Game Design

Articles or blogs about designing games of all kinds.
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The Case Against Writers - Continued

When I wrote that original blog, I had no idea how touchy a subject I was broaching. The amount of discussion the recent reprinting of the “Case Against Writers in the Games Industry” blog has generated has itself, been insightful. Clearly, “Story” is something near and dear to the hearts of gamers and developers, alike. I have to sheepishly confess, it’s near and dear to my heart, as well.

I have to admit I wrote the original blog in that way specifically to be somewhat provocative. But, to be clear - I never once said I thought writers weren't useful or that games shouldn't have stories. I did say that games don’t need stories in order to be games, but that’s not the same thing.... Read more»

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Eyes Front - Why I don't really market my blog is a sort of secluded place on the internet. I don't mind toiling away in obscurity because putting eyes on my page isn't really the point. I talk about games here, but I don't tout myself as expert because I don't believe that anyone is an expert on game design. I'm a professional and I've been doing it for about a decade or so and that's as close to an expert as I'll ever be -- a guy that gets paid to do it.

The obscurity makes it easier to get that point across. I'm not saying I wouldn't mind being well known, though! Smiling I'm just saying that being in this sleepy dusty corner of the net makes it easier to say what's on my mind without worrying that I'll end up having to issue an apology because my publisher or studio is afraid their share price will drop since I said the Wii is a piece of shit, or something. Being obscure, I have to admit, has its advantages.

Still, every once and awhile I do something like post an entry to digg - because the topic is something I feel strongly about. Take today for example: I finally went through the trouble of claiming my blog on technorati (Technorati Profile). I was curious what it would mean, if it mattered... but you know, the more I look at it, the less I believe it does.

The people interested in what I have to say seem to find me, anyway... here's to obscurity! Cheers!

- Snipehunter Read more»

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Advocating the Devil - The case against writers in the game industry

There is no doubt in my mind that it was my skills as a writer that opened the door to my becoming a game designer. It was 1997 and a designer from the Warcraft II team had left Blizzard to join another ex-blizzardite in creating a new studio. They had a 3 game deal with Activision and an idea in mind to create a paradigm breaking RTS game, called Third World, but what they lacked, was someone who could write their documents for them. I wasn’t technically hired as a writer, but rather an assistant designer. This would prove to be a decision that I am eternally grateful. Had I been hired simply as a writer that would have been the end, for me. You see, that studio sort of imploded very shortly thereafter, but it’s not that implosion that would have doomed me – as a designer I survived. No, what would have doomed me is the simple, and some would say sad, truth: There’re no places for writers in our industry… Read more»

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Some great game development blogs

I saw this great list of blogs today on Bruce on Games and I thought I'd pass it on to you all. (TongueInCheek)I'm particularly fond of the second entry on the list:(/TongueInCheek)
Some great game development blogs -


Most of the knowledge available to keen gamers about the gaming industry can be of a pretty low quality. This is because that knowledge is third or fourth hand. As a very minimum it has been “spun” by a marketing department (I have done loads of this) and then “interpreted” by a journalist. But there is a way round this, keen enthusiasts can get their knowledge directly from the horses mouth, if they read the right blogs.

Whilst there aren’t many blogs from the publishing side of the video game industry there a quite a few from the development side. And they are excellent. These are the guys who actually make the games that everyone plays, so they know what they are talking about. And when they analyse a game they do so with an authority no magazine could match. These guys are the complete opposite of the fanboy, they are intelligent, informed and incisive. There are quite a few in my blogroll but here are a random selection:

For anyone with any interest in games the above blogs are just pure gold. Japanmanship, for instance is written by a game developer who works for a Japenese games company, lives in Japan and speaks Japanese. If you want to understand the game industry in Japan there is no finer source of knowledge. It amazes me when fanboys with a millionth of his knowledge and experience argue with him on forums.

Note to bloggers, journalists etc, feel free to copy and paste the above list or even the whole article to anywhere you want.

[Bruce on Games] Read more»

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Do Gamers Enjoy Dying in First-Person-Shooters?

Do Gamers Enjoy Dying in First-Person-Shooters? - Ponca City, We Love You writes "Brandon Erickson has an interesting post about an experiment on players' emotional reactions to killing and being killed in a first-person shooters (FPS) with a group of students who played James Bond 007: Nightfire while their facial expressions and physiological activity were tracked and recorded moment-to-moment via electrodes and various other monitoring equipment. The study found that "death of the player's own character...appear[s] to increase some aspects of positive emotion." The authors believe this may result from the temporary "relief from engagement" brought about by character death. "Part of this has to do with the intriguing aesthetic question of precisely how the first-person-shooter represents the player after the moment of death," says Clive Thompson. "This sudden switch in camera angle — from first person to third person — is, in essence, a classic out-of-body experience, of exactly the sort people describe in near-death experiences. And much like real-life near-death experiences, it tends to suffuse me with a curiously zen-like feeling." An abstract of the original article, "The psychophysiology of James Bond: Phasic emotional responses to violent video game events" is available on the web." Obnoxiously this alleged scholarly research is not available for free, so we'll just have to speculate wildly what it says based on the abstract.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

[Slashdot Updates]

This one really brought a smile to my face. I could have - and have for some folks out there - told you this a long time ago. I used to describe it as "positive anxiety" when I was a younger designer and I was trying to use jargon as a way to lend legitimacy to what I do. Eye-wink Jokes aside, the idea that a game (I will glaze over the erroneous assumption the study makes about this being FPS only phenomena) generates this type of anxiety/relief loop is a very old one to any designer - hell any gamer - that's ever bothered to analyze his or her own feelings while playing... Read more»

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