Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

21 April, 2016

The right tools for the right job
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:49 PM

One of the most important and ironically most overlooked area of game development is tools. Tools are incredibly important because they enable game developers to create content for a game. In MMOs, this is especially vital because an MMO often lives or dies by its ability to create content ongoing; an MMO without new content gets stale. In single-player games, tools can be refined and shipped with the game to give the game longevity from players who will continue to create content for the game, keeping it fresh for a group of enthusiastic fans.

Let’s take a look at the importance of tools in games.

16 September, 2015

Making competitive play interesting
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:21 AM

I’ve worked on a number of competitive Player vs. Player (PvP) games. Meridian 59 is notorious as a hard-core PvP game that had passionate fans. To be honest, I found the PvE aspects of the game to be very lackluster, but the PvP fights? Intense and unforgettable. What makes a competitive game so much more interesting?

27 December, 2011

Interviewed about Meridian 59
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:30 PM

Earlier this month Justin “Syp” Olivetti interviewed me for his Game Archaeologist column over at Massively. I went into some depth about my background as a developer, my experiences with Meridian 59, and even a bit about Storybricks.

Got questions? Leave a comment here and I’ll answer them as I can.

6 January, 2010

Game Journalism Fail
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:02 PM

One problem that the game industry has is that game journalists sometimes lack a sense of professionalism. Many journalists are enthusiastic fans who land a “dream job” related to games; journalism might be as close to the ultimate goal of game development as some people will ever get. The dream of getting paid to play games is probably better realized as a typical journalist than as a game developer.

Unfortunately, this lack of professionalism hurts the game industry. We need more real game journalists who do a good job covering the industry and showing what is really going on. Sadly, this is all too rare and most game “journalism” fails spectacularly.

31 December, 2009

End of an era: shutting down Near Death Studios, Inc.
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:09 PM

Just so the Meridian 59 fans who read this first don’t wet themselves: The game will continue running. It just won’t be running as a commercial concern with Near Death Studios owning it.

But, today is the official last day of the company. We started it early in 2001 to make games and got the opportunity to buy the rights from Meridian 59 from 3DO; that game dominated NDS’s life.

If you’re interested in some details, read after the jump.

15 August, 2009

Interesting Mechanics: Exploration rewards
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:05 AM

I tend to mention Meridian 59 mostly in passing on here. But, in the current installment of the Interesting Mechanics series, I want to point out one of the better mechanics in M59: the mana nodes. This fits into a larger design pattern I like to call exploration-based rewards.

4 May, 2009

Speaking at LOGIN conference next week

I’ll be at the LOGIN conference in Seattle next week. I’m speaking on the topic of Designing with Cheaters in Mind.

Feel free to drop me an email if you’re going and want to meet up.

25 March, 2009

I can’t believe it happened to me…
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:16 PM

Dear MMO letters,

I’ve read a lot of the stories about MMO accounts, but I never thought it would happen to me. I was logging on my World of Warcraft account when I saw it…

…a female gnome in her underwear. It was at that point I realized that my account had been violated!

4 March, 2009

The problem with PvP (spoiler: it’s the community)
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:35 AM

Over at the official Darkfall blog… wait, I meant Scott Jennings’ site (easy mistake to make these days), he’s been sounding off about the problems surrounding the game’s launch.

If you’ve been living in a cave and don’t know what Darkfall is, it’s the new heir apparent to the MMO PvP throne. That is, if the game can stay online long enough to actually get played. That’s right, once again, it seems like we’re going to get a game that’s full of technical problems that won’t let the design flaws shine through. Although that sounds completely snarky, there’s a kernel of truth in it: I’d love to see a game make some honest mistakes that we could honestly critique, instead of everyone having to look back a decade and talk about Ultima Online or Meridian 59 when we talk about PvP-focused games.

But, the problem is that PvP games suffer from a lot of deeper issues beyond technical instability and insane design decisions. The core problem with these games, in two words: the community.

2 March, 2009

Abandoning hope
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:26 AM

Damion pointed out a Kotaku article about Tabula Rasa having a last blowout event. Basically, they’re ending their existence by having a doomsday scenario when the Bane take over.

People are saying it’s kinda neat, but I don’t see it that way. Underneath the bravado, I see it as a sign of people giving up hope. To me, that’s kind of depressing. Given that I’ve been through the shutdown of a game I’ve worked on, I think I have a unique perspective on things.

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