Fitocracy: Let’s Get More Game in our Social Fitness Game

September 3, 2011 Leave a comment

So, getting in shape has been something I’ve been working on for a while. It’s hard when you’re a grad student or a game developer. I’m both, and therefore my fitness goals often fall apart all over the place while classes are in session. I ran last summer, which went alright but fell apart during classes. I’ve done Wii Fit and EA Active to try and trick myself into it being a gaming activity, and that worked, but the results weren’t great and so that fell apart.

What I needed was finding a program that would get good results and have the sort of motivational draw that the game-like solutions offered. Fortunately, I discovered Fitocracy right about the same time I was gearing back up for Summer Running: Take Two. This turned out to be great—first because the game-like elements combined with the social media framework provided excellent motivation (I get NUMBERS that make other numbers get BIGGER and other people can SEE it and give PROPs) and second because the information on fitness approaches shared by the community led me to a plan that’s getting me great results for my goals(more about goals forthcoming). All in all, just fantastic.

This is not to say there isn’t room for improvement. Right now, Fitocracy’s goal does not match up with the reality. It aims to be a social fitness game. Right now it’s simply a fitness tracker with Gamification, and I — like many in the industry — consider that a detriment to whatever it gets applied to because it’s using game-like elements without the essence of games. It lacks heart. Fortunately, the people running Fitocracy are smart folks and realize it’s not a game. Yet. And they want to change that—the site has always been conceived as a game. They’re not (game) designers and they know it, so they’re really open to suggestions. And thus today’s writing. Because during my post-workout shower today, I did a lot of thinking and a game design started to coalesce. I’m anticipating some fair number of Fitocrats ending up here, so this will be a bit heavy on process explanation or non-designers. So… here we go!

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Radio Silence: The Old Issue Rears Its Head Again

So, people who have read my posts for a while will know that (unfortunately) this blog ends up coming in pretty far down the priority list, largely due to the amount of time I like to spend exploring my topics. Because of this, whenever things get busy with ‘more important’ things, posts thin out and I’m silent for a while. This last couple months have been no exception.

So, in the interests of a quickie update: Lots has happened. Most of it tied up into the demands of grad school. Nucleus has had a lot going on, and I plan to get some time to bring that up to speed very soon. Maybe a couple new What We’re Playing posts if I can find time for it. I’ll also be going back over some of my other projects and talking about the background behind them while I’m at it.

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What We’re Playing: Marvel vs. Capcom 3

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment

MvC3Banner

I’ve always been a big fan of the Versus series, both as a player and as a designer, so I was pretty happy when I heard this one was on the way. I was even happier to find that in a world where sequels are frequently awful, MvC3 has continued to buck the trend just as well as the second offering did. It frequently seems like the goal with these games has been “remember what we did last time? We’ll turn it to eleven this time” and the result is a pretty fantastic experience.

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Thoughts on Being a (Game) Designer

Parenthetically “Game” because the first portion of today’s post applies to designers in general more than game designers in general. The second part of two is more specific. Regardless, these are thoughts I’ve had and discussed recently that I found interesting and potentially insightful.

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Categories: Game Design

The Dawn of 2011

90282So, after talking about 2010 the other day, I feel a short post on how that has given way to 2011 is in order.

I spent the several hours that frame either side of the 2010/2011 changeover getting a key portion of TouchWar’s editor hammered out, to a lovely bit of success. Perhaps I’ll post the details later, as they’re not important now. More topical and interesting are the reasons I worked through the New Year instead of attending one of the myriad celebrations or simply kicking back and relaxing.

In a lot of ways, it was a celebration of the triumphs of 2010 and the promises of 2011. I noted earlier that one of the defining characteristics of 2010 for me was the amount of productivity that occurred for me during the year, a momentum I plan to keep for 2011. Hammering on code issues from 6pm to 3am or so last night was somewhat symbolic, for humans as a whole are very symbolic creatures and I respond as well to that as anyone, I suppose. So to my mind, crossing a major item off my list is a fitting way to cap off 2010’s success story and at the same time cement that momentum in the first hours of 2011.

Of course, there’s also a much simpler set of motivations at the same time. Syd was happily Netflixing at the time, and I take quite a bit of joy from the code and design work I’ve been doing lately. Toss in on top of this the reason neither of us were interested in going out—New Year’s Eve is very nearly a dangerous holiday to observe in this area. People around here don’t drive that well while sober, and drunk driving around the typical drinking holidays is common. This town also has the charming habits of selling and lighting firecrackers and bottle rockets and things in the neighborhoods, and sometimes some drunk slob fires a gun into the air. Since I can count the number of people I can stand to be around when there’s alcohol involved without removing my shoes and all these sorts of hazards are scattered around, I just didn’t feel compelled to find some more traditional way to ring it in.

But then again, I also feel like it was a more meaningful observance than I can remember ever having, so take it all as you will.

2010 Retrospective

December 30, 2010 3 comments

father_timeWell, somewhat of a retrospective. Partially because I like to think about what I’ve done and evaluate it all for the future, and partially because Syd already did her own brief post about it, the end of the year seems like a good time to mull over some key points of 2010.

(On a side note, it deserves mention that as with a whole lot of my images in this blog, I’ve no idea where exactly I got the image that goes with this post, but it isn’t my work, blahblah et cetera.)

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When Harry Met GameDev: Faking It Is Good Enough

December 25, 2010 Leave a comment

WhenHarryMetSallySo it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here. There’s a number of pretty good reasons for that—the major one being that I got busy with my thesis project and got out of the habit. But let’s not talk about that and instead move on to getting back into the habit.

One of my little pet projects over my Winter break this year has benefited enormously from a piece of advice distilled out of Bungie’s presentation on Halo’s AI. There’s a bit more of a discussion of the things the slides cover here.

My project has nothing to do with AI. It’s actually a test bed I’m using to get more comfortable with doing 3D in XNA and also to prototype a game idea that’s been sitting on my whiteboard a while (I’m trying not to let things just sit on my whiteboard, but more on that later). The important takeaway from Bungie is that complicated systems can be effectively faked and gamers will be convinced provided the illusion is good enough.

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