Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

23 June, 2016

Multiple paths in MMOs
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:07 AM

One big lessons I’ve taken away from MMOs is having multiple paths of advancement. This is so fundamental that “have multiple paths of advancement” is one of the first of the Laws of Online World Design.

Let’s take a look at what this means in practical terms.
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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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11 June, 2016

What is a Technical Designer?

Interviewing takes up a lot of time, especially if you fly across the country for an interview. So, forgive me if I miss a post or two in the next few months.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that the title of “Technical Designer” has been showing up a lot more. As a game designer with a solid technical foundation, this is exciting. So, let me tell you a bit more about Technical Designers and why they are interesting.
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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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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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25 May, 2016

Listen to me on the Massively OP Podcast
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:49 PM

I’m neck-deep in some work right now, so this is going to be a brief post. But, if you’re dying for some of my wit and wisdom… well, just to hear me talk, you can listen to the Massively OP Podcast where Justin “Syp” Olivetti and I talk about all sorts of things related to gaming, RPGs, and MMOs.
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21 May, 2016

“Why can’t you add just one more thing….”
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:59 PM

One of my pet peeves is people underestimating the work that goes into game development. For example, people ask, “Why can’t you add just this simple thing?” not realizing that this one thing has a lot of consequences.

I’ll go into some detail about why one simple thing is usually not a simple thing.
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18 May, 2016

Making the prototype
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:49 PM

In a recent comment, Tyrannodorkus (who plays in my weekend tabletop group!) asked: “I’m curious how you do your mock ups? Do you make a working model program, or create a pen and paper version to play around with?”

So, let me talk a bit about prototyping a new game mechanic.
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16 May, 2016

Designing away the economy
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:49 PM

A major focus of a lot of MMOs is the economy. People have written academic papers analyzing game economies, economists have drooled at the prospect of tinkering with game economies to test theories, and game companies have even hired economists to help with the design of the game.

But, here’s a radical idea: what if a game didn’t have an economy? What if the design didn’t have currency that people use to buy and sell items from NPCs and from each other?

Intrigued? Then, let me share my thoughts for such a design.
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14 May, 2016

Why it’s not all semantics because game design matters
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:14 PM

In my recent design challenge on doing away with hit points, the prolific bhagpuss left a comment saying, “I think this is semantics (although it has to be said that I’m a semiologist at heart so I believe everything is semantics).”

The argument, also shared by Jeromai, was that trying to replace hit points with some other game mechanic would still result in a substantially similar system. But, this is not the case, because game design is important. Let me go into why changing hit points into another system would fundamentally change the gameplay.
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