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Posts Tagged ‘lists’

I love following game designers, critics and academics on twitter. Not only are they some of the more entertaining tweeters , but they often spark ideas in my mind with some of the comments they post there. Take Ian Schreiber for example who posted this on his twitter account sometime ago:

Game idea: player starts off with a bunch of uber-powerful artifacts, must quest to destroy them, reversing the typical RPG power curve.

This sounds like a great idea to me as a creative way to follow the basic difficulty curve of a game but also make players experience loss and make them think twice about taking the “heroic, right way” out of a situation. This also got me thinking about how you could take familar game mechanics and reverse them to create some interesting, new experiences. The idea that I’ve been rolling around in my head is a game I am dubbing sirteT (Tetris backwards) which take the familiar Tetris mechanics of guiding blocks as they fall and instead has you selecting which blocks to remove from a stack.

When I explain it to people it sounds confusing, but drawing it out makes the light bulb go off so I’ll have to go more in depth later since that is not the focus of this post.

Instead, I would like to list off my top 5 designers I follow on Twitter so you can follow them too!

Leigh Alexander (@leighalexander) – one of my favorite video game journalists. She talks a lot about music and booze but she also mentions when she writes articles for sites like Gamasutra, Kotaku and the like which are always interesting.

Brenda Brathwaite (@bbrathwaite) – I got to see her speak at GDC 2010 and have been following her ever since. Her 20+ year industry background combined with an interesting insight create a powerful presence. She also likes to talk about shoes.

Ian Schreiber (@IanSchreiber) – worked with Brathwaite to write a book, “Challenges For Game Designers” (which I highly recommend). he is currently wrapping an online class he taught this summer on game balancing that you can follow on a blog here.

Tim Schafer (@TimOfLegend) – who doesn’t want 140 characters of fun and hillarity? Obviously you, if you don’t follow this guy. Also, if you don’t know who he is educate yourself.

Adam “Atomic” Saltsman (@ADAMATOMIC) – Adam Atomic is well known in the design business for his work with Flash and for developing the Flixel library. Canabalt is what most people will probably know him from, but he’s been in a lot more stuff you might recognize if you stop to look.

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A Half Dozen Zombie Games

Following on the heels of my last post here are six games that feature zombies as enemies (and maybe one with a zombie main character).

Resident Evil Franchise

There are zombies everywhere in these games (in all shapes and sizes too). Zombie dogs, zombies with chainsaws, black zombies; it has everything. I never really got into these games until Resident Evil 4 when your character stopped moving like a tank. Also, here is an excellent comparison between Kingdom Hearts 2 and Resident Evil 4 that everyone needs to made aware of.

Dead Rising

Lots of zombies in this one too, plus a shopping mall full of things to kill them with. I’ve gotten to play around with this game a bit but never actually played it all the way through. It was fun to squirt zombies with squirt guns until they ate me. There is suppose to be a sequel coming out soon that I will have to check out.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Speaking of shooting zombies with squirt guns this is a game all about that. Well, that and saving your neighbors. Sadly, I have not played this game (I’m sure there is a ROM of it out there somewhere) but I’ve been assured by a good friend of mine that it is most definitely worth checking out.

Plants Vs. Zombies

The name pretty much says it all. There are zombies and there are plants. You can guess which one wants to eat you.

Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse

It’s nice every once in a while to experience the story from the other side and Stubbs the Zombie is your chance to do so. Shamble around the town of Punchbowel devouring brains and adding to your zombies ranks.A nice change of pace when you’re tired of taking off a zombie’s head with a shotgun.

Bonus! Zombie Hooker Nightmare

Play it. Now.

-Edit-

Wow, and I totally forgot Left 4 Dead. I fail at this apparently…

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As the title indicates below is a list of 5 games you should be playing instead of reading this post since you obviously have some free time on your hands. All of them are free and take no more than 5-10 minutes for one play through. Now go play.

Covetous

By: Austin Breed

Length: Approx. 5 Minutes

Why: CREEPY!

pOnd

By: Peanut Gallery Games

Length: Approx. 5 Minutes

Why: It’s a unique experience that all game designers should play

Desktop Dungeon

By: QFC Design

Length: Approx. 10 Minutes

Why: Such a simple game with so much depth. You can’t play just one!

Not Tetris

By: Maurice

Length: Approx. 5 Minutes

Why: So you can hate the Z block even more

ImmorTall

By: Pixelante Game Studios

Length: Approx. 5 Minutes

Why: An art game if I’ve ever seen one

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Steam released a new game yesterday called Alien Swarm. If you keep up with my twitter you know I’ve been super excited about it and really enjoy it. The game is great and plays well, but the best part is the price, free.

Over the past year or so I’ve been noticing that Steam views their games as more of a service than a product (which is a weird way to think about things), but there are a number of game structures that allow developers to make money by offering their game as a service rather than a product. When I say games as a service, I mean that the companies are no longer creating a game and then leaving it on a shelf and never touching it again. Instead, companies are finding it viable to offer their players an extended experience by creating and altering content.

There are several ways to do this, and I’ve compiled a list below:

Content Delivery

Steam and flash based game sites like newgrounds.com and kongragate.com use this model. Games drive traffic to their platform, traffic which can then be turned into cash. Steam in particular is good about this, because the games made by Valve are always being worked on (it seems) which attracts new and old players back to their games. The genius thing is that in order to get to the games you have to pass by the store where they advertise new games and sales. So the more players play their games the more they are likely to buy other games.

Subscriptions

Many massive multiplayer online (MMO) games like Word of Warcraft and Eve work this way. Users pay a monthly subscription fee to gain access to an ever changing world where content is being updated and changed. Game companies do this to keep players interested and focused on their game instead of wandering off to play something else. World of Warcraft is easily the king of this arena since they have even gone beyond the digital space and creating boardgames, graphic novels and even toys based off of the online world.


Freemium (Free-to-Play)

Free to Play games are another area where you see games offered as a service rather than a product. This is due to the free-to-play model works off of players paying for premium content versus the masses who simply play the game. Games like Maple Story or one of my favorites Lost Saga keep updating their content like MMO’s to keep people interested and to lure people into buying new things. Lost Saga for example, is an action fighting game where players “rent” heros to use in battle. These heroes can be purchased with in game currency, which is won during matches, or bought permanently using real money.

Mobile

Mobile is an interesting area because it can fall under any of the other areas. I decided to separate it though because there are a number of reasons why a developer would want to think of their game as a service rather than a product on the mobile market.

First, by offering regular updates, developers are (generally) increasing the chances of people noticing their game because the game’s download rate goes up. This also has the added benefit of increasing the perceived value of your product which encourages future purchasers and keeps the current user base happy. Players are more likely to get excited about your game and tell their friends who will in turn buy your game as well. Mobile games also have an advantage the many games don’t; player have come to except advertisements as a part of the game space. This can give developers a reason to keep players interested and coming back to their game which means content updates are a must for games with advertisements in them. Finally, the mobile space is rapidly changing and requires developers to keep their products up to date if they want to stay competitive. Changes to operating systems and new phones being released on a regular basis pushes mobile games into the direction of a service over a product.

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Sales!

Steam has ruined any attempts I have made at being thrifty with my sale purchases. Before December of last year I hadn’t been using the service and had managed to only buy maybe four or five titles total during the year. As of writing this, my Steam account is populated by nearly 50 titles all of which amount to a few hundred dollars worth of purchases. Many of them have been impulse buys due to sales ranging in price from $2.50 to $20, but they add up.

Just when I thought I would be able to kick back and actually play some of the titles I have picked up Steam up and runs a huge sale on just about everything in stock. Dubbed the Perils of Summer Sale, which runs from now until July 4th, the sale is a trap for anyone who is prone to impulse buying (like me!).

So, to help triage the money from flowing out of your pocket I have compiled a list of games you should purchase (if you don’t already have them) so that you can avoid browsing the large selection of games and picking up more than you planned.

Introversion Complete Package
Get this if nothing else than for DEFCON which normally goes for $10.00. DEFCON is a war simulation game where you control a nuclear arsenal. Your goal is to kill more of the opponents population than they can kill of yours. The pack also includes Darwina, Multiwinia and Uplink, all of which are great games, so make sure you crack the others open too. Get it here for $5.00 (87% off)
Plants Vs. Zombies If you have never played this game you are missing out. Zombies are out to get your brain, luckily you have some kick-ass plants on your side to help defend yourself. Be prepared to spend hours playing this game because it’s insanely addicting. Pick it up here for $6.99 (30% off)
Evil Genius

If you have every wanted to rule the world this is game is for you. You play the role of an evil genius with plans for world domination. Manage your minions, build a lair of evil, hire powerful bodyguards and set devious traps for snooping spies. Just don’t let yourself monologue too much. The world can be yours for only $4.99 (50% off)

The Orange Box

Portal, Team Fortress 2, and the Half Life 2 episodes for $20.00 seems like a no brainer. Plus you can play all of these titles on your Mac if you lack a PC to game on. Get these Mac friendly games for $20.09 (33% off)

Telltale Everything Pack

If you have a few extra bucks burning a hole in your pocket the Telltale Everything Pack is a must have. It contains all the new Sam and Max games, the newly released Monkey Island series and a few other goodies. Buy everything would cost you around $236 dollars so at the listed price it feels almost like stealing from Telltale. If you want rob telltale blind pick this up for $49.99 (50% off the normal $99.99 pack deal)

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The Short List

Late last year designer and artist Edmund McMillen posted a manifesto of Do’s and Dont’s to the indie community. The list of 24 tips is great (I keep a copy close wherever I work) and I encourage everyone to take a look at it. It is rather intimidating to look at 24 tips, however, so I have distilled McMillen’s list down into what I consider are the 5 best tips for designers and posted them below. Keep in mind this is a list that McMillen admits, “isn’t advice on how to monetize your Flash game or survive financially by copying existing trends and juicing the public for their cash. This is a list for artists who are driven by the desire for creative freedom and/or to just make some cool shit people will love,” so some tips might not ring true with you.

Design from the heart.
Write / design around things you’re passionate about. Put yourself into your work and show the world who you are. What do you love? What do you hate? Why? All notable film makers have a stamp, something that appears in their work and speaks to who they are. These themes will always come through to your audience, giving your work a sense of your self.

Practice (make lots of small games).
Make lots of small ideas quickly; build on the ones that work. If you look at any successful or “fully realized” game in the indie scene you’ll note that it began as a simple prototype. If you get an idea that feels right, simplify it. Strip it to its core element; this element will become the glue that holds your work together. The stronger the glue the more you can add. On the opposite end, if the glue isn’t holding, move on. Don’t waste your time trying to fix something that won’t work. If it’s not interesting or fun in its primitive form, it’s not going to be when it’s finished.

Grow up.
Chances are you’re not a fucking kid anymore, so if you feel like making a more adult game, do so. When you’re indie you don’t have to answer to anyone, so stop designing games like you have to have to pass ESRB. I’m not saying everyone should make porn games, but why do all video games seem to have immature themes? People aren’t stupid: stop treating them like they are. Speak through your work like you would to your friends, design for yourself and don’t censor your ideas.

Go outside.
The world outside your room is important. It can also be very inspiring. Go take an adventure, then come home and write a game about it. That’s what Miyamoto did. I believe that you can’t be inspired without living. Life is what every artist pulls from; how could you pull from something that wasn’t there? We all strive to be great, and most of us tend to obsess over our work, but it’s important to have balance. Go do things that don’t involve video games and computers. Don’t become stagnant.

Be open to feedback.
If a bunch of people say your game is lacking in some area, but you insist it’s perfect, chances are you’re wrong. It’s hard to take critical feedback, especially when it’s right. Loosen up, stay humble, remember you’re not as great as you think you are. If players agree that something’s wrong, you should probably take a step back to reconsider what you’re doing. But don’t make the mistake of just doing what your audience expects. If they have an issue with something, figure out why. If people don’t like how your game controls, this could mean one of hundreds of things, from how things move in the game to what buttons it uses. When responding to feedback, ask specific questions and try to find the root of the problem. Don’t attempt a quick fix by just cutting out the problem.

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