Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

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.
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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”.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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…
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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.
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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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20 July, 2016

The long road to success
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:01 PM

As a society, we tend to have a few specific narratives we apply to specific situations. As I wrote in the last post, we love the scrappy underdog that fights against all odds to succeed; the classic David vs. Goliath. We also love the “overnight success” story; however, most of the time the success did not happen overnight. This is especially true for games.

Let’s take a look at some “overnight” successes and how they actually took a while to develop.
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14 July, 2016

What makes a good roguelike?
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:31 PM

Although I didn’t list it as one of my favorite genres, I do like roguelikes. They are pretty popular these days, too, with a ton of variations on the theme.

One of my friends said he was on a mission to own all the roguelikes and “roguelites” available on Steam. My good friend Dave Toulouse was looking at his recent game, March of the Living in the context of other roguelikes. We talked a bit about how fast you fail can make a difference in a good roguelike.

So, I figured I’d talk a bit about what elements make a good roguelike.
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