Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

30 June, 2006

Computer science for programming
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:32 PM

I came across a great article: Should you hire Computer Science Majors as Programmers? It’s a common question for people to ask if you need a Computer Science (CS) degree to be a good programmer.  The article states that a degree in CS helps you solve significant “problems” like writing an OS, but for more mundane things a programmer doesn’t necessarily need a CS degree. I think that’s fair to say.

However, in the games industry, I think a Computer Science degree is necessary these days.

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Back online
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:04 PM

Sorry for the recent outage. We’re moving the servers for Near Death Studios, and my personal domain was affected as well. I’ve moved to a swell new host and everything seems to be working okay.

I’ve upgraded to the latest version of WordPress, so there might be some strangeness. I’ll work on fixing whatever issues come up, and I might be tinkering with new plugins in the near future.

Anyway, I hope the few of you still around enjoy reading my blog. I’m sure everyone else will come back eventually. :)

Have fun,

18 June, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Learning
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:21 AM

As I mentioned last post, I was at the very excellent Games, Learning, and Society Conference the past few days. The conference looks at ways to use games and game development practices in education and learning. Of course, this isn’t new; I’m sure many people reading this will remember playing some educational games back the day, perhaps the ever-famous Oregon Trail.

So, with this in mind, the challenge this weekend is to come up with a game that will teach something. More details below.
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15 June, 2006

Perspective
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:13 PM

I’m at the wonderful Games, Learning, and Society Conference right now. Something caught my attention.

In one of the first few presentations, someone mentioned fantasy sports. An interesting data point was presented (and not personally verified): 15 million people play fantasy sports and generated US$1.5 billion in revenues last year.

Kinda puts that WoW figure people fawn over in a bit of perspective. I’d be particularly interested in comparisons in North America and Europe, since these are the main markets western online RPGs do well in. I always thought TV or movie viewer comparisons were a bit unfair, but this is a much closer comparison.

Maybe we really are looking at the wrong markets, hmm?

13 June, 2006

Why is business scary?
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:19 AM

Okay, so nobody seems all that interested in my latest challenge. Too much business taint, I assume?

So, let’s talk a bit about why business is so scary, and why it’s still important to pay attention to it.
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11 June, 2006

Design Challenges no longer just on Fridays
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:16 PM

Some administrivia: I decided to rename the “Friday Design Challenge” to the “Weekend Design Challenge” so that I don’t feel so bad about not getting something done on Friday. ;) Otherwise, I’ll still post up the challenges for people to think about.

9 June, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Starting out indie
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:22 AM

I posted about this in a comment, but it really deserves a mention on an article.

Jeff Tunnell, one of the leaders of GarageGames wrote an awesome entry on his blog called “Five Realistic Steps To Starting A Game Development Company”

Go read the article, and keep that blog in your bookmarks; it’s a great read.

Inspired by this, our design challenge is going to have a business taint: Describe a game you could make on the cheap.

Details below.
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7 June, 2006

That’s not very realistic!
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:17 PM

I’ve read a few posts lately that have inspired me to write this entry.

Creating the Wrong Experience over on Damion’s blog. An interesting post where Damion talks about his distaste for use-based systems, as demonstrated by how an Assassin in Oblivion has to go hopping through fields collecting flowers in order to increase his skills.

UO’s resource system on Raph’s blog. This fascinating post, in three parts, talks about the goals, design, implementation, and final removal of the UO ecology system. Really interesting stuff.

In both cases, the core argument is that the game should be “realistic”. Damion argues that use based systems create unrealistic behaviors such as the assassin jumping around everywhere and having to collect flowers in a sun lit meadow in order to practice skills. Raph says that simulating complex systems allows for all sorts of neat emergent behavior.

As you might expect, I’m going to argue that realism isn’t a very good reason.
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4 June, 2006

Essay: One of my best friends is dying
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:00 AM

I haven’t posted any of my writing in a while. I decided I’d post a bit of non-fiction for a change, so this is an essay instead of a short story. Something that’s been affecting me lately, consuming many of my thoughts. Death is waiting in the wings, as they say, and it’s rarely a happy occasion.

No title for this work, I took the post title from the first line of the essay:

One of my best friends is dying, and there is nothing I can do to save him.
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2 June, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Good games
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:02 PM

Sorry I’m a bit late. Most of you don’t respond to the challenge until Monday, anyway. :)

So, last week we focused on bad games. This week, let’s focus on the opposite: good games.

Pick a good game you have played this year (or a bit before if absolutely necessary), and pick out one good aspect from the game that helped make it a great game. Explain this aspect as much as possible.

My own example below.
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