Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Weekend Game Developer Articles

Posted by Rampant Coyote on March 5, 2011

A lot happened this week, partly courtesy of the Game Developer’s Conference, and partly just… inspired by stuff.

Too much for me to share. But I’ll take a stab at it. For example:

Craig  Stern (Telepath RPG) is the latest to step up to the plate to try and define the Computer Role-Playing Game. I doubt this question will ever be fully resolved. In fact, I hope it isn’t. It’s the discussion and ideas it brings up that is so much fun.

Brenda Brathwaite (Wizardry, Playboy Mansion, Ravenwood Fair) addressed the growing animosity among game developers towards social games. As one of many former hardcore game devs now in the social gaming field, she responded with a surprisingly awesome anti-rant. She had an equally awesome article and lecture on the need for game designers to learn to code. Really code.

Celso Riva (Vera Blanc, Magic Stones, Planet Stronghold) was inspired by the speech by Andy Schatz at the IGF awards, and wrote about The Tao of Indies. I completely agree.

Gareth Fouche (Scars of War) decided to riff a bit on an article of mine by asking Why NOT Orcs?

Jeff Vogel (Geneforge, Avernum, Avadon) released the first game of a new series for the Mac last week – Avadon: The Black Fortress – and looks back on the fifteen month process that staked his company’s entire future on a brand-new series.

Gamasutra reported on one workshop at GDC that sounded awesome – a “Failure Workshop” where popular (and successful) game devs talk about the games that were utter and complete failures that (fortunately) never saw the light of day. If I could pick out just one piece of advice from the synopsis, it is that the coolest concept and coolest design mean NOTHING if you don’t build and play your prototype early and often.

“I’ve got this idea (for a game) – if you make it for me, I’ll give you 25%.” Yeah. I have heard variations this before, though not recently. The prices he quotes seem pretty gouging to me, but it really depends on the product and how much is being spent to market it — I imagine it costs a fortune just to get noticed in the ocean of titles for that system. The author isn’t necessarily talking about games here, but I’ve applied it them mentally. One thing I’ve come to recognize over the years is that the difference between a great idea and a terrible idea is often all in the details and the implementation.


Filed Under: Game Development - Comments: 4 Comments to Read

  • Felix Pleșoianu said,

    Ha ha, I love it when people point out that game designers need to know how to code. Too bad it’s almost impossible to convince a “pure” game designer of that. Like the general population, they seem to think that programming is some sort of magic on the one hand, and a necessary evil on the other.

    As for the “ideas have value” naivety, I wrote about it, and you wrote about it. Many have, but nothing works as good as simply telling these guys that 1) you already have more ideas than you can shake a stick at, and 2) you’ve seen their precious idea implemented many times before. It’s cruel, yes. But it’s also the pure truth.

    Cheers. You’ve made my day again.

  • Spencer L. said,

    Yeah, so true. Ideas are extremely common. But if you can’t implement it into a more fluid and tangible form, it is as good as dung. Although, dung is good for fertilizing.

    Kind of brings up another point. Oftentimes, I see rushed games, influenced by a variety of different “excuses”. Because of this, we get loads of shovel-ware. I just wonder, can this junk software be called failures, or a distinct lack of inspiration. Now I am debating with myself whether this helps fertilize future projects, or corrode the potential of creativity.

  • DGM said,

    Anyone know how long it usually takes Vogel to go from a mac release to a windows playtest?

  • McTeddy said,

    I’ve released too mainstream titles. Both seem to fall into the category of shovel-ware.

    Our schedules were terrible, our leadership was lacking, and our workload was deadly. We worked our butts off to make a game that we would be proud of. But reality didn’t seem to accept that.

    So when I look back at the game what do I think of it as a failure?

    Yes, it was a glorious failure. It was the kind of failure that has taught me a boatload about what it takes to make a game. I’ve learned about failures in communications, I’ve learned about bottlenecks, and I’ve learned to question the testers telling me to “Make it harder!”

    These failures lead a number of people to take new jobs creating great games. These failures caused the artists at the company to stand up and tell management to stop abusing them. These failures lead to one friend of mine being asked to write a book “Game Design: The Wrong Way”.

    Failure is a chance to learn. Games that came out as terrible hold as many, if not more, lessons about game development.

    Besides, sometimes us devs don’t feel our work is shovel-ware… only a gem that we could never clean up.