Archive for month: April, 2014

Original Star Wars Concept Art

25 Apr
April 25, 2014

Star Wars concept art by Ralph McQuarrie

My word, these Star Wars concept pieces by Ralph McQuarrie are just so utterly fantastic.

Reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I’m sacrificing so much for. I just love these fantasy worlds so much, I couldn’t be satisfied with anything other than spending my life creating them. It is at the very heart of me.

System Crash 2

23 Apr
April 23, 2014

Lying in a hot bath, the design of System Crash 2 crystallized in my mind. You know, as it does. A much stronger, more immersive design than SC1, I think.

System Crash, you and me ain’t done, oh no. This is the start of a long and fruitful relationship! 😀

(Will do another game in-between SC titles though. To refresh myself before tackling this type of game again.)

System Crash is Feature Complete!

23 Apr
April 23, 2014

*One last mighty push, and the boulder crests the hilltop*

And…done! System Crash is feature complete! All revamped code systems are in and as polished as I can make them!

Now it’s just another month and a half of wrapping up story content and packaging for release and we’re a-Go!

June release is looking good!

Booyah!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, after weeks of crunching ridiculously hard, I’m going to collapse in a heap for a few days. Play some video games, read a book, contemplate my navel lint.

The Door Problem

22 Apr
April 22, 2014

AKA, how to explain what a job as a game designer entails.

The Door Problem.

Spot on. 😉

Screenshot Saturday

19 Apr
April 19, 2014

So I thought to myself “Gareth, you do the #screenshotsaturday thing on twitter, why not on your blog too?”

Why not, indeed?

So have some screenies. I was hoping to be feature complete 2 weeks ago, but that didn’t work out, a combination of some thorny issues to resolve and Real Life needing attending to. Ah well. But I should be able to get it done by the end of this long Easter weekend, which is incredibly exciting! Which means the next beta release is a week or two away, and it’s simply finishing off the (revamped) content from now on. Which is the fun bit, hoorah!

Anyway, screenshots. Here’s one of the new Objective Point progress bars in the duel screen, makes it clearer what total OP you need to achieve victory. That target can vary now, as opposed to always being 30, so it was important to clearly display that goal. Just showing the two numbers was a bit confusing and didn’t look so nice. Progress bars are much easier to read at a glance.

OPProgressBars

And clearly, here, I’m getting my ass handed to me. But never discount the Hacker deck, it’s got some tricks up its sleeves!

SurevSavesTheDay

Some smoke grenades to buy time + uber hacker Nicolai Surev save the day! Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat!

The Inevitable End Point for Free To Play

16 Apr
April 16, 2014

As one twitter user commented – “Finally, the last semblance of fun is removed from F2P”.

Lego robot plays F2P games while its owner sleeps

CCP halts World of Darkness dev

14 Apr
April 14, 2014

Awww 🙁

WoD could have been something really interesting. Even in MMO form. CCP’s design sensibilities run more to social sandbox than WoW-like theme park, so I was more than happy to at least see what they could come up with. Guess we’ll never know.

Let’s take a moment to consider what could have been with this ubercool trailer.

(Thanks to Rampant Coyote for the heads up)

The Sci-Fi Visual Bliss of Digital Artist Ian Llanas

11 Apr
April 11, 2014

High Voltage

A lovely article here on one of the freelance artists who worked on System Crash, the brilliant Ian Llanas. Many of those images are actually from System Crash! The headline piece is one of my favourites, in fact. 🙂

If you ever need work done, I highly recommend Ian. He was an absolute pleasure to work with, and incredibly talented. System Crash wouldn’t be the game it was without his contribution.

Free to Play Revenue and Player Spending

09 Apr
April 9, 2014

Seen a bit of a buzz around this Gamasutra article about F2P Revenue on my feeds lately.

The gist of the article is that the revenue from F2P games comes from a very small fraction of players (~2.2%). And a small fraction(10%) of those who do pay, make up about half of all revenue made.

Which is interesting, if unsurprising. Now, much of the commentary involves some version of saying “look, see here, here’s evidence of how unhealthy and exploitative F2P is!”

Well…

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not the biggest fan of the F2P in the world. My views have softened a bit since I saw it implemented well (I thought), in Dungeons and Dragons Online, and further since I got my Android and started downloading apps, some of which do F2P reasonably, some of which don’t. But I still overall prefer the buy-once, unlock-everything experience.

And I won’t defend the games that are basically gambling, or aimed at exploiting children.

That being said, I’m not sure that those stats are really very much worse than the pay-once market. Everything I’ve read pegs piracy rates, indie or mainstream, at 95-99%. Which means that effectively, only a small core of the people playing your game are paying you, regardless of your monetization strategy.

So is F2P really that much worse (excluding the ones that are a thin layer of paint over a gambling engine) than pay-once?

Of course, we can talk about the other number, how certain paying players are the “whales”, the ones who contribute a disproportionate amount of the income. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though.

Take, for example, Kickstarter. Clearly, some people are jumping on Kickstarter projects at the top tiers, which amounts to investing more than any ten other backers. Sure, part of that is the urge to support, but some of it is surely that some people want more of the reward knick-knacks. The extras. The collector’s stuff.

Which is fine. In fact, I think it’s a great idea, offering extra value for people who are more into an artistic product or output. It’s like a band selling t-shirts, cds, signed posters, personal performances. It’s really, really hard to make a living creating art, so I really think artists should exploit these potentially untapped sources of income as much as possible. And I don’t mean exploit in the mustache-twirling villain way, I mean in the sense that “we need to power our cities, and oh look there’s all this wind blowing about, why not build some wind turbines to exploit that?”

So why do we feel that it’s not exploitative with Kickstarter, where people are investing before ever seeing a product, but it is exploitative in F2P, where at least people are playing the game and making a decision on how much to invest based on tangible experience?

It’s likely down to the fear that F2P games are using psychological tricks to extract that extra money. Which, no doubt, is a valid fear, one based on first-hand experience with some of the tricks F2P games often pull.

But I’d argue that, even without playing mind-games, you’re going to see exponential drop-off in engagement (and willingness to spend) with any product or fan-group. In other words, the really deeply obsessed fans will be a tiny fraction of the whole, but will spend a disproportionate (relative to their numbers) amount of money on their obsession. The number of people for whom Elvis’ sweaty used jumpsuit is a piece of collectable memorabilia worth months of salary to own are always going to be much fewer than the number of people who would plonk down cash for an Elvis CD.

It would be extremely unusual, I think, if mapping the number-of-fans to the degree-of-fandom-and-corresponding-willingness-to-spend on a graph didn’t result in an exponential curve.

So, really, to conclude, while I think the fear of F2P mechanical-exploitation is valid, the fact that only 1 in a hundred or so F2P players pay for the games doesn’t seem unusual overall, and the fact that the largest share of revenue comes from a minority isn’t, in itself, that concerning.

Size Five Games - How To Design Brillo Point and Click Adventure Game Puzzles.

09 Apr
April 9, 2014