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New Website – “Only at Tech”

Posted on Nov 4, 2009 in Blog | 0 comments

Announcing “Only at Tech,” a website for Georgia Tech students to share their stories of love and hate about their school. I’m the website’s designer. It’s very comparable to websites like FMyLife or Texts from Last Night. Check it out! http://www.onlyattech.net Update: The site’s launch went better than we could have ever imagined. We’ve had over 200 submissions and over 400 people add us as fans on Facebook in a period of seven hours. Keep spreading the...

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Game Deconstruction: FarmVille

Game Deconstruction: FarmVille

Posted on Oct 8, 2009 in Decon, Feature, Now Playing | 7 comments

“FarmVille? That stupid Facebook game that clutters my news feed all the time with random messages about lost pigs and ugly ducklings? Really?” When I decided I was going to do these deconstructions, Facebook games were the last thing on my mind. This time last month, I had never even played a Facebook game. I thought the very concept of Facebook games was backwards – I have Steam to play games on my computer, after all. Facebook should be strictly for staying in touch with friends. But after hearing that FarmVille has over 11 million active users on a daily basis – even more than World of Warcraft – I figured that there must be something about the game that the average Facebook user finds attractive. And in always trying to expand my knowledge of games, I finally gave in and started playing. FarmVille Developer: Zynga Genre: Simulation Metacritic: N/A Price: Free / Optional Microtransactions Length: Indeterminate Background FarmVille is Zynga’s answer to Farmtown, another popular farm simulator for social networks. Gameplay FarmVille is designed to be played in short segments of five to ten minutes every day. It’s a never-ending cycle of planting crops, waiting for crops to grow in real-time overnight or throughout the day, and then harvesting the crops before they whither. The objective of the game is highly open-ended, but players can progress by gaining experience points and “leveling up.” Each level unlocks a new set of crops for players to plant worth more than the previous ones. The game uses two types of currency: “coins” and “farm cash.” Players earn coins by planting and harvesting crops, but farm cash is much harder to come by. To get more than one farm dollar per day, a player has to spend real money through Zynga’s payment system. In the in-game marketplace, some things can only be bought with coins, some things can only be bought with farm cash, and others can be bought with either. Players can also earn “ribbons” (achievements) that reward them with coins, experience points, and gifts. There are four tiers for each ribbon, each more demanding than the previous. For example, the...

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Game Deconstruction: ‘Splosion Man

Game Deconstruction: ‘Splosion Man

Posted on Sep 4, 2009 in Decon, Feature | 0 comments

Here’s a concept I picked up from my room mates over the summer who interned at Pandemic Studios. Every week, one member of the team would pick a game and give a presentation on its strengths and weaknesses. There’s a lot to be learned about design by paying attention to the details that many players may overlook at first glance. As a personal experiment, I’m challenging myself to do one “game decon” every month for the next year. It’s one way I think I can work to make myself a better designer while providing some interesting reading material. I’ll try to not just pick “good” games, but this week I’ll start with one of my recent favorites… ‘Splosion Man Developer: Twisted Pixel Genre: Platformer Metacritic: 85 Price: 800 Microsoft Moon Dollars ($10 USD) Length: 4-10 hours Background ‘Splosion Man was conceived by Twisted Pixel’s lead designer, Sean Riley, as a game about “a guy who splodes in a world only made of glass.” The team started production in the middle of developing The Maw, their first original title. The game puts the player in control of a strange man-creature who “splodes” all the time without explanation. The game is controlled with the joystick and one button (which makes the character explode). The game’s plot is nearly non-existent, but the little story it offers is derived from its setting in the labs of the evil “Big Science” corporation. I’ve always been a sucker for good XBLA games, but ‘Splosion Man might be the best yet. I’ve told a few people that I think it’s the best game since Portal. After finishing up the single player game and getting about halfway through the co-op, I still feel like it’s at least the most satisfying gameplay experience since exploring Aperture Science. Both games take place in laboratories, and both games showcase cake as the ultimate object of desire. Twisted Pixel makes the homage obvious. Gameplay ‘Splosion Man features 50 single player levels, 50 co-op levels, and 3 boss battles. The core goal of the game is to use timing and skill to cross obstacles and reach the safe room at the end...

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Fall is Here!

Posted on Sep 1, 2009 in Blog, School | 0 comments

I haven’t updated the blog since coming back from LA. Quick recap of the past three weeks: Finished an awesome internship that confirmed my slight hunch that game design is something I could be happy doing for a very long time Started my junior year at Georgia Tech Resumed work on the unannounced Indiecisive project Resumed work on a freelance website design project This week is particularly awesome because it’s the start of the college football season! I’ve organized a block for most of my friends and I to get great seats to every home game, and we’ve got a state-of-the-art home theater system ready to go for away games courtesy of a friend who couldn’t fit his 60″ television in his room. It’s also a great TV for gaming, be it rocking out, shooting Nazis, or knocking down towers. I’ve updated the “Games” section with a bit of what I worked on this summer. I made some levels for Boom Blox Bash Party that you can check out over the next few months as EA releases them as free DLC online. I’ll probably make more in the future, but you’ll find those under the username “IndiecisiveLink” as opposed to the official EA release list. Also updated my resume with some information about the other projects I got to be a part of, but I can’t go into much detail about them. I’m excited to see how the team iterates on the work we did this summer, and I’ll be sure to point it out when I finally can! Finally, I updated the Audiball page to highlight some extraordinary praise the game recently received from MTV Multiplayer. Honestly, I don’t think the game is worthy of all that praise. So in response, Ian and I are working on making it worthy! We’ll be releasing a free update to the game later this month over Xbox Live to give it improved graphics, increased accessibility, remastered music, and a few more surprises. I’ll be sure to post an update here when it goes up. Take a sneak peek at the new boxart while you’re on the game’s page. That about covers...

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