Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

15 November, 2009

Happy birthday to the blog, too!
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:52 AM

This month is also the birthday of this blog. About five years ago I decided to start writing a blog.

And here we are today, celebrating a milestone on a site for people who can pay attention for longer than 140 characters. (I wrote the rest for the 3 of you that fit this criteria. ;)

I started this blog for a few reasons. I used to participate in a bunch of MMO-focused communities, and as MMOs were more widely accepted I found the community spreading to a lot of different sites. I found myself repeating things over and over again, and those words didn’t survive the regular server wipes when someone spilled a glass of the water on the server. Again.

One of my goals has been to really provoke thought about game design. Before posting, I spend some time reading through old posts on the topic. You’ll notice a lot of time my posts contain a link back to previous posts on a related topic. This is intentional, because I want to create a cross-referenced system on different topics. My opinions will shift over time, obviously, and maybe in 10 years I’ll shake my head at that brash young guy who posted that bit of stupidity on his blog all those years ago. (All I can say is thank the higher powers I wasn’t blogging the first few years of my professional career. I cringe reading over some of my notes from that time.) But, at least others may be able to see how idea change over time since I do keep my older posts around.

As most blogs do, I started off posting a frenzy. Now it seems that I post meaningful content about 3-8 times per month. RSS readers mean that most people won’t get bored with long pauses (but they also don’t look at my ads as often!) I post when I want to, not just to keep my blog looking busy. Given how many broken links there are in some of my older posts, I guess I can at least say I’m still posting.

What do I think the secret of my success is? (Ignoring discussions of if it’s really “success”.) I think I write passionately about subjects. Obviously, that can come across pretty strong in text. I also really enjoy discussions. I keep an eye on comments and reply to interesting points raised.

I also try to write for a different audience than other MMO bloggers. This isn’t the blog where I complain about work, or where I just talk about the games I’m playing. I try to show many different things from a game designer/developer’s point of view. Sometimes it’s (indirectly) about my crappy day at work, or some irritation in a game I’m playing. I hope people reading my blog get a better sense of game design, and how it can be improved.

I’ve collected links to posts that I think are the highlight of the blog from the past five years. I hope you enjoy re-reading them (or reading them the first time if you weren’t hear from the beginning).

  • Being an indie sucks: what can we do about it? – My passion is for independent game development. It will probably never be an easy road, but I think we can do more to make it suck a bit less.
  • Why customer service doesn’t matter – An intentionally controversial post to get people to question conventional wisdom. As I’ve pointed out, I didn’t professionally practice what I preached in this post.
  • Free speech and video games – Legitimacy is another important thing to me. This is one of the first articles touching on the legitimacy, even though I didn’t use that exact word in this post.
  • Why the monthly subscription fee is doomed – To quote Colbert, “Nailed It!” If only I could have profited from that foresight from four years ago. Well, perhaps subscriptions are not really doomed, since most games are adding microtransactions on top of subs these days.
  • Random enough for ya? – One of the better programming-related posts on here, talking about different types of random. The topic is also important to designers, but the focus is on programming since I posted code for others to use.
  • Why Achievers win and Killers lose – Or, why we will never see the “perfect PvP game”. Not so say some games might not have their day in the sun, but PvP games are inherently unstable.
  • A spirited defense of storytelling in games – Another of my passions, storytelling. I think we can do better storytelling in games, but designers tend to want to simply copy stories from other media rather than trying to find what fits games best.
  • Generations of characters – One of my wacky design ideas that I think would make an interesting game. Also proof that your “secret idea” is safe. I posted this a while ago on my blog and nobody has ripped me off yet.
  • What is a game designer? – An introspective look at what makes a good game designer. Written when I was in charge of a junior designer and wanted to train him properly.
  • The pitfalls of Web 2.0 – One of the main reasons I don’t put my faith in user created content: Wikipedia. I don’t post links to Wikipedia anymore because it’s useless as a reference for this reason.
  • Designing an attribute system – Inspired by an earlier post poking holes in WoW’s complicated system of attributes, crit ratings, etc. Going back to original principles to design a system.
  • How to replace levels – My major work on how we could replace oft-maligned levels in games. These are the posts I’m probably most proud of for the depth of thought.
  • Weekend Design Challenges – The category for the old design challenges I used to pose. Feel free to go back and think about the challenges now. Post and you might even get a response. :)

Blogs don’t happen in a vacuum. I’m happy to have a several thousand people visit the site every month. I’m also grateful to have people writing insightful comments to my inciteful posts. I also appreciate everyone who links to me from their blog, who writes a blog post related to my post, and news sites who pick my posts up and post them as news. And, deepest thanks to the bloggers that paved the way for the rest of us, especially Scott “Lum the Mad” Jennings.

At any rate, I’m not done yet. We’ll see if blogs stick around in the future. Here’s to many more years of fun.

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  1. Congrats on the milestone. I find yours one of the more valuable MMO design blogs out there – I always enjoy reading what you have to say. Thanks!

    Comment by Andrew — 15 November, 2009 @ 5:37 AM

  2. Grats there! Always an enjoyable read.

    Comment by Julian — 15 November, 2009 @ 9:20 AM

  3. Happy birthday to the blog and congrats to you! I guess the blog won’t mind if you eat its piece of cake ;)

    I stopped updating my own blog some time ago (was mostly just a dev diary) because I found that my time is better spent commenting on blogs like yours that are provoking interesting thoughts.

    There is so many blogs that are run by “characters” or just exist for the purpose of ranting but yours is like “ok, where will we take us this time”. I think it’s good you’re not updating it every 30 minutes as it remains relevant. You don’t have to dig the crap to find the good stuff.

    Your attitude also makes it interesting. Too often bloggers put it that way: “My blog, my point of view, deal with it”. Here you are inviting us to share our own point of view. Doesn’t mean we won’t argue but I feel more welcome here than some other places filled with angry internet men.

    The links back to your older posts are also very important for those of us that didn’t joined right from the start. Surely that at some time you’ll be able to take a post and re-blog about it to see what happened in 5 years. Is this still relevant? Did it went the way we thought it would? What can predict based on 5 years ago and today.

    So keep up the great work. It’s always fun to hang around here and even today in a birthday post you managed to provide food for thought and to make me discover older discussions I missed. So it’s the blog’s birthday but in a way we are the ones unwrapping the presents :)

    Comment by Over00 — 15 November, 2009 @ 9:40 AM

  4. Happy Birthday!! Love your blog :) Don’t ever stop! :)

    Comment by We Fly Spitfires — 15 November, 2009 @ 10:12 AM

  5. Gratz!

    Comment by CodeJustin — 15 November, 2009 @ 11:01 AM

  6. Yay!

    Comment by heartlessgamer — 15 November, 2009 @ 12:56 PM

  7. Happy birthday!

    From your “Why the monthly subscription fee is doomed” piece..

    Looking forward, I think the worst aspect of this will be the transition between subscription-based models to “pay for perks” models here in the Western market

    And now look at how much angst is being generated right now by games like Champions Online and even World of Warcraft attempting to “transition” by introducing paid-for perks on top of the monthly subscription fee they’re already charging! Prescient indeed.

    Comment by The Claw — 15 November, 2009 @ 2:56 PM

  8. Congrats!

    Comment by Spinks — 15 November, 2009 @ 10:16 PM

  9. Belated Happy Blog Day ;) Shush now, I have reading to do.

    Comment by Ysharros — 16 November, 2009 @ 6:27 AM

  10. Happy 5-year anniversary Psycho!

    Comment by Bronte — 16 November, 2009 @ 7:06 AM

  11. As one of the few people in this happy MMO family that I have actually met and had the pleasure of having lunch with, congratulations! Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!

    Comment by Ethic — 16 November, 2009 @ 8:58 AM

  12. Whee! Another birthday!

    I’m definitely more on the “dev” side than the “gamer” side, and it’s been valuable to read what you’ve written here. Here’s hoping for many more valuable insights to come!

    Comment by Tesh — 16 November, 2009 @ 2:20 PM

  13. Congrats Brian! I hope I have your endurance.

    There’s a slight but important difference between “blog written by a game designer about games” and “blog written by a game designer about game design” and I’m glad you made a point to stay on the latter side, which is the kind I like reading.

    Many happy returns,


    Comment by Mike Darga — 17 November, 2009 @ 11:47 PM

  14. I’ve been reading through the posts you’ve highlighted here and found it fascinating reading.

    Well done and thanks for your huge contribution to the MMO community.

    I’m very much looking forward to the next five years.

    Comment by Stabs — 18 November, 2009 @ 2:51 AM

  15. Congratulations on your 5th birthday! Half a decade already achieved and I can see another half coming.

    (The internet should have achievements.)

    Comment by Ferrel — 19 November, 2009 @ 8:06 AM

  16. Design isn’t something but it’s the content that counts. And the content is cool

    Comment by izdelava spletnih strani — 24 November, 2009 @ 3:31 AM

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