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How game forms are shaped by their environment

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  We often consider artistic works from a creative or cultural perspective, but I find it just as enlightening to examine them from an economic or evolutionary lens. How does the economic environment within which a developer finds themselves shape the form that art takes? As a case study of this in practice, I’ve been fascinated by a class of content-focused game that’s recently found a stable niche in the maturing mobile, PC and console […]

Multiplayer Logistics

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How do we get players to play together in a manner that fits their schedules? This is a key logistical challenge a designer faces when building multiplayer games. The promise We are seeing a blossoming of innovative multiplayer systems. In previous eras there were a handful of default models that games might use (matches, play-by-mail). Games today exist on a spectrum from fully concurrent to fully asynchronous and everything in between. A game like Dark […]

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 […]

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 […]

Shadow Emotions and Primary Emotions

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Not all emotions are created equal. Consider: It is a distinctly different thing to feel sad while reading about a dying mother than to actually feel sad because your mother is dying. The former is a shadowy reflection that we intuitively understand is not immediately threatening. The later is raw, primary and life changing. I’ve yet to see existing terminology for this phenomena, so at the risk of stepping on existing toes, let’s use the […]

Realm of the Mad God Released!

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A little over a year ago, Alex Carobus and Rob Shillingsburg from WildShadow created a prototype of a re-imagined MMO for the TIGSource Assemblee game jam. David and I started working with them a few months later through Spry Fox, helping flesh out with the monetization, interface and cooperative mechanics. The game has been in public beta for a year, rigorously tested by thousands of passionate players. The metrics look good. The tech is in […]

A blunt critique of game criticism

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Note:  This essay has gone through a couple drafts based off extensive feedback (which you can read below in the comments). I’m aiming for a version of this essay that is less likely to violently misinterpreted by a majority of readers. Apologies for altering the context of any of the comments below…an unfortunate peril of live editing.  Again, let me know where I’m wrong.  Let me know which portions makes sense.  I read Ben Abraham’s […]