GamemakingWorking on Crowfall!

 Posted by (Visited 355 times)  Gamemaking  Tagged with: ,
Jan 222015


Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen me mention that after a couple of years of being fairly quiet, a lot of game announcements would be hitting soon. Well, one of them hit today! I am very happy to be able to tell the world (finally!) that I have been working with Todd Coleman and my other friends at ArtCraft on Crowfall!

I’ve been hopping on Skype every couple of weeks to go over game designs with Todd & crew for almost a year now. It started out as general brainstorming stuff, and as the team grew, we’ve been able to move on to working directly on designs and even picking apart UIs. I’ve helped out on everything from economics and materials design to yeah, dipping my toes into Todd’s bloodthirstiness and the warfare design that is embodied in “play to crush.” :) (If there was any doubt this is Todd’s game, that should be a hefty clue!)

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Game talkHigh Windows

 Posted by (Visited 452 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , ,
Jan 172015

Almost exactly seven years ago, I gave a keynote at the virtual worlds-themed Worlds in Motion Summit at GDC. I was supposed to talk about why games people should care about virtual worlds. But I just couldn’t warm to the topic.

I was in the midst of wrestling with Metaplace, which was the culmination of ten years of dreaming about the potential of virtual spaces. We were trying to put into practice the ideals embodied in things like the Declaration of the Rights of Avatars, the loftiness of hopes for general empowerment thanks to the newly interactive Web. But at the same time, I was watching tens of millions of venture capital dollars flow into kids’ worlds, virtual worlds about McDonalds and by teddy bear companies and tied in to bad reality TV shows and more.

So I took my qualms to the stage.

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Game talkRIP, Ralph Baer

 Posted by (Visited 809 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Dec 072014

During a business trip for Sanders to New York City in 1966 I found myself waiting for another Sanders engineer at a bus terminal; he was going to join me for a meeting with a client. I took advantage of my free time and jotted down some notes on the subject of using ordinary home TV sets for the purpose of playing games. I have a distinct image in my mind of sitting on a cement step outside the bus terminal, enjoying a nice warm, sunny summer day, occasionally looking out at the passing traffic, waiting for my associate to show up and scribbling notes on a small pad. It was “Eureka” time — but of course I didn’t know that then. The concept of playing games on an ordinary TV set had bubbled up once again from my subconscious and I got that exciting feeling of “being on to something,” a feeling that is so familiar to me.

September 6, 1966 – Genesis!

When I got back to my office in New Hampshire on September 1, 1966, I transcribed those notes into a four-page disclosure document and tossed the New York notes into the wastebasket. In those four new pages I outlined the idea of playing interactive television games on a home TV set. That was the genesis of the industry.

–Videogames: In the Beginning

That’s an excerpt from Ralph’s book, which he sent to a mailing list we were both on years ago. We traded a few emails after that, where he showed himself to be a wise and thoughtful fellow, and generous with his time. Unfortunately, none of those emails seem to have survived the many transitions between computers that I have made over the last decade.

It had been years since I had talked with him, but today was a sad day.

ArtGame talkMusicPracticing the creativity habit

 Posted by (Visited 1261 times)  Art, Game talk, Music, Writing  Tagged with: ,
Dec 032014

In the wake of posting up the video of my talk on “Practical Creativity,” I got this:

What a great question.

First, I have to admit I slack off a lot. :) But, here are some ways in which I practice, or have practiced it. You might notice some commonalities across media.

Hope you’ll bear with me, because I will get to games last.

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Dec 012014

Slide20I know it seems like most all I post on this blog lately is stuff about speaking one place or another, and you always get three posts in a row: I will speak here, I spoke and here’s the slides… and a little while later, here’s the video.

Well, not to be redundant, but here’s the video! Gamasutra – Video: Practical Creativity – A way to invent new kinds of video games.

This was the session I did at GDCNext about treating (game design) creativity as a skill that can be practiced, offering up tips and tricks on how to be creative.

Nov 242014

At GDCnext I moderated a panel with Zach Gage, Rami Ismail, and Adam Saltsman on indie marketing. It was a fun session, made more so by the fact that they all walked into the room with one minute to spare before the session started (I was about to start pulling dev’s from the audience into the stage!).

It all worked out though, and now video is posted on the GDCVault! Enjoy!

Nov 212014

500px-WOW_logoTen years of World of Warcraft. Well. So many thoughts.

WoW has always been a contradiction of sorts: not the pioneer, but the one that solidified the pattern. Not the experimenter, but the one that reaped the rewards. Not the innovator, but the one that was well-designed, built solidly, and made appealing. It was the MMO that took what has always been there, and delivered it in a package that was truly broadly appealing, enough so to capture the larger gamer audience for the first time.

Don’t get me wrong; that’s not a knock on it. If anything, it’s possibly the biggest game design achievement in all of virtual world history. After all, we’re talking about taking a game skeleton that was at that point already almost a decade and a half old, one which had literally had hundreds of iterations, hundreds of games launched. None of them ever reached that sort of audience, that sort of milestone, that sort of polish level.

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ArtYiynova MVP22U v3 review: 22 inch Cintiq alternative

 Posted by (Visited 1280 times)  Art  Tagged with: ,
Nov 192014

Quite a while ago I wrote a review of the Yiynova MSP19U, a Cintiq alternative tablet monitor. I was pretty pleased with it, but it did suffer from relatively low resolution and from a TFT screen with poor viewing angles for color reproduction.

yiynova monitor

The Yiynova MVP22U V3. Plus a sneak peek at some game artwork for an upcoming game of mine.

Now I have a review for you of the upgrade model, the Yiynova MVP22U(V3) Tablet Monitor. It’s actually the third version of this monitor, as you can tell from the name. I have owned the Yiynova MSP19U+ Tablet Monitor, the MVP22Uv1, V2, and now V3 (for somewhat complicated reasons, see below). The V3 is a very noticeable upgrade over the V2, which in turn was a big step over the V1. This is a full HD 1920×1080 tablet monitor — no touchscreen, stylus pen only, with 2048 degrees of pressure sensitivity.

The earlier models: V1 and V2

I was an early adopter of the V1, which does not seem to be available anymore. The V1 suffered from the fact that the large screen was a TFT, like the 19 inch model — even close up, you would see color issues resulting from the viewing angles on a TFT screen, just because the 22″ screen was so big. There were also font rendering issues caused by the drivers for the monitor itself. I returned my V1 in favor of a V2 (which is) when that came out, because of a desire to upgrade from the TFT screen and because of the font firmware patch. Panda City generously offered to swap the monitor out originally for the firmware patch, then let me pay the difference to get an upgrade.

The V2 added a firmware patch for the font issue, and also upgraded to an IPS panel. The panel was pretty good, but only offered a VGA connector. This meant that you had to use an adapter to use it on a modern video card with digital outputs such as DVI. I ran it with a DVI to VGA adapter. I still had font issues, though they were improved; it may be that the issue was around the VGA conversion. The IPS panel solved the color and angle viewing issues. The improved firmware also introduced better pen tracking particularly for slow lines.

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MiscSocial media is broken

 Posted by (Visited 1765 times)  Misc  Tagged with:
Nov 132014

Wil_Wheaton_by_Gage_SkidmoreThinking on Wil Wheaton’s well-intentioned essay, here are some things that we know.

Anonymity is usually problematic. But the real issue isn’t anonymity. It’s actually “lack of persistent identity.” Anonymity can serve as a cover for bad behavior, because humans are deeply situational when it comes to ethical choices. We fall prey to disinhibition readily, and the biggest reason is “we don’t think we will interact with these people again.” It’s repeated interactions that drive trust, you see, and we behave well because we expect to be treated well in the future.

Anonymity can be very important for the marginalized, for whistleblowers, etc. But within their communities of trust they build reputation, including pseudonymous reputation.  The real issue is feeling free of reputation, which equals feeling free of consequence. That is where bad behavior comes from.

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Nov 032014

Slide1Today I delivered a lecture at GDCNext that was my tips for “practical creativity.” Basically, it’s a collection of techniques, habits, and ways of thinking drawn not only from lots of reading and research into creativity in general, but also my experience in visual, writerly, musical, and ludic arts. It touches on breaking down craft elements in games, on choosing ambitious and unusual themes, on simple lifestyle habits, on the power of “scenius” and collaborators, and much more.

I wanted this to be deeply practical. I myself have been using these methods a lot in the last year — maybe slacking a lot on the “get regular exercise” one. And it’s been very fruitful for me, almost too fruitful, pushing my prototype hit rate over 90%.

I really wanted to emphasize the fact that in all this, the craft is inseparable from the art, too. Creativity in craft drives creativity in art, and vice versa. Continue reading »