Archive for month: November, 2013

The Last Chapter of Man

29 Nov
November 29, 2013

A fascinating behind-the-scenes look at development of Pocket Starship‘s latest game “The Last Chapter of Man.”  Beautiful UI work, that.

The Steam Backlog Disincentive Effect

28 Nov
November 28, 2013


It’s interesting to observe how my attitudes have shifted in relation to massive Steam sales, lately. At first, I snapped up titles like a hungry alligator.

But, as I’ve accumulated a huge backlog of unplayed titles, I’ve found that very backlog to be a disincentive to taking advantage of new sales. Why buy more games when I’ve still got 30 other titles waiting for me to find the time to play them? Why spend money just to make that a backlog of 35 titles?

(It’s honestly probably a lot more than 35, I’m just too lazy to count right now. And I’d have to go through my GoG, Humble and GamersGate accounts too.)

We’ve reached the point where my ability to get through games is vastly outpaced by the rate at which I can affordably purchase them, and this counters, to some degree, that sense of pressure, of not wanting to miss out on a deal, that these time-limited sales usually generate.

Interesting to think about, how those past sales served to incentivize purchasing when they occured, but now, later on, they act as a disincentive to current purchases. The sale came at a price, for future sales. Is it a case of the present stealing from the future?

I doubt Valve are noticing any real drop-off in purchases during their sales, so it’s probably not a very strong effect. Or, at least, probably not strongly felt by many gamers.  Still, I do wonder, will there eventually be a drop-off?

What do you guys think? Do you feel any disincentive from having a huge backlog of unplayed titles?

The Banner Saga is Look Stunning

27 Nov
November 27, 2013

I’m really glad I backed this one.

The story looks interesting, the art style is simply gorgeous, the tactical combat system I played with in Factions was elegant and fun. And the meta-game of managing your caravan looks like it will introduce some interesting choices and consequences to your journey, King of Dragon Pass-like.

Can’t wait to play it next year!

The Passive Protagonist Problem

24 Nov
November 24, 2013



“The Passive Protagonist Problem,” try saying that five times quickly!

As many of you know, I’m in the final stages of building System Crash, the cyberpunk, story-heavy collectable card game I’ve been working on for about two years now.

The end of an artistic or creative project can be a tricky time, because it’s difficult to know when to call it “done”. An engineering project is simpler, you’re judging utility, ticking items off of feature lists, testing stability. Qualities that are directly and objectively measurable. With art, you’re dealing with subjectivity and nebulous principles. Read more →

30 Tips for Improving the Feel of your Action Game

21 Nov
November 21, 2013


A lovely little presentation from Vlambeer‘s Jan Willem Niljman demonstrating how the little “look and feel” elements can really ratchet up the enjoyability of your action title. Read more →

More Than Skin Deep

20 Nov
November 20, 2013



I’ve always loved words. And I’ve also always had a deep and abiding admiration for those who use them well. Whether it’s an insightful and engaging analysis of the world around us or building fantastical worlds of the imagination, good writing resonates. And it’s a skill I want for myself. Read more →

Do Not Be Alarmed

19 Nov
November 19, 2013

I’ve grown bored with my old site/theme, so I’m changing things up a bit.

The old blog will be in a transitional phase for a while, while I play with settings and so on. Don’t panic, you should always be able to read the blog by going to the home page (

The problems of a rock-paper-scissors CCG design

13 Nov
November 13, 2013


A lot of strategy games use a core design that basically boils down to rock-paper-scissors.

If you have three types of units, A, B and C –

– A beats B

– B beats C

– and C in turn beats A.

A, B and C might be called Knights, Cavalry and Archers in your game, but this simple relationship is often the core of the mechanics.

Of course, it’s usually more complicated than this simple ternary relationship, with elaborations like “hard” vs “soft” counters, different costs for different units, tech trees, special abilities and multi-unit type relationships, but this is still a foundational, and fun, way to approach it.

So I thought it would work well in System Crash, being a strategy game in card form, after all. Turns out I was wrong. Read more →