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sources of energy

I’ve started paying more attention recently to what gives me more energy: evaluating experiences, places, even objects on that criterion instead of other criteria. Not necessarily physical energy—I’m as capable of falling asleep in post-lunch meetings as ever—but mental energy, a feeling that I’m building up my reserves for thinking instead of chipping away at […]

returning to okami

What a game Okami is. I loved it when I first played it, though in recent years, I’d started to wonder: maybe that game went on a little long, maybe I was thinking about it through rose-colored memories? As it turns out: yeah, sure, the game does go on a little long, but wow what […]

attention, joy, connection, and life

I reread The Nature of Order this summer and fall, and I’ve already talked about how the second volume, The Process of Creating Life, has a lot to teach me about to teach me about writing software. The final volume, The Luminous Ground, is more fundamental, more basic, in a mystical way. It’s explicit about […]

dragon age inqusition: stepping back

Preamble So: after that grab bag of impressions of Dragon Age: Inquisition, what do I think about the game as a whole? One question is: what do I wish the game was? Given the importance of relationships and romances in the game, “a dating sim” is a not outlandish answer. I don’t think it’s my […]

alexandrian minecraft

When I first started playing Minecraft, I spent most of my time, well, mining. Or at least underground: I’d obsessively dig stairs going straight through the rock in one direction or another, I’d occasionally hollow out a blocky room whenever I needed a space for a chest or a crafting table, and every once in […]

another world

Another World‘s opening cut scene shows an experiment gone awry, with my character being transported to another world, where I got dropped into a pool of water. At which point I died. On my next attempt, I moved out of the water; after a bit of trial and error, I killed the slugs on the […]

christopher alexander’s fort mason bench

One of the surprises I encountered when reading The Nature of Order was that Christopher Alexander designed a bench at Fort Mason. (He talks about the process of its construction in the third volume of Nature of Order.) So when Agile Open California returned to Fort Mason last year, I made a point to duck […]

gdc 2010: final thoughts

So, now I’ve written about all the GDC panels I attended; for reference, the links are: Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday, part one and part two. Saturday, part one and part two. So, that’s the trees; what about the forest? Looking back at it, I see two themes coming out of the conference for me. Know […]

gdc 2010: saturday mass effect 2 talks

On the Saturday of GDC this year, I went to two talks on Mass Effect 2 and two talks on other subjects; since I have a fair amount to say on both pairs of talks, I’ll split them up into two posts. 9:00 am: Where Did My Inventory Go? Refining Gameplay in Mass Effect 2, […]

yakuza 2

There was a time towards the end of 2008 when it seemed like everybody in my twitter feed was talking about Yakuza 2. It was apparently a Shenmue-style action RPG (also published by Sega), but (as Steve Gaynor so eloquently outlined in the 2008 holiday confab) filled with delightfully quirky side missions, missions that added […]

experts and expertise

I want to talk about a couple of talks I attended at Agile 2009. Both relate to experts, expertise, and how one develops the latter to become the former. The first was given by Jon Dahl, on “Aristotle and the Art of Software Development”. You can see video and slides of an earlier delivery of […]

christopher alexander on our birthright

The third volume of The Nature of Order, while very good, didn’t have the same impact on me as the earlier volumes did. Having said that, this bit from the conclusion is giving me something to think about: And in all this that I observe, when I talk to politicians, to townspeople, to developers, when […]


The fifth level of Flower is the most problematic by far. At the end of the fourth level, you get a pretty strong indication that matters have taken a turn for the worse, with some sort of black energy running along power cables that have glowing red lights; even so, I was completely unprepared for […]

gdc 2009: friday bioware talk

At 4:00pm on the friday of GDC, I attended The Iterative Level Design Process of Bioware’s Mass Effect 2. I went because I loved Mass Effect and because I’m always happy to see the word “iterative” used, but the talk turned out to be an excellent final experience from the conference for a completely unexpected […]

richard gabriel on christopher alexander

I claimed that my last post was going to be my last Christopher Alexander post for a while, but I lied. I spend some time today reading Richard Gabriel’s Patterns of Software, the first part of which talks about Alexander’s work (up through the carpets book, which isn’t discussed nearly enough; Gabriel’s book dates from […]

agile processes as living structures

One more Christopher Alexander Nature of Order post, and then I’ll take a break. This is a counterpart to my earlier post about living code (I even repeat some of the examples): this time, I’m focusing on the agile processes that might produce that code. Again, thanks to the Agile Open California participants who helped […]

living code

Today’s Nature of Order experiment: see what the characteristics of living structures might look like when applied to software. Many thanks to the Agile Open California participants who helped me think through this; I’ll have a later blog post that talks about agile and living processes. Levels of Scale This is certainly present in the […]

random links: october 19, 2008

I trust you are all aware of The Big Picture? I thought this one was particularly beautiful. And unrepresentative, in that the pictures are all taken from a single source, the Earth from Above exhibit. My favorite video game business analyst giving an exegesis of a recent Nintendo interview. The backlog as a map. I’ll […]

deus ex: final thoughts

We’ve finished the VGC playthrough of Deus Ex; what did I learn from the experience? Well, one thing that I learned is that a lot of people have a lot more to say about the narrative and world of the game than I do. Which made reading through the discussion a lot of fun! And […]

shadow of the colossus as living structure

When I finished playing Shadow of the Colossus, I was impressed by it, but no more than by several other games from around the same time. Then at some point, perhaps a year and a half later, I was browsing the web and came across a picture of the game. And I gasped, I shuddered. […]