wars, Guild Wars, Guild, Wars, guild


Here you go, the game project for the month of August: StealIdeas!

This is a game where you steal ideas from other developers. It helps explore what that might be like and I hope that it helps potential developers think about what they would want to do to defend themselves from such an attack, if anything.

The game is pretty humorous and was quick to hammer out thanks to Twine being pretty straightforward. I've gotten pretty familiar with it now. It succeeds in putting you in the shoes of an idea thief, which isn't too surprising, but still fun. It does a great job I think of helping people understand the types of things they should research if they're worried about this. The numbers are probably way off, though (all of them were pulled out of a hat or at most a quick google search).


I hope you enjoy and feel free to comment if you find any glaring mistakes or just want to post your thoughts on this subject.

yupaleap, nausicaa, yupa


This month's entry comes a bit early because I decided to merge it with a game jam submission so I only had 72 hours to work on it and I can't edit it after the jam.

Crunched on the weekend to get this game created in 48 hours, but I let the vision get too big for the time I was putting in, so I had to cut several things and the final product isn't as good as I would like. I was elated at being able to get a game in (basically) raw javascript that works and has the one or two critical features I was hoping for.

I think the speed miracle element did for sure add some fun for explorer, collector, and conquerer types. Seeing the clones pop up when you weren't expecting them led to a pleasantly surprised moment, where the game is turning out to offer more than you expected. Elements based on player velocity (literally or otherwise) should definitely be considered and included in games striving to be great.

See the result here (modern browser recommended): http://gamejolt.com/games/speedmiracle/80285

Dirge of Cerebrus, Vincent, Final Fantasy


Here is another game inspired by the SOWN2014 trip. This month, the game project was also part of the WAG Challenge run by the IGDA Writing SIG. http://itch.io/jam/wag-challenge

I explain most of the concept and origin of the game on the challenge page, but here are a couple additional thoughts. I really wasn't able to scope it down enough to fully explore feature creep. I still get ideas from the original prototype that fit in the parameters, and from where I stand now, I think there are three possibilities.

First, you tighten your scope with strict rules and limits, even something as severe as you can only output a 1 or a 0, and you will still be able to feature creep yourself into crunch time. Many humans are amazingly creative, and their minds are built around coming up with ideas and suggestions in the face of limits. The only way to stifle feature creep, is to kill creativity. This is what most time-limited projects are forced to do, sometimes badly.

Second, you allow feature creep, and you don't want to kill creativity, so what do you do? You have to find a filter of some kind- a way to say, "it's done." Some of the best games have that filter by utilizing a single, focused creative director who owns the vision and is good at expressing the vision both artistically and technically. Other great games filter by committee agreement- more cumbersome but arguably able to please more people. Other games filter by bug count or feedback ratings or something similar. As a minor note, in this scenario, some of the feature creep suggestions will conflict with each other and decisions will have to be made about which thing to include.

Third, of course, is an infinite project. Perhaps World of Warcraft will exemplify this, if it never dies. Perhaps there are other open source projects that are like this. Perhaps in the future there will be AIs that make this happen as well. Something like this is certainly in the realm of thinking big.

Anyway, enough rambling. Here is the game. Please go check it out and feel free to comment or tweet and let me know what you think!


yupaleap, nausicaa, yupa

Thoughts on Discoverability

I attended the UDEN meeting last week, which was really great. I got to meet a lot of up and coming movers and shakers, as well as many existing movers and shakers in the game industry in Utah.

Steve Taylor from Wahoo Studios spoke about the history of his company and answered a lot of questions about their success and their struggles. It was a really great talk and I recommend finding the recording and watching it online once it is posted.

One of the topics that came up in his speech and in the networking afterwards was Discoverability. This is a term that describes the problem of getting your game in front of players and allowing them to discover it. I'm not sure why we don't just say "marketing"... maybe it's to differentiate the specific problem of making sure your game is easily discoverable within featured lists and other lists of games provided by curators like console manufacturers (e.g. Microsoft XBox) and game library platform owners (e.g. Valve Steam). The discussion got me thinking and so I put together some of my thoughts and decided to post them here. Feel free to leave a comment if you have anything to add!

1) News - I've read many success stories that pinpoint their biggest impact as "being featured on a popular blog or youtube channel" - which says to me that news and show coverage is a big deal. This is one of the reasons I'm so eager to see an "indie sneak peek" style event every year. Maybe the Salt Lake Gaming Con will help fill that void.

2) Story - good mechanics and gameplay can create a small and loyal following, but a fan community around a game with a good story seems to capture a larger audience. Just as you need a story to be featured on the news, the story can be a simple origin story for your studio and your passion for the game you're making, or the story can be the game's story.

3) Niche - I think if your game caters to a specific audience, and you shine above your competition in that space, then that will spread via that community and quickly become popular in that limited audience.

4) Curated Streams - This is really a subset of News, but refers to being Featured or listed in a Curated list of some sort, like the IGDA list on kickstarter. The more people that follow this system, the better. Obviously, being featured on the XBox console store front page is a bigger deal than being featured in a top ten list by a youtube streamer with 100 followers. That said, it should be noted that there are rumors going around that the top youtube streamers are now generating more discoverability/revenue traffic than big game news sites like IGN.

5) In general 'virability' needs to be thought about in your games. Just like, if you want to sell internationally you need to localize - if you want to spread your game 'virally', you need to make it easy to share. Think about what makes you want to share things, and more specifically, what makes your target audience want to share things, and then create those kinds of hooks/sharing points in the game's UI or menus.

More about UDEN:

yupaleap, nausicaa, yupa

Indie VS Mainstream

With the end of May comes the end of another month, and this time the game I have created is a simple one-click twine adventure that reveals two new ideas: multiple avatars at once, and physics in a text adventure. It is very simple but gets the core across and I enjoyed learning Twine. The coding is basically just javascript, so if you like that then you'll like developing in Twine.


yupaleap, nausicaa, yupa


April is done and despite lots of new distractions (dice game design contest, company tournament, zelda, terraria, public transit, LCHF diet) I finished something. I tried out a new engine (Godot) but wasn't very impressed. The game itself is very simple and explores the question of whether you can make a stationary action game. Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments if you like!


kirby, hello, happy


March was super busy with GDC and SaltCON but I did finish something. I am pretty happy with the game this time, even though I went over my month time limit a little bit. I am excited to see any one else's ideas on the most fun level, the level that brings them the most success, etc. Head on over and check it out if you want to explore the interactive experience medium within the silly tiny boundaries I've set. Can you make a level with only these rules and this tiny level editor, which can bring the player power or love?


kirby, hello, happy

GGJ15: Crash Landing At Kandinsky

I am pleased to present my global game jam submission for this year, finished and uploaded!
This year we switched it up and I did all the art for the game, while Ben did all the programming (in Construct 2).

I am quite happy with the result - we got fairly good and deep tactical experience in while not overloading ourselves with features. I am excited to share it around and hear thoughts!


yupaleap, nausicaa, yupa

Indie Game Night, LangSink shown, GGJ tonight

Just a quick post to say I've updated the final version of LangSink based off the feedback from Utah Indie Game Night last night. See below for the details there.

Tonight is Global Game Jam, and I'm excited to try my hand once again and running a site and make something new, and also this year I did some work as a Regional Organizer which was hard work but hopefully will be rewarding.

Here is the final build of LangSink:


The two main experiences I included are frustration/trepidation with buying and selling, and confusion and then enlightment in finding directions.

In real life, you give and you take and they are separate, distinct actions, even though they almost always happen one right after the other. I wanted the player to be very aware of the value of the items they held and what it meant to give them up. I could have made one of the shops and guards break their deal, but I felt that would add too much more when I already have so much going on.

My experience with the sign was that I was spending most of the time on the first day, wandering and trying to find my way, unsure where to go and unable to find it sometimes except through luck, all because I didn't understand what some of the directional signs were trying to say. Then one sign had English underneath, and I began to understand everything better. I thought to myself that this must be how foreign speakers feel in our country, when they see their language underneath ours on signs.

Most people complained about the controls, and when pressed I learned they are all trained to expect context sensitive actions. Other complaints included the clunky collision and camera, small text and poor resize handling, and too much emphasis on trading elements.

Some people experienced dread, knowing they won't understand much when they get to the foreign country. This was a side effect of adding Emrel's teaching that I did not expect, but am happy with.

At least one person had the desired reaction to the guard scenario (frustration, experience of discrimination) and the maze sign scenario (confusion, then enlightenment because someone put something in your language underneath their language).

One unexpected positive comment I got was that one person enjoyed "talking" to inanimate objects. :)

One person had an interesting alternate vision of how this could have been made, which consisted of having inventory objects visible in the world and to show your character carrying them. Then also when trying to complete tasks in the foreign language, have a health (embarrasment?) bar, and when you do something wrong, you lose some life, and might eventually have to start over. They felt this would have bestowed more confusion and sense of urgency to get things right.

I consider this first SOWN followup project a great success. Thank you again to the playtesters http://raptorcircus.com and http://www.utahindiegames.org and to my character artist Jaron Frost. http://www.fridgecrisis.com