Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

30 August, 2006

Off to conferences
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:15 AM

I’m off to two different conferences over the next few weeks. First up is Dragon*Con in Atlanta. Then I’m off to the Austin Conference. I’ll be speaking at both conferences. Anyway, posting on here might be a bit slow while I’m away, but I’ll try to post occasional updates as internet connections allow.

Anyone interested in meeting up at either of these conferences can drop me an email.

29 August, 2006

Alternate magic system
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:48 AM

One of the critiques against online games is that there is no innovation. Although games do have variety between them, some design show a lack of originality. Take spells, for example. How many times do you see the same old thing? A spells organized by some variation of the classical elements which consume spell points to cast.

To show that alternatives can exist, I though I’d share a system I created for an unpublished barbarian-themed paper RPG.

25 August, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Outside inspiration
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:19 AM

In this design challenge, you get to do something very hard: act like Will Wright. One of the truly amazing things about Will is that he learns from and is influenced by a wide variety of topics. He regularly looks for inspiration outside of the game industry. He has talked about looking at chair design, mathematics, rock gardens, and many other things as inspiration for this designs. He gives fascinating talks at conferences, even though he usually only talks about Spore these days.

So, your task is to describe some inspiration that comes from something beyond games. My bit is below the break.

23 August, 2006

Generations of characters
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:07 PM

Scott Jennings posted a link to someone talking about permadeath, again. Never a popular topic with people given the current “cumulative character” design that dominates game design these days. I mean, who wants to spend hundreds of hours raiding if you’re just going to lose it all when your character dies? After all, raiding is the ultimate form of gameplay that should be heavily rewarded.

Too much sarcasm there? Sorry. Anyway, despite the naysaying, I’ve had a system that I think would fit the bill nicely here. Instead of just offing characters after they “age” so much, have the “death” system tied into a system of character “generations”. That’s been talked about before, but here’s the interesting twist: tie these systems into expansions for the game. Intrigued?

21 August, 2006

In the olden days
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:46 PM

I was talking to a friend (the co-editor of the book I’m editing), and we were discussing the issue of text MUDs and how much harder they were back in the day. We kind of laugh when people talk about the “grind” in modern games because some of the older (and more popular!) text games had a definite grind to them.

We found it amusing that two guys in their early 30′s were talking about how kids these days have it so much easier than we did. We were metaphorically waving our canes at the kids and yelling for them to keep off our lawns.

19 August, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Cats
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:49 PM

Something a bit different this weekend. Let’s pretend you’re a designer at a small game company. The word has come down: the company has been talking to a cat-themed website and they want you to come up with some brief design treatments for cat-themed games. The games should be “casual”, and generally cat-positive. What kind of games would you suggest?

My ideas below.

Design tests fail
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:20 AM

I sometimes apply for jobs in the industry to see what I can find out. Hey, you never know, I might find a really cool position that scratches the itch I have. So far, I really haven’t found much that has gotten me interested. Of course, there’s also the places that have rejected me. Most of the time it’s been a good thing that I didn’t get the job, since things changed quite dramatically right after the position was filled. Like the SOE R&D group getting absorbed into a typical development team and Raph leaving the company shortly afterward. ;)

But, I once ran into something that boggled my mind. A design test for a lead designer position. Now, I wasn’t exactly thrown at first, since it’s not uncommon for for programmers to have to take a test during the interview process. I mean, if you’re going to hire a graphics programmer it would be nice if he or she knew how to do matrix math, right?

But, the more I think about the design test the more I think what an awful waste of time it was.

16 August, 2006

Business models
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:14 PM

In between editing 90-page chapters (!!!), I’ve been reading a few blogs. Matt Mihaly has a post about business models for virtual worlds. A pretty good list based on feedback from a previous post (linked in the current post).

Some interesting things to think about. Read on for some of my own insight.

13 August, 2006

Unintentional comedy
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:07 PM

I’m editing the glossary of the upcoming book I’m co-editing, due to the publisher at the end of this month. One glossary entry in particular struck me as particularly humorous:

C Corporation: See Corporation.

Pun not entirely intended there. ;)

Weekend Design Challenge: Story in games
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:53 PM

This challenge will be brief but incredibly challenging, I think. To put it simply: name a vital step that must be taken in order to tell stories in games.

This step should be something that will specifically help tell stories better in games. It can be something that has been done before, but perhaps isn’t done very well. I’ll also allow things that should stop being done.

My answer below.

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