Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

30 May, 2006

Have you tried not being indie?
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:12 AM

Over at Slashdot Games, there was an article about indie game development, where a developer wrote an essay about what it was like to ship a game while still holding a “day job” and caring for a family. The essay is a good read, mirroring some of my experiences as well. But, what got me motivated to write this post was a comment on the article:

We [an indie game studio] don’t compete with the $10M projects.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. You are competing, at least in the mind of the customer.
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26 May, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Bad games
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:51 AM

A relatively simple challenge this week: Pick a bad game (or, more diplomatically, one that could be improved) you have played and explain in some detail why it was bad.

What does this have to do with design? Well, you should be familiar with other games as a designer, and if the games are bad you should be able to describe why they are bad . Being able to do so is the first step in avoiding making the same mistakes yourself.

Big bonus points for pointing out a possible solution the problems.

My brief example below the break.
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24 May, 2006

Lum’s trip to Korea
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:13 AM

Scott Jennings just posted lots of fascinating photos from his trip to Korea. Perhaps one day we will all be lucky enough to work for a Korean company that will fly us half way across the world.

One thing he mentioned was about the experience of being a complete alien. He didn’t speak Korean, and few people on the street spoke English. I’ve been in that experience a few times when I’ve gone to Germany to meet with the Meridian 59 licensee there.
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21 May, 2006

The journey vs. the reward
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:05 AM

Raph has a picture of a sign he made up during one of the previous MUD-Dev conferences on his blog. The picture displays Raph’s doodling skills and has the caption: “The journey is the reward” is a fucking lie. (People would rather have the princess).

So, there’s a little discussion in the comments about the truth of this caption. I started to write a long comment, but figured I might as well post some stuff on my blog to keep people interested in coming here.

In the end, it’s not a fucking lie, but it’s not necessarily the whole truth either.
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20 May, 2006

Just a Wii bit of innovation?
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:12 AM

I read Scott Miller’s blog when I can. He’s a smart guy, and 3D Realms has done some great work. He is usually very insightful when it comes to business issues. Scott has been a big proponent of original IP for game developers, arguing that developers should avoid licensing and retain ownership of their IP as much as possible.

Scott recent did a rundown of E3 content he saw and heard about, focusing on new brands at the show. He tends to be a bit harsh, deriding generic names (particularly the names of Japanese games) and not being impressed by many games that seem to be just rehashes. You would think that someone who values originality so highly would be a big fan of the Wii.

Well, not so much.

Scott Miller wrote:

Oh, and heard a LOT of negative comments about the Wii controller from developers who messed with it. Be very worried, Nintendo. Didn’t get to see it myself because I didn’t have 2+ hours to wait in line. What a dumb way to run a booth, meanwhile the open booths of Sony and Microsoft I explored fully.

Why the hate? Well, it makes sense once you start putting things together.
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19 May, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Change of media
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:04 AM

In a previous blog entry I talked about changing the medium: taking a work from one media to another.

So, here’s this week’s challenge: take a work from another media and create a pitch to turn it into a game. Feel free to pick any type of video or computer game; don’t limit yourself to online RPGs. Try to point out the strength of the original work and how you intend to carry it over to the game.

Ideally, this should be a property that has not already been turned into a game. Or, at the very least, pick a new type of game to translate the property into.

My idea to follow….
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15 May, 2006

Advertising and expectations
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:11 AM

I read a great article over at particleblog talking about expectations. What happens when the hype machine is on too high for too long? Suddenly an anticipated game (or console) can’t live up to expectations because the hype has built things up too much.

Of course, this all seems familiar for people interested in online games. We’ve all seen games that get hyped tremendously only to fall short of their promises and potential. The game talked about in early betas becomes quite different when time and money get tight and a launch has to happen soon.

So, now we’re starting to see this more commonly in traditional offline games. Why is that?
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14 May, 2006

Post E3 writeup
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:38 AM

Another E3 bites the dust.

I was there for Wednesday and Thursday and saw a number of things I figured the few of you that didn’t go might be interested in. Read on for more details.
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8 May, 2006

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to E3 I go!
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:04 PM

Yeah, time to visit the great whore of Babylon, er, I mean, E3 once again.

If you want to get in touch with me, drop me an email.

Also, I can’t say too much right now, but if anyone has any of the following skill set, feel free to contact me about possible job openings:

Server programming (scripting language integration and scalability, in particular)
Network programming
Flash programming
Art management, particularly with outsourced teams

I’m looking for experienced people in these areas, so newbies can apply at their own risk. If you have one or more of the skills listed above, drop me a line at brian.green@neardeathstudios.com. Include the term “wannajob” in the subject line just to make sure it gets past the spam filters.

Addendum: I am looking for people in California, or willing to move to California within the year.

5 May, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Make art
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:03 AM

Today’s challenge is inspired by some recent posts I’ve read:

Are Games Art? over on Make it Big in Games. Pretty much what it sounds like: Jeff Tunnell is wondering why more people don’t see games as the obvious works of art they are.

Shilling for Columbine on Amber Night. She argues that a game based on the Columbine tragedy is horrific, but I argue that if games are to be art we have to face issues like this. Great art makes us think and challenges us.

So, we’re going to get a bit theoretical in this design challenge. How would you prove to someone neutral on the issue that games can be art? For bonus points, how could you convince a skeptic?

Read on for a few of my thoughts.
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