Stephen Fisher - Designer and Developer Stephen Fisher - Designer and Developer

The greatest truth is the one that people believe is a lie

So we have hit an epoch the start of a new year where the shite that was 2013 is firmly in the past and as part of my continuing series of pointless blogs today I am going to tackle the idea of truth seeing as many people will be making new year’s resolutions. The idea of resolutions I find adds pressure and goals that realistically often unobtainable, if you aim for something it can blind you aka a man blind to the world sees more than one seeing only what they desire.

The inspiration for this blog is Sherlock and the real life ‘truths’ people follow every day, If you have not had the chance to watch the first episode of this latest series then you should not read potentially. We all know that Sherlock is a genius however often lies or rather obscures some truths in order to keep the higher hand and to some degree protect him from the social criteria we are expected to follow. A lot of theories regarding how he survived his leap of faith essentially after his supposed death have racked people’s minds but to be honest did anyone truly expect a real answer cause whatever the truth is it will never live up to expectations as human nature is to question and feel own views are those that are correct. In the episode we see many ‘theories’ on how this feat was achieved even one from Sherlock himself which as we now he is not going to tell the truth however I question this the theory of the double bluff. If someone expects you to lie than the logical path is to tell the truth, as their preconceptions will over-ride their cognitive logic therefore they will believe you lied. Selling a lie is what marketing does to us every day it is about planting a seed of thought and playing on truth that has led humanity to where it is today. The survival of the fittest applies equally to that of the mind, morally to lie is wrong but to protect our views and ourselves, we lie even without realising it on an almost day-to-day basis.

I could lie and say that I aim to tell the truth but to be honest or rather sell you the idea of truth and its importance  no matter what I say or do will not change what you believe, it is only by mass belief that a lie can become truth and thus change understanding as a whole.

So we now enter 2014 a year of new starts or rather the belief we cling to cause as we all know the concept of time and changes should not be linked. We could change the world in a moment’s notice, IF enough people just believe in a common truth, sadly what this truth is can in itself be a lie as such humans have to protect themselves and the cycle of what is true and what is false will never go unbroken.

Lies are not bad; it is when we sell the truth as fact that causes the most problems.

A year in review and the future of the Meta – 2013 – 14

2013 has been a year of technological advancement with the push towards the social interaction between devices users and each other being the forefront of many of this year’s releases, be they gaming consoles that allow users to watch each other play, to cameras that have online share functions and chat. The push towards social progression is one that is getting deeper and will push the Meta scene in brave new directions. It is ironic somewhat that the meaning of Meta or μετά is after when the push towards the previous is still as evident. Technology that does not build off the principles of the past cannot realistically have a future; we are at a point where mobile phones core functions that of enabling long scale communications has changed with an increasing number of users purchasing these devices for other means. An increasing number using them for online communicative channels, the message is the same if what blurred.

This year was the first time I have experienced a cross device communicative experience (i.e. one that uses a mobile device alongside a larger device to enhance the experience, without the need for wires or reliance on each other) and I found it a unique event, one that has made me think about the scope of technology as a tool to engage users and find it one full of potential. The idea of transmedia is not a new one but is one that has until recent years been harder to obtain, nowadays with the skill of users increasing and the number of devices available it is rapidly becoming a field anyone with some fore thought can enter. However, it is the use of Meta communication i.e. that which pushes past boundaries of technology whereby the two seem indistinguishable that is difficult to successfully pull off.

An example of a Meta experience in this case a game is that of the Assassins Creed franchise, the game has spread past that of a game to a series of books, online experiences and now even a film in the works with its latest incarnation placing you the player as the titular hero in the real world setting. It even pokes fun at itself and the industry it’s in by having the player work at what is essentially a large metaphor for Ubisoft the publishers themselves in a game development experience company. It is important I feel that games, movies and even books take this as an example of successful meta lure, by parodying itself and real world situations it makes the story more inviting, by giving the user something to do be it an online treasure hunt as it were makes them feel part of something greater and rewards them via their dedication to their cause. 2013 I feel was a bold step forwards for the Meta and transmedia fields and one that will only grow throughout the coming years. It is up to us be it as developers, consumers or creative’s as a whole to push this field forwards and show how by connecting with each other and pushing past the boundaries something special can occur.

Things to remember / aim towards in the New Year:

  • Consider the demographic audiences and don’t reward just those with the biggest incomes
  • To include is not to exclude!
  • A good narrative / story does not = a successful campaign
  • Big budgets do not mean better experiences rather explore and continue down the social paths as word of mouth beats word of wallet.

“Again I may return to this topic in the future its on my list, do not worry but for now lets conclude this. “

I hope you have enjoyed reading this and have some views on the matter, 2014 will be a big year for me one where the need to get a job will over-ride nearly everything else. 2013 has been a year of reflection but one of changes for me and if it was not for the love of my friends, family and girlfriend doting on me would be one that I may not have pushed past. Do not forget if you ever want to discuss any ideas, talk about anything technical or design related I am available.

Hope you all had a fantastic 2013 and here is to a brilliant, superb 2014. Go get them creative’s!

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Penalising over optimising: the importance of considerations

“The First Rule of Program Optimization: Don’t do it. The Second Rule of Program Optimization (for experts only!): Don’t do it yet.” — Michael A. Jackson


It is human nature to try to find the easiest solutions to tackle life’s problems however; this can have the negative effect of affecting others and in the long term not really solving the problem itself. Occam’s philosophy is not implicitly wrong rather does not account for taking into account all factors as time taken to consider can save time, money and effort further down the line.

As time passes, we often find the need to improve and make things better or rather the false sense of innovation without often considering the core demographic an example of this could be found within Windows 8 and its change in design. Whilst functional has for the time being alienated some of its core audience, games are a good example of this adding in features and innovating to compete whilst at times losing the core parts that made them fun, functional and fit for purpose.

To please the many it often seen as a necessary evil to upset the few whilst the companies / products meaning and feel can become lost and marred in this sense to innovate, penalising those who cannot adapt as quickly or are unwilling to. Optimising is not just about streamlining it is about consideration, asking what is needed, what is good not from a developer perspective rather a user viewpoint. However, it is imperative to not purely rely on a user centric approach rather prioritise and make reasonable assumptions based on feedback and research, what a user wants and what user needs do not always coincide. Reducing the impact on users is a balancing act and penalising a fan base or valued user is something any developer, writer or creator should try to avoid.

In regards to storytelling as an example under-estimating the power of fandom is risky and if poorly handled will alienate and create negative feedback as such asking those who know more is critical. This is true in all regards from computing to media as a whole, a poorly designed interface will annoy users and impact both sales and opinions and sometimes the use of pseudo design principles is most optimal, penalising users cause they do not know as much as the next person is a risk that needs to be negated.

In order to be able to explain this more clearly I will provide a case study and real world example:

A university library is proposing to introduce a find a PC system and talks regarding booking a system have been made, users should be able to access machines as needed and be informed of empty/ available machines. Now the problem is not all users require a PC for the same period of time for same reasons, some users may take a computer then leave the system logged in whilst effectively away from machine taking up a space that could be viewed as being more critical to someone else. However the user leaving said system logged in may have just reasons for ‘retaining’ the computer i.e. need to acquire books for referencing or need to go to the toilet whereby logging out and back in it would take added extra time not deemed appropriate. One suggestion was to impose a booking popup alert message to inform users that they have been on the machine for a deemed ‘long’ period of time and requires manual input else will auto logoff however if the user is away from the machine for said appropriate reasons this could log them off and risk their work progress. Penalising the current user so a new user can use the system is in essence harming the potentially hard-working user and distracting them from the tasks at hand however some users may be misusing the machines therefore taking up spaces others need more. To value one use over another, one person over another is a task that cannot be easily solved however penalising the user over optimising the framework creates a more negative feedback response and therefore reduces system overall use.

No right solution can exist however the least impacting / harmful has to be seen as the most optimal.

A condensed: Find me a PC version can be found at the link below:

Penalising over optimising: the importance of considerations – Find me PC Ponderings

Game Review | Assassins Creed 4 (PS3)


Today I delve into the rough seas and try to pluck the treasures and avoid the bloodthirsty sharks that is Assassins creed IV black flag, otherwise known as ‘Timey Wimey Piratey rhymy’ for those who have had a tad too much to drink. AC4 is Ubisofts’ latest expansion to its historical action adventure series’ with roots game play wise harking back to Prince of Persia. Released in the UK in November 2012 for PS3 and Xbox 360 it thrust players back into the animus into the life of Edward Kenway.

Grand Ass Creed 4

 GRAND ASS CREED Video Coming in near future

Although mechanically and feature wise little has really changed from game to game the addition or rather rework of the sailing mechanic really makes this game stand out on its own and separates it from the realms of expansion that many including myself feared it to be. There is nothing quite like sailing around and owning the sea and during playtime I couldn’t help but feel and find similarities with another game franchise, that of the Grand theft auto series. In both games, you are free to roam around and cause mayhem and both rely heavily on a story narrative for direction whilst having fun and innovative game play options. However my play experience was somewhat marked when various minor and one somewhat major problem occurred during my play session. During one of the main campaign missions I managed to bypass a checkpoint which was meant to trigger an event, however by bypassing this due to arguably poor level design or oversight a cinematic didn’t activate which meant I had to essentially restart from scratch in order to continue. Also like previous titles enemy animations and ragdoll physics are always worth a laugh with one foe meeting his end with a face plant to a bench.

Assassins creed manages to make history a typically seen dull point and show its interest all be it in a pseudo real setting and for this alone makes for an interesting ride.  What really sets this apart is its multiplayer or as my heart calls it “oh, god not again” mode. The rush and speed your heart beats at when trying to avoid and kill targets is a high caffeine can’t reach, it is better to pretend to be the AI than to go for the kill often and so far not a game mode I have come to experience or enjoy as much in other multiplayer online games.

In conclusion, AC4 is the much-needed stab in the back the franchise needed and is in my opinion the best in the series so far due to focus on story and naval combat. Yes, it has flaws but if you take the time, to play through it you will appreciate how funny and enjoyable some of them really are.

Personal Rating (Which means nought): 8/10

Project Sense – What could have been

project sense

Whilst I am working on my dissertation one being Project Sense I thought I should dig out some files of what it could have been, i.e. some of the older concepts behind it and so let me begin. One idea was to have it play out like a survival horror game where each chamber was a test where part of you was limited however this was too dark and too much like saw also felt mildly offensive, something which I did not want the game to be. Another idea was to have the player pick out disabilities to solve puzzles with the only way out being to pick in selected orders however this felt like it was prioritising, ordering and otherwise making light of some conditions. The game is designed to raise awareness and is now a puzzle style first person game where you play as robot.

The version being developed for university work will only feature a handful of neurological and physiological conditions however it is my full intention to develop a fully fleshed out version that both raises awareness but also is fun and takes advantage of modern input control options such as the oculus rift.

The game will require some test candidates in the New Year with a Free copy being given out shortly after.