Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

29 March, 2006

Change is in the air
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:48 PM

I’m in the middle of a local move, so I don’t have much time to chat after GDC. (I spend too much time wondering, “Where did we get all this junk? I mean, besides from our roommates.”) But, I wanted to make a quick observation.

Lots of money has been poured into online games due to the success of WoW.
Raph leaves SOE.
Wolfpack closes. (The curse of Damion strikes again? No worries, he always lands on his feet.)
etc.

Undeniably, change is in the air. The question is: good or bad?

We’ll have to see.

25 March, 2006

The GDC in review
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:30 PM

Another long week in another year. Hanging out with other developers, drinking perhaps a bit too much, and hoping that the things discussed actually lead to a business deal down the line. Ah, the GDC.

I thought I’d put up some of my thoughts about the past week for those that care about my perspective.
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24 March, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Gathering information
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 9:56 PM

A late Design Challenge, and a quick one:

You are in charge of balance for an online game. People are complaining about a specific ability being “too powerful”. What information should you collect in order to investigate the imbalance? Think of all possibilities.

I’m going to wait to post my answers for now.

20 March, 2006

I’ll be at the GDC
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:01 AM

Yep, it’s that time of year where all game developers disappear for a few days. I’ll be at the GDC all week, so expect updates to be slow. I might post, or I might decide I like sleep better. I’ll at least try to get a Friday Design Challenge up on the appropriate day, but it may be late on Friday.

Oh, for those that care, there will be a semi-unofficial “MUD-Dev” Bar-B-Que on Saturday after the GDC at the Leonard’s house. If you’ve been to a previous MUD-Dev BBQ, it’s at the same place. If you need more info, hunt me down at the GDC. You can see my pic below (the one sans axe).

17 March, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Make humans balanced
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:48 AM

Jeff Freeman recently reposted an article of his, Why Humans Suck in RPGs. He posted that the problem is that humans are supposed to be more flexible in many RPGs, but they just end up being bland. Why play a boring human mage when an elven mage gets bonuses! Once again, we see that mathematical “balance” can be misleading.

So, here’s today’s design challenge: Make humans not boring!
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15 March, 2006

Interactivity is unfair to some
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:59 AM

Damion recently posted on his blog how complexity causes 50% of product returns and how that applies to games.

Finally! It’s good to see people agree that the people that play our games are zombified morons with barely enough brain cells to rub together to keep warm on a chilly California day. Perhaps we can finally start putting the drool shields packed in with the games so those drooling idiots won’t ruin their mouse and call us for tech support!

Oh, wait, what? We want games to be “art”? Huh, that complicates things.

Let me take a bold stand: Games are hard to play. They’re demanding because our audience has to take an active role in the action; they can’t just sit back, remote in hand, and be passively entertained by the boob tube. This interactivity, the very thing that defines what a game is unique from other media, means that the requirements to enjoy it are higher than other entertainment. This is doubly true for games that have an possibility of being significant (or “art” if you will).
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13 March, 2006

Voices through time
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:22 AM

Stumbling around doing some research last night, I came across a very interesting article:

Online Gaming: Why Won’t They Come? by the infamous Jessica Mulligan.

The article’s date is February 27th, 1998, which is even before I started working on Meridian 59 (which is referenced in the article.
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10 March, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Missing pieces
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:47 AM

I’m going to try something new here. I don’t talk much about design because most of my design decisions aren’t really stuff I want to discuss outside of our development team. Trying to get too philosophical treads on the territory staked out by Raph. I also tend to fall a bit more on the practical side of things.

But, I thought it might be fun to talk a bit about game design in something called a “design challenge”. So, every weekend (depending on my ability to come up with neat ideas and response to this) I’ll post up a little design thought for people to think about. I’ll lead the way and post some of my ideas.
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7 March, 2006

Uncanny resemblance
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:31 PM

I don’t post up very much personal stuff, but this was a definite WTF moment for me today. Personal to my stalkers out there: here’s a late Christmas present.

Thanks to Edward Castronova for the pointer.

Consider these two pictures:

My headshot. Part of the Stronghold 2 box art.

The first is a picture of me that I’ll send around to people that request it for articles or conference proceedings. The second is part of the box art for the game Stronghold 2. (Click the second picture to see the box art posted on MobyGames.)

A bit uncanny, don’t you think? I didn’t know about this until today, and I doubt it was intended to look like me. :)

6 March, 2006

Doing job interviews
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:41 PM

Job interviews are a funny thing in the games industry. I’ve talked to people that have wanted to work with us, and I’ve gone through a fair number of interviews myself. This is an important topic that tends to get overlooked many times.

I figured the topic would be of interest to both the ones hoping to be interviewed and the people doing the interviewing.
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