I’m at WordCamp. It’s time to update my blog.

August 16, 2008 at 11:29 am

Attending WordCamp seems like as good a time as any to start posting here again. I fell off the wagon a bit recently — new jobs tend to have that effect — but I hope to get back in the habit of musing about game design. Starting… later. I’m still publishing over at the Escapist. This past month’s game is Turfy, a Risk/DiceWars-inspired game about jungle gym warfare. It’s not the game I originally intended on publishing. I’m hoping to polish that one and get it up end of this month. It’s called “omg hire me,” and it’s semi-autobiographical. On […]

 

Firefox 3 is a usability nightmare.

June 20, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Horrible visual design, and lack of consistency with OS X interface elements aside, Firefox 3 is an abomination of a release, with an ever-growing list of aggravating usability issues noticeable on day one. These aren’t simply growing pains. These are features that worked fine in FF2 gone completely AWOL, in what Mozilla hoped would be the biggest browser release in history. Whoops. To illustrate my point, here’s a list of major issues I’ve noticed since installing the new browser four days ago, on “Download Day 2008.” These all crop up using Firefox version 3.0 on my PowerBook G4, running OS […]

 

Mundanity in game design.

June 19, 2008 at 11:01 am

As always, Dr. Ian Bogost rocked the house at the Social Gaming Summit last week. Speaking on the first panel of the day, Ian discussed the potency of playing a character who is “us, but also slightly not us.” The comment was made in reference to area/code’s Parking Wars, where players take on the roles of meter maids — a profession not known to be particularly glamorous or exciting. According to Ian, this is one of many reasons why Parking Wars is “the best game on Facebook right now.” It’s the same idea that first drove Diner Dash to mass-market […]

 

Social games are big.

June 19, 2008 at 2:05 am

And I mean that in two entirely different ways. Last week I attended the Social Gaming Summit, the latest event to focus on a growing sector of the game industry. The term “social games” is actually a slight misnomer — referring to games built on social networks (eg: Scrabulous, Parking Wars), rather than those played in person amongst groups of peers (eg: Mafia, Red Light Green Light). But for the 400 publishers, developers, and investors gathered in San Francisco last Friday, social gaming meant very large user bases, and the potential for big, big returns. So yes, social games are […]

 

What’s missing from Facebook games?

June 11, 2008 at 7:00 am

Over at LinkedIn, former PlayFirst lead Chris Bennett posted the following question: Those of you who use Facebook regularly; think about the games you have played. What has been missing from those games to make them a rich and meaningful experience for you and your friends? How could a Facebook game actually deepen the relationships with your friends? My response, rated best out of the eight received, follows: As a platform, Facebook has its definite strengths and weaknesses, and solid game design will always play to the strengths of a platform. For the sake of brevity, I’ll go with a […]

 

What's missing from Facebook games?

June 11, 2008 at 7:00 am

Over at LinkedIn, former PlayFirst lead Chris Bennett posted the following question: Those of you who use Facebook regularly; think about the games you have played. What has been missing from those games to make them a rich and meaningful experience for you and your friends? How could a Facebook game actually deepen the relationships with your friends? My response, rated best out of the eight received, follows: As a platform, Facebook has its definite strengths and weaknesses, and solid game design will always play to the strengths of a platform. For the sake of brevity, I’ll go with a […]

 

New game and new feature at the Escapist.

June 10, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Last week was a busy one for me over at Escapist Magazine. Not only did my latest game get published, but my first feature column for the site did as well. I’m pleased with both (thought admittedly more excited about the game). Now available to play is You Have to Lock the Entry!, my Wikipedia-themed card game. It’s a riff on the free encyclopedia’s “edit wars,” and the act of locking down controversial articles. It’s one of my favorite games so far — not just in designing, but in playing as well. Surprisingly, the internet makes for good non-digital game […]

 

Two more games, and some thoughts on Risk.

April 21, 2008 at 6:43 pm

Busy month. It feels like I just returned from France, and in two days I’m moving to San Francisco (that’s right, potential employers, moving to San Francisco). In between those major transitions, I completed two non-digital games and a pretty nifty Off the Grid. It’s probably why I haven’t started packing yet. First up is Gygaxian, developed in response to Brenda Brathwaite’s challenge to design a game in memory of the late Gary Gygax. It’s an inverted game of Dungeons & Dragons, with multiple Dungeon Masters (here called GGs) battling for narratorial control. May’s Escapist game (which actually went up […]

 

I know why You Have to Burn the Rope is so satisfying!

April 16, 2008 at 3:55 pm

I figured it out! All by myself! If you’re confused, then you need to go play You Have to Burn the Rope. And read about it here and here. And watch a teaser trailer here. It’s a simple, super-short platforming game with one boss, and the secret to beating him is not-so-subtly embedded in the game’s title. The indie gaming community has lovingly embraced this quirky flash game, and it’s even caught the attention of the mainstream gaming press, who liken the experience to 2007’s Portal (another game which I thoroughly approve of). The developer created the game as a […]

 

Sharkrunners was nominated for a Webby!

April 9, 2008 at 9:53 am

It’s time to get your vote on, because area/code’s Sharkrunners has been nominated for a Webby Award in the Games category! Sharkrunners is a real-time, browser-based game developed for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. Players take on the roles of daring shark researchers, and take their crews out on the open seas to risk life and life in the pursuit of great white sharks. In their browsers, players set their courses across the water, and are alerted via text message when their crew has spotted a shark. It’s cross-media in a very area/code way, and the game has a tension to […]