Archive for May, 2009

Into the World

Monday, May 11th, 2009

So… Taxiball’s been released to Apple. It’ll be up on the App Store when they put it there, it seems. Who knows how long it’ll be.

Quite strange. There are a couple previews posted on the web – one on iphonegamenetwork.com and one on theappera.com – looking forward to seeing their reviews. Also had someone very, very influential play the game today. It’ll be interesting to see what happens from there…

Hrm. Odd. Pensive. Nervous.

Unchunking

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Was reading the Alinea cookbook again, and Grant Achatz mentions that he was inspired for a dish by some tree roots he saw while walking with his kids through a park. He also talks about how he’s always pulling inspiration for his food from the rest of his life, and how basically, everything he sees passes through this filter of “how could this influence food?”

Reminds me of two things – the first, Shigeru Miyamoto’s descriptions of his inspiration for Zelda (exploring caves as a youth) and Pikmin (his then-recent obsession with gardening). And obviously, they’re fundamentally the same thing – someone who is so saturated by something that he breaks apart the rest of his (or her) existence and views the world through a very specific lens.

The second thing it reminds me of is a thought I had a couple months ago, but couldn’t really explain. I’d been reading a bit about how the mind processes things, and I haven’t read enough to really talk about it with any certainty, but there’s this idea of “chunking” things – creating shortcuts in how you process information around you so you don’t have to process every detail every time you see something.

Ei-Nyung used to say that she never really noticed what model cars were – basically a car had chunked to “car” where all cars were fundamentally the same, where for me, I’d chunked Mazdas and Toyotas and Ferraris and the like, then later broken up those chunks into RX-7s and F430’s. I find that the idea of chunking seems to explain the holes in my memory – how I process past events is really reduced down to a few (to me) critical details, and almost everything else appears to be disposed of. I dispose of who was at an event, for instance, while this is clearly one of the critical things that many (most?) people seem to place as a high priority.

So, the thought was this – basically, Achatz uses food as a hammer to break through the chunks. Most people look at a tree and see a tree. He understands food as flavor, form, presentation, etc., and then breaks the tree down into those things – the tree then becomes the inspiration for some aspect of the food. Miyamoto understands gaming as interaction, character, game systems, etc., and then un-chunks his world based around those things.

It seems to me that a lot of these sorts of creative breakthroughs seem to happen when you take something very ordinary, that you look at every day for weeks and weeks and weeks, and then use some “hammer” to break apart the chunks, and find some detail that’s relevant, or interesting, or that other people are overlooking. In which case, a person’s specific expertise is basically their mining hammer, and the way their brain has stored information is the quarry. You can enrich the quarry by learning new things, but until you take your hammer and break the stuff apart, you’re not really mining.

Hrm.

Hell of a Weekend

Monday, May 4th, 2009

In most weekends of mine, any one of these things would have consumed the entire weekend on its own:

1.) Flew to Chicago, and ate at Alinea. The most mindbogglingly insane meal I’ve ever had, without question. Would recommend to anyone, but it’ll really only be worth it if you’re a bit of a foodie.

2.) Went to Kraken’s wedding and hung out with a bunch of TEPs.

3.) Met (for the first time in person) three people I’ve known for almost a decade, and hung out with some other good friends as well.

Then flew back. Exhausted, happy to see Mobius, missing Ei-Nyung (who continued on to Philly for a week), and looking forward to the future!

Taxiball’s close. Very close.