Misc

Misc

Stuff that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else.

MailbagMailbag: breaking in (again)

 Posted by (Visited 1424 times)  Mailbag  Tagged with: ,
Mar 082014
 

Hello Mr. Koster, my name is J___ A_____ and I am a recent college graduate with a computer science degree. I came across your name on the Wikipedia article about MUDs, and noticed the link to your website and in turn this contact form. I realize this is a complete shot in the dark but I’ve gotten so many friendly “no thank you” letters recently I figure the worst that happens is you never reply.

In 1993, I began playing a hack and slash Rom 2.3 mud called Creeping Death, and completely fell in love. In 1999 I taught myself C and with the help of a friend, we put up our first MUD. I have been actively coding them off and on ever since. A few years ago I went back to school and pursued a Bachelors in Comp Sci and am desperately trying to break into the video game industry. Outside of mud coding I have little expertise in game design. My question then is this:

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Jan 162014
 

floatingeyeballkiddear Mr.Koster,

I’m a design student studying at __________, of ____. I’ve read a lot of your blog entries and they’ve helped me a lot through my design project especially your article on “good design, bad design and great design.

I would just like to ask you as a designer, what is a bad design decision? What are the points we often forget to incorporate in our designs .

Thanking you in advance,

R___ J_____

Continue reading »

Open threadMajor blog overhaul

 Posted by (Visited 1775 times)  Open thread  Tagged with:
Dec 182013
 

biglogoYou may have noticed that the site looks a little different today! It has seen a major overhaul — years of hacks in files have been overwritten by a modern customizable theme (Suffusion).

The goals were

  • Get it looking nicer, because, damn, it was dated. I usually overhaul it every few years, and it’s been overdue.
  • Get it faster and more responsive, thanks to streamlining all the cruft away. We’ll see. The database for the blog is, by the way, around 5GB of data. Yeesh. So it may be that getting it faster will require major DB surgery.
  • Cut away some of the stuff that was outright obsolete, like the links list (I’ll have to create a new one, sorry for anyone I wiped out!)
  • Give better and faster access to frequently desired material. This is being done with the nav bar up at the top. You’ll notice that this still takes you to the old site’s static pages (static pages that now date back to 1998 in some cases). Over time I expect to migrate all this into WordPress proper and redirect all the old links.
  • I also plan to add new stuff now. Like, some gallery pages for the games I have worked on. Seems silly to be a game designer with a game design site and not have a portfolio page… There’s also all the books that I have had chapters in, I ought to have those up here too. Maybe Slideshare widgets for all the presentations.

Among other things, the site is now fully responsive, so it shouldn’t take pinching and zooming to read it on a smartphone anymore. I swapped out the tag cloud widget, and the translator widget too. The old translator actually cached all the pages; this one just sends you off to Google Translate to do it yourself, so that should save a lot of space.

There are still many things that I have to sort out: whether to keep the frames on images, the weird bottom edge of the nav bar, what to do about comments (I like having the Twitter comments show up seamlessly, but I don’t think I like the reverse chronological order they show up in!), how to handle the older parts of the site, the bits of stuff left over like the blue highlighting of my comments that no longer matches the theme, the way drop caps are messing up when there’s an image in the top left, the bad headers on the right side…

Of course, feedback is welcome! Let me know what you think of stuff like the color scheme, the layout, and so on.

ArtMiscWindows 8 tablet, part two

 Posted by (Visited 7755 times)  Art, Misc  Tagged with: ,
Mar 202013
 

Life with a new Windows 8 tablet.

Oh boy, are there teething pains. Here’s some of what I did, located after insane amounts of Googling and multiple days. I am posting it here to save other people all the pain.

An amazing resource: the forums at http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/

Gosh, the storage is limited.

Yes, it is. First off, don’t even bother getting a 64GB model. You need the 128, I guarantee it. In the case of the Smart PC Pro, people are even buying 256 or 480GB SSD’s – unlike the Surface Pro, the machine has some user-serviceable parts, and you can replace the SSD without a huge amount of hassle. If you’re brave, check here: http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/samsung/54457-ativ-700t-question-anyone-open-unit-yet.html

If you’re not brave, well, then:

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ArtMiscWindows 8 tablet, part one

 Posted by (Visited 6091 times)  Art, Misc  Tagged with: ,
Mar 192013
 

photoGiant post ahead!

Some background: I have been using Tablet PCs for a decade now. Back in the UO days, I always walked around with a paper notebook full of doodles, and I often sketch out design ideas as diagrams and quickie cartoons. With a pressure sensitive stylus I can also then do artwork directly — concept paintings (the sort of thing you then give to an artist so they can make the real concept painting…!) or game sprites or whatever. These days, I carry my iPad pretty much everywhere, and I can code on it a little bit, I can sketch on it, I doodle with it in Notes Plus, and I even have the Pogo Connect pressure-sensitive stylus, so I can use that for art. But I am working on the colored cartoons for the second edition of Theory of Fun, and none of the iPad art programs will successfully load the Photoshop files I need to work in. And I was in the market for a new laptop anyway, so I went shopping for a Windows 8 tablet.

So this post is what I learned and what I picked. I have another giant post done as well, with everything I had to do to get the new machine set up to my satisfaction. It was info all scattered randomly all over the Internet, so I figured that it might be valuable to gather it all in one place. But this post was long enough already! So look for that one tomorrow.

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Game talkMailbagWhy do we like a given game?

 Posted by (Visited 5322 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with:
Feb 152013
 

I was just asked this on Quora, and thought I would crosspost my answer here.

What makes people like specific genres of gaming (FPS, strategy, sports, racing etc)?

What can you tell about people who like only a certain genre of gaming like Fps rather than strategy?

Everyone starts out with different natural predispositions. For example, some people are born with more fast-twitch fibers in their muscles, which gives them the ability to move more explosively than others [Skeletal striated muscle]. Other folks have greater color sensitivity, faster reaction times, better ability to see things that are moving or that are standing still.

Some of these things are spread across a gradient where a person may fall anywhere on the gradient, but there are biases based on the sex of the individual in question. [Men and Women Really Do See Things Differently] We should be cautious about treating this as “biology is destiny” and instead think in terms of statistical distribution; recent metastudies show that overall, sex differences in cognition are weak correlations [Science Confirms The Obvious:  Men And Women Aren't That Different] but there are nonetheless some large and obvious differences between sexes and of course between people.

These predispositions mean that some things are easier or harder for a given individual. Not necessarily hugely so — maybe only marginally, say 1% easier than the norm. But it doesn’t matter, because of how the brain’s reward system works. Continue reading »

MailbagMailbag: High Seas

 Posted by (Visited 3795 times)  Mailbag
Dec 212012
 

Raph,

You probably don’t remember me, but I played Metaplace a while back. We talked a lot about your ship game and you shared a link with me of the music you made. I cannot find that conversation!! Nor can I find the music on your site (unless I forgot what it was called). It was epic and I want to listen to it again.

Also, I know that Metaplace is no more but is the High Seas game out there anywhere to play for fun? If not, you should host it on your web server. It would be epic to play it again :(

- Crystal

I am tickled that anyone remembers either the game or the music! Especially given that we are coming up on the third anniversary of the closing of Metaplace.com… hard to believe it has been that long.

The music is called “The Knyghte’s Daliaunce,” as it was not originally meant as a pirate tune at all. I posted it up on the blog (with a chord chart) ages ago. It is also on the general Music page along with links to my album (it’s not on the album though). I really should record a new version of it sometime. Anyway, here you go:

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Game talkMailbagMailbag: I want to become a designer

 Posted by (Visited 17907 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with:
Sep 262012
 

Dear Raph Koster,

I want to become a Game Designer.

As a child I used to judge games very harshly on things like graphics and funness. Although as I’ve grown older I’ve seen there is a lot more to games then meets the eye. I don’t want to sound all professional and stodgy, I’ve just reached the stage in my life where I need to choose my path. Whether it is the correct one will be with the help of you.

I want to be a Game Designer. There are courses at Universities specifically for Designing games or Programming for games, (programming is what I would want to start doing in the industry) although it feels like I’m just the same as everyone else who picked up a controller or keyboard and said “I can do better than this”.

Simply put I was hoping you could give me some advice on how to achieve my dream. The fun is in the learning as a well written book once taught me (wink wink), and the Gaming industry is ever growing.

Thank you for your time,

H_____ P_____.

Sure.

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Game talkMiscOnline Game Legend

 Posted by (Visited 6557 times)  Game talk, Misc  Tagged with: , , ,
Aug 302012
 

Today the press release went out announcing that I was selected to receive the Online Game Legend Award at the GDC Online Choice Awards. This award is voted on by fellow developers, and it’s basically a lifetime achievement award.

The Online Game Legend Award recognizes the career and achievements of one particular creator who has made an indelible impact on the craft of online game development.

This rather leaves one thinking, “Well, now what?”

(Warning: introspection ahead…)

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MiscMinor blog downtime

 Posted by (Visited 7182 times)  Misc  Tagged with: ,
May 102012
 

The blog’s hosting server is getting an upgrade sometime in the next 48 hours… there will likely be some downtime in the early morning hours. They tell me it may last up to a couple of hours.