Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

22 August, 2016

How to sunset a game
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:59 PM

What does it take to sunset a game? This went from academic MMO exercise a decade ago to pressing issue for today’s mobile games with a strong online component in an increasingly overcrowded market where games don’t necessarily last that long.

So, how do you gracefully close down a game during what is a time fraught with emotional loss for the players?
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20 August, 2016

Ask me (almost) anything
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:17 PM

Today in honor of passing the midpoint of Blaugust 2016, I’ll do an “ask me (almost) anything” thread.

Read the guidelines, and then post a comment!
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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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3 August, 2016

Negativity and its effect on indie developers
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:19 PM

Let me tell you a story about my good friend Dave. He’s a smart guy and an indie game developer. He’s stuck with game development for many years. He finally had a success big enough that he’s working on making games full time.

Dave wants to work on a new game. He’s trying a lot of things. He’s trying some 3D this time instead of going with 2D as he has before. He’s working on some AI-driven stuff, instead of heavily scripted and content-heavy games before.

Dave showed the game to some fellow indie developers. But, you know what he found? Negativity.

And negativity doesn’t help.
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27 July, 2016

Tearing down vs. building up
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:39 PM

As I’ve written before, tribalism is strong in online communication. People divide into groups (perhaps one wearing purple sashes and another wearing green), and look at the other side in contempt. Anger builds and eventually each group just sees the other as a caricature instead of as people. Any engagement is done in angry bursts.

Is there any alternative? Well, yes, but it takes effort and thoughtfulness. So, yeah, not easy. But, let’s discuss it, shall we?
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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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