Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

Month: June 2005 (page 1 of 2)

I’m PK+, Bitch!

So, apparently, we’ve discovered the addiction that derailed Season 3 (thanks to MMODIG). Continue reading

The Value of IP

Scott Miller (of Duke Nuke’m fame) recently re-iterated the value of creating and owning your IP (it’s one of his mantras). His reasons were all from the point of view of the developer, and were sound, although he’s a bit optimistic in how much negotiating power developers who aren’t 3D Realms have in the matter. Highlights:

Owning an IP…

  • Gives a studio clout and leverage.
  • The ability to better control their future.
  • Much better company value.
  • And a way to cash in on that value without having to sell the company.

This is in curious juxtaposition with Stuart Roch’s point of view. Stuart had recently read a snippet from David Jaffe’s blog. David was the Design Director for the recently released, bosom-heaving yet very excellent God of War. David let it slip in a throwaway comment that God of War has only sold 500K units so far, according to NPD. Continue reading

The Perfect Wargame

Kotaku pointed out this oldie-but-goodie at Pointless Waste of Time: what a wargame based on the realities of modern politics and media would be like. A snippet:

I want that “Public Support” meter to rise and fall according to Troops Lost, Length of Conflict, Innocents Killed and Whether or Not There is Anything Else On TV That Week. I want to lose 200 Public Support points because, in a war where 8,000 units have been lost, one of my Mutalisks happened to be caught on video accidentally eating one clergyman. Then, later, my destruction of an entire enemy city goes unnoticed because the Nude Zero-Gravity Futureball championship went into overtime.


Original comments thread is here.

How to Be a Console Fanboy

Gamespot has put together a helpful list of rules regarding being a fanboy of one console or another. Some of the useful rules:

Innovation is what it’s called when your console has a unique feature. Otherwise, it’s called a gimmick.

A sequel on another console is a “rehash,” while a sequel on your console is not; in fact, it’s highly anticipated.

A person who owns just one console is inherently less biased than editors at GameSpot who have access to all consoles.

[I]t is up to you to monitor how companies are doing and report every dip in stock price of manufacturers of other consoles. You’re all experts in the fields of economics and finance, so your analyses will always prove correct.

Putting together this list for MMO fanboyism would be a lot of fun. Might get me fired, though.


Noodling Along in Kirby

I haven’t been posting all week because I’ve been taking a much-overdue vacation. Whilst tooling through the forests of Oregon, I noted to myself that this was the first vacation out of town that wasn’t either a trade show or a Christmas break I’ve taken in something like five years. This is way too long.

I’ve always been a sucker for wacky input devices, but I’ve been so far severely disappointed with my DS, partially because some exec thought it the flagship title, Metroid: Hunters, should be an FPS you control via stylus (note to anyone working on a DS game: this really sucked). Still, I wasn’t ready to give up on it, and so I picked up two games for the DS before I hopped on the plane: WarioWare: Twisted and Kirby’s Canvas Curse. Continue reading

WoW Will Age Like a Fine Wine

One of the things that we talk about at work when we talk about the remarkable success that World of Warcraft has had is that it is going to age well. The reason why? It’s not ‘realistic’, and so it sidesteps that entire arms race of everyone else trying to figure out how to draw elves with more polys in each pointy ear.

Ultima Online had this advantage, too. Yeah, the art is old, but since few MMOs share that perspective in the US marketplace, their art style has managed to survive better. 3D games inherently have it rougher – my old game, Meridian 59 looked old when Everquest came out. Everquest looked obsolete when EQ2 came out. One can expect this trend to continue for future realistic games as well. Meridian takes some very interesting and innovative design risks, and Everquest has something like 6 years more content than EQ2 does, but that’s not what you think when you glance at screenshots on the back of the box. Continue reading

I’m A Sucker For Goth Culture, I Guess

I finished Vampire: Bloodlines a week ago, and I’m so conflicted about the game that I still don’t know what to write about it. On one hand, the game frequently made me want to put my fist through my monitor. On the other hand, I’m already trying to figure out what character I’ll play next. I haven’t played an RPG twice since I was, like, in high school. Let’s take a quick look at the good, the bad and the ugly.

Continue reading

A Contrast of Results

Two bits of notable pieces of news this week, most of which have been reported elsewhere. The first is that World of Warcraft has surpassed 2 million subscribers. I guess the honor system didn’t slow them down. (link via Gamasutra). Can we now stop talking about the ‘million sub MMO’ game as if it wasn’t a great white whale?

On the flip side, Corpnews was the first to report the rumor that the Matrix Online has been sold to Sony. A surprising amount of commentary seems to be stuck on the notion that Sony and Warner Bros are arch enemies, and Sony getting their hands on WB money is blasphemy of the highest kind. News flash: that sort of stuff happens all the time if there’s a buck to be made. All the same, my condolences and best of luck to the guys in the trenches. Continue reading

A Spirited Defense of Graphics Over Gameplay

I always have a fondness for writers who tell it like it is. You know, the guys who defend levels in RPGs and think that hit points work just fine. Even if you disagree with those stances, I think too many people dismiss the status quo without really understanding how we got there.

This morning, Andrew Phelps challenges the notion that gameplay always trumps graphics.

In the not-to-distant future each of us will be asked to plunk down a not insignificant amount of money for a new console, either an X-Box 360 or a PS3 or a Revolution. Well, the first thing I’m going to do is play a game on my new toy, and it had damn well better look better than the last console.

That’s a really important point so I will say it again a bit differently: the consumer is deciding whether or not a title is worthy of personal investment based on its appearance. Yeah, I know, shallow. So transparent. But I can guarantee that no one will know about your super-smart awesome character AI and intricate plot details (and believe me, I love super-smart toons and plot details – its why I read science fiction in the first place) if there isn’t a pretty face to suck people in. It has got to look worthy of investment.

Continue reading

What is Immersion?

…and is immersion something that designers should strive for?

Of course, your response will vary based upon which definition of ‘Immersion’ you like the best. I do think any definition of immersion should include not just audio-visual masterpieces, but also games like Heroes and Bejeweled that completely stole your attention for 8 hours straight. Continue reading

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