This might seem like an obvious thing, but here's a tip when developing games:
CHECK YOUR SPELLING!
Depending on the environment you work in, different amounts of text input is needed to make things work. For the designer it can be none existing because everything is drag 'n drop, or it can be mid-range and requires you to enter some asset names and stuff or it can be "extreme" and require you to do actual text scriping/coding.
Pretty much regardless of the environment, and regardless of your position, you should try and make sure to spell things correctly, and at very least, always spell it the same way.
If members of the development team are required to write the same thing as someone else it's an must that they use the same system, which is preferably correctly spelled English.
If there are problems with having the entire team spell things the same way, you can lose countless time on trouble shooting why things aren't working.
It's spelled platform, not plattform. If you're gonna write plattform, at least do it all the time. And make sure not to be sloppy and write plattfrom. If you're unsure if it's spelled movable or moveable, look it up or chose one and stick by it.
As I said, it may sound obvious but then prove it by never making that misstake and you'll make the world a better place.
Thanks in advance.
People say that one should be modest and I agree, but someday I'm gonna become an epic game designer. In fact, in late May.
1.1 The Company hereby employs the Employee as a Game Designer.
The "Company" being Epic Games Poland (People Can Fly) and the "Employee" being me!
I'm extremly happy to dance a little dance of joy for getting this opportunity to work with some of the best people there are making the best game ever (of course).
I'm actually in a blood pact with them, because I got a paper cut signing the papers. So there's no backing out now. They own my soul.
So what now? Well, I'm in good terms with my current employer and we're on the same page on this and I'll keep a healthy relationship with them. So no hard feelings there and I'll finish my current project with them before leaving.
I'm guessing most of my time now will be spent on preparing to move abroad and make epic games.
One of the biggest and most respected Swedish game journalist, Petter Hegevall recently complained a bit about Splinter Cell: Conviction on his blog. He says he doesn't like the game holding his hand while playing:
Easy game control is a good thing. Well-done game mechanics is another good thing. But when Ubisoft removes much of the charm of being stealthy and sneaky by rewarding me with the function to be able to shoot all the bad guys I see with the touch of a button - then I wonder, was it really a gameplay related point of the reward?
It works like that, the new system of Conviction. A possibility to win by putting out a small red marker to kill a whole bunch of enemies by pressing a button. In my world it becomes more of a punishment, because I play stealth games to get to feel really über-awesome to sneak up on every enemy - and kill them silently.
This is surely wonderful for many when Conviction turns into a cool movie, complete with the Jason Bourne-influences and everything.
(Translated from Swedish) - http://www.gamereactor.se/blog/petter/#162263 (18/4/2010)
I disagree and I think he just doesn't get it. It's weird, really. I respect him and he usually writes good stuff, but this time I'm just no sure what he's thinking. He complains about the game turning into a movie instead of game, because of the feature to "mark" several enemies and execute them with a press of a button. I see it another way. All they've done is that they've moved and refocused the gameplay.
To be able to execute this technique you first need to perform special actions, like killing someone in stealth close combat, so the stealth gameplay is still very much there and heavily encouraged. The gameplay now focuses on preparation, placement of Sam Fisher (the avatar) and the execution/activation of a planned attack. That for me, is still a whole lot of fun, interactive and not in any way "automatic" or a movie.
Basically, they've just done the shooting aspect of the game more streamlined, which still isn't the entire game, thanks to the stealth, the gadgets and the maneuverability.
Sure, one could argue that the result is a less fun game if you're looking for a precision shooter. But I'm pretty sure the devs knew the game inside and out when designing the levels and scenarios, so claiming that the game became too easy just because of this it strange, because it's a result of many things.
At work today some of us were talking about sports like ice hockey, soccer and curling and one of the other guys mentioned that the games are designed to be fun to look at.
Should we design video games to be "spectator sports"? Of course, the game have to be fun for the player as well, but should we spend resources on making the game more fun for the people not playing it as well?
It would help sell the game, obviously. Seeing a game that was fun even just to watch, you'd be more likely to wanting to experience more of it.
Take Rock Band and Guitar Hero for example. And Singstar for that matter. They're games that usually have more people than the game can handle at once, so people pass around the instruments at parties and such. But if you ask me, they're not fun to watch... At all!
A lot of improvements could be made to make the game more enjoyable to watch. At least, that's what I think. Although, admittedly, I can't think of any excellent ones at the moment.
Games like Grim Fandango are great to watch, because they in a way present the same value as a movie.
But here's a question: Except for cinematics and things very similar to that, what makes a game enjoyable to watch? The game being unpredictable? Cool effects? Awesome one-liners? Amazing graphics? Ninjas? Or is it something completely different that's the secret ingredient?
I don't have a definite answer, but I think it's safe to assume that there are many different ways to go.
Just like everyone I hate having to wait for games to be downloaded and/or installed on my computer or console.
This may already be used in same games that I didn't know about. If so; that's great. But I would love for games to be playable before they're completely on the harddrive. The actual game logic is never all that big, it's always the content, like art and audio that takes a great amount of space.
So why not make sure that the "level 1 data" is handled first, so you can at least play that while waiting for the rest?
When installing Microsoft Office 2010 (Beta), they do just that. You can start using the stuff immediately and to be honest, I don't know what's being done in the background.
I bet you feel like a better person now after reading this!
When we see a door we expect us to be able to open it. When we see a key we expect to pick it up. When we get a pistol we expect to use it to kill stuff. When there's a hallway in Resident Evil, we expect it to be scary as hell.
There are all forms of expectations when we play games. Many are based on other similar games, like when playing an FPS you keep comparing it to how other FPS games work. If you get a handgrenade, you'd expect to throw it. Not to pull the pin, hold the grenade and then die.
Whenever I play a new Mario-game I can be sure of a few things. Like that it'll be accessible, charming and that I won't pee myself because of fear. Hopefully I won't pee myself at all, come to think of it. Anyway, my point is we always have references while playing and we base our expectations on those.
One of the most brilliant ones I've ever played is in the "Lost in Nightmares" expansion for Resident Evil 5.
Back in -96, the first Resident Evil was released and while the game became a hit, there was one part in particular that came to become an instant cult classic. I'm talking about a hallway in which dogs jump in from outside through the windows. The first time around, players weren't ready for it and it scared the living shit out of them, me included. I remember actually having nightmares... Come on, I was 10 years old.
Whenever people talk about scary moments in games, that scene is brought up.
All of the following Resident Evil games of course had more (in amount) scary moments but I don't think anyone was as effective.
In the Lost in Nightmares expansion, you're playing in an estate extremly similar to that in the first game and to the right of the main hall, just like in the original, there's an identical hallway and guess what; it gave me the chills. In addition, you also hear dogs barking. Not nice!
Déjà vu in all its glory. When walking in the exact same corridor again, you get that eerier feeling if knowing that you're in a very, very scary place, but because it's something new at the same time, you do not know what's gonna happen.
It's an excellent example of a good use of the references players that knows about the first Resident Evil have.
If you haven't played it, I'm not gonna spoil what does, or does not happen...
More than once have I complained about my dislike for achievements in games. Most notably in a special earlier post:
Just a few hours ago Apple announced a "Game Center" with among other things achievement support.
Another major announcement today was Apple's intention to provide a centralized Game Center that offers users a way to track achievements, high scores and offer matchmaking services for online multiplayer. The system sounds similar to Microsoft's Xbox Live service which has been very popular.
This is in no way surprising and even though I overall dislike the concepts of achievements to measure the size of ones gaming e-penis, I'm still very fond of this Game Center.
Partly because it shows a strong sense and will to get serious about gaming from Apple's side and partly because with a communication device such as the iPhone, it's obvious that you should try and connect players. And by doing so in a centralized manner is a great thing for developers and consumers alike!
Finally, things are as they should again. I'm back home and the celebration of Easter is over and done with, even though I miss the food. And I'm finally working again. Six days without game development... Crazy!
Apart from professional work, I spend my time with Iskall as usual and the thing I wanted to discuss was a problem I'm having.
I'm constantly being very influenced by other games and I have to say "No!", to myself.
A big part of Iskall is it's fighting mechanics and the core has been set since last year. Yet, as soon as I play a game with a good fighting mechanics I think "Wow, our game should work more like this!", and the. I have to have an internal struggle with myself, convincing me it's not a good idea because it's not according to the set key points.
Some of the key points about the fighting in Iskall are:
- Uncomplicated controls
- Puzzle elements into it
- Require a lot of moving about with the avatar
There are a few more, but those are the ones relevant for this example. Even though I have these points, when I recently played BlazBlue which is an extremly fast paced and tremendously hardcore fighting game which in no way fits my key points, I can't help but think that since the game's fighting is great, it'd be swell to incorporate some of it into Iskall.
This has happened while playing a bunch of games, and not only regarding the fighting.
I definately think it's great to look at other games to isolate what's good and what's not but even more important than a "design" is to have a "vision" and a "goal" of what you're trying to achieve, so you always have something to work against when getting new ideas.
"Wouldn't it be cool if you could throw puppies into a meat grinder?". It would, but it's not a good idea if you're making a children's game.
I think this is true not only for game design, but every kind of creative work that requires many decisions to be made: Game Design, Level Design, Art, Concepts, etc.
Btw, crunching the Farcry 2 editor at the moment for a mini-mini-project. I'd never used it before tonight but it's actually quite simple. At least the stuff I've been doing so far. Maybe I'll upload some pictures of the level in a couple of days.
Back to work along with my great friend, the energy drink!