We still haven't picked up our game of Arkham Horror from where it left off; so instead I thought I'd write a few thoughts about another horrifying game I've been playing... Silent Hill: Shattered Memories for the Wii.
It's too bad that the Wii has fallen into irrelevance for most gamers, because this game is quite an experience so far, and I've heard it only gets better. It takes several of the Wii's mechanics and uses them brilliantly as part of the game experience...
For those who haven't noticed, part of my personal quest over the last few years has been to make myself the ultimate uber-nerd. Although I haven't quite resorted to LARPing yet (mostly because my large, meaty body makes me useless in swordplay, and I would be reduced to the role of Stumbling Ogre or Beer-Swilling Oaf - roles I already fulfill regularly in real life and therefore have no need to need to roleplay), I have been trying to up my nerd cred by learning about obscure board games, especially European ones.
I've been working in the Flixel engine lately, and the more I learn about it the more I like it. I decided to give back to the Flixel community by adding a new feature for the engine: the ability for to load variables from a Google Spreadsheet, allowing dynamic tweaking of numbers in your game, with the ability to see your changes in action, without even having to re-launch the game!
I thought I'd make a post describing why this type of feature is important, and use it as an excuse to talk about rapid iteration and its applicability to game development on multiple levels: building it into your workflow and your gameplay!
Last night I gave a 10-minute long "microtalk" at an IGDA Austin meeting, sharing my experience gleaned from developing various game prototypes, especially my work at Blizzard.
I just exported the slides, which are heavily annotated; you can download them here as a PDF. If you were at the talk and wanted to see the list of prototyping technology choices I recommended in more detail, now you can grab it.
Whenever the YouTube video of the talk goes up I'll share that too.
Well I haven't exactly been keeping this blog up-to-date with my game development career, much less my current thoughts on game design; but my intention is for that to change starting now.
So, 2010 has been an eventful year for me...
Well for all the intense game development I've been doing for the last few months, you wouldn't know much about it to look at my game development blog.
I'll be posting a lot more updates soon, for now know this:
- My "day job" company (as opposed to Deep Plaid Games, which is my "night job") went under a couple of weeks ago and I'm currently looking for new full-time employment. Drop me a line or a comment if you know someone looking for an experienced game programmer/designer. My resume is here.
- I've updated the WordPress theme for this blog, and set up a new front page which, while still not pretty, is much less painful to look at than the old one.
- I've completed development of a game, DPG's first iPhone game. I listed it on the front page and will be posting a more detailed announcement/explanation about it here soon, probably just before it's released on the App Store.
Back to job-hunting!
I just posted a new blog post on Gamasutra; in response to Roger Ebert's latest statement in the "games as art" debate, I tackle a question implied by his definition of Great Art. Essentially: can games create empathy by communicating something real about personal experience?
My assertion is that games are actually better-suited for this than any other art form, but for some reason this potential is under-utilized in the industry. (I also talk about zombie sensitivity training and making a game starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, if that makes the article sound more interesting.)
I'm really happy with this particular post; especially because it's sparked a renewed interest for me in a side project that I've been working on for a while.
Some people don't realize that I'm not only a programmer and a designer, but a fantastic artist to boot.
To prove my incredible skills in this arena, I thought I'd share some concept art that I just whipped together for one of Deep Plaid Games' upcoming titles.
Believe it or not, I managed to put this creation together in less than 5 hours. Yeah... I know. Sorry, I don't do work-for-hire.
Miles: "All right... Richard... I kinda hate to point this out, but uh... rent was due yesterday."
Richard: "Rent? What is that? Some sort of tribute to the mystical forces that control The Apartment?"
Miles: "Ummm... no. It's money. Money to keep living here. We all have to pay it, remember?"
Richard: "Oh right right, money. Well... I'm working on that."
Miles: "So you still haven't found a job?"
Richard: "Well... I'm almost done with my resume. Tell me how this sounds... 'August 1860-May 1867: Farmer, Canary Islands. Engaged in farming.' Then after that, 'April 1867-June 2007: Caretaker of Mystical Island, No Fixed Address. Assisted in protection of mystical island - and through it, the entire world - for over 230 years. Managed hiring and vision execution.'"
Richard: "And then under 'Skills' I have: 'Fluent in Spanish and English. Some experience with Microsoft Word. Immortal.'"
Miles: "Okay, Richard, they're going to think you're lying."
Richard: "You're right... I'll take out the part about Word. I'm still learning the typewriter, after all! Also, I'm not quite happy with that 'Caretaker' title... hey, which do you think sounds more impressive: 'Executive Vice President of Island', or 'Assistant God'?"
I posted a new game design-related post on my Gamasutra blog a couple of days ago, titled "In Defense of Major Setbacks."
I actually intended for this article to be larger in scope and talk about failure in general; but I thought that the article was getting too long and decided to leave it as ruminations about the size of "setbacks" (i.e. progress loss upon gameplay "death"); the fact that significant setbacks are increasingly out-of-vogue in game design; and the fact that there are some interesting psychological dynamics that are lost when large setbacks are lost.
Most of it feels tautological for anyone who's thought about game design before... not exactly groundbreaking. But I reference a few interesting/obscure examples, and hopefully it's still interesting to students and so on who haven't thought much about the subject before.