Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program – Thanksgiving in Seattle

Time to flush the backlog of photos and other content. As I mentioned
before, Julie, Jacob, Matthew and I took the train to Seattle over Thanksgiving weekend. We
stayed at a hotel downtown and explored the area. We did this 4 years ago and
had a great time. I was determined though to plan just a tiny bit more – we
ended up having donuts for Thanksgiving dinner last time for want of an open
restaurant. This time we had a reservation at the Hunt Club restaurant and had a fine 5-course meal. Julie and I
opted out of the turkey for some finer offerings (prime rib and lamb).

On Friday we walked a couple of blocks over to watch the annual holiday
parade. The rain wasn’t too bad and it was a fun diversion. One interesting
tidbit: I’ve been pretty critical of the Segway in
the past, but I was proven wrong at the parade. Look below for the perfect
application of this amazing (?) technology.

Much of the time we just spent wandering around. Seattle downtown is nicely
sized. We were able to roam from Pioneer Square to the piers to Pike Place to
the shopping districts with no troubles. Friday afternoon we did the Seattle
Underground tour
– highly recommded.

Saturday we played tourist and took a boat over to Tillicum Village. We walked down to the piers from
the hotel and hung out for a while until the boat left.

The village trip was a bit of a disappointment. I should have expected as
much, but for $65 for an adult, the food (salmon) should have been a bit
better. We did enjoy a short hike on the island, and the boat ride was a
blast. Matthew did like the somewhat hokey native American show after dinner.

One highlight of the weekend was a chance dinner at Fado, an Irish pub. A great menu, even for kids,
and of course some tasty Guiness. I had the fish and chips.

On Sunday we caught the train back for an early trip back to Portland. I’m not
a huge fan of Amtrak, but they’ve got a great
operation in the northwest. It is a fairly inexpensive way to travel between
Portland and Seattle, and it beats driving. The Cascades trains have power for
your laptop and usually show movies.

Clawing My Way Back

Thanks to my pack-rat friend Greg,
I’m in the process of restoring most of my content. Things will still be
shakey for a while as my ISP stabilizes the environment. I have a backlog of
content to publish as well, including a glorious day of gaming yesterday where
we had about 19 people at our home.

Good Grief and a Plea for Help

My ISP crashed the box where my weblog was hosted. I may have lost quite a bit
of content as well. My own fault for not having a better backup strategy.

I’ll be gradually replacing content as I recover it from various sources, so
please be patient. If you happen to use a news aggregator and have an archive
of my postings, please let me know! You might be able to help me out.

Convergence of Game and Software Design Methodology?

I read in the nimrods blog about this
article
by
Jacob Davenport, designer (or co-
designer) of some great
Icehouse games like
Pikemen and
Gnostica.

Few topics have garnered such praise and criticism as
Agile / Extreme programming (XP) over the past 4 years.
Its proponents argue that XP is a deliberate and disciplined approach to
software development, while its opponents often claim that it is nothing more
than a chaotic, shoot-from-the-hip approach that eschews formal requirements
analysis and design. The Truth is, when applied to certain classes of
projects, XP is a very attractive, effective approach that can be very
successful.

Jacob’s juxtaposition of XP on top of game design is interesting, though I
wonder what point he is trying to make. I’m not a game designer, but the two
seem so very different to me. Software methodologies exist for one primary
reason – to reduce the defects (or, to put it a different way, increase the
quality) of a software product. Usually this means bringing some formality to
how we figure out what the problem is (requirements), how we plan to solve the
problem (design), solving the problem (programming), and verifying that we
solved it (testing).

Game design isn’t so much about solving a problem as it is producing a system
for entertainment – an act of creativity. I’m not sure that any sort of
methodology would help me become a game designer. But I will concede that
Jacob’s ideas make a lot of sense around the area of game and rule refinement.
He has some nice things to say about refactoring and testing that sound
applicable to game design.