Tag Archive: design


A bawdy tavern – full of NPCs

I’ve been thinking about characters in games a lot more recently, and specifically, the problems with NPC (non-player characters) entities in MMOs.  Your typical MMO features hundreds of characters – quest givers usually – who come and go on an endless conveyorbelt of sob-stories and XP rewards.  It’s hard to care for the 10th, 50th, or 100th NPC mother with a missing son, or someone needing their precious supplies gathered from the bellies of wild animals.  So, with that in mind, here’s my police-suspect-inspired checklist for making a character work in a game.

Means, Motive and Opportunity…

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Kiosk 2.0 from Unfold. Notice the printer inside, the hanging prints, and the bag of all-too-familiar printing-detritus.

I had wanted to create something like this – a mobile, wheeled, 3d printing street-vendor cart!  Called Kiosk 2.0 and created by ‘Unfold Design Studio’ based out of Belgium, the Kiosk combines printer and scanner (and I’d not thought of a scanner when I was making plans) and little bags of pre-printed objects hanging from the shelter over the top.  tl;dr – The ultimate kiosk will include printer, scanner AND recycler – and we’re almost there!

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A 3d printed anglepoise lamp, from the highly derived LED Desk Lamp by CarryTheWhat on Thingiverse

A no-solder, 3d printed, miniature anglepoise lamp in black and UV.

Above, you can see my weekend project – a 3d printed, no-soldering-iron-required, LED using miniature anglepoise lamp.  I printed it on Saturday, and assembled it on Sunday – it’s fitted with 6 UV LEDs (because I couldn’t find any white at the time) and the lamp shade has a thin accent line of glow-in-the-dark plastic as a highlight.

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I’m a professional level designer – and to 99.99% of the population that is an utterly meaningless title.  Even to other video game industry insiders, ‘Level Designer’ is a pretty unusual job – one that varies from studio to studio.  So why is Hollywood (and the books it’s based on) doing so well at answering that common question: “Yes, but what is it that you do?”

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So, I think it’s safe to say, I have a 3d printing ‘problem’.  I love 3d printing – dodgy prints and wonky extrusions and all – and if I’m not printing something, I feel that I’m wasting valuable print-time!

I’ve got a handful of 3d printing projects on the go at the moment

  • A passive coin sorter – darn you, US 1¢ coin vs. 10¢, with your 1mm difference in diameter!
  • A hairbrush with replaceable bristles, and interchangable handles – for different firmness and length of bristles, and different, customized ergonomic handles.
  • Updates to my glowstick candelabra – collaborating with a smart gent to make a version that can be wired for LED use.
  • Trying out the maglite candlestick that someone else on Thingiverse designed
…And new stuff every day.  I’ll wake up too early, lie in bed trying to sleep, and then BAM – new idea for a 3d printed thing will hit me.  Then, it’s only a matter of time before I sneak over to the laptop and start modelling it.
So what comes along to make my addiction worse?  MakerBot TV – a new web video series that looks at developments at MakerBot (the creators of my Thingomatic), gives advice on the use of ReplicatorG (the tool I use for 3d printing) and then features some of the objects at Thingiverse (where I upload all my designs and avidly watch other designs being uploaded).
There’s no saving me, it would appear.  Another 2 year obsession has hit, and hit hard.  My last one was Steampunk, a few years ago, and I’ve been experiencing the calm before the storm, waiting for the next one to hit.  Well, this is it!
A selection of 5 printed hair clips - forest green, royal blue, sunflower yellow, black, and striped red and blue

A Selection of 3d Printed Hair Clips - Green, Black, Blue, Yellow and Striped

In 2007 I read a novella by Bruce Sterling called Kiosk.  The main character, Borislav, is a humble, limping man from a cold, Eastern European country who owns a street kiosk selling 3d printed tchotchkes.  A young girl called Jovanica is a regular customer – returning day after day with her pocket-money to buy 3d printed barrettes, hair clips and scrunchies – she’s the trend setter of the area.  She picks out the coolest hair toys and leads the next hair toy craze – with Borislav’s kiosk being the only supplier.

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If you have half an hour, then I recommend the above video lecture – because it will open your eyes to some of the trickery and shenanigans of retail architecture.

No longer will you wonder why the mall is full of seven different clothing outlets, all mostly the same.  You will forget those feelings of confused bafflement at why THIS street is a shopper magnet, and THAT street serves only tumbleweed.  But most importantly; Ikea, that mysterious beast of a furniture cathedral, will open her secrets to you, and the veil will fall from your eyes.  You shall be its master, and the shortcuts will never hide from you again.  All the meatballs you can buy.

Oh, and if like me, you’re at all interested in video game level design, then you’ll find some fantastically parallel knowledge of great use to multi-player flow and single-player attractors.