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    So they made you a lead; now what? (Part 2)

    The first part of this article took a closer look at why people with outstanding art, design or programming skills sometimes struggle or even fail as team leads. In addition to that part one also identified the core values of leadership as trust, direction and support. The goal of this part is to provide newly […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code / Visual Arts /

    So they made you a lead; now what? (Part 1)

    What to do after you get promoted into a leadership position should be a trivial question to answer, but in my experience the opposite is true. In fact sometimes it seems to me that leadership is some kind of taboo topic in the games industry. Making games is supposed to be creative and fun and […]

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    Game Design /

    The Indie Content Problem

    Now that we’re wrapping up work on Battle Group 2 we’ve begun planning out our next major project. I’ve briefly spoken about this previously and today I’m going to share some further discussions that have come out of our planning. The main theme revolves around creating enough content for a game with a small development […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    A Midnight Catharsis

    I can't sleep. In three hours I have to wake up, catch a 4 am bus to an airport to make a 5:30 am flight to Brussels to continue my extended European vacation, but I know that I'm only going to be able to sleep tonight after writing this. The cause of my insomnia is […]

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    Game Design /

    Game Designers are all on Steroids

    Video Presentation: Game Designers around the world are addicted to performance enhancing drugs and many of them don't know it. They are addicted to progression and escalation. As game designers we are often playing with human psychology and tapping into the various triggers and ticks of human behaviour; our reasons are varied. Some of us […]

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    Game Design /

    "Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta" game development analysis

    SPOILER ALERT!! This game development review has many spoilers on the game, if you didn't play the game yet and you're intending to play it soon, then you may want to skip reading this until you play it. Prologue: "Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta" is a game that has been developed in the Middle East, […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Marketing /

    How to Build an Indie Arcade Cabinet

    (This post was written by my Studio Mercato colleague Jon Stokes, and seemed like a great fit for something different!) Back in July of last year, Studio Mercato was offered an opportunity to exhibit our game Crystal Brawl on an actual freaking arcade machine in a charming, tatted-up dive of a music venue in Brooklyn […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Reading The Papers: Ludus Ex Machina

    I haven't discussed my own research in this column yet, but you may know that I'm interested in automating the process of game design in its entirety. At the highest level, game designers produce mechanics that connect to our understanding of reality - gravity makes you fall, projectiles hurt things they hit, touching food heals […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Reading The Papers: Exhausting

    When programming systems it makes sense to keep complexity and scale in mind. Don't try and render 400,000 sprites all at once. Don't try and send the entire world state to every player on the server. What about our design tools, though? Are we being too cautious when it comes to coding, and what riches […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Reading The Papers: Guaranteed Candy

    For some developers, all this talk of procedural content generation is bittersweet. If you're generating a world map, for instance, you probably don't have too many requirements of it. A bit of land, not too many mountains - other than that, the randomness is part of the appeal. But what if you have very specific […]

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    Game Design /

    PRACTICE Makes Better: Self-Improvement Through Game Design

    A slide from Robert Yang's PRACTICE 2013 talk, "Well-Made: Back to Black Mesa." “How do you let people betray each other?” “How do you handle gay marriage?” “How do you get people to want to play?” No, the above aren't results from a Google auto-complete gone wrong. These were just a few of the questions […]

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    #AltDevUpdates / Advocacy / Business / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    4 Beginner Projects for Launching into Game Programming

    Photo credit: minipixel Lots of students and beginner developers ask me, "What's the fastest way to become a game programmer?" Once you’re an amazing programmer, the world is open to you. You can make your own indie projects. Other developers and artists will want to work with you. You can get a job at a […]

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    Game Design /

    Honor Thy Player's Time

    It’s a glorious Sunday morning. You stir and stretch in your bed, a mess of wonderfully soft sheets and covers. The whole day is open. Will you laze around for a bit more? Get up and go for a walk, or to the gym? Make plans to meet up with friends? Whatever you decide, this […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    What's so great about Oculus Rift?

    Over the last few months, alongside the Xbox One and PS4 PR trains, articles on Oculus Rift have been gaining more and more traction. I've been in the category of keeping an eye on its progress, but not with any impression of it having much of an effect on my day to day life. Like […]

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    Business / Game Design / Marketing /

    The Jones On Fire Postmortem: A Game In Five Acts

    Author's Note: I should mention that Michael Nielsen was with me on Jones On Fire from the very beginning - he did the music for it during Blaze Jam, and stayed on from there. Nathan Madsen was brought on shortly after, to round out the music and handle sound effects. Folmer was brought on toward […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design / Production /

    The Karaoke Rules of Game Development

    The act of going to a karaoke bar is filled with more dramatic tension than you might think. The sheer amount of questions in play at any given time is intense: What will the next person sing? Will they do a good job? Will they be ungodly terrible? Does this place have songs I want […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Data-driven design with Unity 3d, Part 2 - Server design / API and assumptions

    As mentioned previously, I've started fleshing out the backend for the server that I'm looking to build for my ongoing experiments. Let's recap the key points:

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Creating powerful languages with Xtext

    Today, I would like to introduce the Xtext framework to you. Xtext is an open source framework which allows you to define your own textual programming languages before you know it. Xtext was not developed specifically with game developers as a target group in mind. It is rather independent in terms of its application context, […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    The Simulation Dream

    There’s an old dream in game design. It drives the design of games like SimCity, Dwarf Fortress, Tropico, The Sims, and Prison Architect. I like to call it the Simulation Dream. In 1996, Starr Long, the associate producer of Ultima Online, talked about the game before release: “Nearly everything in the world, from grass to goblins, has a purpose, and […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Data-driven design with Unity 3d, Part 1 - Brainstorms, Initial Requirements.

    This is a slightly-edited re-post of a series that I've been writing in quiet isolation (which you get used to doing indie development) on my blog.  Currently up to part 4 of the series, they have been received somewhat well by my small subset of beta testers, so might as well throw them out to […]

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    Game Design /

    True Magic of Next Gen

    Originally written for Climax Studios for publication in Develop. Reposted with Permission. Also since I wrote the original article E3 happened and Sony has revealed a lot more of the stratergy, some of which is shown in this video which is a good primer on the subject. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OegYm1dM9g&w=560&h=315] Some time last year two black […]

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    Game Design /

    Designing a game to behave in ways for which it was not designed

    Prologue I’d like to start this article by pointing out that it is merely a documenting of my own personal experience and thoughts that led from it, and in no way is a treatise on what I think everyone should do. Please take it with a grain of salt.   Introduction Emergent behaviour is something […]

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    Game Design /

    Designing "10000000" as a Free To Play Game

    1000000 [iOS, Android, Steam] is a puzzle-runner-rpg-like game developed by Eightyeight Games. If you haven’t played it, I seriously recommend to check it out since it’s awesome, and its story of development and success is as amazing and inspiring as the game itself. What’s also interesting is that the game allows itself to be designed […]

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    Business / Game Design /

    30 Weeks of Game Development

    Outland Games is an iOS game I’ve been working on at Uber Entertainment since late last summer. We just released the game to the app store this week (iTunes - $0.99). This post is the first in a short series on it’s development. Evolution On every project I’ve ever shipped I wished I could have chronicled […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Vexing puzzle design

    I enjoy a good puzzle.  At my core, I look for patterns in pretty much everything around me and I think we all do to some extent.  Looking for order in chaos is just something that we all do from the time we’re toddlers.  That’s when toddlers aren’t creating chaos, as I’m sure other new […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    An update to Single Joystick

    Two weeks ago I posted an article showing progress on a new type of touch screen joystick, that allows you to move and rotate using a single touch. The response to that was really positive, and so I've continued working on it in the background. This is a short post updating on progress. Most of […]

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    Game Design / Production / Technology/ Code /

    Surviving a Game Jam

    So this being AltDevBlogADay, I’m sure that a lot of people reading this have done at least one game jam. I’m sure that a good deal of people also haven’t had the pleasure yet, so this little write up is for them. This isn’t really a full article, just a jot-down of some musings that […]

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    Game Design /

    Aesop’s Games

    My wife and I just had our first child. While our daughter was baking in my wife’s belly, we would talk about what kinds of video games she would like to play when she grew up or if she would wind up liking them at all. I thought long and hard about what games I […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    A new type of touch screen joystick

    This post is going to be a little different to my usual posts, as it's going to be more akin to how I write a document for a mechanic. The mechanic in question is a challenge I set myself: try and design a touch based joystick that, in a single stick, provides the functionality that usually […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    What Happens Next? (2013)

    In June 2011 I wrote an article called What Happens Next?, where I had a quick go at peering into a crystal ball and predicting the future of video games. Recently I did a talk for Social Media Cafe, discussing similar thoughts with 18 months worth of additional future taken into account. Parts of what […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Playing with my kids helps me make better games

    A funny thing happened to me smack in the middle of my transition from the brokerage industry to the games industry. People tell you how everything changes when you become a parent. Friends of mine tried to explain the feeling, their eyes taking on a bit of a faraway look as if they were describing […]

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    Game Design / Production /

    Starting a new game project? Ask the hard questions first

    We have all been there. You wanted to start a new game project, and possibly have been dreaming of the possibilities for a long time, crafting stories, drawing sketches, imagining the dazzling effects on that particular epic moment of the game... then you start to talk to some friends about it, they give you feedback, […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Why Do You Create?

    My friends know I’ve been struggling to write this article for months, struggling with the tone and the question: so I ask you, Why? It’s the most important question you can ask yourself, though asking it is never easy. A recent Edge piece asked some creative directors and leads the question. Some give honestly insightful […]

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    Business / Game Design / Marketing /

    Kickstarter campign isn't looking so hot?

    This is a guest posting by Eddie, Novaleaf's Game Dev Lead Kickstarter campaign isn’t looking so hot? Well, dang it. Well, that’s currently what’s happening to our Kickstarter campaign, God of Puzzle. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about what you need to know if you’re planning to start a Kickstarter campaign. This time, […]

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    Advocacy / Audio / Business / Game Design / Marketing / Production / Technology/ Code / Visual Arts /

    Q-001: Where do you feel like you are being held back by the status quo in #gamedev?

    This was the question that started my twitter #gamedev Q&A series. As of right now we're just shy of having discussed 100 questions on twitter. Feel free to join in!

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    The Spector of Game AI

    Warren Spector recently gave an interview to Eurogamer that’s circulating pretty widely now about the need for better AI in games. Specifically what he’d like to see is people like John Carmack and Tim Sweeney stop focusing on graphics and start working on creating believable characters and immersive worlds. Of course, I’ve got some issues […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    The Trials of the Game Developer

    This little rant was mostly to have something to point people towards who don't appreciate what it takes to make a game. For the people who are happy to whinge about the way a box falls off a shelf rather than just smile and enjoy the game. Making games is hard. Now, that in itself […]

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    Game Design /

    Five Little Things, Episode 1: Triple Town

    (Note: This was originally posted on Flippfly.com) In this series, I satisfy my urge to categorize and make lists, by breaking down various videogame related topics into five little nuggets of easily digestible wisdom. If you haven't tried Triple Town from SpryFox yet, you owe it to yourself to check it out (free to play […]

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    Business / Game Design / Marketing /

    Pursuing Excellence

    [Note: This was originally posted on Flippfly.com] Awhile back, I argued that making an excellent game should be a game developer's #1 priority. I also suggested that in the absence of marketing dollars: mediocre games usually fail, good games often fail, and excellent games rarely fail. These ideas were a little more controversial than I expected. There […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Unity, Replayed

    Replaying actions in a game is a surprisingly common feature. There are match replays of course, but recorded actions are also used in cutscenes, 'ghost' players in racing games, and a variety of puzzles, like those for Clank in Ratchet & Clank:A Crack in Time. Many engines support at least a limited ability to record action in-game, […]

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    Game Design /

    Games are Art: an elephant in the room

    Yup, that topic again n_n I'm guessing posts with the same point as this one have been written at least a million times, but who knows, maybe you'll find something interesting in this one, so here we go. This article says there is a particular bond between video games and music, unlike cinema. Something about […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Leaky Abstractions

    In a world of frameworks, simple to use engines and added layers of abstraction we are in danger of leaky abstraction, both in design and programming. While the concept is familiar to me a friend introduced me to the phrase at the pub recently as well as directing me to this brilliant article by Joel […]

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    Business / Game Design / Production /

    Game Developers: Remember Priority #1

    (Note: this was originally posted on Flippfly.com) I questioned the wisdom of writing this, since as of yet, I've not released a highly successful game as an independent developer since quitting my day job back in April. Forest and I have high hopes for Flippfly, but aside from our moderately successful Monkey Drum Deluxe, there's […]

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    Game Design /

    Why I Play, Why I Create

    Several weeks ago, triggered partly by work events and partly Diablo III release I started really thinking about why I play[1]. What is Play to me and how can I make games that speaks to my soul and are worth my time in crafting? Sounds grandiose, so let's simplify it. Which games do I enjoy […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    A Matter of Choice

    A couple of days ago I finished playing The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. And if you have played the game, you know that I use the term Finish loosely, as I think few people have ever truly finished the game. You see, The Witcher 2 is one of those rare gems of a game […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    The Depth Jam

    Last week, I got together with three other designers for a four-day intensive design retreat known as the Depth Jam. The other attendees were: Chris Hecker of Spy Party, Marc ten Bosch of Miegakure, and Daniel Benmergui of Storyteller. This event was an experiment. Chris and I had been discussing the idea for a while, […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design / Marketing /

    Why Kompu Gacha Was Banned

    The Japanese social gaming market is substantial, worth $1.4 billion in 2011, and it is dominated by two major players: GREE and DeNA. When rumors began circulating that the “kompu gacha” reward system that GREE and DeNA utilized extensively was going to be made illegal, their stocks were pummeled by over 20% in two days. Now, kompu gacha is […]

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    #AltDevConf / #AltDevUpdates / Advocacy / Audio / Business / Game Design / Marketing / Production / Protected / Technology/ Code / Visual Arts /

    Why I went back into the studio......

    I LOVE working in the studio, I really do. I love the freedom it affords me. I love trying to create games that I want to play! I also really love having a cerabal cortex, so I left the studio life and learned biz magic. I make a really good living in biz, I LOVE […]

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    Game Design /

    Maximum Creativity: Open & Closed Mode

    A video recently cycled through my friends’ social circles which I wanted to share. John Cleese talks about Creativity and Open and Closed thinking modes. The TL;DR of John Cleese’s talk Closed Mode Purposeful Highly Productive, but not creative. Good for getting things done. Default Mode at Work. Open Mode Playful, Curious, Fun, Humorous, Relaxed, […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    The Difficulties of an Infinite Video Game World

    The Premise Procedural Generation is definitely in vogue, and I personally have believed that it is the way forward in video gaming for many years now. Using procedural generation in games is nothing new of course, as fans of games such as Elite or The Sentinel will know that we've been seeing it in games […]

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    Game Design / Marketing / Technology/ Code /

    Kevin Bacon in Video Gaming

    The Premise My project team have the distinct honor of listing actor Kevin Bacon in the 'Special Thanks' portion of our credits, but I doubt he has any idea that he's in there. The fact is, he's had a very large - albeit unknown - influence on the game's development. The game is Malevolence: The […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Pushing the Button More Carefully

    Hi all, first post on here, but it's a topic that I feel particularly strongly about and I decided I would share my thoughts. Please keep in mind that all views expressed here are purely my opinion and I in no way intend any offense. Game Design Game design is always about looking back before […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Localization Notes

    In a few days I am going to jump on a plane and move to a new country, this time I am off to Seattle. With this pending adventure it got me thinking about some of the wonderful fun I have had localizing games for foreign markets and I thought some of my notes might […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Unlocking our potential

    In my last article I looked at how content driven games are made, concluding that any sense of control over the story is, ultimately, an illusion. With this article I aim to open the door and look beyond our current limitations and ask instead: is it possible to make a content driven game that isn’t […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Game Engines for Indies

    There's a lot of choices when it comes to development tools for indie developers.  As a new developer, we put a lot of thought into which commercial game engine we would license and choose to focus on going forward.  There are a number of engines available that could appeal to indie developers and I thought […]

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    Game Design /

    Past the Past Pastel Dreams

    Take a moment, think back, past the nostalgia and sepia dreams so we can consider old, forgotten mechanics. The thing we love about games is that they are complex and detailed but primarily, they are games. Systems of interaction and exploration within a created framework. All creative works evolve, compete, succeed and in some cases […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    The perception of interactivity

    The conclusion of the Mass Effect trilogy has spawned a great deal of chatter on forums and news sites alike, based initially on the online petition requesting extra endings and the growing responses from Bioware and others alike.  Kyle's post here covers one perspective, and with this post I aim to cover something slightly different […]

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    #AltDevUpdates / Advocacy / Game Design /

    There are eight million blogs about Mass Effect’s ending. This is one of them.

    When Mass Effect 3 was released earlier this month it was met with much anticipation and critical praise as the popular space epic concluded.  Immediately, however, a certain subset of fans became enraged by some of the decisions Bioware made with respect to the series.  Even before the game was announced fans expressed anger that […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Marketing / Visual Arts /

    Show, Don't Tell

    Anyone who has worked with storytelling in some shape or form has probably heard the phrase "Show, don't tell" a million times. It's such a simple concept, and yet it is one of the hardest to pull off effectively. In our everyday lives we generally tend to not go into too much detail when describing […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    How to build irresistible social casino games

    This month’s Kontagent analytics webinar was packed yesterday, with hundreds of developers from around the world tuning in to make it their most successful webinar ever. The topic? How to build ‘irresistible’ social casino games. Clearly, the social casino games space is heating up, and game developers and casino companies alike want to learn more. Teaching them […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Visual Arts /

    You Should Be Drawing

    Artists know this phrase all to well. They hear it from peers. From mentors and idols. From themselves. I am thinking it over and over now as I type this. It is a mantra that is always haunting me. Guilting me. You should be drawing Why does that phrase hold so much power? Does it do […]

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    Game Design /

    Be an Architect

    So I haven’t posted in a while – my sincerest apologies. With GDC, schoolwork, moving, work, and my own projects, I’ve been a bit swamped for time. But here I am, fresh and ready to talk about level design. Now, I’m not sure whom I’m directing this to. It may be for a more entry-level […]

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    Game Design /

    Everything I Know About Game Development I Learned From The 80's

    Behind the goofy dialog, sweet ass round house kicks, muscle bound heroes, and beautiful dames beats the thunderous heart of pure awesome; a heart that will guide you, mold you, and train you - if only you would listen.

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    Game Design /

    Constraint Based Design

    In some cases the most destructive action one can perform on the creative psyche is to give it absolute freedom. The blank page, blue sky, and empty word document are among the most terrifying monsters in the creative world. Apply artificial Constraint Design within Constraint Remove Contraint Analyze That sums up a little bit of […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Feedback loop

    Something that we’ve heavily relied on as a new, independent developer is user feedback which we listened to every step of the way in order to improve upon our final product.  There’s no doubt that some feedback is more useful than others.  For every well thought out piece of criticism we’ve received there’s the guy […]

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    Game Design /

    The Craft of Game Systems: Tuning RPG Content

    This article primarily focuses on PvE combat in RPGs, though its methods can be applied to PvP or other types of games. Role playing games have a tremendous amount of content, each piece with multiple parameters that define what they do in combat. Damage dealt by a sword, bonus granted by a skill, total health […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Why You Should Be Using Construct 2

    Note: I in no way represent the makers of the Construct 2 software. I am merely a fan of the program and simply trying to bring a wider awareness of the software to the general public. For those in the dark (which I'm willing to bet is most of you) Construct 2 is a game […]

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    Advocacy / Audio / Game Design /

    Team Audio Wants To Buy You Nice Things

    It wasn't that long ago that I was talking to Jason Scott, Volition's studio design director hero, about how bummed I was that so many of my colleagues from other disciplines weren't actively listening to the game. He was bummed, too. We were just a couple of guys sitting around, tears in our eyes, chins […]

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    Advocacy / Audio / Game Design / Visual Arts /

    The Novelty vs Familiarity Paradox

    Hi everyone n_n This post is the continuation of my last one: A functional definition of Beauty Today on the menu: Beauty is identified in novel things which resemble familiar things, and not in familiar things: we know the things we know aren't perfect. We don't know how perfect this new awesome thing might be. […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design / Marketing /

    The Principles of Game Monetization

    This post can also be viewed on our blog. As a part of Betable’s community outreach, we decided to ask indie developers on the IndieGamer and TIGSource forums to weigh in on how they balance gameplay with monetization. The response was overwhelming, and lead to some interesting insights into what game developers find to be appropriate versus abusive monetization. While […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Global Game Jam 2012 Wrap-Up

    The 2012 Global Game Jam is over and it was another year of awesome games in the Raleigh-Durham - North Carolina area.  This week I wanted to put the spotlight on all the games lovingly crafted by our crack squad of jammers – especially mine, Low Power! :D The Theme The Ouroboros – but no […]

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    Game Design /

    My game design hat

    One of the main traits that an indie developer must cultivate is that of wearing many hats. All indie game develepers will tell you about it, and it is the first thing you will realise when going indie. Wearing many hats is usually the result of small budgets. Small budgets mean less heads, but equal […]

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    Game Design /

    You're So Vain

    Games and gamers are a pretty self-involved bunch. We make games that are impossible to play without a couple years practice, games with communities that are hostile to "outsiders", and games that talk, sometimes literally, about themselves. Are we still so insecure that we're afraid to explore other fields or audiences?

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    Game Design /

    Fibonacci Game Design: Tips From A Combat Designer

    Use the fibonacci sequence to design simple, clean systems that people will find pleasantly compelling.

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Usability Evaluation for Video Games (Part 3): Psychophysiological Measures

    Hello, and welcome to this third and final part of a series on Usability Evaluation for Video Games. In the first part of this series (here) I talked about the necessity to have a framework upon which to base our understanding of player actions. In the second part (here) I gave some examples and ideas […]

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    Advocacy / Audio / Game Design / Visual Arts /

    A functional definition of Beauty

    [Edit: check the comments] I've been holding off posting for about two months because I either didn't have time to post, or I didn't feel my posts were solid enough. Now that both those problems have been fixed, here's my new post about beauty. In my last post about open-mindedness I hinted at the importance […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    What happened to innovative games?

      Indie developer Nimblebit dropped a PR bomb on Zynga yesterday with it’s letter addressing the similarities between their hit iPhone game Tiny Tower and Zynga’s upcoming release, Dream Heights. This galvanized the gaming community, with thousands of people, from prominent bloggers to gamers on Reddit criticizing the company. However, just after the new year, […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Growing Game Animation - State Changes and Pathing

    Character animation in games can not rely solely on the methods used in film. Creating emotionally engaging and empathetic characters in a video game doesn't stop when you finalize the animation. If you want to fully apply the 12 principles of animation into your game, you need to be aware of how and when your animations […]

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    Game Design /

    The Art Of Boss Design: Tips From A Combat Designer

    Great boss fights come from good planning, so learn how to plan correctly.

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Learning from the past

    A few years ago I was lucky enough to get the chance to go around Pompeii, a visit highly recommended. We spent almost the entire day there, wandering the streets of the ancient city, drinking in the history around us and learning everything that we could. One of the things that really stood out to […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Usability Evaluation for Video Games (Part 2)

    In part 1 of this series I talked about Norman's seven stages of action model (Norman, 2002), and how that can be used to start an informal usability evaluation on the part of the game designer/developer, after the User Interface (UI) of a game is pretty much completed. In this post, I will talk about […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    Social Gamers are Gamblers

    It almost seems like overnight, social gaming became a $2 billion industry with hundreds of millions of players worldwide. As we mentioned in our blog post, Exposing Social Gaming’s Hidden Lever, social gaming leverages the same game mechanics and psychological cues as slot machines to hook players. To us, it was no surprise when we […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Designing for the Untestable

    Sometimes you’re asked to design for the untestable scenario. For instance, design a system for 10,000 players to asynchrously interact in a persistent competitive world with progression mechanics that plays out over 3 months. Disclaimer: The entire time you are reading this remember one basic truth or else everything else contained herein is useless. Focus […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    5 Tips for Programmer Productivity

    1. Embrace the now-principle If something takes less than five minutes to do, do it immediately. It seems like the lazy option, but postponing something actually takes a lot of effort. The task needs to be written down somewhere. Then you need to track it and prioritize it with respect to other tasks. You will […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    The Symbolism of Simple Actions

    Climbing a ladder. Looking out of a window. Opening a door. In the literary world, more than just simple actions, these are often moments that the writer uses to give insight into the psyche of a character. These actions can be layered into a story to subtly hint at or subconsciously influence the perceptions of the reader. They […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Darwinian_Coding: ( Talking to your AI's: Universal Language )

    continuing from "Importance of Misunderstandings in Creature Dialog" Context: where we use this "Creature Dialog" covers how different video-game entities, such as Space Marines or Nihilist Droids, exchange knowledge and feelings, such as "might you know where is the extra food", "i am seriously hungry", or "give me your food now".  Creatures can communicate in many […]

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    Game Design /

    Hero Units: Tips From A Combat Designer

    A way to simplify communication about distance.

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Reflection in C++, Part 2: The Simple Implementation of Splinter Cell

    The first part in this series on Reflection in C++ gave a high level overview of many of the possibilities open to you when adding reflection to your games. In this second part I'm going to go into details and cover the system used to aid the rendering engine in Splinter Cell: Conviction (SC5). The […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    A Nobler Cause

    Many of you will remember my last post – “Awful Lot of Heterosexuals Around Here”. It generated no small amount of feedback. The reception was definitely mixed. Some people were welcoming to the notion, some people didn’t really think that it mattered either way, and some people got kind of…ugly. A few days ago it […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    The Craft of Game Systems: Practical Examples

    My previous articles were about system design at a conceptual level, focusing on goals and best practices for system designers. This article gives an example of how to put those principles into practice. To demonstrate, I’ll walk through the character stat systems for one of the games I did system design for: Dungeon Siege 2. […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Usability Evaluation for Video Games (Part 1)

    A lot of the readers of #ADBAD are students, young developers and hobbyists, so I've decided to write down a few things about usability evaluation methods for games. I feel that very little is out there about how to evaluate the usability of a video game, and it seems that most people do this experientially, […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Yes, it has been done before....

    I am well aware of that many posts have been made regarding usability. Unfortunately, no matter how much we talk about it, you can easily find bad examples of it everywhere. I am currently using the WordPress Android app, and that is what started my need to post this subject. The app itself is a […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Compulsion Loops in the Short, Medium and Long-term

    Introduction: Compulsion loop is a very fancy term isn’t it? It’s a recently coined term, perhaps a couple of years old, I’m unsure of its exact origin. However, there is no official definition of it, so as a result it’s often bandied around with slight nervousness lest someone asks you what it actually is. This […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Darwinian_Coding: ( Importance of Misunderstandings in Creature Dialog )

    continuing from "Giving your Creatures Feelings" Context: where we use this "Creature Dialog" covers how different video-game entities, such as Space Marines or Nihilist Droids, exchange knowledge and feelings, such as "might you know where is the extra food", "i am seriously hungry", or "give me your food now".  Creatures can communicate in many ways, including […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    What is 'The Future of Gaming'?

    Last week’s Wall Street Journal article, “Gaming’s New Frontier After Zynga”, talks about how the future of games is new, high-quality massively multiplayer online role-playing games (commonly known as MMORPGs). The author alleges that innovative new MMORPGs created by companies like Trion and Tiny Speck will lead to a revolution akin to social games’ emergence […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Improv Acting and Game Development

    When I was a first-year student at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center, I was required along with the other first-years to take an improvisational acting class.  At first glance it may seem like a weird requirement for a graduate level non-theatre program, but man, improv can teach you SO MUCH about working on teams in […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    When Implementing Someone Else's Algorithm...

    Once in a while you might be looking to implement a certain effect or feature in your game and at the risk of being called a "google programmer", you search around and find a related paper or article that describes a method of achieving this. I was recently wanting to do just that: implement a […]

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    Game Design /

    Triple Town: A Social Game Design Analysis

    Triple Town is a puzzle game developed by Spry Fox, originally for Kindle and then Facebook and Google+. There are several reviews out there, but chances are you already played it, and if you haven't, try it or check this video to see how it flows. We'll discuss the set of game design decisions that […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Awful Lot Of Heterosexuals Around Here.

    This is going to be a real difficult post to make without seeming “soapboxie”, but I’m going to do my best to just talk with you guys about this issue, and I hope you will do your best to forgive me if my rhetoric gets too hyperbolic. Good? Good. QUICK QUESTION! Can you name three […]

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    Game Design /

    Dealing With Change

    A Game Designer starts with the vision of a game, or a feature for the game, and sets out to refine the idea until it achieves all the goals set out for it.  Sometimes that journey results in scrapping the idea entirely because it didn't work out the way you hoped.  In this case, you […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Sanctioning mechanisms for MMORPGs

    In July, Simon Ludgate wrote a feature about the three F-Words of MMORPGs on Gamasutra. One of them was Fairness (link). He concludes that if the MMORPG progression is based on time played, then no one really thinks about fairness. However, if the progression is skill-based, then people do get upset when the game allows […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Separation of Gameplay

    I've worked on three different game engines and all have had gameplay and engine intertwined throughout the source code. In Unity, all game objects inherit from MonoBehaviour giving them full access to the power of Unity (and forming a hard link between game and engine). Recently, I've moved away from this approach to a better […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Creating Kinect Controls for Angry Birds

    Before I begin let me give you a little background.  About a month ago we decided to try and create NUI (Natural User Interface) or Kinect controls for Angry Birds.  Partially as a learning experience but also as proof of concept that games like Angry Birds (ex. applications that lend themselves to touchscreen devices) can […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Darwinian_Coding: ( Giving your Creatures Feelings )

    continuing from "Implementing Creature Cognitive Replay" Context: where we use this "Giving your Creature Feelings" covers adding feelings to video-game entities, such as Space-Marines or Mutated-Chickens, to better emulate player expectations or create a more believable and responsive simulation.  By attaching 'emotional-tags' (love, hate, excited, scared) and amounts to a creature's existing knowledge units, we can […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Game Prototyping 101

    This article tells you how to get started with game prototyping.

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    Game Design /

    No One Cares About Your Cool Game Idea

    Ideas are worthless. The only currency that holds any weight is the ability and drive to execute.

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    Game Design /

    Procedural Generation Cost Analysis

    Procedural Generation (definition from Procedural Content Wiki) - “Procedural content generation (PCG) is the programmatic generation of game content using a random or pseudo-random process that results in an unpredictable range of possible game play spaces.” The concept of a procedural generation cost analysis first came to me when I started toying around with the […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Roger Dickey's Tactics for Game Monetization

    Roger Dickey is the creator of Mafia Wars, one of the most successful social games of all time, and was the GM of FishVille at Zynga before becoming an international product advisor in their Japan and China divisions. He recently spoke at our Game Monetization meetup event, "Money Talks". There's a ton of great wisdom […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    The Craft of Game Systems, Part 2

    Welcome back! My last article introduced my take on the craft of game system design. I identified the goals I believe designers should strive for, and broke down the component parts of systems. This article covers the process I use for designing powerful and flexible systems for games like RPGs and strategy games, and offers […]

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    Game Design /

    Review Scores Are Bad! Let’s Fix Them!

    Earlier this week I asked Mike Acton to RT a couple of different ideas I had for posts to ask the #AltDev community what they wanted to talk about today. Everyone pretty much wanted me to talk about review scores; But Forrest Smith challenged me to talk about something completely original. Usually I have a […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    Game Thinking

    I recently attended a talk by a gamification proponent who presented a fragmented and ill structured theory on what gamification can bring to a product. He arrived at the right conclusions, but due to the long and winded road he took there. the audience was generally unwilling to accept the fine finale of his talk. […]

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    Game Design /

    When the Surprise > the Prize

    This is just an anecdote that I thought was both amusing and insightful.  So, occasionally the designers at Insomniac go out to dinner together, for cross-project bonding and whatnot, and one night we went to have burgers at Islands.  After dinner, the waitress came to tell us about an exciting promotion they were doing that […]

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    Game Design /

    Organic Game Design

    What can architecture teach us about game design? In this article, I'll look at architecture to see what elements can be incorporated into game design.  Architecture is a large field, and as a part of design there is already a lot of overlap with game design, so I'm going to focus on a style of […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Talkback Games

    Games are different. Unlike most other creative media, the consumer is required to do something, and the game is required to do something back. A game asks a question, "What do you want to do?" and a player answers. As you can imagine, this interactivity introduces a whole lot of complexity into crafting a game's […]

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    Game Design /

    Get a GRIP: Tips From A Combat Designer

    Design happens in cycles, not steps, so get a grip on them.

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Mechanics and Realism?

    In a 2009, Famitsu interviewed director Fumito Ueda, the game "Hito Kui no Oowashi Toriko" (aka The Last Guardian) was being discussed circa the first officially released trailer. The topic of this post is centered around a few minor comments Fumito made concerning mechanics and realism. As of the date of this post, Gamestop has […]

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    Game Design /

    Let's Talk About QTEs

    The Quick-Time Event - few things are so polarizing in this industry. Reviewers hate it, players hate it (at least the vocal ones), and studios seem to be…just ok with it. Why? Why do we use the QTE? Why do we love it so? Why do we use it over and over if feedback appears […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Calculating Crit in a Shooter

    Critical hits are common in many games. Today I'm going to discuss the thought process and math behind calculating critical hits in the upcoming shooter Super Monday Night Combat. Following Precedent What are critical hits? How do they work? Typically there is some percent chance to crit which causes an attack to deal some percentage […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    The Craft of Game Systems, Part 1

    Since this is my first post, I’d like to start with a quick introduction. My name is Daniel Achterman, and I’m a game designer. I’ve been doing gameplay and system design in a variety of genres for about 8 years, mostly RPGs, at companies like Gas Powered Games and ArenaNet. My intention with these pieces […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    Game Monetization Lessons from Magic: The Gathering

    Adam Summerville, a Co-founder of CircleCat Games, and I started talking about doing a guest post on this topic after I saw his post on Magic The Gathering on his blog. It turned out so well that I wanted to share it here. If you need to, grab a glass of water and get comfortable: […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    The Great Hogrocket Level Design Competition

    This article was originally posted on the Hogrocket Blog. Hogrocket is our indie development studio based in Liverpool, UK. This article talks about our level design competition for our recently released title Tiny Invaders which was released on the App Store on Sep 1st, you can view our trailer here. It Began: It all began […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Who Designs Animation?

    This blog was also posted here. Designers, do you work with animators or an animation lead who think they can design better than you with regards to animation? Animators, do you work with designers who don’t care how the animation looks as long as the gameplay feels right? Well stop that and play nice! My stance […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Layers of Depth, Layers of Fun

    Next week I'm going to teach a course on Game Prototyping at a university in Salzburg. It will be a practical introduction of all things you can prototype when making a game – from user interaction to social features, from rulesets to art. I am a huge fan of prototyping out of two reasons. Firstly, […]

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    Game Design /

    When Borrowing Mechanics is a Bad Idea...

    This is something I posted on my blog a while ago and since I haven't had too much time to write, I thought I might just cross-post it here. I warn that this is a little incoherent but I think there is a point in it somewhere... I recently bought a new laptop which is […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    A few conceptual prototyping tips

    Staring at a blank canvas (or an empty doc - much like starting to write one of these posts!) can be intimidating. Once you start, it’s also easy to get sidetracked from solving the hard problems, or unconsciously avoiding tackling the core of what you’re trying to build (you know, in case it doesn’t work). […]

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    #AltDevUpdates / Advocacy / Game Design /

    A Rant Fueled By the Cough Syrup Fueled Rant

    My Disclaimer: I do NOT have a cold, nor am I medicated. I HAVE, however, spent the last 4 hours chasing children with my name around while they go crazy collecting candy. Now I have all their candy and they are asleep. You have been warned. "Find something you love to do, and you'll never […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Don't be "that guy"... but how ?

    Last time I said I would give more details about my interweaving method, didn't I ? I'm working on it, but the post will need to be pretty dense. And since I have urgent, critical and time-consuming stuff to do at the moment, but don't want to stop posting here on AltDev, my post today […]

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    Game Design /

    A question in regards to storytelling

    Last week I attended an "Acting for Animators" training session from Ed Hooks. Mr. Hooks has been offering this class since around the time PDI was developing the film "Antz". Ed is an actor by profession and was brought in to PDI to teach their animators acting principles. He's written two books on the subject […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Game design, B-minus, should try harder.

    A few weeks ago, a friend of mine and I were talking about common clichés in games and we started listing all those funny little things that seem to make their way into lots of the video games we play.  Use any search engine to find them.  However, he thought there was more to it […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Exposing Social Gaming's Hidden Lever

    In our last post, Gambling Makes Billions Without Innovation, we showed how each gambling game has spent decades or longer without a single gamplay innovation. We are following this up with a series where we outline each major type of gambling game and how their mechanics can be applied to the modern gaming world. One […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Along came a spider...

    Like that title?  I came up with it myself.  It was either that or something about a tangled web.  I think I made the right decision. My last blog entry on #AltDevBlogADay was concerning my road to becoming a game developer (although, according to my wife, I shouldn’t be calling myself that until I at […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Collectible Intent

    Collectibles are everywhere. Be it coins, ammo, orbs or pegasus feathers, it's hard to find a game that doesn't have them littered throughout. They can serve as currency, health, or points towards a high score. They can be hard to find, or generously scattered everywhere the player looks. They can add a lot to a […]

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    Audio / Game Design /

    I am a slave to the groove

    I'm surprised by how quickly music can change my mood. I was walking in town today, anxious. The photography class I was headed to had started almost a half hour ago; I'd just had a slightly surreal, less-than-satisfactory experience trying to buy something; I was walking, rushing, pushing past students and tourists and everyone else […]

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    Game Design /

    Boss Design: Tips From A Combat Designer

    There is no truer test of the combat designer than a boss, because they, more than any other cast member, thread those tightest of needles: challenge vs frustration.

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    The Crying Game #3 : Tantrum

    This is the final part of a dev diary for "Super Cult Tycoon 2 : Deluxe Edition" a game I’m making in a month with Robert Yang (now as Altercation.), for the Super Friendship Club’s second pageant. Have a read of Part 1 and Part 2 for more info! It's the final stretch, we have to make this mess […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    How Can Entry Level Game Designers Stand Out?

    I recently spent some time back at Full Sail on the Advisory Board to look at the current curriculum and give feedback on how they can improve the game development programs.  When I attended over a decade ago, there was only the Game Development program which is geared heavily toward programming.  I've always preached that […]

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    Game Design /

    FIERO! (A Toddler Plays Fruit Ninja)

    A few months ago, I did a big honkin’ paper on Usability for (you guessed it) Usability class. We covered a number of things – my favorite being the concept of FIERO!. For the uninitiated, FIERO! is an Italian word that can be roughly translated to “personal triumph”, and is part of Nicole Lazarro’s (XEODDesign) […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Visual Arts /

    My design method: how do we actually design ?

    --- Part 1: interweaving and perimeters Hello there dear reader. In my last post on AltDevBlogADay, I talked about "Perimeters" and "Interweaving". In this one I'm going to talk about "Exploitation". You might want to check my last post to get the whole picture if you haven't read it yet. One question I ask myself […]

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    Game Design /

    Improving your Documentation

    Game Design is about the merging of ideas and the creative evolution of complex entertainment software from idea through delivery.  Nothing in this process is more important to the Designer than effective communication and memory over long periods of time. Enter the role of documentation.

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Earn More With Free-to-Play

    Tyler does marketing for Betable, the only game monetization platform that lets you legally implement real-money play into your game. He also hosts the SFGameMonetization meetup in San Francisco, CA. Why your game needs to be free-to-play You work your tail off to build a great game. You put in hundreds of hours. From storyboarding […]

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    #AltDevConf / Advocacy / Game Design /

    AltDevConf Announced! Get Your Ideas In NOW!

    This is my first post here on AltDevBlogADay, and I am both blessed and honored to bring you some potentially industry changing information. This has been almost a week in the making. I was hoping for a solidified logo to post with this report, but one has not been firmly decided on as of the […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    Risk and Reward Deluxe

    I recently came across a quote from Cliff Bleszinski (source forgotten) where he contemplated that he'd rather have other game designers ripping off Gears of War's "active reload" mechanic than its cover-based shooting. Reading that, I was reminded of an observation that my friend and colleague Peter once had while we were playing Wii Tennis […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Do The Way We Use Pronouns Relate to Camera Perspective?

    The Secret Life Of Pronouns is a rather fantastic book I came across after hearing the author give a radio interview on my commute into work one day. In it, James Pennebaker displays how the words we view as filler in a sentence, such as pronouns, articles and prepositions, actually work as mirrors of our […]

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    Game Design /

    Sam We Am - a "community game" concept

    How can we make social games more social? It's an odd question to ask since what we are essentially calling for is more of what already exists. According to Wikipedia, the word social refers to: ...the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    How to use focus testing

    A few articles here on AltDevBlog have mentioned focus testing, and it's one of those things that development teams rarely embrace enough. The concept is simple enough: get someone from the outside world into your studio to play your game, watch them, take notes, give them tea and cake, get them to sign a non-disclosure act […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Games about Yetis... Proof You Can Never Win?

    Earlier this week I had my mind completely blown when I saw something that was almost unbelievable: a game that at first glance seemed like a clone of a game several of my friends made as students a few years back. The game that my friends made was called Yeti Tracks. The premise of the […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Bored Game – A Cautionary Tale For Design Students (Part 2)

    Earlier this month, I embarked on a two-part odyssey chronicling the misadventures of my design team as we built an analog game for class. You can read part one here, but the tl;dr version goes like this:  We spent two weeks of a three-week project developing a game that we were too stubborn to admit broken. […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Visual Arts /

    My design method: Interweaving

    Warning:  there might be a couple of light spoilers, but everything is in the trailers anyway so... nevermind that. I hope what I'm going to say won't sound too stupid, agreeing with everybody and not making a fool of myself is really hard. n_n That being said: TL;DR: DON'T duct-tape features together to make Frankenstein-style […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Building your tools as a webapp – Part 1

    Wow, where to start? I’ve had this topic in mind since before I joined #AltDevBlogADay but I’ve struggled to get it down on paper. It’s not that I haven’t got anything to write on the subject, more that I’ve got too much to write. To explain why, here’s some back-story: I work as a tools […]

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    Game Design /

    Controlling the Player

    In my last article I referenced a Dara O Briain sketch about video games, where he complained about how hard they are to control and that they lock content. This is part two, and it's time to tackle the crux of most video games: controlling a character on screen. To most people reading this I imagine that […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    The Crying Game #2 : Less tears

    This is part two of a dev diary for a game I'm making in a month with Robert Yang, for the Super Friendship Club's second pageant. The theme was mysticism, so somehow we decided to make 'Cult Tycoon' (still no real name). For the first part, take a look here. Onwards!

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    How We Scrum

    We're a small indie company of six. Four programmer/designer hybrids, though each of them proficient in other areas too, one artist/designer and one community manager/marketing/designer. Only half of us have ever worked in other game companies and only one of us has ever contributed to a AAA game (though uncredited). We have no strong ego […]

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    Game Design /

    What Makes Combat Fun: Tips From A Combat Designer

    Learn what makes combat fun through the analysis of goals, intentions, and constraints.

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Bored Game – A Cautionary Tale For Design Students (Part 1)

    It’s been over a year since I enrolled in university as a Game Design student, and I’ve learned a lot of things. Theory has been slung around ad nauseum, and Gen Ed courses have been suffered through. The funny thing about being a Game Design student is that you can read all the Raph Koster […]

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    #AltDevUpdates / Advocacy / Game Design /

    What's On Your Shelf?

    I have a friend who joked that she would fire anybody who showed up at work on their first day and set up all their action figures! I thought that was pretty funny until I worked with a guy who spent most of his first couple of days putting up wall shelves and lining up […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Ten things I wish that Uni had taught me

    I went to a traditional 4 year institute to get my education in Game Design (Michigan State University, in fact), and I never once doubted that my choice to do so was the right one.  I've always believed that you don't go to college to get a job, you go to college to learn life […]

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    Advocacy / Audio / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Performance Anxiety 2: You’re doing it wrong

    Well, it turns out I was right to be afraid.  Despite erring on the side of caution, dumbing down models and textures, limiting sound size and being cautious resource wise, it wasn’t enough.  In the ways of Unity3d on mobile phones it turns out we were trying to drop a jet engine inside a soap box […]

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    Business / Game Design /

    Behind the Scenes of Bit By Bit Games First Release

    Matthew Hanlon is one of my friends back in the UK that has taken that leap of faith… he founded an independent self-publishing game studio. This guest post from Matt details the development of the studio's first release "Endless Lines". The post is from Matt's perspective (with an editorial pass from me).

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    How To Make a Catapult Shooting Game with Cocos2D and Box2D

    Today as my AltDevBlogADay post I'll just leave you with a link for my first tutorial as part of Ray Wenderlich's team. It was a wonderful learning experience, not only of Cocos2d but also on writing tutorials. Check it out: http://www.raywenderlich.com/4756/how-to-make-a-catapult-shooting-game-with-cocos2d-and-box2d-part-1 I think it was a good idea to use GitHub to share the tutorial […]

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    Business / Game Design /

    Buy Games Forever!

    It all begins I have had the great honor of working with and alongside some of the greatest game creators to date.  Several of those greats helped get Atari, Activision, and Williams off the ground.  Working with them gave ample opportunity to hear about their experiences of building the 1980’s arcade machines the start of […]

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    Game Design /

    Dressing on the Side, Please

    Bored in Las Vegas Last night, for the first time, I walked the Las Vegas strip.  It bothered me.  Everything was just...a little bit off.  The cigarette girls’ skimpy uniforms didn’t quite fit right.  The guy singing Third Eye Blind karaoke was neither bad nor good enough to entertain.  The Elvis impersonator sounded more like […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Is "Fun" Really What We Mean?

    Fun is probably one of the most (over) used words in game design discourse. It’s also a broad, non-specific, subjective term that actually doesn’t actually tell us anything meaningful about a game experience. I’m not here to pick on “fun” specifically, but rather to talk about how non-specific language, and overly broad terms actually prevent […]

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    Game Design /

    The right motivation

    Sometimes we find ourselves already making a game and wondering how we got there. We just go along, thanks the to initial inertia. Then, we strive to reach that publishing or releasing goal. But when we are about to embark on a new game project, whatever the scope, do we start by thinking the right […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    The Crying Game #1: A Unity3D Dev Diary

    This dreary September,Robert Yang and myself are taking part in the 2nd Super Friendship Club's pageant. These pageants, open to all, give you a month to make a game surrounding a theme. This time around the theme is Mystism. Stretching that slightly, we are making 'Cult Tycoon' (working title), where players must recruit cult members and […]

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    Game Design /

    Why do we restrict content?

    Dara O Briain presented Live at the Apollo the other night and, purely by chance, I caught a bit of it where he did a sketch on video games.  As to be expected from him it was very funny, but two things really stuck out in what he was saying: how difficult games are to […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Technically, It's Creative!

    This blog was cross-posted here. While waiting for a reply to my open letter from a few weeks ago (I still haven’t heard back from you, Andy!), I gave a talk at PAXDev regarding how to animate quickly for design, which contained both creative and technical approaches to game animation. After the talk, I received […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Tools Envy: How music making tools balance discovery and creation

    Jonathan Blow articulated in a Gamasutra article about games that designed itself. And if we simply listened to the games we create we may discover something new. However, I have to disagree with one of his final statements on the matter. "As games designers this is a power that people working in other mediums don't have," […]

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    Game Design /

    How To Make A Scary Game

    I love horror films. I can't get enough of them. Slashers, thrillers, creature features, you name it. After countless murders, mutants, and mayhem I still come back for more; therefore, it should be no surprise that I have a deep love for games that try and scare me, and it is this love that angers me.

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    Game Design /

    Finding Inspiration

    Inspiration is a fickle thing. When you're actively searching for inspiration it's almost nowhere to be found, but when your sitting on the couch eating Cheetos it can strike like a bolt out of the blue. When it comes to my ideas, I seem to fall into the latter case more often than not. I […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Competition Considered Harmful?

    This is my first post on #AltDevBlogADay and as such I had originally meant it to be an introduction of sorts. I was going to talk a lot about myself and my particular part of the game industry, building games for the military. Recently, however, I came across a study that has captured my attention […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Six elemental questions to find out just about everything

    When I was in third grade I belonged to a little group of kids called "Kid Journalists", in which we crafted weekly articles on Saturday morning to post them on a big canvas on a wall somewhere at my elementary school. I say "craft" because usually the images weren't photos but pictures drawn by the […]

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    Game Design /

    You Can't Please Everyone...Can You?

    Starting up a new project has me thinking a lot about ways to improve team buy-in and enthusiasm about the game that we are building.  I've worked on many different team types over the last decade and have seen many ways to run things...with varying degrees of success.  As team sizes are easily in the […]

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    Game Design /

    Rhythm in Game Design

    Rhythm is a very primal thing. Right from the very first moment of our existence it is there, our own heartbeat offset against the comforting beat of our mother’s. So to design games without considering rhythm can only be detrimental to your cause. If you want to tap into merriment of the soul then beat […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    Angry Birds and Accessibilty Standards

    Alas, I'm still putting the finishing touches on Stem Stumper's post-mortem. In the meantime I want to introduce the AltDevBlogADay community to a post from a couple months ago on how incorporating accessibility into games makes them more usable for everyone. Introduction While trying to look for a set of accessibility standards for Stem Stumper […]

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    Game Design /

    Stop being the Useless Designer: Programming

    Let’s face it, there is nothing more annoying than being bossed about by someone who is useless. Let’s face it, there is nothing more annoying than being bossed about by someone who is useless.? So here are three simple rules. Work with them in the trenches. Everyone in the trenches has to be useful. Supplement […]

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    Game Design /

    My Game Sucks

    And so does yours.  A few months before EverQuest shipped I was playing with my character in-game and fired a bow, the client crashed.  I ran over to Steve, the lead programmer, and reported it.  He let me know that it crashed because the game tried to look up the equipment in the trade skills […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Map-Making with Vector Editors - 3 1/2 Tips for Beginners

    Vector editors, like Adobe Illustrator, can be handy tools for designers to make communication documents - overhead maps, diagrams, etc. If you're a designer like me, though, you may not exactly be an expert in Illustrator, and maybe you only use it just often enough to forget all the tricks you learned last time.  Or […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Post number 6

    Before I've even had time to barely blink life here on AltDev has moved along at a merry pace and, already, it's 90 days since I first posted here.  Which feels like it might now be time to start tackling the biggest problem that I currently believe is holding the games industry back: The tools […]

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    Game Design /

    Lost in the Labyrinth - Part 1

    On a scale of "I got this" to "I'll just stare blankly at the screen and hope no one notices," my overall knowledge of game design sits right around "Oh shit, what do I do next." Most of what I do know comes more from theory rather than practice. This is obviously a problem for […]

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    Game Design /

    Defining The Gap: Tips From A Combat Designer

    "Nothing moves forward in a story except through conflict." - Robert McKee

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Scripting with no Scripts

    This post describes how to make certain simple things data driven without the need for scripting languages. It's written for engineers, and assumes some c++ knowledge. The problem Level designers have to populate our virtual worlds with props, enemies and such. But often their shoulders are burdened with “hooking up” stuff, stringing together logical sequences […]

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    Game Design /

    Building on World-Building

    Minecraft is a good game.  Well, let me rephrase that.  The idea behind minecraft is a good game.  At its core, Minecraft has an inherently fun mechanic which it exploits for great and vast profits from its userbase which recently surpassed the population of the country it was made in.  But there is more to […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code / Visual Arts /

    Playing in the next dimension

    Dear Readers, I recently got distracted and created my first solar system! Anyway, I'm so excited and shocked at how easy it was, that I feel the need to share - so read on to find out about Cocos3D and how you can enjoy the act of creation yourself. [Yes, yes I should be focusing […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Encounter-led Game Development

    So what should drive game development? The story? The art? The setting? The ip? The game mechanics? If you're thinking of agreeing to any of these you're setting yourself up for failure, or at the very least, mediocrity. I've seen games made many ways. More often than not I see talented people produce mediocre results. […]

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    Game Design /

    What Makes a Good Game?

    This is a question which can instantly evoke a sense of dread in the game design fraternity. This is largely due to the assumption that any designer worth his/her salt should immediately know the answer and regale the inquisitor with definitive pearls of wisdom on the subject. But the truth is, there is something quite […]

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    Game Design /

    Stop being the Useless Designer

    Part 1: Excel & Formulas Let’s face it, there is nothing more annoying than being bossed about by someone who is useless.? So here are three simple rules. Work with them in the trenches. Everyone in the trenches has to be useful. Supplement don’t Replace? So acquire some “Hard Skills” fast and be useful. This […]

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    Game Design /

    Difficulty by Design

    Difficulty as Seen Through the Eyes of Necessity      In today's industry, difficulty is a selling point, a curtain that divides demographics, and a constant point of disagreement over which direction our industry is headed in. It creates stereotypes that target individual games, entire genres, different studios and publishers, and even video game platforms. This examination is primarily focused […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Motion Controlled Emotions

    I’ve been thinking about motion controls quite a bit lately as a control scheme that I may have written off too quickly. I’ve also been obsessed with acting, body language and expression. And then it dawned on me. The two may be a perfect couple. Games are made of verbs. Run, jump, punch, crouch. Hand held […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    Looking into the Future

    I'm not the most experienced and neither the most visionary game developer around. I've started out in the game dev business just 3 years ago. But in those years I've founded a company, merged that company with another company, released four iPhone games and one downloadable console game and brought an existing game to several […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Liberal Arts Education for Designers

    There have been several great education articles on this blog so far, on online courses, games-specific degrees, self-driven education, and many others.  I hadn’t seen any on liberal arts education and games yet, so I was prompted to dig up my own undergraduate experience and write this up. For a high school graduate who is […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    UI is the game, the game is UI

    Just a short piece today, where I'm going to look at one of the things that makes the difference between a good game and a great game: understanding how the user interface fits into the experience.  I'm going to do this with the help of some 1980s text book magic: As we all know the […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Designing Animation For Speed

    (This was cross-posted to my blog. Look for a powerlifting corollary there soon!) Everything I ever needed to know about animation, I learned from watching Looney Tunes. Seriously. Sure, I went to school. I learned HOW to animate there and from other sources, but none of that taught me what I needed to know about […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Play Tabletop Games!

    (Apologies for any odd grammatical errors/typos - this post was typed from a mobile phone.) If I can give one suggestion to anyone interested in game design/development, it is this: Play tabletop games. By tabletop games, I mean board games, card games, pen-and-paper RPGs, and anything else you can think of. The amount you can […]

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    Game Design /

    Does Gameplay Always Come First?

    "Gameplay first." It's the motto of indie developers everywhere - it doesn't matter how pretty your game is, as long as its fun. Here at the University of Abertay, its game development lesson #1 ... and lessons #101, #107 and #225-#778. We're pushed at every stage of development to test, prototype, block out, to the […]

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    Game Design /

    How I Document A Game

    I have worked on five games in the past six years. I have written countless word documents, set up countless excel files, modeled levels, written code, and even drawn a few maps; but I cannot show you any of this.

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Guns and Games

    Guns and Games I have a confession to make: I have become an all-American semi-automatic owning secret gun lover. Fifteen years ago I was giving money to anti-gun groups, and now I am a gun owner with a membership to the local firing range.   How did this happen? You know what I'm about to […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Some Hows and Whys of Usability Testing

    Usability testing is on the increase led by companies like PlayableGames and Vertical Slice in the UK, and Microsoft Games Studios having offered their gameplay lab services to their exclusive developers for Xbox from before 20031. Yet it can be regarded as expensive, troublesome to organise and just a distraction from making features for a […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Classic Problems With Level Design

    As glamorous and fun as it can often be, level design is perhaps the most difficult design job in the video game industry. Despite the collective experience of any level team, the industry is still dealing with some pretty typical production problems: TIME IS A CONSTANT ENEMY: level design is incredibly time consuming. It's one […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Get your hands dirty

    Imagine I'm opening a restaurant. I lease a prime location, buy high quality equipment, and bring aboard some experienced (and expensive) chefs. But instead of letting my chefs build out the menu, I give that responsibility to a small team of Meal Designers. These people are passionate about food; they love to eat it, and […]

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    Game Design /

    Yes...If

    I'm currently reading Walt Disney Imagineering which focuses on how Walt Disney created the parks and how the Imagineering group came into existence along with their practices.  The first part of the book talks about their philosophy and says that no one could tell Walt no...if you did, he would find someone who would say yes.  This morphed into […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Performance anxiety

    My team is currently entering the home stretch, our final month, before completion of our first title, Itzy (try the demo, plug plug plug)! It’s at this point that I was suddenly struck by near crippling performance anxiety.  What if the game flat-out doesn’t work?  Then what? Now, I need to step back and explain.  […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code / Visual Arts /

    The Importance of Vision

    Every ambitious creative endeavor has at its helm a single individual who is responsible for providing the vision for its development. In games, we have Art Directors in charge of the aesthetic, Technical Directors in charge of the technology decisions, and Creative Directors in charge of the overall game. Their chief responsibility is to guide […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Procrastination: Gollum and the 8th Deadly Sin

    I hate procrastination. It is the product of the weakest parts of our minds, yet a very strong force. It does its nasty deed in the short and long term and often we do it without even realising. It comes in many different forms, unique to each of us. You might even be doing it […]

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    Game Design /

    The Mechanics of Convention

    Our profession develops, we form conventions and a toolbox of useful solutions. These tools make us faster, and more efficient. Conventions are not only developer driven but player driven as we define the language of games. The real question is when to break convention? Before you know the answer, you must know the Question Define […]

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    Business / Game Design /

    From the MMO trenches: Lessons learned from Community Management

    Community Management is an area of MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game development that's somehow under appreciated. It's immediately obvious that you need designers, artists all of kinds and programmers but when it comes to keeping your community at bay, you need people who can handle well, to put it succintly, other people. Today I'm going to […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    Social Games: what are they doing right?

    As “traditional” video game developers, we’ve all got our opinions on Farmville, Pet Society, and the countless other “social” games which have become popular as of late. You may not like their game mechanics, the use of in-game micro transactions and sign-up “offers”, or even the 2d graphics and simple sounds. It’s become popular for […]

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    Game Design /

    Gears of War: An Observation of the Active Reload Mechanic

    [This article was originally published by The Game Prodigy.] Food for Thought      Imagine: you’re playing a shooter set in a zombie apocalypse, and you’re holed up in what was once a parking garage as zombies come in from the fog outside. You’ve got everything under control since they usually only come in groups of […]

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    Game Design /

    Theoretical Road Blocks in Design (and how to circumvent them)

    Risk mitigation is important for game designers.  When you have an idea for your game, you have to be able to look at it critically and call on your past experience and knowledge to answer: is this really going to be fun?  Does it make sense as a part of the game we’re making?  Is […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Do games need brand?

    In this article I'm going to talk about something which doesn't yet feel fully understood inside the games industry.  Everyone knows what brand is, but very few people know how to apply it to games.  Why is it important, and how can it affect your game? Well, to start with, here's a small anecdote.  I was […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    My checklist for a hit social game

    These days games can be much more than buy once single player experiences; they can now be published to multiple platforms with built in social features, and the web brings people closer together than ever before in the age of social networks. Unfortunately many developers who launch on these platforms fail to embrace their game's […]

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    Game Design /

    Articles Applied to Designing 3rd-Person Cameras / Controls

    The purpose of this article is to highlight the application of some of the most useful game design reading I've done in the past. I mentioned before that we could use more nuts-and-bolts game design articles, so it makes sense to see how these two articles helped. Both are about cameras and how they affect […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Memes and Games and Transformation / the twisty road to creation

    What I like, is to be transported emotionally and spiritually by a virtual environment to a place in my mind where I can be deeply involved with a story and its characters. Now admittedly, one can do most of  that with a good book, so why not be a writer? Or for that matter, a filmmaker. […]

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    Game Design /

    Back In My Day...

    After my recent visit to Full Sail, it got me thinking about how much the school has changed over the 10 years since I graduated.  When I was a kid and the original Legend of Zelda inspired me to make games...people around me just kind of shrugged it off as a pipe dream.  At that time, there […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Visual Arts /

    The Artist: Learning from Ray Davies

    I got back from a 2 week vacation on Tuesday. I should have been jetlagged I’d been up for more than 24 hours, I’d arrived home, I should have felt like napping. But I happened to flick on the TV and was transfixed by a documentary that I think was on BBC 3. It was […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    The "Gaming Developer" Dilemma

    There is a developer saying: “To understand recursion, you must first understand recursion!” This humoristic approach describing the fundamentals of recursion is true in many ways as it is helpful to know or already have an idea about something if you are trying to fully comprise something similar (mirrored knowledge). In game development this paradigm […]

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    Game Design /

    The Hidden Evil of the Micro Transaction

    Over the last year a lot of time has been spent thinking, writing and developing my thoughts on social gaming and by extension micro transactions. The last few months of my professional life have involved some fairly complex and sometimes scary monetisation designs and discussions. Moving from consoles to social web games has been an […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Unlock Your Inner Actor

    Games are often compared to film in any number of ways. Be it in search of our Citizen Kane, which studio is the equivalent of Pixar, how to deliver a narrative, or the fidelity of the graphics, many use film as where we want to aspire our productions to be. The roles and best practices […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Evaluating Artists - One Approach

    For the past few months I have been coding a new game for the Android platform. Like most Indie Game Developers I've been using placeholder art (programmer art, borrowed art, call it what you will) but I'm at the point where I need to start adding real, licensed, and highly polished professional artwork. Trolling free/low […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Is your game re-approachable?

    Does this sound familiar? I'll be playing (and enjoying) a game, maybe halfway through a single-player campaign. Suddenly, something comes up: an illness, a vacation, finals week, a busy spell at work, a new relationship, the release of a new game that I'm even more excited about, etc. The previous game gets shelved, through no […]

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    Game Design /

    Learning by Analysis

    As my last post turned out to be not as controversial as I'd worried that it might, I thought with this one I would return back to the main brief I've set myself: to try and bring my understanding of the role of a senior designer out in, hopefully, a way that's interesting to read […]

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    Game Design /

    Predictably Irrational Game Design

    Thoughts and practical applications of the wonderful ideas presented in Predictably Irrational.

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    This is the song (game) that doesn’t end…

    Almost two years ago, I wrote a blog post on Gamasutra, “A Peek into the Mind of a Social Gamer” (excerpt: “A social gamer (a.k.a. me) writes about what we, social gamers, like and look for in social games”). In that blog post, I said that casual gamers want their games cute, simple, and what’s […]

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    Business / Game Design /

    Capturing Creativity: Can Game Development Be Codified?

    What makes a hit game? Is it the narrative or plot arch? How about action or absence of it? Beautiful surrealistic landscapes or faithful setting reproduction, no matter how mundane? Or is it something much more pedestrian like simple word of mouth or people jumping on the bandwagon for fear of being left out on […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Adventures In Design: Life Can Be A Pitch...

    E3 2003 - One of the toughest, least glamorous tasks for a designer is to pitch a game. You spend weeks (sometimes months) preparing documents, guiding concept art, and working on a playable demo (if you're lucky) with the intent of convincing somebody you've most likely never met before that they should give you a […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Am I Doing Meaningful Game Design Work?

    Throughout my career I’ve experienced peaks and troughs. In the name of professionalism I always try to find something inspiring to grasp on to, a reason to do my task(s) that links the work to some internal motivation. I love to do work from my heart. When I’m not for several months I start to […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    The Quest for the Ginkgo GUI

    This post is part one of a short series of posts about my progress in searching a viable GUI solution for our in-game/live editor. It is live coverage of my research and implementation. I welcome any and all feedback. We've integrated live-editing into Ginkgo some time ago by hooking up our component system and AntTweakBar. […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Do we live for what our games give to people?

    As some of you may know, I have recently developed an interest in making the games that I design for Second Life and other virtual worlds as accessible to disabled players as possible.  Over the last 10 days, one of them has been shown at SL8B, the laggy, cacophonous, eye candy filled street fair that appears each Spring on […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    RTFM - TL;DR

    When I was young, I used to read all manuals like I read my fantasy novels. Take them into my bedroom for the weekend and read from the first page to the last, in order, skipping nothing. I would devour every piece of information in the order they chose to present it to me, and […]

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    Business / Game Design /

    Running a games company start-up – what I’ve learnt so far

    It has been almost 6 months now since I co-founded our games company Hogrocket. I’ve learnt a lot over this period and it feels like the right time to write some of that down and share it. I hope that it’ll be of interest to you. Some of the points may be obvious; all that […]

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    Game Design / Production / Technology/ Code /

    Iterate Better, Iterate Faster

    “Iteration means the act of repeating a process usually with the aim of approaching a desired goal or target or result.” (wikipedia) In the game development business, if you've ever talked to anyone about "iteration" there's a good chance you were discussing iteration times - how long it takes to perform one iteration, i.e. the […]

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    Game Design /

    Wanna Go Steady?

    It isn’t uncommon for someone to say they love a game. But when was the last time a game loved them back? I mean, really loved them in a committed way. The best games I have played feel as though they are monogamous with the player, even if the player doesn’t always reciprocate it. And […]

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    Game Design /

    Experience Movies - A Design Tool

    Designing the boat level for Resistance 3 was an interesting challenge in many ways.  It’s a short traversal on-rails level (well, sort of on-rails) wedged between two high-action core-combat parts of a first person shooter.  Thus, our goal was for it to be a break in the pacing of the whole game that focused more […]

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    Game Design /

    Pacing And Combat: Tips From A Combat Designer

    Pacing Graphs are not just for you, and they are not just for other designers; they are for the entire team, and that means that they require meaningful context, game wide consistency, and clean communication. This means that you must construct your Pacing Graph a certain way, and it must match in style and meaning to the guy two cubicles to your left. The following will help you to overcome two major mistakes: a lack of clarity, and failing to recognize the difference between combat and cerebral tasks.

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    Business / Game Design /

    Starting a New Game Company

    Think Big. It needs to start with an incredible idea. Not just good, or different, but incredible. This will not only set you apart from the rest, but drives the momentum of the team to a common goal during hard times. Timing must be right: you are not working for another game company, finished with […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Force Sensitive Resistor: Discovering a New Biometric Technique

    It was spring 2010 and there I was sat on the edge of my couch shouting excitingly at the television. I was gripped in the frenzied concentration and exacerbated stick wiggling that can only come from a game such as Fifa. Playing over Xbox live with a good friend (in this case Gavin Bartlett – […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Game Design and Elephant Handling

    How many doctors does it take to make a game? Graphics PhDs put your hands down, I'm not including you! Last month I had the privilege of presenting at the Games for Health Conference.[1] It was a big gathering of people that want to use games to positively change the world. However, most of attendees […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Going Off On A Tangent

    One of the best ways I have begun to understand and communicate with game designers is by adapting the best practices I’ve learned from 2d art into the realm of games. The most useful art techniques aren’t so much rigid laws as they are new ways to get you to honestly look at what it […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    Successful Moderation of Brainstorming Meetings

    I think the game development community has done a pretty good job of sharing resources and ideas and tips and tricks on effective brainstorming.  However, it’s one thing to tease out of your brain all the fantastic and creative ideas you could ever ask for; getting the same thing out of a group of people […]

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    Game Design / Technology/ Code /

    Designers are Descriptive; Programmers are Procedural

    TL;DR version: Programmers and designers have different habits for thinking about problems. When programmers create tools that designers will use, they should present those tools in ‘design language’ – the language of the end-user experience – rather than just exposing the flags and values that the implementation works with. It’s better for them to do that, than for the designers to learn how to manipulate the implementation, because figuring out how to set the implementation for a particular design goal is what the programmers are good at.

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    Game Design /

    Depth vs Breadth: Tips From A Combat Designer

    An interactive visualization of depth versus breadth in fighting games

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Cool Doesn’t Cut It: Ideas for Generating Creative Solutions

    Generating ideas on a project can often be a haphazard process, and I’m always looking for ways to improve and focus this activity. I’m a big proponent of drawing on expertise and inspiration from a wide variety of sources and building a shared vision of the game from an early stage amongst the team. I […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    Ego - the Destructive Menace

    “Leave your ego at the door” is a well used phrase and so it should be. I don’t think many would argue that ego is good, especially in a team environment. Yet all too often ego is allowed in through the studio doors. As the very thing that defines a person it’s hard to simply […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design / Visual Arts /

    What Does Your Game Believe In?

    What you believe in is what makes you who you are. It is what informs you of your opinions and dictates much of what you perceive as real. The games we make are no different. From the characters that we control, the world they live in, and how the player interacts with each, if the […]

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    Game Design /

    How To Design Enemies: Tips From A Combat Designer

    Designing enemies requires you to understand not only how to deconstruct the games you see, but also how to reconstruct those parts back into your enemies.

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    Audio / Game Design /

    What can story-driven games learn from sports games?

    Sports games take a lot of flack for not being inventive, and year-on-year iterations may not be as glamorous as the latest AAA-blockbuster, but Sports games are amongst the largest franchises in gaming, the most widely played - and arguably have a lot to offer other genres. This week we’ll take a look at how […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    It's good to Write

    Next month it will be a year since I began writing my blog. This hasn’t been easy as I find the process of writing very taxing, as do many, so I’m proud of the accomplishment. Over the course of the year I’m reliably informed by friends that my writing has improved a great deal. This […]

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    Advocacy / Business / Game Design /

    Losing your Objectivity: A Survival Guide

    Game development can become an increasingly tricky proposition as it progresses and losing objectivity is often the culprit. It is a hazard of the job that dogs us all. As with any labour of love we get tangled up in detail and can lose sight of the bigger picture. Retaining objectivity is important because it […]

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    Game Design / Visual Arts /

    Action Figure Fun

    Before I had video games, I had action figures. G.I.Joe and He-Man toys were with me wherever I went growing up. The insane battles and adventures I had with them seemed endless. They were the epitome of play. While checking out some antique stores with my wife, I came across a cache of He-Man toys. […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Designing Meaning in Games

    Often, many of the choices we make when designing games can be made unconsciously or based on intuition – which might be on the mark, but also might result in experiences that are uneven, subject to whim, or non-cohesive.  Can identifying how design choices function together as a system help us to design more meaningful […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    Lucas Plays Video Games

    I started playing video games when I was nine. It wasn't in the Cathode ray tube Amusement Device, but it was on a machine most gamers nowadays only know in pictures, if at all: the home version of Pong. After Pong I owned some other video game consoles and computers and played a lot of […]

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    Game Design /

    Teaching Players how to Play your Game

    Teaching the player how to play your game is incredibly important. Under no circumstances should this area of game design be overlooked because getting it wrong means players may never see all the hard work you’ve put into the rest of the game. So the following is a list of what I’ve learnt about how […]

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    Game Design /

    Play, Don't Show

    There's a well-worn mantra in fiction writing: "Show, don't tell." The Janet Evanovich quotation sums it up nicely:

    It is the difference between actors acting out an event, and the lone playwright standing on a bare stage recounting the event to the audience.

    From an information-content point of view, the latter still gets everything across - but the former would be more fun to watch. Why is that, though? What's so fun about seeing the events acted out?

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    Game Design /

    Time and being Memorable

    Time is a funny old thing, often our experience of it can vary a great deal. We’ve all experienced that sensation of time flying when we’ve having fun and dragging when we’re bored. I’ve touched on this before with my article on flow. When we’re really engrossed in our current activity we’re not paying attention to the passage of time and, by not observing it, never really experiencing it. In contrast to when we are bored where we’ll painfully watch the clock tick seemingly backwards.

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    Business / Game Design /

    How to Polish a Turd

    There are an awful lot of games out there that are... not very good, to put it politely.

    Why is that?

    I propose that you can start a game project with pretty much any concept, and end up with a hit. It's not the concept that matters. It's the process.

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    What happened to the middle class of gaming?

    As time was short this week just a small post but one thing in the last days really intrigued me: Just recently at GDC, Epic's own (in)famous Cliff Bleszinski stated: "The Middle class game is dead!". Now, "Cliffy B." is known for some polemic statements but if you have a look at the current games […]

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    Game Design /

    PopStocks: Post-Mortem of a Facebook Game

    Myself, Andy Burke, Rachel Mark, Marc Hernandez, and Paul Haile have built a Facebook game. The goal was to spend 1 week building an game that would be fun enough and monetized well enough to grow into something that could generate some actual income. While we aren't quite done with the game yet, I feel we have learned enough major lessons to justify a pre-launch Post-Mortem.

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    An Open Letter To Game Developers

    Dear Apathetic, Bitter and Jaded Game Developers, Get out. If your answer to a problem is always, “I don’t care” or “That sounds too hard” then just get out. If every time someone comes to you excited about an idea, and you always find a way to shoot it down, get out. If you are […]

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    Advocacy / Game Design /

    There are no Casual Games…

    …but Casual Gaming (and Casual Gamers)! Wait, wait... Before you stop reading and ask yourself why I would make such an offensive proposition, please hear me out. My Origin I have a very tense relation to the terms Casual and Core Games that found on three things: 1) I am getting older and my best […]

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    #AltDevUpdates / Advocacy / Audio / Business / Game Design / Marketing / Production / Technology/ Code / Visual Arts /

    It begins.

    Hello, World (CNC toaster / 2D thermal printer) Starting Saturday, 15 January (that's now in some places) we will begin posting on #AltDevBlogADay. Learn more about what we're doing on the #readme (for Readers) and the #readme (for Writers) pages. We have a great lineup of seasoned developers, indie up-and-comers and even some non-gamedev folk […]

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