Don’t be put off by the pictures which make him look like Vic Mackie from The Shield, this is in fact another game developer blog, written by Jake Simpson. (Sorry Jake, I couldn’t resist). Much like Dopass, this blog is heavy on the opinion pieces – but Jake has been around the block enough times to give those opinions weight. Midway, Maxis, Raven, and now Linden Labs (on which he wrote a great write-up on The Chaos Engine – sounds like a great place to work). Jake’s opinion pieces tend to be written whole cloth rather than just opinion notes on articles, but they’re all worth reading, and again I find myself agreeing with much of what he has to say.
Archive for March, 2008
Continuing our trip down our blog-roll: Dopass, written by Snipehunter who always seems to make insightful posts on The Chaos Engine forums. A designer for games, based in the US – the blog has plenty of opinion pieces, based mostly on articles from the web. It’s an interesting take on games in general, with a generous dollop of insight. Of course, like most people, my opinion of authors is generally based on how much I agree with what they say, and in that respect, Dopass does pretty well.
Next up in our game-dev blog linking frenzy: Headlam, written by my old associate from VIS, Larry Docherty. Larry and I worked together on Brave for a long while, and we was a great guy to work with. As he was a filthy weegie ;-), he trekked through to Edinburgh every day – a trauma which I certainly didn’t envy. But he more than made up for that affliction with stories of neds from Glasgow which kept us all entertained (and a little worried). Since then he’s moved on to pastures new with SCEE in Liverpool and Amsterdam (lucky bugger), He’s always had a passion for music, and so his blog (while just getting started) promises to cover games development and music trivia in equal measure.
Yes, we’re not just taking on one new staffer, due to a fortuitous mix of circumstances we’re bringing on two! We have Charlotte Moseley, a graduate developer with knowledge of C# who is coming on and getting up to speed with our Evolution work; also we have Tim Angus coming to join us. Like Pete and I, Tim also worked at VIS until it went out of business – had things gone differently a couple of years ago he would have joined us much earlier, but instead he ended up in “regular software land”. Luckily we’ve tempted him back to the straight and narrow of games development, although in truth he’s never really left: he’s been driving Tremulous in his spare time!
Both of our new people will be coming to the new office close to the start of May, and I shall harangue them until they introduce themselves properly here and get added to the about page.
The currently running set of articles on Bruce’s blog are focusing on his time at Codemasters, from its humble beginnings on the home games machines of the 80’s up to its less than illustrious current state (it’s drawn criticism in industry circles for its treatment of staff and management decisions widely seen as poor). But aside from that the blog covers industry topics far and wide – pretty much whatever Bruce thinks is interesting at the time. He is a marketer by trade, so the blog is well written and updated daily (whereas most of the blogs in the sidebar update far more sporadically like we do), and while I don’t always agree with his views, there’s no doubting that the blog is written from a wide range of experience and covers topics of importance to game developers with insight and detail.
More crucially though, Bruce is the one who has been poking all of us with game-dev blogs to cross link and raise each others profiles (hence the impetus for this series of linking posts). In general we’ve shown ourselves to be pretty poor at getting ourselves noticed and heard, and for small developers and indeed individuals at larger studios, a higher profile is rarely a bad thing. I’ve always been a fan of championing the people behind the games, so it’s good to see some ‘class action’ from my colleagues in the industry.
Not just, as the title might suggest, all about survival horror games, this blog covers some wide ranging points on game design, horror movie reviews and other topics. The articles about the evolution of the horror game genre are the most interesting though, and cover a massive range of games dating back decades. Although I must admit, the only horror I remember feeling when playing Alone in the Dark was horror at the camera that insisted on changing angles just when I was trying to sneak somewhere, and leaving me unable to see my character while it was ripped apart by dogs or some such fate.
Definitely worth a visit, although I’d say take the time to subscribe the feed in something that allows you to keep posts as new – the posts can be quite large, but it’s worth saving them to read for when you have the time.
Oh yes Chris, that’s a great idea. Now you’ve learned to use the automated posting feature, why not use it on every post even when there’s no real need to. That way, when you try out embedding a YouTube video for the first time, you can go away to Runcorn for a day, and leave the blog to be totally shafted for ages until you come back to check it.
No brownie points for me today – although all should now be fixed. Feel free to go check out the actual YouTube clip for Goo! that I was trying to embed, and I promise the next time I will check what the post looks like on the actual site before I post it.
A development blog from PillowFort Games, makers of Goo, a fun looking game that made it to the 2008 IGF, nominated for Technical Excellence. It’s all based around fluid dynamics, which I’ve always thought had good potential for game mechanics and had been sadly under used till now. I remember trying a demo of a different game a while back, also based around fluid mechanics – it looked fantastic, but ran like a dog even on the fastest machine I could find. When I get a chance I’d like to try it out, but it seems (like a lot of the Dare to be Digital entries too) that it wants a 360 controller to let me play. Don’t get caught out like me though and just download the patch – the link you want is the “Download Public Beta” one on the right on the download page; oddly it’s not given top priority on the page.
The blog itself is a diverting read; it delves a lot into the ins and outs of the actually developing the game rather than just technical details or coding rants. It’s something sadly neglected in blogs from staff at bigger developers. The nice thing about being an independent developer is that you get to pretty much do and say what you want on your blog. Working with bigger clients always means that you have to worry about what you can say and when, so it’s nice to share those details when you can.
So we’ve been working with Evolution Studios since early February. Familiar for developing the World Rally Championship series, and more recently Motorstorm, they are now part of a much larger group since becoming part of SCEE last September. We’re working on support tools for Evolution rather than assisting with their game development in any way, but with such large teams and a wide range of titles in development, it’s a challenging task. The work is interesting, and we’re learning to love C# and hate it’s oddities. Also I’m getting to know the train down to Runcorn quite intimately, as we visit Evolution regularly to go over recent developments and decide where to go next. I can honestly say it’s an enlightening experience, although at the moment the biggest thing learned is don’t ever, ever attempt to eat any of the food provided in the Warrington Bank Quay station “buffet”.
We’ve been working with the folks at Four Door Lemon since the start of January now. They share many similarities with us as a studio – they are relatively small, and provide middle-ware and game development services to all sorts of clients. They are however a bit larger than us, and have a lot of work on just now, so it was a no-brainer for us to collaborate. We’ve been working with their Lemon engine for a while now to develop some small games that FDL needed made, and it’s proved relatively easy to implement some pretty complicated stuff in a short space of time. For confidentiality we can’t go into any detail here as to the nature of the games we’re developing for FDL, but hopefully we’ll have some tales from our on-going work with FDL that will be of interest.