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 395 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 1209 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 »

Game talkGamasutra on the indie economics talk

 Posted by (Visited 2107 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Oct 132014
 

Yesterday Greg Costikyan and I did an on-stage conversation at Indiecade about the economics of the indie market. It was pretty wide-ranging, with discussions of Rochdale cooperatives, performing rights organizations, designing games that can be hobbies rather than disposable content, and more.

As you might expect, there was no easy answer. Otherwise all the usual suggested tactics would have worked better for Costikyan, who deadpanned right away: “I have founded two failed companies. Follow my advice and you too can fail.” Koster, who despite having sold a successful company, noted “You can be successful business-wise, and still not achieve what you want in games.”

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Sep 242014
 

indiecade largeGreg Costikyan and I will be doing an on-stage conversation at Indiecade on the subject of the economics of the indie market. This is driven by the various discussions we started having around GDC time in the spring, including his rant at GDC, and my follow-on article on the directions game industry finances are likely to take, which was also reprinted at Gamasutra and had a great discussion thread over there.

Plenty has changed already — as if the power of YouTube as marketing channel weren’t already very evident, we also have the new Steam curation system coming into play. And the fact that the practice of paying for YouTuber videos is alive and well, with costs from $500 on up for a review, is sure to come up. I note that there are not one, not two, but three sessions on indie game economics at Indiecade, so this is clearly all on people’s minds.

It’ll be on Sunday the 12th at 1:30 in the Ivy Theater. Hope to see you there!

Game talkSpeaking on “Practical Creativity”

 Posted by (Visited 2478 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Sep 232014
 

I’ll be talking at GDCNext in LA in early November about “practical creativity.”

Over the last couple of years, I have had no commercial masters over my creativity. Oh, I’ve done some consulting and whatnot, but the vast majority of my time has been on projects that I am pursuing out of pure passion, a desire to make them. And I’ve had an incredibly prolific period; the most prolific of my life, actually.

One of the things that has been really striking about it for me is the high hit rate on prototypes. Some strange alchemy between the indie strivings towards art and the accumulated lessons from game grammar and “formalist” thinking, between reading up on human psychology and mathematics, has created for me a toolset that is in some ways very practical, even dull. Very straightforward and easy to share. So, I’m going to!

Practical Creativity

Raph Koster  |  Designer, Independent
Format: Lecture
Track: Design
Pass Type: All Access Pass, GDC Next Pass

It’s a world of clones, of derivative ideas, of repackaging games in genres. It can be hard to be creative. And all too often, creativity is treated as a magical talent that few have, when it’s actually a skill that anyone can learn and that improves with practice! Come learn what science tells us about creativity, and practical straightforward steps that any game designer or developer can make use of in order to get more creative. We’ll actually try these things out in the talk, and I promise every attendee will leave with a brand-new game idea, never before seen.

Takeaway

Attendees will learn what “creativity” is currently thought to be, and specific tools and tricks for making their games more creative. We’ll even try to be creative during the actual talk!

The Sunday PoemThe Sunday Poem: London Squall

 Posted by (Visited 2675 times)  The Sunday Poem
Sep 072014
 

londonsquallLondon squall, Islington gusts,
Wash the Barbican clean.
Tidy households in tiny flats
Open windows, let out cats
As raindrops stop and shatter
And rental bikes go clattering
Down Clerkenwell streets.

Puddles, unavoidable mess,
Are temporary consequence.
Each lost leaf in King’s Square
Is labeled where it fell.
London squall and Islington gusts
May discomfit, yes. But we will not
Permit them to disrupt.

- Outside a café, London, Aug 2014

Game talkWhat makes a game last a generation?

 Posted by (Visited 3127 times)  Game talk
Sep 022014
 

047425-rounded-glossy-black-icon-sports-hobbies-chess-pawn2-sc51Problems that aren’t actually solvable. Instead, players can only approach optimality. This means there’s always another hill to climb in terms of increasing skill, so people keep devoting the time.

These tend to be problems that fall into high complexity classes. In general, NP-HARD problems that we solve using heuristics make for long-lasting games. Mind you, these problems need to be intrinsic to the core game loop. I refer you to my presentation on that here: Games Are Math slides.

No end in sight for problem variations. New problems using the same ruleset is also a way to give hills to climb. (Yeah, this means that “authored” games with fixed levels are almost certainly not going to endure in quite the same way. A narrative game is very unlikely to last a generation.)

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