Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

30 November, 2006

Programming tests don’t always pass
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:02 PM

Sorry for the interruption in posting lately. I fell sick with something vile very early Tuesday morning and have been recovering. I’m on the mend, though, and probably not going to die soon. Probably….

Recently I went to a job interview for a position at a game company with a heavy emphasis on programming, and one part of the interview was a written programming test. I’ve ranted about game design tests before, so I figured it was only fair that I write a bit about programming tests.
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26 November, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: All about RMT
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:25 AM

RMT seems to be the topic of discussion for most bloggers these days. From unscrupulous gold farmers to company-sanctioned item sales, people can’t stop talking about it.

So, let’s talk about design. This weekend’s topic will be broad: discuss some aspect of game design as it relates to RMT. Examples might include: developing a non-trivial RMT-proof system, ways to introduce players to officially sanctioned RMT, reasons why RMT could hurt a specific type of game design, etc.
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Thanksgiving meal
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:21 AM

Matt Mihaly has started posting about food on his blog, and recently posted his Thanksgiving menu. To show that we computer geeks don’t always live off of Cheetoes and Mountain Dew, I figured I’d share what I had yesterday for our belated Thanksgiving meal.
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23 November, 2006

Thanksgiving
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:39 PM

Well, it’s the day of thanks here in the U.S. I hope everyone out there has a great day spent with people that you are thankful for.

I’m spending a quiet day with the better half. She’s a movie theater manager, so she has to work later tonight. But, we’re cooking a goose on Saturday for our big feast.

This year I’m particularly thankful for the people in my life: my better half, my good friends, my colleagues, my fans, and all you people that stop by this corner of the Internet to see what I’m rambling about on that particular day. Even though people are broken, some of them can make the world a much happier place.

20 November, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Rethinking the online RPG
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:47 AM

I was at Gen Con So Cal this past weekend geeking out a bit. Good to get some inspiration from the non-digital side of things.

One of the talks I went to talked about different design philosophies. The panel talked a bit about a newer breed of RPG that has broken away from the ponderous D&D model of RPGs. In these “fast food RPGs” (as Peter Adkison lovingly called them), you focus more on role-playing than on combat simulation; in order words, moving away from the miniatures combat model that D&D originally spawned from.

One such game that I picked is called Cat. In this game, the players play as cats that fights against the unseen (by humans) forces of malice. The game is very simple: characters have few stats and they’re easy to remember (Fangs rates how well you bite in combat and how well you carry things), the book is very small and contains mostly fiction, and the sessions are intended to last only a few hours. A rather interesting game, quite a departure from the days of super-detailed D&D character sheets with the encumbrance rating of each coin calculated.

As one person on the panel said, this rethinking of the paper RPG in this way was similar to when movie makers realized they could move the movie camera and edit the movie.

So, today’s challenge is deep: rethinking the online RPG in a similar way.
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18 November, 2006

Another danger of being a game developer
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:19 AM

Yet another danger of being a game designer: spam emails. The worst are the spam emails with random words. Sometimes they arrive in combinations most people would discard. Yet, when I saw an email with the subject “ethical boredom”, I had to double-check the sender. That totally sounds like the title of a post that could be made on Terra Nova, doesn’t it?
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15 November, 2006

Custom UIs and patch day woes
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:49 AM

EverQuest 2 just released its latest expansion Echoes of Faydwer. Congrats to the team!

Of course, if I’m blogging about it then there’s something to complain about. Oh, yes, there will be complaining.

Online game developers got really clever and figured out that players could make better user interfaces than they could. It started with the venerable EverQuest, then spread to WoW and EQ2. In fact, the player-made interfaces are generally superior.

Until it comes to patch day….
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14 November, 2006

WTS [Club of LtM-bashing +3] $10
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:40 PM

Over at Broken Toys, Scott rants about the evils of EA and manages to work in a clever denunciation of RMT while he’s at it. You are a sly one, Mr. Jennings. At the center of his arguments against both EA and RMT is his assertion that, “Simply because if someone is paying money – the measure, by almost any criteria, of the value of a person’s time in our society – to avoid part of your game, that part of the game is not fun.”

Time to start the argument!
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11 November, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Sensory Experiences
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:12 PM

Humans have five traditional senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste. (I’ve used my sixth sense to know that some might want to talk about the sixth sense or other “senses”, but let’s leave those aside for now.) Games traditionally focus on the first two: sight and hearing. Most advances in technology have focused on graphical presentation, or how to fool the eye into thinking it is seeing more than it really is; that is, a 3D representation of a world on a 2D surface. Some advances have been made in hearing as well; music and good sound are slowly being recognized as some of more important elements of games. (We’ve come along way since PC speaker sound, at least!)

The other three senses don’t get so much attention. We have a bit of touch response with force feedback controllers, but this is a very gross level of feedback. You can’t “touch” something soft in a game and actually get the sensation on your own fingers. Companies in the past have tried to push digital scents, but people don’t really seem to want the fresh scent of gunpowder and rotting corpses while playing for some reason. Similarly, although I’m sure someone out there wonders what the zombie tastes like, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of progress on that front.

So, here’s this week’s challenge: can you develop a way to include other senses in a game? Some initial thoughts after the break.
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9 November, 2006

Playing games as a designer
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:52 PM

One of the biggest problems that designers face is how to play a lot of games in limited time. Sounds like a real tragedy, doesn’t it? But, seriously, it’s hard to keep abreast of all the different games that you need to play if you actually want to, you know, develop games. This can be a serious problem in some situations because you just can’t keep up with some genres. Epic multi-hour RPGs fell off my lists a long time ago, for example.

So, what can you do?
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