Pelle Wessman

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The Division isn't just Ubisoft's next game, it's the company's future

Imagine a game that combines the open world chops of Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed with the near-future aesthetics and clever online components of Watch Dogs with the best of The Crew’s take on peopling a virtual world with players and non-players. Now give that concept to a team that has been quietly helping on some of those games, always striving — even before its days at Ubisoft — to make online play better. The result is Tom Clancy’s The Division and, Ubisoft hopes, a glimmer of what the future of the company and games in general has in store for all of us.

Snowdrop is designed from the ground up to empower the sorts of worlds and experiences that Ubisoft has increasingly made its core design philosophy.

“I think there will be more online presence in [all] games but it will take many new forms,” he said. “I think that developers have some ideas about what these new forms could be, but we can’t just draw the line from point A to point B and expect to get there. It’s going to take [the] community of players and fans to help guide what each step along that path looks like. Online and especially persistence is a form of social experiment so it could take a myriad of different forms depending on how each game community evolves.

​Interesting read on how Ubisoft dares to experiment with new mechanics and try to learn from those experiments and continually evolve their gaming experiences by iterating on successful concepts and building technological backbones to enable continued experimentation. ​ ​While Ubisoft games hasn’t really been a favorite of mine in general, I’m pretty intrigued by The Division, not only because it’s the biggest game ever to be produced here in Malmö, but also because it seems to involve an interesting combination of mechanics packaged up in a very well polished world.

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My 2015 in Startup - 3 min read

Made my blog work with Jekyll 3 and the latest GitHub Pages changes, so now links etc are getting published again.

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HBO doesn't care that people aren't watching Vinyl and here's why

The networks are constantly worried about finances and because of that, rely on ratings more than anything else to see if a show is worth pursuing.

Simply put, they’re willing to give up pursuing awards and critical acclaim in order to keep profits up and shows on the air.

HBO, on the other hand, doesn’t have to worry about advertisers because of its subscriber-based system and can afford to explore a variety of different series, seeing which ones spark an interest with audiences and which ones don’t.

The future is bright when subscription-based services gets more and more common and more and more services follow HBO and others in thinking more long term in what they offer and ensure that their full portfolio of content makes a compelling offer to customers rather than that the prime spot on the TV appeals to advertisers.

It enables for a long tail kind of approach to things as a complete offer means providing both the big hits and the niche content and to take responsibility for experimenting, exploring and discovering new ways to push things further so that the boundaries for what a complete service entaisl getspushed and redefined as time goes by.

I’m looking forward to the future of fighting for customer appeal instead of the current day’s fight for advertiser appeal.

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Here's what Warren Spector's doing about System Shock 3

At Origin and Looking Glass that whole idea of players solving their own problems and telling their own stories took root. It was about players playing the way they want to as opposed to the way designers force them to.

design for me is like sculpting. You whittle away all the things that don’t look like the game you want to make. It’s not an additive process like painting. You take things away. I am in the process of building myself an enormous lump of clay, and then we’ll start whittling.

​Looking forward to see where this ends up. I have a lot ​of respect for Warren Spector and the types of games he has been creating and the games that those in turn have inspired. ​ ​It seems to be a lot about managing freedom in such a way that it empowers users to create engaging stories. Some games like Deus Ex manages that well, while others gets a bit too sandboxy and makes the user unable to have any meaningful impact on things. ​ ​I myself think about managing freedom in eg. such a way as whether to put the stories in the sandbox or the sandbox in the story. A story in a sandbox can be rather limiting as it plays to each other’s weaknesses – a sandbox can’t support all possible actions and a story is prescripted. If the script is limited to the sandbox rather than the other way around, then the freedom will in practise be rather limiting. If one instead lets the prescripted story be the container of the sandbox then they play to each other strengths instead. The script can contain a story of epic proportions, unlimited in its scale, and every part of that story will make the user feel fully free by giving them a sandbox to solve the problem presented by the story within. ​ ​Deus Ex has managed all of that really well and it will be really interesting to see if these new games from the original creators of that philosophy will be able to push it even further and enable even more compelling stories to be a experienced.

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The Website Obesity Crisis

Great thoughts on the current state of the web. Getting some web 2.0 vibes and getting a bit nostalgic about the time when participation, democratization and truly simple websites was all the rage. Where did it all go wrong?

Some quotes from the article:

It’s like we woke up one morning in 2008 to find that our Lego had all turned to Duplo. Sites that used to show useful data now look like cartoons.

Sites target novice users on touchscreens at everyone else’s expense.

Complexity is like a bug light for smart people. We can’t resist it, even though we know it’s bad for us.

​I think we can resist it if we take a more holistic approach to things and ensure that the teams/people that build things always have their eyes on the end goal. Only when we lose sight or interest in the next goal do we look for alternative goals and solving complex problems is a great goal, just not the right onto when building a product.

much of the web is horribly overbuilt

The point is that assumptions about complexity will anchor your expectations, and limit what you’re willing to try. If you think a ‘real’ website has to live in the cloud and run across a dozen machines, a whole range of otherwise viable projects will seem unprofitable.

Developers today work on top of too many layers to notice how powerful the technology has become.

​Very true. Eg. the state of JavaScript in browsers today makes many libraries unneeded – it’s powerful enough on its own.

One way to make your website shine is by having the courage to let the browser do what it’s optimized to do. Don’t assume that all your frameworks and tooling are saving you time or money.

Everything we do to make it harder to create a website or edit a web page, and harder to learn to code by viewing source, promotes that consumerist vision of the web.

The way to keep giant companies from sterilizing the Internet is to make their sites irrelevant. If all the cool stuff happens elsewhere, people will follow. We did this with AOL and Prodigy, and we can do it again.

For this to happen, it’s vital that the web stay participatory.

​That’s why the IndieWeb movement is so important (and rejuvenating!)

Keeping the Web simple keeps it awesome.


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Adactio: Journal—My first Service Worker

I’m really excited about the way that the Service Worker spec has been designed. Instead of being an all-or-nothing technology that you have to bet the farm on, it has been deliberately crafted to be used as an enhancement on top of existing sites

I very much agree with Jeremy Keith here, Service Workers brings some exciting new possibilities to the web and fits very well into a progressive enhancement flow, which means we can start to make use of it right here and now. Users will then gradually benefit from the work as more and more browsers joins the party.

Jeremy runs a great overview and introduction on how to get started with Service Workers, so be sure to give it a read!

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Den oberoende sociala webben 2015 - 4 min read

Dev.Opera — Houdini Task Force meeting report

Its primary aim isn’t to give us “new CSS” but to add API hooks into the browsers’ built-in CSS capability so developers can hook into it, use the native implementation where we want (rather than duplicate it) and extend it. It’s applying the Extensible Web Manifesto’s philosophy to CSS.

This sounds very promising. Making it possible to extend CSS better and easier will help iteration and adoption of new techniques and bring it to the level that some JavaScript polyfills are at today. A promising future for the extensible web.

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Group photo from the Homebrew Website Club in Malmö on the 28:th of August – first one and four people still – aiming for an even bugger one next time!

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Hi! Thanks for reading my blog. Lots of words, right? Yeah, that's just me, Pelle Wessman, that sometimes likes to put a lot of words in certain orders to try to make sense of the world. Hope you enjoyed it!