Archive for June, 2007

I don’t know what I’m doing: Part 2

Part 1, case you missed it.

So the other week I posted about my plans for later in the year. Honestly, I wish I could start right now, but this is tricky, and I don’t want to mess it up. I have a savings target that I predict I’ll hit within three months. In the meantime, I intend to plan my approach to this carefully, and to try and conceive and prototype a few suitable game ideas.

The very first considerations I need make, I think, are the new constraints that result from this decision. Judging by the kinda things I’ve been posting here, it’s probably pretty obvious what kinda project I’d go for, if I could. The classic 40 hour, epic, plot driven RPG (and I’ve got quite a few of those in mind). But I don’t think that’s a realistic goal. Or a very smart one.

My biggest constraint is time. I have six months (which suddenly doesn’t seem like very long at all), so I can’t work on anything that’ll likely take longer than that. That basically rules out any RPG project I have in mind.

This constraint implies another: content. If I’m going to work on a game that I can realistically finish in a couple of months, then I need to start thinking a lot smaller. It seems to me that the fundamental difference between a game that takes a long time to finish and a game that’s finished quickly is the amount of content in it. It’s why Darwinia took years, and Defcon took months, I suppose. (And yeah, I know that’s probably obvious, but then there are other ways to cut corners that I don’t really want to consider.)

But you know what? Thinking about it this week, I figured the transition from making any random thing to making a living as a game designer would involve a total change in perspective. But I’m wrong. The only real constraint here is time. Anything else is self-imposed.

I suppose someone might think about this and come to a different conclusion – after all, if I want to make a living out of this – if I want to still be able to do this in six months time, then don’t I need to think about making something that’s going to sell?


All I need to focus on is making something that’s good. And I need to do it before I run out of money=time. And that’s it. I actually had myself really worked up with thoughts like “Oh, I can’t make that, I won’t sell a single copy” and “What can I do to make my game appeal to female gamers?” and “Making a murder simulator is a really bad idea, I hear they ban those now”. Sheesh. My head’s been totally in the wrong place.

What I need to do, I think, is continue like this changes nothing. In order words, to go on making games that are interesting and exciting to me, just bearing in mind that I’ve got a time limit. And anyway, I’m wrong again. Time is something I will have. Lots of. I won’t be doing anything else, after all.

Fuck, I hope I don’t get “writer’s” block again…

Does that make sense? Or nonsense? Hmm. A part three is needed, I think.


The internet is awesome

It looks like embedded YouTube players stop working if there are too many of them on one page. If the music stops playing, just refreshing the page seems to get them working again!

Right now, somewhere in the world, somebody is working on a rock cover of a Final Fantasy song and uploading it to YouTube. Or at least, I can only assume. After all, it turns out there are about a hundred thousand of them.

So! Here are my favourites!

I was going to post four or five, but I kept finding more that I liked, got a bit carried away, and actually posted about twenty videos, heh. Well, that happens when you discover something awesome.

The first two are probably my favourites – first up, this Joseph Dennis guy. Instead of a plain FFVI battle theme cover, he totally goes his own way with it:

Joseph Dennis – FF6 Battle Theme

Then there’s this great acoustic cover of “Forever Rachel”, again from Final Fantasy VI. Just maybe the most underrated song in the series, I think.

Forever Rachel Final Fantasy VI Guitar

There are quite a few more, so hit the button to see the rest!

Read more »


Thumb Candy

Wow, a record two posts in one day!

A couple of years ago I caught the end of a really fantastic TV documentary by Iain Lee, the guy who did “The 11 ‘O Clock Show” on Channel 4. It’s called Thumb Candy.

Well, this evening I thought to search for it. And it’s on google video. Hurrah!

The show follows Iain as he meets some of the people who were involved in the evolution of videogames, and includes interviews with the reclusive creator of Manic Miner Matthew Smith, with Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov, and some more familar names like Shigeru Miyamoto.

If you’ve got an hour to spare, I recommend getting comfortable and sitting down to watch it. (You can even blow it up full screen if you follow the link in the embedded video.)

[The google video is now gone, but the show’s still on YouTube, in several parts. It doesn’t look like it’s going to reappear on google video anytime soon, so I’ve just linked to the first part.]



I’ve been playing a neat little action game lately called Nikujin. The jist of it seems to be that you’re a naked ninja who’s been hired to break into a castle and take out some old guy, all the while dealing with all the other naked ninjas on the way in.

You can find out more about it here with Xander’s excellent review for TIGSource.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because, as it turns out, it’s an awesome skill game. And I get very competitive about these things. Here’s my speed run at the practice level. (It’s my first youtube video!)

Apparently I’ve already been beaten… 😥


I don’t know what I’m doing: Part 1

Heya. Sorry I haven’t updated properly in so long. I have something of an announcement.

I’ve spent a good deal of this year in my old college library after work, making incremental updates to my RPG engine. I try to get to the library about three times a week, (occasionally more and often less), and spend around three hours there – about half an hour of which is spent getting reacquainted with whatever problem I was having the last day. I suppose I average about six hours a week, excluding weekends. There’s only so much you can do with that – and to be honest, it’s just really demotivating to move at such a slow pace.

When I finished college, I made a basic plan for the next few years. I want to be a game designer, but I know I can’t just walk into a job like that. I need a portfolio, at the very least, or better yet experience making games. My plan was to start by making shareware games in my spare time, and down the line make my way into the industry as a designer… but it’s not going to happen at this rate. More and more I’m starting to feel like the only way I’m ever going to get anywhere is to take a big chance and just go for it.

So here’s the announcement: within the next couple of months, I’m going to quit my job and attempt to make a living as an independent game designer.

Thanks for that insight, A Triangle Morning 😀

I don’t mean to be negative, but I know it’s a venture that’s probably doomed to failure. From what I’ve read, it seems very few indie games (outside of casual gaming) make anything at all… All the same, I figure it’s better to give it a shot as soon as I can, when the consequences of failure are comparatively small. Hey, worst case scenario I run out of money and have to find a new job! (well, actually worst case scenario I run out of money and I’m unable to find a new job, but whatever).

I hope to have enough savings to do this full time for about six months, and I may get a two-day-a-week part time job to help with the rent, allowing me to hold out even longer. This week I’ve been thinking about different possibilities for games to work on, which I hope to post about over the next few days. Trying to support myself through game design throws up some interesting constraints that I’m going to have to work around…

If anyone out there is still reading this, let me know what you think. Thanks!

BTW, yey or nay on the shoutbox?


Alex’s Adventure

Here’s a great game I found recently on Tim W’s Indygamer Blogspot. It’s a simple platformer called Alex’s Adventure.

Although I’m a pretty critical guy, there are basically two ways games tend to win me over. The first way is to have an excellent story, lovable characters and a quirky sense of humour. That’s unfortunately pretty rare in indie-gaming.

The second way is simply to exude style and atmosphere. Like Alex’s Adventure does. It’s only about an hour long, but it’s probably the best game I’ve played in months.

In fact, I think I’ll add it to my Awesome Games list. It’s just that good.