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A few things Mark Wallace

Month: May 2011

Perez Hilton via George Lucas: the Homer of the Modern Age?

Homer / Hilton

Reading The Iliad lately has put me in mind of an interesting question: Can you discern a society’s evolutionary progress in the kinds of stories it tells? Or perhaps a better, more generalized version of the question would be this: What can you tell about a society (if anything) by the kinds of stories it tells? I’m sure a ton of thinking has been done on this, but since I’m not about to round it all up, consume it, and digest it this afternoon, this blog post will have to do.

I’d say we’re actually in a unique position in narrative history, given three things:

  • (a) our unprecedented access to stories that have gone before (Homer wrought his poems maybe two or three thousand years ago, after all)
  • (b) the unprecedented production of new stories that takes place in our own time, and
  • (c) our unprecedented ability to distribute those stories to massive audiences in the widest variety of media that’s ever existed

But do the kinds of stories we choose to tell these days say much about who we are as a society at large? It wasn’t Homer who sparked these thoughts so much as it was George Lucas, actually… Continue reading

First Playtest: and the Wisdom of Starting Customer Development Yesterday

strategy game playtest

Contested!

I managed what could just barely be called a first playtest of The Game the other day. It took place on a totally unskinned, hex-constrained map that looked more grognardesque than in any way 1337, where I controlled all three sides involved in the game, and that went without benefit of probably 75% of the features I want to get in over the coming months — but I count it a success, for all that. In fact, it’s because it’s in such a rudimentary form that I count it a success, and I plan to get it in the hands of some trusted friends as soon as possible (and more and more gamers after that). Collecting reactions on a project like this from the earliest stages gives it the best chance to become something truly great, enjoyable and fun. While this kind of iterative development cycle (of building only a very early version, gathering feedback, refining, and building some more) still isn’t second nature to a lot of product developers, it has become more and more common as a conscious operating philosophy over the last decade, and five years ago spawned a pretty interesting book on the topic of customer development that you should read if the project / startup / game you’re developing is more complicated than a feature you can knock out in a weekend. Continue reading

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