The last polar bear on ICQ

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against new stuff. I just don’t like skype. It is not so lightweight as ICQ and it is not so easy to ignore people or chat casual. Skype is for me more like the new coffee machine – shiny, new and the coffee does not taste as real coffee.

Today, as I was setting up my ICQ account on a new device, I felt like one of the last polar bears on a place where there are few polar bears left. Maybe it is time to get over my paranoia that Microsoft is watching me. Maybe it is time to accept that time has changed. Time to go fish with the brown bears.

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End of a journey..

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A dream-like game inspired by Escher, Monument Valley instantly made it into top 3 of my favourite games. Might be because of the impossible geometry, or because of the zen feeling you get when solving the puzzles and wandering between your ideas. Breaking the rules of the nature feels good. Experimenting with your own believes about the world feels good. Finding yourself in a blank state with minimal expectations about the physics and the mechanics of the universe feels enlightening.

If you want to remember how you felt as a child, discovering the rules of the nature for the first time, then go on.. Take a walk in the monument valley.

HEX

After the pretty successful game kick start project, Cryptozoic are finally ready to begin with beta testing of their long awaited child – HEX: Shards of Fate.

Now, I won’t write a novel how awesome is the game, because first of all, it is obvious and second, you have to move your rusty fingers and register for the European beta tests ASAP.
Let me repeat that: GO TO
http://en.hex.gameforge.com/#/ and register, so I can kick the shit out of your incapable Elves. Uhmmm :) sorry, I meant.. so we can play happily when the time comes..

Game Jam Hammerzeit^2

The second Gameforge company internal Game Jam is over. It was awesome! 49 hours of awesomeness! Every single participant was awesome! But my team members are the best! :) Haven’t got so much fun in a while.

The topic of the game jam was “Light and shadow” and we used unity3d to create a small puzzle game. Here’s the story: You are the invisible player, who is the landlord of a huge castle. Your only tenant is a vampire, who has the unfortunate habit to sleepwalk in a search of his noon snack. The way to the fridge is, however, dangerous at noon, since the light is generously spreading through the huge room windows. Luckily enough, you have those fancy “poltergeist” powers and can move some loose objects in the room to block the spreading light and protect your friendly tenant. But be extremely careful, because your tenant is very sensitive in his sleepwalk, so even the weak luminance from the room lights can harm him.

Here’s the link to the submitted version of the Jampire game: Jampire . And to play, you just have to know, that the game was originally designed to be played on a mobile device with touch screen. So if you want to be able to move the objects around, then you have to position your mouse close to the object you wanna move and keep the mouse pressed for like a second until the object turns green. Then drag the heavy thing where it will be useful. Scrolling the game screen down or up is very easy with short click and fast drag in the wanted direction (up or down).

The most difficult part of an awesome game jam is getting back to reality afterwards.. It’s kinda strange to accept, that your problems are more like searching for a toilet paper roll left on Sunday night in Germany, rather than strangely flying cupboards, unwanted teleportation of vampires or not enough time to build the on-off switch of the Dracula’s fridge light .. Damn it..

Bubble Melody

I recently started a new “one-day-project”. It was originally created as a solution for the final peer assessment project on coursera’s “Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps“.
Here’s the video that shows the bubble project:

It uses the box2d physics engine to simulate gravity, dependent on the mobile device’s accelerometer’s data. And the code is pretty neat and compact, thanks to some object-oriented concepts.. :)

The submission deadline is 29.07.2013, so I cannot reveal the code right now, but after the submission phase, I will provide a github link for everyone who wants to play and improve the simple bubble melody app.

… And, as promised: https://github.com/zetabeta/one_day_projects/ (BubbleMelody folder)

Processing

Have you ever heard of MIT’s Processing?

It is very simple and very powerful programming language/environment for experimental stuff. I recently started to play with it, so here’s my first simple program to visualize the Koch’s snowflake fractal. It is, indeed nothing much, but it clearly shows how easy is creating classes and extracting functionality in methods with Processing (which is no surprise, since Processing is java-based).

The interactive part is, that on mouse click the snowflake changes it’s stroke color and order, depending on the x-y coordinates of the mouse pointer during the click time.

It is so much fun, so stay tuned.. There is more to come.. :)

And here is a video, of how can you creatively use the provided code:

Gamification project

Have you ever heard of Coursera? I’m taking some classes every now and then to learn some new stuff and fill the tons of free time after graduating with something meaningful beside my job. Some time ago I took this cool class “Gamification”. The point of gamification is the usage of game elements to motivate people take some specific actions. Now, while the topic is indeed from those topics with no clear boundaries and missing literature, it is mountains of fun.

Since it got favorable evaluation and feedback, I want to share my first gamification project.

TASK DEFINITION:

You are approached by Ryan Morrison, the mayor of a medium-sized city in the Midwest of the United States. He has heard that you know a lot about gamification and believes that gamification techniques can transform city government.
He would like to start with the health of city employees. The city has 50,000 employees and they happen to have exactly the same rates of obesity as the U.S. average: 34.4% overweight (but not obese) and 33.9% of them are obese. 53.1% of the city’s employees do not meet the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity and 76% of them fail to meet the Guidelines for muscle-strengthening activity. The city pays for health benefits for its employees and this cost is a huge part of the city budget. Economists in Mayor Morrison’s office have estimated that a 3% improvement in the average physical fitness of city employees would amount to a US$94 million reduction in annual city health costs; a 5% improvement would save US$188 million.
Describe in general terms a gamified system that could effectively motivate behavior change to address the challenge presented above. Specifically, explain how the system would effectively incorporate intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, or both. Your answer should address the fact that this is an internal gamification project, targeted at the institutional goals of the city government. The system can use any technology (or no technology!), so long as the resources required seem justified by the scope of the opportunity.

MY FIRST GAMIFICATION PROJECT: THE FITNESS LOUNGE

With the following essay I want to propose an internal gamified system, specially designed to motivate government employees for physical activities. The project is called “The Fitness Lounge”.
Perhaps many of you remember the story and the idea behind the Apple stores. What Apple did was to change the concept of computer store by creating the right ambience, where people can hang out, play with the products and eventually buy one of them later. The computer stores changed. They became huge and full of light, places where people are comfortable and enjoy their stay. But this is Apple’s success story. We can learn from it. The key is transformation. We can transform the boring fitness center into something which is much nicer and funnier. But you may ask yourself – how? The answer is: we will use gamification.

The “Fitness Lounge” is fitness center with extraordinary equipment. The treadmills, stationary bicycles and all exercising machines are small electricity generators. They are able to transform your energy (the calories you burn) into electricity. Since this is your energy, before starting to exercise, you can decide how to use it. You can select one of the options “cup of coffee”, “cup of tea” or “massage”. The amount of energy you burn through exercising is then used to power the coffee machine, the electrical teapot or massage chair. After you do a good job of exercising, you can relax comfortably in the lounge, enjoy the fruits of your hard work and chat with coworkers.
The proposed internal gamified system can be successfully applied to motivate the city government employees for the following reasons:

  1. The reward at the end is something you can immediately consume and enjoy. Since some of the employees would exercise because of the reward at the end, this is an extrinsic motivation.
  2. The reward you get is proportional to your effort. This is also an extrinsic motivation: The more you exercise, the more energy you produce and you can enjoy longer massage or even combine massage with a cup of tea.
  3. Crafting. The gamified system takes advantage of the more powerful intrinsic motivation also. The key game term here is “crafting”. The process is similar to “crafting” in the games – you are producing something that you use and usually cannot produce at home. In games, it is usually weapons or magic elixirs. In our case, it is electricity. Although you have electricity at home, it is bought. Making your own electricity is much cooler (ask gamers about it).

Since the proposed gamified system is completely based on existing technologies, the “Fitness Lounge” can be build for less than US$94 million. With a little bit of engineering, building it won’t be expensive and difficult. Moreover, the “Fitness Lounge” will change the lifestyle and the attitute towards sports of the government employees.