So remember when I said I would have this writeup finished back at the end of January? Yeah, that didn’t happen. But it’s finished now! I find that my responsibilities and opportunities as a full time developer have made me write less not because I don’t want to, but because I’m around developers all the time and talking about these kind of things scratches the same itch. I’m at work on a postmortem for Stick to It, the recently released iOS game I worked on at Magic Pixel, and a couple deconstructions that have been in the oven for far too long.
But back to the point – here’s the list of all the games I played in 2012. “Played” in this sense means I gave them more than a couple hours (where applicable) or in many cases completed them entirely. This console generation has gone on for so long that I’m still catching up on some of the hidden gems I missed in previous years, and I know not all of these games are new for everyone. I hope this list will give other people a good overview of my gaming habits (and background), but more than that, I hope I might tip someone off to something they might not have otherwise played. Continue reading
I went to write my “What I Played” post for 2012 and realized I hadn’t made a post on here since the last annual “What I Played” post. I need to get better about updating this thing. I did a lot last year in games:
- I participated in my third Global Game Jam in January with a bunch of my friends from college, and we made a game called BLARF.
- I hosted the What Would Molydeux game jam in LA for Magic Pixel Games, and had an awesome time.
- I participated in my first Ludum Dare competition, making a “game” called Pluto’s Revenge by myself over a weekend. I used Stencyl, so don’t worry – it’s still not “real” programming.
- I attended GDC 2012, E3 2012, PAX Prime 2012, and Indiecade 2012. I also moderated and spoke on a panel with some friends at PAX Prime, the first time I’ve gotten a chance to do that. It was a ton of fun!
- I participated in an internal game jam at Magic Pixel Games and had a title for iOS get greenlit. I’ve been working hard with a great team and it’s coming out next month, so expect another post!
- I started a website called “KickAssist” at Magic Pixel Games, where we give money to indie game projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. You can read about it here!
There are some awesome things in the works at Magic Pixel Games for 2013, and I look forward to sharing them with you soon! In hope of motivating myself to write more, I’ve redesigned my website with a minimalist theme and put the focus on the content. It’s also much friendlier for reading on tablets.
The annual “What I’ve Played” post should be up later this week. Until then!
I’m a little later than usual getting my “year in review” list up this month. 2011 was my first year working full time in the games industry, and I expected the idea of “making games means playing less games” to apply. It didn’t apply all that much in the end – maybe I played games for less time, but I still played a lot of different ones. If this is your first time reading one of these lists, let me preface it like I always do: I’m not an expert critic, and this is mostly an exercise for me to analyze my own gaming habits. I share it publicly so my peers can better frame my background and biases as a designer/producer/geek. With that, onward!
Skyward Sword’s biggest fans and many members of the press believe that the motion controls make the game what it is – you have to put extra thought into every sword swipe and the 1:1 connection makes it feel more personal than any Zelda game before it. I have a very different opinion. I really wanted to like it, but Skyward Sword will be the first Zelda game I don’t finish. Here’s my attempt to articulate my problems with the game. Continue reading
The Saboteur is an open-world action adventure game set in the Nazi-occupied Paris of World War II. It was released late last year to mixed reviews and lackluster sales under the shadow of Assassin’s Creed II and the dozens of other holiday releases that had actual marketing budgets. Some players say it’s unfinished and buggy, which is pretty much on the mark – Pandemic was shut down before the game’s launch, so it went out the door without the extra layer of polish that makes good games great.
I picked it up with low expectations, and came away 60 hours later thoroughly impressed. Players willing to look beyond the problems can still find a satisfying experience inside – not to say they should because it has a lot of problems, but it shouldn’t be completely dismissed either. It’s a good candidate for a deconstruction because the unpolished mechanics strewn throughout the game are representative of amazing ideas that remain unexplored by other open world games. Continue reading
There’s one question other students ask me more often than anything else: “How’d you get your foot in the door?”
The economy sucks. Companies say they aren’t hiring. There are a ton of job search tools out there, but none of them seem to help. Sometimes we don’t even get automated responses to our applications, much less any feedback from an actual person. Yet somehow, some people are still getting jobs straight out of school.
I’m one of the lucky few, and now that I know where I’m going, I’ve had time to reflect on how I got here. There’s no clear-cut path to getting in, but there are plenty of things you can do to improve your chances – hopefully my experience will help somebody else.
One of the perks of making the “what I played” lists is the ability to look back and see how my gaming habits change over time. I took some data from those posts and visualized it…
First off, it’s clear that the Xbox 360 has cemented itself as my platform of choice for this generation. I don’t play a lot of games on Xbox Live, so I guess I’ve fallen victim to Microsoft’s goal of making the Xbox the “entertainment center” of the living room. I listen to a lot of my music through it, streaming off my PC. I watch most of my movies through the Netflix dashboard app. Even though the PS3 has a Bluray player, I find myself turning on the Xbox when I want to be entertained with no particular game or activity in mind.
The iPhone also appears to have replaced my DS almost entirely. I’m intrigued by the new handhelds Sony and Nintendo are hawking, but I doubt I’d spend as much time with them as I do my phone since my phone is always with me. The ease of access to buying new stuff in the app store goes a long way. Continue reading
I’m in my last semester of college, and I’m excited about what the future has in store. I’m also working on a couple more games that will hopefully be out the door soon. And of course, I’m looking forward to GDC in a few weeks.
Here’s the second entry in what I’m trying to make an annual piece – a complete list of every game I remember playing in the previous year, along with a few impressions about it. I especially enjoyed comparing this list to last year’s to see how my gaming habits have changed (more on that in a future post).
If you work in the games industry, you’re probably already somewhat familiar with APB. It’s known as the hundred million dollar bust that sank Realtime Worlds, and it’s easily the biggest failure story in MMO history. It was almost universally panned by critics, and most gamers stayed far away from it.
But you might also remember a time when the game was the one of the most anticipated titles around – back when it was revealed at GDC 2008, in a presentation by GTA creator and RTW CEO Dave Jones. That presentation happened to be the first talk I ever attended at a GDC, and it left an impression on me. I remember the entire room erupting with applause and cheers every time they showed a new feature in the character customization system. I remember the people around me instantly calling it a “WoW killer.” Then it suddenly disappeared from the media, and we heard almost nothing about it in the two years between that talk and its release. I’m not an MMO fan, but I really looked forward to APB.
I was working at Visceral Games when it came out this summer, and everyone in the office was shocked by the beating it took on Metacritic. We all wanted to play it to see the damage for ourselves, but due to the reviews none of us wanted to actually buy it. The cycle of doubt fixed itself when my lead presented me with a copy of APB as a going away present on my last day of work. I played it, analyzed it, and tried to come up with some insights that can be gained from it.