Week 713

What’s this? I’m blogging about my work on a weekly basis – a simple way to track and archive whatever it is I spend my time on.

I didn’t take the time to celebrate the completion of my first draft, diving head-on into the To-Do’s that’d piled up instead.

Besides sorting out e-mails, notes and other loose ends, last week I spent a lot of time on a project for TNO that’ll keep me busy during September, editing a one-off magazine about (serious games that teach players about) crisis communications. It’s pretty great to get into the nitty-gritty of TNO’s thinking about learning, serious game development and of course crisis communications.

Somehow, I also found some time to indulge in some HTML/CSS tinkering for the next version of the Bashers.nl website, toying around with responsive web design, among other things.

On Tuesday night I attended a meeting of De Gids, an ancient Dutch literary magazine that will launch an intriguing non-linear writing game next year. I was briefed on the game, designed by my friend Kars Alfrink, and educated on Piet Mondriaan’s Victory Boogie Woogie, which takes centre stage in the game.

On Wednesday I wrote about episode 2 of The Spiral, the VARA TV series meets Alternate Reality Game that I’m reporting on.

That afternoon, I went to Two Tribes, where they talked me through the latest version of puzzle platformer Toki Tori 2, which is starting to look and sound absolutely beautiful. The current ‘sprint’ (which is Scrum terminology for a ’timeboxed development unit’) is really exciting, as they’re adding some of the story stuff I helped them come up with.

On Wednesday I also voted for the Dutch House of Representatives (my vote went to D66) and followed Apple’s iPhone 5 announcement.

My two-year contract recently ended, and I still think Apple makes the best smartphones in the world, so I’m definitely getting one of these. I love the segment in the promotional video in which a diamond cutter is shown grinding the aluminium’s corners. As long as Apple keeps advancing the art and science of consumer electronics like this, I’m quite sure they’ll keep the doctor away.

On Thursday afternoon I went to Amsterdam to play an hour of Assassin’s Creed 3, an upcoming adventure game by Ubisoft, set during the American Revolution, after which I had a half hour chat with lead game designer Steve Masters. We spoke about the massive scale of development (four studios and about 600 people worked on it), as well as the question of whether games like Assassin’s Creed are a good way to educate people about history.

On Thursday I also followed Nintendo’s Wii U announcements. As expected, the new console will launch before year’s end and be quite expensive for a Nintendo system, though historically speaking not that expensive. I really wonder how Nintendo’s next machine will fare, though looking at the relative success of the Nintendo 3DS, despite the advance of dirt cheap mobile games, one shouldn’t count Nintendo out. Not yet, anyway.

On Friday afternoon, I visited the Dutch Game Garden and let Martijn van Best tell me all about the games that’ll be shown at the Indigo Showcase in two weeks time.

Before I sign off, some publications: Bright Magazine put my Minecraft story on its website. And from last week on the Tech spread appears in nrc.next on Wednesday instead of Friday. This Wednesday, it had two games reviews which I edited: Darksiders 2 by Rogier Kahlmann and Guild Wars 2 by Harry Hol.