Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Game Design - Inside Tip

Game Design - Inside Tip

Let me give you an inside tip.  Game designers, game developers, game programmers...none of us sit around and debate to each other about some kind of weird mythical set of guidelines that define whether what we make is a 'game' or not.  This whole stupid debate around needing a fail state, needing gameplay, needing player choice or player motivation in order to make something a game?

None of us are talking about that.  We are talking about metrics, UX design, UI design, narrative, story, character driven scenes.  We're talking about tuning numbers, watching playtests, coming up with concept.  We are staring at code, long sheets of xml data, inputting weird database numbers and looking at what comes back.

We're watching lines of graphs printed out for us in real time and trying to draw conjecture out of it.

But let me tell you, none of us are sitting around asking each other if what we're making is a game or not.  Nobody cares.  We're making it, if it has any kind of interaction at all, and isn't a piece of productivity software, it's a game.  We don't debate that part, we just make games.  Lists of assets come down, milestones get declared, we tune the controls, replace big grey boxes with interesting things, watch people play and take notes.  Not even the dumbest intern at the lowest level of EA ever asks some senior dev "Is this really a game though?"  It just doesn't happen.

Just because you didn't like Gone Home? Just because you thought To The Moon was too linear? Just because you thought there's no difference in the narrative to Journey?  That's your problem.  Those games, perhaps are not for you.

I have a secret, not all games are for everyone.  In fact, I would even posit that many games are not for many people.  There is A game out there for everyone, but not every game is for every one.  That's a sad truth of the matter.  Some people like more guns, less guns, more blood, fewer jump scares, more jump scares. Some people like more variety in the art, others don't care about pixel art, maybe some people like vector, or painted styles.  Some of us like voice over, others are perfectly content with blocks of text.  Sometimes you want hip hop music in your game, I would think you're crazy because I like orchestra or minimalism, but I get that you like hip hop in your game.

Does that make sense?  Just because someone else sees the value in a game doesn't mean their opinion isn't valid.  But having weird little internet arguments over what are subjectively 'good' or 'bad' or 'not even' a game, games?  That doesn't even make any damn sense.  And beyond that, you're actively treading on people's REAL LIFE agency.  You're telling them what they can or can't love.  And why.  And the reasons you are presenting are stupid.

Criticize tangible things, like disagreements about flow, or textures, or functionality.  Criticize community, or policing, or the company's EULA.  But you want to tell a developer that their game isn't a game?  Well my immediate response to you will be "Your face, isn't even a face."  I mean what?  Your statement doesn't even make any OBJECTIVE SENSE.

Get over it.

And stop being so offended that I muted you that you went to harass my friends.  We're not in grade school any more.

Get.
Over.
It.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Notch - Leaving

Notch - Leaving and Minecraft

Notch wrote this post this morning, in light of the recent news that his company Mojang, and Minecraft are being purchased by Microsoft for 2.5 billion dollars.  I mean, superficially that's a lot of money, because it is.  But it's not just about the amount of money.  I've seen a tremendous number of posts this morning about the purchase and how Microsoft is never going to make that money back, that it's a poor business decision, that Minecraft only made 120 million dollars last year and it'll take more than ten years to see profitability after that...

But I think people are wrapped up in the fiscal numbers and have forgotten a few profound things about Minecraft, about Mojang and about Notch.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Writing - Pizza The Great Equilizer

Writing - Pizza The Great Equilizer

A neat piece of writing from muddyescapeartist:

One of the things I love about pizza besides it's deliciousness is that it levels the playing field. Everybody eats pizza. Well, ok, not EVERYbody, but damn near. As a driver, you are welcomed to people's homes - poor homes, rich homes, your run-of-the-mill upper lower middle class homes, hotels, businesses - and greeted by all types of people - drunk people, happy people, stingy bastards, students, the elderly, the insane, the kindred spirits, animal lovers, athletes, the infirm, and those people that always try to get a chuckle out of you in their two-minute window at the front door.

So often these people get reduced down to a number, specifically the dollar amount that they tip, but these people are beautiful! Even the shitty ones, the ones that pay in exact change, the sad ones that are trying to fill a void in their soul with a tasty midnight pie.... these people are just a microcosm of our society, a near perfect statistical representation of the world that we live in, and yes, I love them! I still bitch about them at times (who doesn't?), but without all the crazies, wouldn't our lives be a whole lot duller?

Perhaps not all delivery areas are as diverse, but I've had the pleasure of taking pizzas into lakeside mega-mansions, ethnically populated trailer parks, backwoods cabins, sprawling apartment complexes and the ticky-tacky houses of working-class suburbia. I am humbled to be given a glimpse into how the other sort live. Sometimes I am frightened, other times awed, by my experiences on the road. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

I have never felt as connected to a town as I do after I have delivered there for a while. You get to know the best and worst of your community. You get to feed the hungry masses. You get to have funny, awkward, creepy, angry, and drug-induced interactions with people that you would never have chosen to socialize with otherwise. You may never be 'equal' to your customer, but you are given a small window, a few minutes, to prove your worth in some seemingly insignificant but potentially positive way.

Don't miss your chance!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Drabble - On Depression

Drabble - On Depression

There is this insidious, deep seated weird thing in your brain, when every time you hear a compliment you think to yourself "They're just being nice."

Writing - Hermione, Daughter of Dentists

Writing - Hermione, Daughter of Dentists

Written by Lion of Gryffindor.

My God, just think about her for a second.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Life - On Pax

Life - On Pax

It's taken me a few days, but I've started to put some of my thoughts to paper finally.  I make...literally...no secret of the fact that Pax is reliably one of the best times of the year for me.  For six years now, we've been attending Pax as gamers, and I now attend it as well as a developer.

For those that don't know, Pax is a conflagration of gamers hitting Seattle for the Labour Day Weekend.  Over 4 days, games are literally celebrated.  If you play games, there's probably something at Pax for you.  And I don't just mean video games, although video games are a considerable part of that.  Exhibitors show off the latest and upcoming in video games, technology and merchandise.  Tabletop, board games, pen and paper, card games and deck building all show up and are played extensively everywhere.  You literally can't walk fifteen feet without tripping over someone in a hallway playing Zombie Dice or Cards against Humanity.  There are massive tournaments and tiny tournaments for games, everything from Towerfall tournaments to the League of Legends Championship Series that encompasses a hall for probably 5000+ people.  People bring their personal computers and set up a massive LAN play area, there are retro consoles, and D&D, there are huge tournaments and a hundred panels to attend.

There's something for everyone, in our crazy community.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Words - Gamer

Words - Gamer

Do you know what a gamer is?  Media, modern media would have you believe it is a sociopath, or a psycho.  It would have you believe a gamer, and I include myself in this, that a gamer is a person who is fundamentally mentally unhinged.  A person who cannot distinguish right from wrong, who enjoys killing, and violence.  A person who is wrapped in a kind of illusionary reality, an escapism from the 'real' world.  That gamers are predominantly unhinged young men suffering from acute mental trauma, who are more capable of stripping down a 9mm gun than asking a normal person for directions.

That is what people would have you believe by the word, gamer.  This catcheism, this strange, curious word that somehow categorizes us and dennounces us at the same time as less than human.  Gamers are violent, vitrolic.  They have no mastery of the spoken or written word.  They are sexist, chauvanistic, and prone to tantrums or displays of threatening behaviour.  They live in their parents' basements, subsist on cheetos and mountain dew.  They do not bathe, are pasty white, greasy unkempt hair, and black t-shirts.  They are the dregs of a digital society.

That's what people would have you believe by the terminology, gamer.  Is that not so?

No.