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

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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

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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 »