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 3452 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 11395 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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20 February, 2014

Interview at over at Massively
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:04 PM
(This post has been viewed 6950 times.)

Just in case you missed it, I did an interview with Shawn Schuster over at Massively: http://massively.joystiq.com/2014/02/20/talking-the-past-and-present-of-mmos-with-brian-psychochild-gr/

I talk about the past, present, and future of MMOs.
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4 December, 2013

The meaning of holidays
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:31 AM
(This post has been viewed 4540 times.)

Here in the U.S., we celebrated Thanksgiving last week. The modern traditional celebration involves eating way too much, awkward time spent with family members, and usually some sort of traditional recreation like watching football or a parade. As a kid, I was told the holiday was to celebrate the generosity the Native Americans showed to struggling colonists; in recent years, however, the origin of the holiday has been reported to be much darker.

But, if you look at the name of the holiday, "Thanksgiving", the core of what I celebrate is: giving thanks.

As a warning: this post is going to be a tiny bit more meta than usual. There's some game design value here, but I thought taking a look at holidays and the meanings behind them might be interesting.
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6 November, 2013

Superstition ain’t the way
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:36 PM
(This post has been viewed 17803 times.)

Superstition is an interesting thing. As a kid, I remember playing Dragon Warrior on my NES and being impatient, I'd often tap the button to get through combat messages as quickly as possible. I made a little game of it, trying to time my taps in rhythm so that I'd get through the combat as fast as possible. Of course, sometimes it seemed that I'd get critical hits more often when I did that, so eventually I started tapping the button rhythmically to get more critical hits. (In reality, it was probably survivorship bias, where I noticed the critical hits more when I was doing the tapping than when I wasn't. Also interesting to note that the later Super Mario RPG games would require you to tap the button during combat for extra damage/defense/etc.) But, in my mind a superstition was born.

Of course, MMO players have superstitions as well. And plenty of them.
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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 21050 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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21 August, 2013

Interesting Mechanics: Reincarnation
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:59 PM
(This post has been viewed 16062 times.)

I hit a major milestone in with my main characters: I true reincarnated one of my characters. To those of you who haven't played the game before, that might seem like an odd idea, but I think it's actually a rather interesting and old idea.

Let's take a closer look at it, shall we?
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29 July, 2013

Memory and Loot
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:06 AM
(This post has been viewed 59045 times.)

It's been a busy few weeks. I'm chugging along on a project I'm not quite ready to talk about yet. During my free time, I've been indulging in Borderlands 2. Of course, I'll try to pretend that playing the game is an important reason for doing a blog post. ;) As I've been playing, two things have stuck out: how unreliable memory is and what makes a good loot system.

Let's take a look at these two elements in more detail.
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3 July, 2013

Double Fine stuck in the publisher mindset
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:42 PM
(This post has been viewed 5852 times.)

I've been super-busy with work, but I was putting together a more design-focused blog post. However,recent news has cried out for a response. It's a tale of woe in the business of game development, when a company ignores the business realities in the tumultuous reality of game development.

Let's see what happens when a developer used to working with publishers instead tries goes indie.
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20 May, 2013

Fun vs. satisfaction
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:32 AM
(This post has been viewed 14928 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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