Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

28 December, 2006

Five things you don’t know about me…
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:46 PM

…and maybe don’t even want to. I usually don’t post personal stuff on here, but I’ve been called out by Matt and Amber, and have to write five things on my blog or my wishes won’t come true. I think….

Anyway, time to dig through the blackmail file and see what I can give out before other people do….
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25 December, 2006

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:19 PM

Hope everyone had a good Christmas. Remember to cherish your family, then get away as fast as possible before the good memories fade and are replaced by the sad reality that those people are actually related to you. ;) (I’ve heard too many stories today about extended contact with family during the holidays and how it ruins the mood….)

22 December, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Game analysis
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:31 PM

This week, we’ll do something fun and bring things back to a practical level.

A game I’ve been playing lately is a Flash game called Tower Defense by Roman Sanine. For those of you not familiar with this type of game, you build defensive towers to attack enemies that travel along a defined path. The goal is to kill the enemies before they get to the end of the path. Towers have different ranges and damage types, and some variations of these types of games have the towers have special abilities.

You can find the game here. Here’s another link, but the site seems to be over bandwidth.

This game is a rather simplistic version of this type of game. In fact, the game is extremely stripped-down in terms of graphics. But, this makes a good game to study that won’t take a very long time. Studying games like this is an important part of being a good game designer.
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16 December, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Innovative games
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:37 PM

A short but deep challenge this week:

What is one of the most innovative console games from the last 2 years? What is one of the least innovative console games during the last 2 years? Focus on console games, if you will. But, if you’re not a console gamer a PC game is fine. Give your rationale for your choices. Pick at least one, but you can go up to 5.

My choices are after the break.
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12 December, 2006

Simplicity is simply not appreciated
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:03 PM

As regular readers know, I am not a big fan of oversimplification in games. Some games are meant to be hard, and that adds to the enjoyment. So, sometimes it’s nice to see someone else agree with this sentiment, even if it is in another discipline.

Don Norman, the author of the often recommended book The Design of Everyday Things, writes that simple isn’t really better to most people. In fact, most people actually prefer something more complicated because it means they are getting their money worth. If you pay more, then you want more options.

I think this can carry over into games as well.
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10 December, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Brute force gameplay
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:17 PM

A great post over at Tales of the Rampant Coyote talks about The “Brute Force” Problem. (Thanks to Damion for the pointer.)

The main point of the article can be summed up by the quote, “‘Old school’ adventures didn’t expect the party to ‘clear out the level.’” The lamentation is that parties expect to go through and kick down every door and slay every monster. That seems to fly in the face of what makes RPGs so cool to a lot of people: the opportunity to live in the world setting. Computer RPGs (including online RPGs) seem to be the worst offenders in this case. The article points out that while you could probably figure out the outcome of a simple battle in a paper RPG given statistical die rolls, MMORPG players have this down to a science. The DPS rating is right there on the sword, after all! It’s all about the wholesale mathematical slaughter of walking bags of xp.

So, I figured I’d throw this challenge out to the smart people that read my blog. Go read the article, then respond here or there. Consider, what can we do to get people not to brute force games? My thoughts after the break.
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7 December, 2006

Movement abilities
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:58 AM

There’s a new expansion for EQ2, so I’ve been a bit bad and playing more than I should. But, one of the new features they have is a race called the Fae: wee pixies with cute wings.

But, the real fun isn’t just the race, but what the race can do: Fae take no falling damage, and one of the racial abilities they can choose is called “Glide”. This allows the fae characters to jump a further than your average character. You can often do amazing jumps that would cause other characters to simply plummet to their doom.

So, this got me thinking, what makes movement abilities so darn fun in these types of games?
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3 December, 2006

Weekend Design Challenge: Classics
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:18 AM

After a week if illness, I have to admit that I’m not feeling particularly novel. So, we’ll pick a challenge that has been done before.

Your challenge this weekend: what classic game would you like to see remade? Or even just re-released?

In your answer, consider what elements might be changed, what elements must remain unchanged, and if the game could really be a commercial success.

My thoughts after the break.
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