Writer, journalist, and storyteller who explores the future — and the past — of innovation, video games, and technology. (Also covers play and science + makes podcasts.) Email: mossrc at fastmail.com
Artificial intelligence challenges what it means to be creative
When British artist Harold Cohen met his first computer in 1968, he wondered if the machine might help solve a mystery that had long puzzled him: How can we look at a drawing, a few little scribbles, and see a face? Five years later, he devised a robotic artist called AARON to explore this idea. He equipped it with basic rules for painting and for how body parts are represented in portraiture — and then set it loose making art.
Not far behind was the composer David Cope, who coined the phrase...
30 - The Dragon Speech, and Chris Crawford's improbable dream
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It was "the greatest speech he ever gave in his life", and it marked a turning point in his pursuit of his dream, but it had the note of a eulogy. This is the story of how — and why — the legendary designer Chris Crawford left the games industry in an opening-day lecture at the 1993 Game Developers Conference, an event that he had founded just six years prior.
(If you don't see the player above, it means your browser is blocking my podcast host Megapho...
“Going at it hammer and tongs” – Pro Evolution Soccer 5
[For this guest post I welcome back Richard Moss, who previously wrote about Sonic Drift. Richard is creator of the documentary podcast The Life & Times of Video Games, and is on Twitter as @MossRC.]
It felt strange to return to my years-old Pro Evolution Soccer 5 savegame and continue like nothing had happened. Like I hadn’t abandoned my team nearly 10 years ago, four matches before the end of a season, nearly three seasons into a budding career with a team that I’d built from scratch. There...
A day in the life of our synthetic future
One day in the not-too-distant future, you could be the star of a blockbuster movie — or rather, a digital avatar of you could be. Your synthetic self could stand in for Tom Cruise as he battles to save the world, giving you a taste of fame and glory that the latest TikTok sensation could barely dream of. You could instead project yourself into a virtual classroom, learning and making friends with a dozen people spread around the world in a course tailor-made for that group. Or you could be w...
Bridging the gap between Indigenous cultural heritage and the digital future
Indigital’s augmented reality educational platform provides a new way to teach young people about Indigenous language, laws and customs.
Mikaela Jade and her start-up Indigital had dreams of bringing traditional stories into the digital era. An Indigenous person herself, a Cabrogal Woman from the Dharug-speaking Nations of Sydney, she sought to protect the culture and history of Indigenous peoples around Australia through a digital education platform that leveraged augmented reality.
The rise and fall of Adobe Flash
Few technologies have yielded such divisive and widespread passion as Flash. Many gush over its versatility and ease of use as a creative platform or its critical role in the rise of web video. Others abhor Flash-based advertising and Web design, or they despise the resource-intensiveness of the Flash Player plugin in its later years.
Whichever side of the love-hate divide you land on, there's no denying the fact that Flash changed how we consume, create, and interact with content on the Web....
22 - Wololo
The sound designers from Age of Empires I and II, brothers Chris and Stephen Rippy, tell the story behind the iconic "wololo" priest chant — for converting enemy units to your side — that's since become a popular meme, as I delve into its strange legacy.
All sound effects in this episode come from Age of Empires or Age of Empires II, except when otherwise noted. Music is a mix of my own stuff and a few tracks from the Age of Empires soundtrack, plus sn...
Balancing Act: How Developers Make Games "Fair"
It’s one of those things that you know when you see it: This game’s so broken, you think, that everyone’s just spamming the same strategy all the time and there’s no point even playing anymore unless someone fixes the balance.
But what about when the balance is good? Or it feels just a little bit off? How do you know? How does anyone know? And what even is game balance?
To get to the bottom of how balance works, what it means in different genres, and how game makers go about setting—or, if ne...
How Warcraft III birthed a genre, changed a franchise, and earned a Reforge-ing
Few game worlds have made a mark as big as that of Warcraft. It has birthed three best-selling strategy games, a blockbuster Hollywood movie, a bunch of novels and comics, a mega-popular (digital) collectible card game (Hearthstone), and an epic, genre-defining MMO that, 15 years on from launch, is soon to get its eighth expansion. And while most of its cultural impact and fame (and infamy) stems from that MMO, World of Warcraft, there's something to be said for the q...
20 - RealSound™ and Voice Characterisations
How a quest to put sound in a couple of games from 1985 and '86 helped usher in a revolution in computer game audio design and production.
Features interviews with tech entrepreneur Charlie Jackson and former Adobe and Microsoft executive Eric Zocher, who together co-founded 1980s software company Silicon Beach Software — a pioneer in creative software tools and desktop publishing, as well as the publisher of several popular games (two of which we cover here: Airborne and the original Mac ver...
Save the (Release) Date
Video game release dates seem at times like a black art. We hear dates like “Q1 2021” or “October 25th” bandied around and try to guess what they mean for a game’s development. Does a delay spell trouble behind the scenes? Is there some weird logic behind a launch that goes up against a hotly anticipated competitor?
And why do games keep coming out—often just before Christmas, or around February and March—broken and unfinished, their players forced to download a massive day-one patch just to ...
How Nintendo introduced the Game Boy, Tetris, and Pokémon to the West
Nintendo couldn’t do much wrong, come 1989. Four years in on the company’s first console, the NES, it had racked up around 28 million system sales worldwide and almost single-handedly revived the failing American video game market. And the previous year Nintendo had expanded its business with a hit magazine, Nintendo Power. But the NES was getting old, and Nintendo wasn’t ready to introduce its successor.
To preserve momentum, Nintendo needed another thing — a new device that…
18 - Hogs of War
Far from a mere "Worms in 3D", Hogs of War was its own breed of madness. Hear the story of how it evolved from a concept of "Command and Conquer with pigs", what made it such a well-designed satire, and how this underrated PlayStation game saw the funny side of serious global conflict.
What happened when Sega courted female players in the mid-’90s
How a group of Sega executives helped make video games more inclusive
Keynote - Tales From The Golden Age of Mac Gaming (/dev/world 2018)
Presented by: Richard Moss
Macs were at various points in the 1980s and 90s a great bastion of innovation and creativity in game design, a place where genres were born and thinking differently was a doctrine — not a tagline. Journalist and historian Richard Moss will share the biggest lessons, insights, and tales of developer wizardry from the era that he found while writing his book The Secret History of Mac Gaming.