“Technical convergence is total bullshit …”

On February 26, 2010, in Business & Industry, Design, by Steffen Itterheim

That is just one of the memorably quotes from Jesse Schell’s speech at the DICE summit 2010. I like that particular quote because it flies in the face of Michael Pachter, who believes there will be one big entertainment box by the year 2020 … like whose going to produce that? Microsonyntendo-Applezon Business Machines? Sure.

Well, Jesse tries to imagine the question “Is Your Life Just One Big RPG?” and wants us to think “beyooooond Facebook”. If anything, it’s very entertaining to watch.

While the future picture he draws in the third part is, well, futuristic i do see that the tendency towards that direction is strong. But i’m actually more interested in the psychological aspects of today and their roots in reality that i find inspiring. There are certain things that never get said out loud, or not often enough. Especially for us game developers i do notice a lack of respect towards the psychological aspect of the games we find appalling (like Mafia Wars, Farmville etc.) or the achievement systems whose followers get ridiculed as Achievement Whores. That is not only missing a huge point, that is missing business opportunities with eyes wide open but narrow focused so you’re effectively too blind to see.

But … and therein lies the beauty: if you know that there are enough gamers out there who also see it that way, you can monetize that as well if you are willing to accept that it’s going to be a niche. It’s not going to fund you a million dollar business but it may well support your life as Indie game developer just fine. Examples are plentifold, and one of the most inspiring stories (and games made) in that area is Eschalon, a classic semi-turnbased fantasy RPG modelled after Ultima and others which won the Indie RPG 2007 award. The author, some self-proclaimed “normal guy” called Thomas, has against all recommendations for being an Indie success refused to give Interviews and the only personal insights he allowed are the ones in this forum post. It’s important to point out that he made 95% of the game by himself, worked on it for 2.5 years and invested his life savings into the project. If you have any love for old-school RPGs, give it a try – that man deserves it! And that game deserves to be played even more!

But enough of that, here’s Jesse Schell’s talk if you haven’t seen it elsewhere yet:

Tagged with:  

What it’s really like to be in a startup

On February 25, 2010, in Business & Industry, by Steffen Itterheim

I just skimmed over Paul Graham’s post: What startups are really like.

I nodded a couple times – as far as i could relate with my little startup experience. What makes this such an essential post is that it contains lots of good excerpts from actual startup founders. I’ve read all of them and each of these small sentences is a little gem.

Tagged with:  

Tutorials are an afterthought …

On February 24, 2010, in Design, by Steffen Itterheim

From my own experience and by looking at other games i am aware that in a lot of cases – even today – Tutorials in games are an afterthought. I would even go as far as to say that if i don’t like the tutorial chances are, i won’t like the rest of the game either. For a good game, the Tutorial blends in with the game, it just feels natural. Where it is an afterthought, it’s in cases like Prototype: at first, you get all the good stuff, all the weapons and powerups and what not and you are free to try one after the other. Then the game starts, and you’re just that little guy without all these powers.

Types of Tutorials:

1) you get it all but then we’ll take it away from you
2) we explain our overly complex system to you…
2a) … in just 5 minutes, even if you wouldn’t use most of this stuff anyway – we know you just want to play the game, right?
2b) … in 60 minutes because we think it takes this time to really memorize all the good stuff
3) we interrupt your playsession for this trivial hint shown in a messagebox!
3a) PC: if you happened to be clicking your mouse where the OK/Cancel buttons where – we are sorry, you don’t get this message a second time
3b) Console: if you happened to be pressing one of the action buttons that dismiss the messagebox – again, we are soooo sorry we didn’t think you might hit that button while playing our button-smasher and might want to see that message again.

From the comments:

4) Let the game show everything to the player, while not giving him the chance to try out for himself.

5) This is your sixth playthrough for the game? Too bad for you, you must take the tutorial again and you cannot skip! :]

Do you have more tutorial cliches to add to this list?

Tagged with:  
Page 1 of 512345