Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

8 May, 2014

The importance of community
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:54 AM
(This post has been viewed 3454 times.)

First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who helped me out with the vet bills for Susano. I appreciate every gift, help in spreading my request, and kind word of support. It means a lot to me that people were willing to help.

I wrote personal emails to everyone who sent a gift. In many of these notes, I mentioned the importance of community. I often talk about how important community is on this blog, and it was a nice reminder about how community affects me personally in ways beyond the theory I share on here.

Let me share some thoughts about community.
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26 February, 2014

Extreme Makeover: Random grouping
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:42 PM
(This post has been viewed 11402 times.)

I did a phone interview recently where I discussed ideas on how to improve random grouping. What I'm calling "random grouping" is perhaps best known from WoW's Dungeon Finder (Looking for Dungeon or LFD) and Raid Finder (Looking for Raid or LFR) systems, where you indicate you want to run a dungeon and you are randomly matched up with other people. I share the common lament that random grouping systems don't help players form social bonds within the game even if they would like to do so.

So, let me put my designer hat on and describe a system to allow for more socialization opportunities.
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16 September, 2013

Frustrated while trying to play with friends
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:24 PM
(This post has been viewed 21086 times.)

My MMO poison of choice these days is Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO). It's a great game and I love it a lot. These days, I mostly play with a few fixed, or "static", groups; however, I have played some solo characters on other servers when the fancy strikes me. But, for the most part, if I play the game I'm playing a character that plays with others.

Sometimes, however, the strain one has to go through to play with friends makes you wonder if other MMO developers actually play. Let's take a look at a recent frustration.
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20 May, 2013

Fun vs. satisfaction
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:32 AM
(This post has been viewed 14933 times.)

Games are supposed to be fun, duh. It seems to be a regular comment that if something isn't fun, it should be removed from a game. Why are game developers so stupid to leave in systems that nobody finds fun? Or, just look at those EEEEEVIL free-to-play games with their "pay to win" strategies, forcing people to pay money to avoid the parts that aren't fun, amirite?

Except, there's a good reason why games have parts that don't seem fun on the surface, but that build a long-term feeling of satisfaction. Let's take a look at satisfaction and why it matters in games.
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18 March, 2013

The old, spiced with the new
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:39 AM
(This post has been viewed 18055 times.)

What makes a game successful? Well, if I had the answer to that, I'd be bottling it and selling it and buying a gold-plated sports car. The reality is that there are a ton of little parts and pieces that contribute to the whole. You have to figure out each of those little elements (and have a healthy dose of luck) to succeed

Let's take a look at one particular aspect: how much of the game should be new, compared to how much should be familiar to your players.
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20 January, 2013

When fun becomes a grind
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:43 PM
(This post has been viewed 13398 times.)

One recurring complaint of MMO players is the "grind". It's interesting taking a look at the history of MMOs, because it becomes obvious that it's mostly player perception that determines what is a grind. Every mechanic that people deride as a grind started out as something fun. In fact, sometimes it is a particularly new or novel feature that eventually becomes the dreaded grind.

Let's take a look at how something fun devolves into a grind.
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9 December, 2012

How to design a game economy
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:14 PM
(This post has been viewed 17150 times.)

Okay, I made a big deal about the economy of Guild Wars 2 and how I did not view it as a fun system supporting to the game. Given that there was a lot of discussion about this, and that I'm an MMO designer, I figured I should post something detailing what should go into the design of an MMO economy.

What are the goals of economic design? What are the important factors? What should be avoided?
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29 October, 2012

Game Design lessons from Tony and Tina’s Wedding
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:04 PM
(This post has been viewed 3316 times.)

I had occasion to go to Las Vegas recently. I'm not a big gambler (at least not when it comes to risking money), but I did go see a show. I went to see Tony and Tina's Wedding, a show I had wanted to see for a while. I particularly wanted to see this show because of the possible lessons one could learn as a game designer for stories in a multiplayer environment.

Let me explain a bit more about this show and what I learned.
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24 September, 2012

The misunderstood role of community management
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:10 AM
(This post has been viewed 17814 times.)

In my analysis of Steam's Greenlight project, many of the solutions I suggested centered around community management. Unfortunately, community management is sorely misunderstood, so I think some people didn't understand how this could help the situation.

Let's take a look at what community management is, what it should be, and how it is treated these days.
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21 July, 2012

Delving into Grimrock
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:40 PM
(This post has been viewed 7230 times.)

Hooray Steam sales! It gives me a convenient excuse to buy a game I've had my eye on for a while: Legend of Grimrock. My Storybricks co-conspirator Stéphane Bura had gotten the game near when it launched, and I made up my mind to take a look at the game when I got a chance. The Steam sale was that chance.

I'm a big fan of older RPGs, especially the ones based on grid movement. So, this last weekend I played through the entire game. Twice. So, yeah, I enjoyed it.

Let's take a look at some of the interesting design lessons we can take from this?
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