15 November, 2009
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.