Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

28 September, 2016

The blank page and the distilled essence
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:55 PM

For creative people, sometimes the most daunting thing is the blank page. Sometimes you simply have no clue where to begin when working on a new idea; the idea can be so large that working from any particular perspective threatens to block out something else. Focusing on expressing one perspective could drive others out of your head, diminishing the work as a whole. Creative people usually come up with some solution for this. For me, I like to write down concepts and then organize them into a structure, usually an outline, that guides me as I work on other parts.

Sometimes that blank page can appear unconquerable. For less experienced people, it’s sometimes easier to borrow some structure from another source. In writing, a novice might borrow a universe they like and create “fanfic”. Or an experienced creator might want to take something they’ve seen and give it their own spin. An artist might take familiar characters from other media and create something new; conventions usually have art halls full of familiar comic characters in humorous or sexy situations they wouldn’t normally be found in.

So, let’s look at the use of other works as structure for your own.

5 September, 2016

The importance of group culture
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:40 PM

One of the most overlooked aspects of the company is it’s culture. It’s easy to ignore culture when a company is small, as people tend to be more like-minded. But as a company grows you bring on more people, and a company culture will form whether you intend it to or not.

Especially in creative areas, the culture can be vitally important for how well a company does. Let’s take a look at how culture of a workplace or a group can affect creative effort.

24 August, 2016

Creativity requires a healthy ego
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 9:16 PM

A friend of mine started a Google+ discussion talking about creativity. He talked about how a successful software developer had been called “a dick” and speculated how that could be true.

That got me to thinking about what it takes to be creative and how creative people are perceptive. You might be able to guess my thoughts if you read the title of this post, but let me go into a bit more detail.

18 August, 2016

I wrote some new DLC for March of the Living
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:01 PM

My good friend Dave “Over00″ Toulouse released some new DLC for his game March of the Living. What you may not know is that I was the writer and narrative designer for the DLC. Dave provided a basic idea, and I fleshed out the story and wrote the content for it.

I’ll go into a bit more detail, but definitely go check out “The Three of Us”.

17 August, 2016

Cargo cult game development

Theoretical physics Richard Feynman popularized the phrase, “cargo cult science”, referring to “cargo cults” on some Pacific islands that sought to bring material wealth by performing rituals and building elements that seemed to attract it before. In particular, they built airplane runways, hoping to attract the airplanes that carried cargo to them before. The connotation is that the islanders (and scientists practicing “cargo cult science”) were going through motions they didn’t understand to get a result.

As an aside, modern scholars think the islanders weren’t ignorant of technology, but rather performing an elaborate ritual. But, the term has remained and used in the original sense and I’ll use it here without rendering judgement on those Pacific islanders.

We can just as easily point to “cargo cult game development”, where game developers of all stripes copy something they don’t understand in order to get result they want. They blindly copy rather than understand. So, let’s take a look at how this work across different disciplines.

15 August, 2016

Toxic, passionate fans
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:37 PM

We’ve seen a more people being abusive to game developers recently. The most recent example is No Man’s Sky, where people are angry for a number of reasons.

The stated reasons don’t matter, but the actual reasons might be useful for knowing how to handle this as a developer.

13 August, 2016

Weekend Design Challenge: Explaining your game

So, let me dust off this old thing and let’s talk about explaining your game. This is a vital part of game development on multiple levels.

Let’s take a look at why it’s so important, with a little challenge for you to ponder.

10 August, 2016

“There’s a philistine and an aesthete in all of us”
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:16 PM

My friend Jay Gischer shared a link on Google plus entitled A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art. An artist who just spent a few years creating lovingly hand-crafted pixel art gives up hope and accepts people are cultural philistines while bending over backwards to forgive them.

Now, I’m a fan of pixel art, so I have a few things to say on this. Buckle in…

6 August, 2016

Abstraction of game reality
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:13 PM

While discussing games with a friend, we started talking about abstractions. While some games attempt to simulate reality, not every element in a game is a direct simulation of reality. Some elements are abstractions of reality.

Let’s take a look at abstractions and why they’re used.

23 July, 2016

The purpose of metrics in a game
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:49 PM

Years ago people stumbled across the idea of gathering data about players. A few MMO developers realized they could gather information about what players were actually doing. After all, all player activities had to be verified by the server, so recording that information and storing it for later was a direct process.

Then social network games sprang on the scene. Driven by web development which had been collecting metrics for years, this idea became a no-brainer. Measure everything and draw all sorts of conclusions about what the players really want, with an eye toward maximizing revenues.

So, what has happened to metrics in modern game design? Let’s take a look.

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