Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

30 October, 2007

Podcast interview covering Meridian 59 history
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:38 PM

As I’ve said before, I don’t listen to many podcasts. But, I was asked by the Online Gamers Anthology podcast to do an interview about the history of Meridian 59.

I talk about some things I haven’t even talked about on here, so it might be interesting for people that want to know a bit more about what’s happened in the 9.5 years I’ve been working on M59.

29 October, 2007

Weekend design challenge: Quest rewards
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:16 AM

Going back to a quest theme again, let’s talk about rewards for quests.

What makes for good reward for quests?

26 October, 2007

Unintended consequences
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 7:28 PM

One of the reasons why designing and implementing online games is so hard is because it’s hard to understand the consequences of each change. Many times, you have completely unintended consequences which can affect a game in ways the designers did not foresee.

In a single-player game, it’s easier to guess how a change in development will affect a player. You only have a single player to affect in most situations, and the game is often limited in what responses a player can make. Games that strive to be open-ended, like the Elder Scrolls games or Grand Theft Auto, you will often see more unintended features in the game.

When you add in multiple players, you have to consider how the players interact with each other: how they can affect each other and what happens when multiple players act at once upon the game system. On top of that, you have continuous changes to a game world in order for it not to feel completely static. Add in an open-ended world, and it becomes much harder to accurately predict what the consequences of change to the game world will be.

How can an online game designer deal with this complexity?

21 October, 2007

Weekend Design Challenge: Sacred Cows

This week’s challenge: Discuss a game development “sacred cow”. Discuss why it’s so sacred, why it’s a good/bad thing, and how it affects game development.

My example after the jump.

19 October, 2007

More on the importance of indie game development
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:22 PM

In a previous post, A message for PC game developers and publishers, I asked people to stop harming the PC game industry. The main reason I think PC games are important is because of indie developers. The PC is an open platform and it’s the easiest for a low-budget indie to work on.

I wanted to go into a bit more detail about why this is important.

14 October, 2007

Weekend Design Challenge: Quest design
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 9:09 PM

This week, let’s consider a major part of most online RPGs: quests. Specifically, let’s think about quest design.

8 October, 2007

Weekend Design Challenge: Characterization
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:50 AM

In the previous post, I talked about how to characterize the NPCs in your game. The specific example was how to avoid the stereotype of “all evil things are ugly.” For this week’s challenge, let’s focus on how to characterize without stereotypes.

5 October, 2007

The nature of Evil
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:46 AM

Matt Mahaly over at The Forge posed an interesting question: how do you indicate that someone or something is evil without falling into the old stereotypes of “dark and ugly things have to be evil.” The meat of Matt’s problem is this:

Here I am though, doing some world design, and running up against the same problems that cause so many content creators to take the “bad guys wear black, good guys wear white” approach. I have a camp of Beasts doing some clear-cutting of the forests and they need stopping by the players. When I try to imagine myself as a typical new-ish player (it’s not a newbie area but it’s not too far past that), I feel as if I (as a player) need the bad guys to fit all the ridiculous stereotypes. In the context of games I’ve been so conditioned to make moral judgements based on visual clues that I find it almost impossible to fully visualize these clear-cutting scumballs as my enemy unless I throw in some visual clue, however small: Perhaps a jagged facial scar, or a nasty sneer, or an “evil-looking” symbol on their woodsman clothing.

So, what is a good solution?

4 October, 2007

Yet another new MMO dev blog
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:34 PM

Actually, it’s a resurfacing of an old blog. Experienced husband and wife developers Sandra ‘srand’ Powers and Eric Heimburg have set up a new site called Elder Game. They’ve worked at multiple companies, but might be best known for their work at Turbine.

Anyway, I got to meet both of them a few times, and I’ve always had wonderful conversations with them about game development. Therefore, I highly recommend watching the site for more insightful discussion.

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