Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

30 September, 2007

Weekend Design Challenge: Epic gameplay
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:19 PM

Often people talk about games as feeling “epic”; this usually means that the game feels larger than ordinary life, similar to the epic poems that detail the achievements of a hero. Games are often accused of being mere escapism because they put the player in the role of the hero to perform grand achievements.

This week, we’ll focus on what makes epic gameplay. Ignoring the base definitions above, what elements in a game make it feel epic?

A few more thoughts after the break.

27 September, 2007

A message for PC game developers and publishers
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:20 PM

Dear PC game developers and publishers,

Please stop fucking up the industry.

I wish I could end this post right there and everyone would realize the error of their ways, but I am certain that I have to explain myself. It seems that many game developers are blithely on the road to self-destruction, and don’t care. Most publishers are only interested in squeezing a bit of money out of PC development while focusing on the “real source of income”: console games. Nobody seems to understand why PC games are important.

Let me go into some more detail, okay?

22 September, 2007

Weekend Design Challenge: Seasons
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:38 PM

So, I’ve spent a week with one of my old college friends in Alaska. It’s been fun, even though we’ve come right at the end of tourist season. But, the scenery is still breathtaking.

One interesting part of the scenery is something that is usually missing in games: the seasons. So, I figured this would make a good design challenge.

20 September, 2007

New forums about game production
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 10:59 AM

Juuso wrote to tell me that he has some new forums up at his site, You can find the forums at: Since there’s not an overabundance of good places to discuss production issues, I figure it’s a good idea to point this out to people who are interested.

16 September, 2007

Lessons learned
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:39 PM

There’s a lot of talk about learning the lessons from other games. In particular, people want to learn what made WoW so successful. Of course, this is the game industry so this usually means, “I want to make a copy/clone of the game and wear nice moneyhats like they did.”

The Austin conference had quite a bit of information to point out how cool WoW still is. Mike Morhaime, president of Blizzard, had a keynote. And, the usually respectable Gordon Walton gave a talk about lessons learned from WoW.

Of course, if it were as simple as learning a few lessons, we’d be knee-deep in WoW clones today. Well, successful ones at least. So, why haven’t people taken obvious advice and made their own WoW clones?

Mostly because people are learning the wrong lessons.

14 September, 2007

Weekend Design Challenge: Construction
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:47 PM

I’ve talked enough about business models for now, so let’s do a fun design challenge: games about construction.

Most geeky people remember having construction toys as a kid: Legos, erector sets (heh heh), and so on. More modern games have taken this, with the Pirates of the Spanish main constructible strategy game.

So, the challenge this week is to think of a video game with the theme of construction. This could be a single-player game, or a system in an online game.

My thoughts after the break.

11 September, 2007

Austin Conference Talk: Emerging Business Models
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:23 PM

Last week at the Austin conference, I gave a presentation with Jessica Mulligan entitled, “Emerging Business Models”. We talked about business models in different market, past, present, and future. Here are the slides, a PowerPoint presentation in a zip archive.

More commentary after the jump.

6 September, 2007

Sometimes I don’t reciprocate
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 8:23 PM

It’s a bit awkward to meet people at conferences and hear, “Oh, I read your blog all the time!” when I don’t reciprocate. The problem is that there’s a lot of really good blogs out there, but not enough time to read them all. I have a list of blogs I hit on a regular basis, but sometimes I don’t always get to the blogs that haven’t been in the spotlight for long.

So, sometimes it’s a bit awkward to smile and thank someone when I don’t return the courtesy of reading their fairly well-known blog (or listen to their podcast.)

1 September, 2007

Weekend Design Challenge: Exploration games
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 5:51 AM

I’m posting something to entertain you since updates might be sparse next week: Nifflas’ Games.

There’s three games there, and all of them have a heavy focus on exploration. The newest is Knytt Stores, but they’re all good. If you want to do some design thinking, consider how these games emphasize exploration instead of sustained conflict with opponents.

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