Author: Daniel Cook

Prototyping Challenge: 3D Modeling Tool for 2.5D RPG Art

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I was creating some 2.5D art for an game jam recently in a perspective similar to a 2D RPG like Zelda. Naturally my next step was that I started thinking about how you might recreate this style using a custom 3D modeling tool. Yes, another art tool design challenge. 🙂 I’ve played with voxel editors in the past, but I’m not completely happy with the blocky results that they produce. So where’s a quick and […]

A single game as a lifelong hobby

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Do you finish one game and then move onto the next? This is the dominant pattern of play for gamers. What happens when players stop consuming and starts investing in a single evergreen computer game for years on end? Players of traditional games specialize Across the 5500+ year history of gaming and sports, players typically focus on a single game and turn it into their predominant hobby. A chess player may dabble in other games, […]

Coercive Pay-2-Play Techniques

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Coercive monetization models are used by many of the large corporations that dominate the “Pay to play” (P2P) charts in retail, console and mobile. They employ carefully engineered psychological traps intended to defraud ignorant players of their money. This shocking expose shines a light on their dark, inhumane practices. Be forewarned: Despite extensive examinations of opinions similar to my own, I am intentionally unaware of any company that manages to use these systems of coercion […]

Understanding randomness in terms of mastery

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Instead of categorizing games as either ‘games of skill’ or ‘games of luck’, I see games with randomness as being a subset of ‘games of mastery’. This view helps the designer see randomness in games as the intersection between both the player skill set and the game mechanics. By understanding the underlying skills involved in mastering randomness, we can build more meaningful games. Discerning cause and effect from noise One of the fundamental elements of […]

Building Tight Game Systems of Cause and Effect

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To play a game well, a player must master a mental model of cause and effect.  You learn that pressing a specific button moves you forward.  You figure out that a sequence of controller moves lets you dodge a fired rocket.  You observe a slight pause before an enemy attack and theorize that you could fire off a headshot at that exact moment.  At each stage of learning, you create a hypothesis, test it via […]

Goodbye Realm of the Mad God

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It is hard to let go of something you’ve worked on for such a long time, but such is life. After a rather successful launch of Realm of the Mad God on Steam and Kongregate, our partners at Wild Shadow Studios decided that the best course of action was to sell the game to a larger operator, and we agreed to sell our stake alongside them. Kabam will be operating the game from here on […]

Looking to hire unicorn programmer for Spry Fox

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Hi everyone — my company Spry Fox is looking to hire a senior-level engineer/developer. If you are not this person but have worked with someone you love and trust, let me know! Job titleWe don’t really do titles here. Feel free to call yourself something amusing and/or impressive. What we’re looking for… Senior level engineer (five to ten years of work experience, minimum.) Can program both the front end and back end of an original […]

Prototyping challenge: Make a web-based 3D modeling toy

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I’m rather obsessed with user generated content, particularly art tools.  Recently, I had a wonderful experience with Realm of the Mad God.  Alex Carobus added in a simple pixel editor that allowed anyone to create sprites that might be used in the game.  Very rapidly, players created thousands of truly delightful pieces of art. Inspired by this, I set a design challenge for myself. 3D in a browsers. What is an easy-to-use 3D modeling tool that lives […]

Loops and Arcs

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Here are two tools I’ve been using lately to better understand the functionality of my game designs.  The first is the loop, a structure that should be very familiar to those who have looked into skill atoms.  The second is the arc. Loops The ‘game’ aspect of this beast we call a computer game always involves ‘loops’. The player starts with a mental model that prompts them to… Apply an action to… The game system […]

Giving a talk at plague stricken GDC 2012 on sexy-sexy innovation

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It is that time of year when I bodysurf the sweating developer crowds in San Francisco and inevitably contract to some horrible nerd-specific viral infection. Current theory: Never touch the glasses.  The past three years have resulted in the entire week of GDC being a blur of  fever and fatigue-induced hallucinations interspersed with violently explosive sneezing fits.  Here’s to GDC 2012: Reliving Twelve Monkeys for the fourth year in a row. Somewhere in the midst of all […]