All posts tagged: cost effective game design

Steambirds: Survival: Goodbye Handcrafted Levels

comments 35
Ported Posts / Uncategorized

Steambirds: Survival, the sequel to our original steampunk airplane strategy game was just released today.   You can go play it right now at Steambirds.com. Steambirds: Survival takes place on a grim fall morning at the start of the Battle of London.  The British forces are taken by surprise as thousands of Axis steam-planes descend upon the doomed city.  Outnumbered and outgunned, your heroic mission is to delay the invaders long enough that a handful […]

Post-it note design docs

comments 12
Ported Posts / Uncategorized

I happen to fall into the artist-designer skill set, so I often find myself trying to prototype ideas on teams rich with programmers. As such, I’m always looking for better game development techniques that work well for this particular team mix. Here is a very lightweight prototyping process using Post-it notes that I quite enjoy. Initial idea: I sit down with an available programmer (and artist/UI designer depending on the system) and we chat about […]

"Content is Bad"

comments 20
Ported Posts / Uncategorized

I just came across an article by the good folks at Introversion discussing procedural animation and its benefits versus hand crafted content. Some of my favorite games of all time are riddled with procedural content. The universes of Elite, the dungeons of NetHack, the random maps of Age of Wonders…all these are littered with procedural content. And how could I forget Dice Wars. Or Tetris. Or Poker. The more handcrafted content you build, the more […]

Future proofing game graphics

comments 15
Ported Posts / Uncategorized

A source of great sadness for me is the loss of so much great game artwork due to the constant erosion of obsolescence. Thousands of pieces of artwork are produced by highly talented teams, crammed into the latest title, launched into the marketplace and then, forgotten. The game eventually stops selling. The artwork was encoded in an obscure custom format that no one understands any more. Other than the occasional archived screenshot and some fuzzy […]

Managing game design risk: Part II – Data Driven Development

comments 8
Ported Posts / Uncategorized

Read part Managing game design risk: Part I here. It provides an overview of different classes of production processes and their relationship to various forms of risk. The next two essays will talk about common techniques for reducing risk. The first technique, data driven development, involves lowering execution risk by investing in lower risk product features and processes. This low execution risk strategy is the predominant technique used by game developers to reduce risk and […]

Managing game design risk: Part I

comments 2
Ported Posts / Uncategorized

GDC was wonderful. Unfortunately, I’m the sort of person who is absolutely miserable at copying notes in any literal way. As soon as I started writing, I became distracted by a thread connecting several intriguing talks on prototyping, tools and production risk. The result was a very long essay. This is the first part. Managing Risk Much of game production is about managing risk. We partake in a highly complex process that juggles people, technology, […]

Never innovate halfway

comments 25
Ported Posts / Uncategorized

Double Fine’s Psychonauts was an original game that by all indications did poorly in the marketplace. This has led to the odd comments from fence sitters (and misinformed publishers) that innovation is a failed strategy. Bad monkeys! Bad! We often talk about “innovation” in product development as if it were a miraculous substance that always benefits a game. I also imagine a scene in an idyllic game development kitchen with a game designer wearing a […]