Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

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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16 July, 2016

Even indies need work/life balance
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:12 AM

When I ran my own game company, I’ll admit that I threw much of myself into the work. I spent nearly every waking hour for the first several years working on the business. If it wasn’t adding features to Meridian 59, it was filing tax paperwork, or mentoring one of my employees.

But, the important thing here is that I chose to work long hours. I owned about half the company, and if the company had seen great success I stood to profit from it. Plus, I truly enjoyed the work; it didn’t feel like a burden to bear, it was something I was happy to do.

But, what if I didn’t want to live my life entirely for work? What if I wanted to stop and smell the roses? Is there a reason why I couldn’t do so?
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20 June, 2016

Management vs. Leadership
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:43 PM

First, some news: I finished the bulk of the work on the DLC writing for March of the Living. It still needs to be debugged and playtested, but the majority of my work is done. I had hoped to get this done sooner, but the writing took longer than anticipated and interviewing took a chunk of time out of my schedule. Keep in mind that Dave has his own schedule for releases, so you probably won’t see the DLC released tomorrow.

But, I skipped my Saturday post in order to finish the writing over the weekend.

Anyway, today I want to look a bit more at leadership and compare it to a very similar, but distinct, concept of “management”.
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15 June, 2016

It’s the marketing that kills your game
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:53 PM

A lot of people have incorrect perceptions about making games. For example, people on the outside of the industry think that making games is like playing games. This is obviously pretty far from reality.

But, even indies have a lot of wrong ideas about game development. Let’s take a look at another recent example.
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6 June, 2016

Should leaders do hands-on work?
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 9:23 PM

I’m currently reading Team Leadership in the Game Industry by Seth Spaulding II. This isn’t a full review, but I read something that got me thinking: in the book he advocates that leaders should not do work tasks in addition to leadership tasks. In other words, lead programmers shouldn’t be doing programming, rather they should be leading: working out schedules, assigning tasks, and so forth.

I thought this was interesting, so let me share some of my thoughts on this.
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4 June, 2016

Persuasion and game design
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:20 PM

Leadership has many dimensions. While the naive view is that leaders give orders and subordinates follow them, the reality is much different in many situations. Particularly in the game industry, where you have many employees who could be making more money in another industry or field of work. Barking orders at game developers is likely to have the experienced ones running for other companies.

This has interesting consequences for game design. Sometimes it’s not the objectively best game design that wins (even if you could objectively measure design to compare them), but rather the game design from the person who is the most convincing. So, persuasion becomes an important element in how to deal with others as a game designer and as a leader. Let’s take a look at one view of persuasion and how it affects leadership.
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30 May, 2016

Review: It’s Your Ship
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:12 PM


When I mentioned an interest in leadership, one of the super-cool people I follow on Google+ recommended this book. He suggested it might be interesting because I the military is likely quite different than the game industry. (That’s actually a fairly deep topic, something that I might write about in the future. Let’s just say that there were two former military people at my last job, and they fit in just fine.)

Anyway, I ordered the book on Amazon and read it. I’ll give it a review on here for those who are interested. As an aside, this is one of the first books I’ve read about leadership, so I’m judging it based on my personal experience rather than how it stacks up to other books.

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28 May, 2016

The multiple hierarchies of the game industry

The game industry is a strange place sometimes. I was musing about the nature of the industry the other day, thinking about this. Part of my motivation was to think about my own place in the industry, and another part was thinking about my slowly developing book Thinking Like a Game Designer. When I really thought about it, the one term I’d use to describe the game industry, particularly the triple-A side, is “hierarchies”.

Interested in a closer look?
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