Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

31 December, 2013

2013 in review
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 3:51 PM
(This post has been viewed 3465 times.)

So, we dodged the bullet on that pesky Mayan apocalypse last year, and so we had to suffer through 2013. Okay, maybe "suffer" is a bit strong. Let's go with "tolerate".

So, what happened this last year?
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4 December, 2013

The meaning of holidays
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 11:31 AM
(This post has been viewed 4270 times.)

Here in the U.S., we celebrated Thanksgiving last week. The modern traditional celebration involves eating way too much, awkward time spent with family members, and usually some sort of traditional recreation like watching football or a parade. As a kid, I was told the holiday was to celebrate the generosity the Native Americans showed to struggling colonists; in recent years, however, the origin of the holiday has been reported to be much darker.

But, if you look at the name of the holiday, "Thanksgiving", the core of what I celebrate is: giving thanks.

As a warning: this post is going to be a tiny bit more meta than usual. There's some game design value here, but I thought taking a look at holidays and the meanings behind them might be interesting.
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6 November, 2013

Superstition ain’t the way
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:36 PM
(This post has been viewed 11982 times.)

Superstition is an interesting thing. As a kid, I remember playing Dragon Warrior on my NES and being impatient, I'd often tap the button to get through combat messages as quickly as possible. I made a little game of it, trying to time my taps in rhythm so that I'd get through the combat as fast as possible. Of course, sometimes it seemed that I'd get critical hits more often when I did that, so eventually I started tapping the button rhythmically to get more critical hits. (In reality, it was probably survivorship bias, where I noticed the critical hits more when I was doing the tapping than when I wasn't. Also interesting to note that the later Super Mario RPG games would require you to tap the button during combat for extra damage/defense/etc.) But, in my mind a superstition was born.

Of course, MMO players have superstitions as well. And plenty of them.
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15 October, 2013

Return of the Newbie Blogger Initiative
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:06 PM
(This post has been viewed 9623 times.)

In grand Psychochild's Blog tradition, I'm here to tell you news waaaaaaay after the fact. Anyway, this post is about the return of the Newbie Blogger Initiative! Do you write about game stuff, particularly MMOs, and want to get some attention to your writing? Want some experienced bloggers to lend some guidance while you explore the crazy world of blogging? Then this is the initiative for you!

Anyway, I signed up to be a mentor, so I should probably post something, right?
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16 September, 2013

Frustrated while trying to play with friends
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:24 PM
(This post has been viewed 16116 times.)

My MMO poison of choice these days is Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO). It's a great game and I love it a lot. These days, I mostly play with a few fixed, or "static", groups; however, I have played some solo characters on other servers when the fancy strikes me. But, for the most part, if I play the game I'm playing a character that plays with others.

Sometimes, however, the strain one has to go through to play with friends makes you wonder if other MMO developers actually play. Let's take a look at a recent frustration.
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21 August, 2013

Interesting Mechanics: Reincarnation
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 12:59 PM
(This post has been viewed 11621 times.)

I hit a major milestone in with my main characters: I true reincarnated one of my characters. To those of you who haven't played the game before, that might seem like an odd idea, but I think it's actually a rather interesting and old idea.

Let's take a closer look at it, shall we?
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13 August, 2013

The Standard Disclaimer
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:20 AM
(This post has been viewed 18371 times.)

As you might have heard, there was a little announcement last weekend about a game called EverQuest Next. They're doing some particularly exciting things, and one of those things is emergent AI. There's a little company called Storybricks who is working on that emergent AI. You might have heard of the company. (Protip: I work at Storybricks.)

On the bright side, it's very exciting to be working on a groundbreaking title. On the other hand, I know from experience that I'm going to be watched a lot more closely and people will try to read into my words. An offhand phrase is interpreted as a solemn vow. (You old-school MMO people will remember the hilarity around Necromancy in Ultima Online.) So, let me post this disclaimer:

The opinions and points of view expressed in the posts on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer or any company I am working with.

Further, unless I explicitly state so, nothing I post should be construed as a hint about EverQuest Next's design or content. (I don't get the privilege of saying "just kidding" after making a controversial statement.) So, if I write an article supporting permadeath in Storybricks development, you should already know that EQN won't have permadeath in it.

I know most of you are reasonable people, but I'm just trying to avoid any uncomfortable situations involving my words and a very talented team trying to blaze new territory. They already have a hard job, so I don't want someone taking my words and making that job even harder.

Just stay tuned for something that will continue to amaze you.
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29 July, 2013

Memory and Loot
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 1:06 AM
(This post has been viewed 20831 times.)

It's been a busy few weeks. I'm chugging along on a project I'm not quite ready to talk about yet. During my free time, I've been indulging in Borderlands 2. Of course, I'll try to pretend that playing the game is an important reason for doing a blog post. ;) As I've been playing, two things have stuck out: how unreliable memory is and what makes a good loot system.

Let's take a look at these two elements in more detail.
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3 July, 2013

Double Fine stuck in the publisher mindset
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 4:42 PM
(This post has been viewed 5395 times.)

I've been super-busy with work, but I was putting together a more design-focused blog post. However,recent news has cried out for a response. It's a tale of woe in the business of game development, when a company ignores the business realities in the tumultuous reality of game development.

Let's see what happens when a developer used to working with publishers instead tries goes indie.
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6 June, 2013

The other online community: where did MMO bloggers go?
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:37 PM
(This post has been viewed 22061 times.)

I've written a lot about the importance of in-game community lately. But, allow me to write a bit about the type of community that isn't in a game or owned by a particular company. Maybe we can get draw some lessons that might come back around to game design.

So, let's talk about blogging, and the community around that. As the title asks: where did the bloggers go?
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