Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week: tricks and traps.
Neither Art Nor Programming
This arch post
about games design job applications was posted to Grassroots Gamesmaster a couple of weeks ago, but I missed it then and decided to link to it here for your surfing pleasure. The post dissects a game designer role description, and looks at what job descriptions say they want, and what they really mean. It is, as Jurie Horneman points out in his linking post “about the conflict between industrial reality and artistic ideals. It shows to which degree a game designer's 'creativity' is dependent on his or her environment. It shows the somewhat schizophrenic double definition of 'game designer' in the games industry - on the one hand you have the 'capital G' Game Designer, as it's sometimes referred to: the Peter Molyneuxs and Will Wrights and Sid Meiers. And then you have the 'normal' game designers who do stuff that is neither art nor programming but that needs doing anyway, while perhaps someone else, or no-one, is the visionary.”
Here's a sample:
“Significant experience in another game development role; preferably art or engineering. [Okay, this is helpful. Helps if you know what the other guys go through. Frank, you were smart on this one. Gotta recommend you for a raise. What's that Frank? You say that for a game designer maybe it would help if he had work experience in a field outside game development? To try to break out of the self-insulated, derivative nature of game development? Jeezus Frank! Stop making this harder than it already is, all right!...]”
And why do those job applications never just say “must have a firm grasp of D20 roleplaying systems, and excellent people management”, eh?
It's been a while since I caught up with the blogging of veteran MMO dev Randy Farmer. Most recently he's revealed some of the backstory of the 'speedchat' concept
that went on to create the smart dialogue sentence system that can be found in Disney's Toontown
MMO. The process is quite revealing about what Disney needed, and how they were going to implement it.
“Brian had an idea though: Fully pre-constructed sentences - dozens of them, easy to access. Specialize them for the activities available in the world. Vaz Douglas, our project manager working with Zoog, liked to call this feature "Chatless Chat." So, we built and launched it for them. Disney was still very tentative about the genre, so the only ran it for about six months; I doubt it was ever very popular.”
Life Or Death
Ubi's Clint Hocking has been busy blogging
in the wake of GDC and lists some of his favorite talks, which seem to be those that haven't cropped up on the majority of big-name blog posts across the web. It's worth taking a look as Hocking takes great interest in some esoteric subjects, such the peculiar problem of Rainbow Six
“In playing the original Rainbow Six, doors were certainly dramatic... but they were also potentially very frustrating because a minor AI failure could turn six guys into six corpses in point-six seconds. Any time I took a team through a door in the original R6, it was a gamble that I would fail the mission. In the intervening years, and over the course of several titles, the problem of having AI breach a door effectively seems to be completely solved. At the same time, however, the designers of more recent Rainbow games have also changed the way the games' encounters tend to unfold. They have de-emphasized the 'binary', or 'life-or-death' nature of doors.”
Also this week I've been reading up on Natural Selection 2
, after getting a mail from Unknown World's head honcho Charlie Cleveland about their ongoing development blog
. It's mostly aimed at keeping their fans updated, but there's some interesting reading in there. Natural Selection 2
is shaping up to be an interesting project, with some major possibilities for the modding community from whence it came.
“The much-touted Web 2.0 marks a new era, one where those that will succeed are able to leverage the vast talent outside their organization instead of just inside it. Maybe the next Big Thing in online strategic shooters will come from you?”
People Of Games, send me your blogs!
[Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]