Train2Game News: Smithsonian adds video games to its collection

SmithsonianThe Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., has announced the addition of two video games to its permanent collection.

This is as part of “an ongoing commitment to the study and preservation of video games as an artistic medium.”

Flower (2009), a game by Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago from thatgamecompany, is to be inducted into the collection alongside Halo 2600 (2010) by Ed Fries, the former vice president of game publishing at Microsoft.

Explaining its decision in a statement, the Smithsonian said: “Video games offer a compelling avant-garde performance space, activated by artists and players alike. These media art practices are distinct from film, video and theatre and mark a critical development in the history of art.

“The inclusion of video games furthers the mission of the museum and ensures the ongoing preservation, study and interpretation of video games as part of the national collection of American art.”

The addition of these games to one of the biggest museums in the world is a great step forward for the games industry. The world is starting to accept video games as art in much the same way films are considered art.  We can only hope more follow the Smithsonian’s lead.

The Smithsonian added in its statement that it is looking to expand its collection of video in the future.

Train2Game news: How testing changed Journey after leaving producer ‘disappointed in mankind’

Train2Game students who want to see the impact testing can have on a game in development need look no further than PlayStation 3 title Journey.

Why? Because in an interview with Siliconera, Thatgamecompany’s Robin Hunicke reveals Journey previously allowed more physical interaction between players, but it resulted in them trying to kill each other, something that left her ‘disappointed in mankind’

“We were doing play tests, where we invited players to come in and play the game. However, instead of cooperating and building a relationship each other, the players just kept attacking each other and pushing each other into the pit.” said Hunicke.

“At the time, I was very disappointed in mankind; we designed all the settings so they will help each other, but they still just kill each other, as if they don’t have any morality at all.”

The Journey produced added that she spoke to a child psychologist about the issue.

“When these guys enter the game, it’s a virtual space–reality does continue into it. When that happens, they become kids, and don’t know what they’re doing is bad. In that situation, the best way to handle that isn’t to shout or hit them, but to offer feedback.”  she told her.

So Hunicke decided to remove physics from Journey to encourage players to co-operate rather than hinder each other.

“So when I went back to the prototype, we removed the physics so they couldn’t push each other into the pit.” she said.

The Train2Game Blog has previously reported on Thatgamecompany’s views that testing is an integral part of game development. You can also get an insight into life at the studio and the development of Journey in this developer diary.

So, what are your thoughts on the impact playtesting had on Journey? Is it something you often do with your own games?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Go behind the scenes of Journey in thatgamecompany developer diary

Train2Game students can go behind the scenes of Journey in a developer diary from thatgamecompany.

Journey is a PlayStation 3 downloadable title, that sees plays go on a mystical adventure. In the world of Journey, it’s entirely possible to encounter others playing the game, but there’s no way of voice or text communication, and you’ll never know who they actually are.

The developer diary details the story behind Journey, how it came to have its distinct artistic style, why there is no communication and more.

Watch the video from thatgamecompany below, right here on The Train2Game Blog.

Journey is available now to PlayStation Plus subscribers and from 14th March if you’re not.

Thatgamecompany previously produced much praised indie title Flower, and as previously reported by The Train2Game Blog, studio co-founder Kellee Santiago says testing is an integral part of their game development.

So Train2Game, have you played Journey, if so what are your thoughts? And what insights have you gained from the developer diary?

Leave your comments here on The Train2Game Blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

Train2Game news: Playtesting ‘necessary’ part of game design process say Thatgamecompany


Train2Game blog readers may have read our post earlier this week in which Star Wars: The Old Republic project lead James Ohlen said playtesting is a very important part of game development.

Well it seems that he isn’t the only one. Thatgamecompany, the indie studio behind Flower and the upcoming Journey, recently spoke to Gamasutra, with founder Kellee Santiago revealing playtesting is an integral part of their game development

“We are exploring different emotions in game design. If you were to have this emotion of, “I want it to feel joyous but slightly sad,” and you go to an artist, the artist can probably bang out some art in a couple days, some concept art that has those feelings.”

“You go to a composer and you say that, and they can probably do it in half a day, write out a tune that has joyous but slightly sad.” said Santiago.

And while sound and art & animation style can be tested relatively quickly, the Thatgamecompany founder believes that playtesting is the only way to get a good feel of game design concepts.

“You go to a game designer and say, “I want to feel game mechanics that are joyous and slightly sad,” there’s no real defined process for it, other than making something and having other people play it, and finding out if that’s right or not” she said.

“And it’s just a longer process, and it is because it is still so new, I think. Prototyping and playtesting is just so necessary to the craft right now.” Santiago concluded.

Of course, it isn’t only game developers and QA Testers who playtest games, with open beta becoming increasingly popular. As reported by the Train2Game blog, the Battlefield 3 beta begins today, while Valve’s Chet Faliszek also told us that testing is a hugely important part of game development.

So Train2Game, how important do you believe playtesting is to game design?  Will there every be a defined process of testing game design concepts?

Leave your comments here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: Gamasutra]

Indie Fund – A useful avenue for Train2Game students?

While doing my usual morning rounds of video games industry news websites, I stumbled upon this article.  Indie fund calls for submissions eh? That’s surely going to be useful for Train2Game students I thought to myself. And do you know what, it may very well be.

So, what is Indie Fund? Well, the Indie Fund website itself says

“Indie Fund is a funding source for independent developers, created by a group of successful indies looking to encourage the next wave of game developers. It was established as a serious alternative to the traditional publisher funding model. Our aim is to support the growth of games as a medium by helping indie developers get (and stay) financially independent.”

Those indie developers could very well be you, the Train2Game Games Designers, Games Developers and Games Artist & Animators. Now you’re sitting there thinking that applying for funding sounds appealing, but you’re wondering how it works, well.

We make smaller investments and ask for less in return. The hope is that developers see enough revenue from their game to self-fund their next project.  And voilà, one more developer that is free to make whatever crazy game they want.”

There’s more detailed information about how exactly it works on the About page of the Indie Fund website. The section also lists who’s involved with the funding project and it’s a list of developers who’ve made a number of successful independent titles, some of which you’ve probably played:

Indie Fund believe they can support five or six titles over the next two to three years, but will only do so if the proposed title introduces something new to gaming. For more information about what Indie Fund want for a game and what you need to do if you want to submit an application then all you need to do is visit the ‘Applying for funding’ section of the website. It’s also recommended that you have a prototype of a game ready, but evidence on the Train2Game forum shows that some of you have already reached this stage.

So Train2Game students, do you’ll be submitting an application to The Indie Fund? Do you think it’s a good idea? Or perhaps you aren’t too keen on it. Whatever your thoughts are, please leave them here or on the Train2Game forum.