Portable Psychology

I have a feeling this may get lost among mot readers or they’ll just think it’s a waste of a few thousand lines of code, but I’ve begun work on an app to psychologically analyze and asses user-inputted data, in an app.

Due to my misguided thoughts of this being a monumental idea I won’t talk about necessarily how I’m doing it, but I will talk about the end result.

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Industrious Pride

I’ve come to realize recently that one of the biggest issues the industry is facing going into 2012 is it’s own opinion of itself, and (pardon me for this) it’s opinion of every other industry’s opinion of it.

The gaming industry suffers from the same social anxiety, and insecurities that it’s own supporters suffer from, and it hinders it at almost every step of it’s evolution to what we hope, is something like the film industry.

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Inspiration

Inspiration comes to us in a multitude of forms as game designers. Of course, it comes to most people in all of these forms as well, but fewer professionals actually have to understand and pull from all of these mediums to make a product of their own.

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Finalizing a Game

Confidence, that’s half the job. To be able to go into the last week of a project and be confident in your product is half of what you need to get the game done.

At this point in the process you should have everything programmed, all the art in the game, all the audio final, and should only have to polish. The only reason you should not be confident in your game is if you haven’t delivered on what you set out to get done, if the game isn’t what it’s supposed to be. By this point, confidence will say everything you could say about your own game.

Being able to answer the question “how do you feel about the game at this point?” with a straight face and a “great, we’re nearly finished we just have to tweak some things” then you’re golden.

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Competitive and Feedback Mastery

Mastery is a tricky thing to understand when designing games, expectedly. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with a game being hard, but it has to do with why it’s hard.

Games with depth or rewards are the best at providing an environment where mastery is put to use the best.

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First Impressions/Professionalism

First impressions can be a challenge in this industry whether it’s your game or yourself. Making sure that someone understands your personality is half of it, and the other half is seeming intelligent. I say “seeming” because it’s only an impression and whether you’re actually intelligent or not is what determines you keeping that connection, not getting it in the first place. That’s also the category that professionalism falls under.

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Revisiting Choice

A while back for my team’s developer blog, Sketch Quest, I wrote a few articles about the different aspects of player choice in video games (mainly ours) and how to properly make a player feel powerful.

This seems to have taken a bit of an estranged path as we’ve been handed a golden ticket – players don’t need to choose everything. This has (believe it or not) been quite a revelation for us, and has validated some original design opinions of mine. That being said, my opinion of the direction our game was different from the direction we ended up going, it’s only validated because it appears that the direction I wanted to head was actually the best way of making the game the rest of the team wanted.

Naturally, when a player is given a choice they take a little while to consider the options and make a decision. In the case of video games this decision is made only to give them the highest benefit, and is rarely a visual choice. Players are actually very intelligent when they’re given the time to think about a decision; I know, it caught me by surprise as well.

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Taking Advantage of a Good Thing

On a similar note to my post yesterday regarding operant conditioning, I want to talk briefly about loopholes and shortcuts, as far as game design is concerned.

A lot of people are very stubborn about their own designs, and will stick to their guns when they’re designing a game. This is often the cause of the infamous relationship between the designer and the producer.

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Operant Conditioning

Way back in a simpler time (mid-20th century) a man named B.F. Skinner came across regimental experimentation by giving his rats less food pellets for every time they hit a lever, to save food and money.

A lot of the time in game design, people come across magnificent processes for design (like B.F. Skinner did for psychology) that they don’t quite understand (unlike B.F. Skinner) or exploit properly.

Coming across a process or a design that people find desirable often doesn’t go far enough these days.

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New Games Journalism – This Shit’s a Playoff

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Disclaimer: This was an article I wrote a few months ago as a piece of game journalism.

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This Shit’s a Playoff

 

                The last time I saw Daniel we were heading out on separate planes from YVR (Vancouver) Airport. He was leaving back to school in Ontario as I was heading to Hawaii to enjoy the sweet life being a university dropout. My family doesn’t like me using the term because it wasn’t like I had failed out, I just left. I consider myself at least a bit of a dropout though: I still quit school.

Daniel and I didn’t have just any regular rivalry, this shit was serious, and this shit was the NHL series by EA Sports. The last time that he beat me I almost broke a controller. I’ll admit when I was younger I had a bad temper, but I got better with it and I barely act out anymore.

Except for when I play NHL.

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