Even though it’s been way too long since I did any real web development, and even longer than that since I did any actual application programming, I somehow managed to end up at Minnebar yesterday. I get so depressed about the nearly nonexistent game development community in the Twin Cities that I sometimes forget how large and active the web-dev community is. By the looks of things, there were nearly 400 people at the mini-conference, which apparently made it one of the biggest BarCamps around.

Paul introduced me to Garrick van Buren, who promptly called on me to speak up during his session on Designing for Use. Hopefully my mumblings about users ignoring information in HUDs (the analogue of toolbars and menus in a non-game app) and the need to push as much information as possible into the world (or workspace) itself were useful to someone. (Next time I end up at something like this, I’ll have to remember to assemble my thoughts beforehand — or just crib Raph Koster’s.) It was heartening, though, to see that people are receptive to the idea of cross-fertilization of ideas and techniques between games and the Web.

(NB: Oftentimes, when I tell people that I’m a game designer, I get a blank look and a question like, “if you’re not a programmer, what is it that you do?” This may have been one of the few places where my standard answer — “I define the range of interactions between a player and his or her virtual environment” — didn’t result in even blanker looks.)

Rather unexpectedly, I found myself at dinner with a bunch of Ruby developers, including Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson. I’m still not sure how I ended up playing the role of Java apologist in the conversation, since I’m usually the one complaining about how verbose and restrictive Java is.

Even more unexpectedly, the big language war that’s brewing on the horizon may not be Ruby vs. Java (at this point, most people already know which one they want), but OO/procedural languages vs. functional languages. I didn’t go to the talk on functional languages and agile development, but at lunch, a bunch of people seemed to fired up about the topic, one way or another. (NB: Game programmers! You are not exempt from this discussion.) The old language geek in me is kind of delighted by the chance to work in Lisp, but then I remember that pissing matches between language advocates are a big part of why I don’t code anymore, so I’m not looking forward to seeing the carnage of an Erlang vs. Haskell (vs. Java vs. Python, etc.) debate.

At any rate, it was nice to get caught up on some of the things that developers are doing do these days, as well as catching up with some colleagues I hadn’t seen in a while. Now I’m kind of itching to build a Web site, though. Anybody have any ideas for one?