play with your feet, not the other one) is huuuge over here. Konami was showing PES 2011 and had huuuge Lionel Messi posters up. The photo puts size into an interesting perspective. He seems to be looking down on us. He wouldn’t do that, would he?

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At the Deep Silver booth you could play the new F1 game which is now being developed by Codemasters. They had a really nice setup for the demo.

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In comparison this farming simulation is rather a niche game:

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New magazine “Return” brings back some memories. I did even have the same Competition Pro joystick for the C64.

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Saving the best (at least for me one of the best) for last, Portal 2. The first Portal game was pretty short but definitely an intelligently made experience. Liked both the concept and the story telling. They made a nice short story from the lab setting. Are you still there…?

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But you already learned about cake, didn’t you? It’s a lie! Please await the party escort.

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FacingWords: Merkel 2009 vs 2010

FacingWords - Neujahrsansprache Merkel 2009 | 2010

To show an example in a language other than English for the FacingWords processing sketch I used it to compare the 2009 new year’s speech from German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel to her 2010 speech.

The vertical position of the words shows their weighted occurrence relative to the beginning (top) and end (bottom) of the texts.
The horizontal position shows the relative word weight between the texts. That is the number of occurrences in the left text as opposed to the number in the right text.
Words that appear at either left or right margin are used exclusively in the respective text.
Words horizontal positioned in the middle are (more or less) equally used in both texts.
In the first picture one can see a concentration of words in the middle. From this it appears that both texts are using a relatively high proportion of shared words. This could mean that both texts are centered on similar concepts.
Pressing ‘s’ in the sketch switches to scratch mode where only the word representations close to the mouse pointer are shown.
The central cluster is highlighted in the following image by this way:

FacingWords - Neujahrsansprache Merkel 2009 | 2010

Using the number keys 1-9 will only render the 10-90% most often used words. Pressing ‘0’ will show all words again.
This image shows only the top 50% of words used in both texts:

FacingWords - Neujahrsansprache Merkel 2009 | 2010

Further reducing the detail to the 10% most used words shows that both ‘we’ (=’wir’) and ‘I’ (=’ich’) are among the most commonly used words.
Hovering over a word with the mouse will highlight the word and its connections to the anchor positions in the texts (red in this case). At the same time the number of the word’s occurrences in both texts are displayed. The word ‘ich’ (=’I’) is used 11 times in the left text and 9 times in the right text for a total of 20 times.

FacingWords - Neujahrsansprache Merkel 2009 | 2010

In comparison the word ‘wir’ (=’we’) is used 35 times in the left text and 21 times in the right text, 56 times in total.
This shows that ‘we’ is preferred over ‘I’ in both speeches.

FacingWords - Neujahrsansprache Merkel 2009 | 2010

The sketch processes the input texts against a stop list of words to be filtered out. This is done to weed out articles, commonly used pronouns or words that are to be excluded from the text analysis. In this case for my casual analysis ‘we’ and ‘I’ were not in the stop list to have a look at how they are used. For another analysis this could be changed.

FacingWords - Neujahrsansprache Merkel 2009 | 2010

Clicking on one or more words toggles them to be highlighted. Pressing ‘a’ for analysis mode reduces the display to the highlighted words.

FacingWords - Neujahrsansprache Merkel 2009 | 2010

Mousing over the word anchors in the left and right margin areas displays the context of the word at this anchor point.
Pressing ‘+’ or ‘-‘ increases or decreases the amount of context shown to make it easier to study the context in which the word is used.

FacingWords - Neujahrsansprache Merkel 2009 | 2010

in this example the usage of the words ‘Deutschland’ (=’Germany’) and ‘Freiheit’ (=’Freedom’) is analyzed. From this short analysis it appears that the term ‘Freiheit’ is used in conjunction with the German reunion in the year 1990.

FacingWords - Neujahrsansprache Merkel 2009 | 2010

Pressing ‘a’ again will return to the previous display with the 10-100% most often used words shown, depending on the previous setting.

Pressing ‘r’ at any time resets the display to normal mode with all words shown (100%) and no words highlighted.

FacingWords - Neujahrsansprache Merkel 2009 | 2010

The images were made using the respective Processing method to save a PNG file. In the sketch this is done pressing ‘i’ at any time.
In addition a movie of the on-screen action can be taken pressing the ‘m’ key which will toggle movie mode on and off.

Service Research Call for Papers

SY SEB2 / Rostocker

The Department of Business Administration at the University of Rostock issued a Call for Papers for their 2nd Rostock Conference on Service Research. Interested parties and individuals can submit their contribution either as a full paper or an extended abstract (500 words max.), either in English or German before March 1, 2010.

The conference will be held in Rostock between September 23 and 24, 2010. Further information is available at the Rostock Conference on Service Research website.

Pop Life Hamburg

After starting at London Modern Tate the Pop Life exhibition is being shown at Hamburg Kunsthalle from Feb. 12 through May 9 2010.

As word has it the exhibits range from gaudy over saucy up to raunchy.

You can find more information at Hamburger Kunsthalle and some news reporting at Spiegel Online and even FTD.

Need to go and visit! For starters Flickr has some creative commons licensed imagery to take a peak at the work of featured artist Takashi Murakami.

Photo of his sculpture “Hiropon” (1997) from the London Modern Tate exhibition by Jim Linwood:
Magical Princess Sculpture, Pop Life Exhibition, Tate Modern, London.

Takashi Murakami’s works look like cartoons or anime where something just went utterly wrong or maybe shows some ‘after dark’ scenery where the figures behave quite differently from one would expect.

He is quite successful and among other works he supplied the visual art for some records/videos from Kanye West as evidenced in this photo from Jim Linwood:
Kanye Bear, Pop Life Exhibition, Tate Modern, London.

This looks like Teletubbies’ nightmare, photo by Stefan Andrej Shambora:
Kaikai & Kiki by Takashi Murakami

Update: Some (Koharu) current (Danny Choo) attention (boingboing) seems to be paid to a video from the very same Pop Life exibition. Made by Takashi Murakami and hollywood director McG (wikipedia) and starring Kirsten Dunst as ‘magical princess’ character.

Facing Words

FacingWords Text Comparison Tool

About 2 weeks ago I came across Jeff Clark‘s post Two Sides of the Same Story. He shows both his and Jer Thorpe‘s visualisations of comparing two texts.

The work of both of them really intrigues me. Jer plans to release the tool as well as the code in the nearer future. I am looking into the visualisation of qualitative and verbal/textual data for my diss. where I will need to analyse interview data early mext year. While I plan to use the known QDA tools for my work the text comparison shown by Jer and Jeff seem to be really useful.

The fascination went so far that I copied Jer‘s effort this weekend in Processing. The deciding bit was that the book „Visualizing Data“ by Ben Fry (who made processing) arrived as a interlending library loan for me on friday. Ben gives some well explained and documented examples plus you can download the code from his website. You can use the search inside at the Visualizing Data (Amazon affiliate link) product page to look at the TOC and Index.
It has been an awful long time ago that I wrote a piece of code. Long enough to be a procedural spaghetti coder. To make it easier I tried to keep the presentation as close to the antetype as possible. I hope Jer doesn‘t mind and takes being copied as the compliment it is.

I filter both texts to be compared through a list of primitive words that will be excluded for the analysis. The words displayed can be controlled with the number keys 0 through 9 to filter only the x% most frequently used words.

Here you can see the display restricted to the 10% most used words:
FacingWords Text Comparison Tool

This image shows the top 40% most used words:
FacingWords Text Comparison Tool

Mousing over a word will highlight the word and all its connections. One or more words can be marked (by clicking) to be isolated. In analysis mode mousing over the text anchors shows the word‘s context.

FacingWords Text Comparison Tool

This is how the analysis mode looks:
FacingWords Text Comparison Tool

I called the sketch Facing Words in memoriam of the old Unreal Tournament map Facing Worlds.

The Finished Stick

Carbon Fiber Joystick

The stick is finished! A good amount of time was spent sourcing tools and waiting to use the lab or work shop.
The final stick sports:

Case:
★ Carbon and glass fibre sandwich construction.
★ Exterior is clear coated carbon fibre with 3 red and gold pin stripes (made in germany!).
★ 6mm clear acryl base plate.
★ 6 rubber feet with screws.
★ Multi-fit mounting plate: Will fit both Seimitsu LS-32-01 and Sanwa JLF-TP-8YT joysticks.
★ Both Sanwa and Seimitsu brand screw-in buttons work.

Stick and buttons:
★ Seimitsu LS-32-01 joystick.
★ Clear Seimitsu ball top.
★ 8 x 30mm clear white Seimitsu buttons on the surface.
★ 1 x 30mm white Seimitsu button on the rear as PS3 home and 360 guide button.
★ 2 x 24mm white Seimitsu buttons on the rear as start/back.

Electronics:
★ Dual PCB Xbox 360 and Chtulhu.
★ Works with Xbox 360 / PC / PS3 / PS2 / PS1 / Gamecube / Wii (via Gamecube ports) / Xbox1
★ RJ-45 mod: Only one cable at a time, different cables for the systems will all fit to the same jack.
★ Quick disconnects for all buttons: Each button can be swapped easily.
★ Inter-PCB connection via SUB-D 25 connector: Each PCB can be removed separately.

Button Layout

Carbon Fiber Joystick

I wired the buttons to the PCBs to mirror the MadCatz SF IV sticks:

★Layout 360:
X Y RB LB
A B RT LT

★Layout PS3/PS2/PS1:
[] /\ R1 L1
X O R2 L2

★Gamecube/Wii:
Y X L
B A R
Start = Start
Select = Z

★Xbox:
X Y white LT
A B black RT
Start = Start
Select = Back
Select + X = Left stick click
Select + A = Right stick click
Select + Stick = Left and right analog sticks

So the 360 PCB and the MC Cthulhu board are connected so that RB/LB on the 360 ‘equal’ R1/L1 on the PS3 and RT/LT ‘equal’ R2/L2.

For the PS3 this is also the same layout as the one of the HORI Real Arcade Pros.

The buttons use quick disconnects so the layout can be changed easily. One could also change the lines at the Cthulhu’s screw terminals.