Wednesday 28 November 2012

A list of games that is intended to provoke some discussion

99 Levels to Hell
Afterlife 3: Legends of Rickard Bronson
Cave Rescue
Cardinal Quest II
Cargo Commander
Claustrophobia: The Downward Struggle
Crossword Dungeon
Crystal Catacombs
Dary's Legend
Diehard Dungeon
Dungeon Dashers
Enter Thy Name
Flight of the Maxima
Fog and Thunder
Hack, Slash, Loot
Hallowmorn Dungeon
House of the Lost
HyperRogue III
Legend of Dungeon
Minicraft 2
Mysterious Castle
NEO Scavenger
Pineapple Smash Crew
Probability 0
Project gnh20/The game of my dream (sb3dgraph)
Second Wind
Spelunky HTML 5
Spelunky XBLA
Steam Marines
Stella-111: A Cosmic Voyage
Super Office Stress
Sword of the Stars: The Pit
The Liberate Pixil Cup Quest
The Wizard's Lair
Tower Climb
Voxel Heroes
Voyage to Farland
Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space

Key words I'm looking for in the comments section: 'No publicly playable release between 14th December 2011 and present day'. I count demos as playable releases. I'm also looking for thoughts on whether invite only or Kickstarter contribution only counts as publicly playable.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Things that should go together

Tea and milk. Peanut butter and honey. Oryx and brogue...

Friday 16 November 2012

Signal to noise

I recently was invited onto a members only game design forum, with a strict rule on contributing and not lurking.

There's some incredibly talented game designers on the forum, having some incredibly interesting conversations about game design. I must have written up drafts for four or five posts in response to various posts, and then thrown them away, because I somehow feel like I'm not adding to the discussion. And I couldn't figure out why...

I believe the biggest challenge in game design is that people don't have a common language to talk about games: a vocabulary of game design. The only way that this will change is if we keep talking about games in public, which anyone can read and contribute to. Knowledge doesn't exist in a vacuum, it is a continuous conversation passed from person to person, and using the greatest knowledge reproduction tool we've discovered - the Internet - to then hide it behind a walled garden feels to me like a betrayal of that tool.

I completely understand why this forum has been set up: as a way to increase the perceived signal to noise ratio. But to me it is all noise. Unless some 13 year old kid in India, some graduate student, some hobbyist would be designer, some jaded industry veteran, some up and coming games journalist, someone unemployed, someone's mother can read what you're saying, you may as well be speaking in silence.

I urge the people involved in this particular forum (in fact any such forum) to find some mechanism for making the conversations that they're having available to a wider audience.

You shouldn't be scared of noise. Noise means you're transmitting on a channel. Pure signal is something that is never heard.

Monday 12 November 2012

Caving in

A common thread to many developers who have successfully developed interesting games featuring procedural generation is that they don't consider themselves to be great programmers - Tarn Adams of Dwarf Fortress and Brian Walker of Brogue* have both said as much (and I definitely fall into the same category).

One of the things I've been waiting in vain for is someone who is a 'great programmer' to also have the vision and drive to deliver on a similar scale project. Infinity, the Quest for Earth has been promising to do so for some time, and I had thought Spore would deliver along those lines - but both projects haven't resulted in what I was expecting to date.

I'm now quietly confident that Miguel Cepero of newly christened Voxel Farm will get there. I've voiced doubts previously, but his latest blog post on cave systems has won me over. I'm now a believer.

* For the record, I loved working with the Brogue code.