Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

31 October, 2006

Non-Combat PvP
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:24 PM

PvP tends to be a touchy subject. People with bad flashbacks of UO shiver at the mere mention of PvP. However, not all PvP must be in the form of combat between players or groups. Many games, even games that heavily restrict PvP combat, have competitions between players that fall in the realm of PvP.

I’ll talk about two obvious ones: Rankings and Economics.

27 October, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Brevity

“Brevity is the soul of wit,” as they say.

Recently, Wired posted an article about “Very Short Stories” . The challenge: write a story in six words. For most people, this is surprisingly possible. You can convey a lot of information in just six words.

Brevity has a lot of other virtues, too, especially when it comes to game design. A 750 page design document sounds impressive, but how many people do you really think are going to read all that? Having a poet’s soul and being able to write compactly is a skill that will serve any developer well. There’s a reason Raph posts “The Sunday Poem” on his site.

Slashdot also posted a story about this. There were some good posts there. So, the task this weekend is to write a story. Bonus points for making it game-related. Super bonus points for making it game-design related!

Some of my thoughts in the full article.

26 October, 2006

Useless features
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:08 PM

Ryan Shwayder wrote a bit on his blog about WYSIWYGn’t Loot. He argues that if you see it on a monster, it should drop in the loot when the monster dies. It’s rewarding and fun, after all.

Of course, he realizes that there are some problems with this. So, he talks about how to make it so that tons of loot that would likely drop won’t bog down the economy, primarily by making most items worthless. Of course, he doesn’t consider the impact of this behavior on the technical side.

So, let’s talk about why some ideas, like this one, aren’t implemented in current games.

23 October, 2006

The new game book’s here! The new game book’s here!
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:18 PM

Things are going to start happening to me now.

Er, anyway, you might notice a cute little graphic over to the right. That would be the book I’ve been working to finish over the past several months. It’s heading to the printers in a few days, and will be available for purchase very soon!

Anyway, I’m an associate, so if you want to support your favorite starving artist you can purchase Business & Legal Primer for Game Development from and I’ll get a small kickback, even before the advance is paid by royalties. :)

Read on for more details and some personal comments about the book.

21 October, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Graphics over Text
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:22 PM

Last week we looked at Text over Graphics. This week we’ll do the reverse: let’s talk about what graphical games have over text games.

Focus on tangible items. Yes, graphical games are more popular than text games these days. Discuss why this is the case instead of merely pointing out the obvious.

My thoughts in the full article.

18 October, 2006

Richard Bartle’s definition of a game
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:50 PM

The exceptionally brilliant Dr. Bartle posted a bit over on his blog about What’s in a Game? As some of my loyal readers know, I did something similar a while ago. I found it interesting to examine Bartle’s thinking and compare it to my own.

14 October, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Text over Graphics
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:08 AM

Finally, a moment to post on here!

Text don’t get as much press as the graphical games, but they are still going strong. Simutronic’s GemStone IV claims the title of the longest continuously running online game, with a healthy population paying between $15 to $50 (yes, fifty dollars per month for a text game) to enjoy the game. And, of course, Iron Realms is doing well as one of the few western games with a robust pay-for-perks business model supporting them.

So, your task this weekend is simple: Think of things that text games do better than graphical games. Now, look at how you could possibly bring that to a graphical game, if at all. One brief example from me after the break.

6 October, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Status
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:24 PM

This week, let’s think about status. How do you reward people for doing cool things in your game world?

In some games you might see someone in flashy armor. Or, maybe they have glowy bits coming from every orifice and weapon on their body. Or, maybe the have a cape! Woo! These are ways to catch your attention and let you know that person did something cool. Maybe they managed to make enough money. Maybe they did a particularly hard quest. Maybe they got lucky and won a special drop.

So, think about a way to reward the player and allowing him or her to show off their status in the game. Some of my thoughts after the break.

Out of the country for a bit
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:15 AM

I’m going to be out of the country for about a week, then I’m going to be in a different state for another few days. I’m under a new contract making the big bucks with a company in Germany. So, I get to fly out from California at 7 AM on Saturday and arrive in Frankfurt, Germany at 7 AM on Sunday. Blah. Stupid long plane trips, layovers, and time zones.

Anyway, blogging might be a bit sparse during this time. Don’t worry! I won’t abandon you. I’ll try to sneak something in if I get a chance.

Have fun!

4 October, 2006

Why middleware will not save us
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:14 PM

Now, I know some pretty smart people trying to do the middleware thing for online games. Let me repeat my usual caveat for pieces like this: I’d like to be proven wrong, and anyone can feel free to do so. I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, but don’t expect me to cave in due to very meager examples.

It’s a common theme on various sites discussing online game development: it’s hard to make one of these beasts. Making an online game is really difficult, expensive, and not for the faint-of heart.

But, lo! Charging down the hill comes the white knight, “Sir Middleware”! He will save us from these problems and let us focus on making a cool game! I think the next generation of middleware will probably also promise to take care of our outside obligations to give us enough time to develop the game, too.

Yet, it isn’t happening. And, I believe it might not happen soon.

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