Monthly Archives: August 2014

I had a bizarre personal/family situation that totally consumed me from May to the end of July.  Nothing much happened with Archmage during that time, which was like Chinese water torture for an indie dev.

It turns out that I had to take over a little store – from personnel to IT. I couldn’t choose not to do this. It was just something I had to do for the good of my family.

This is a fitting picture for an indie developer’s life

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Sometimes a new solution is just an old idea in a new package.

Last time, I covered how re-reading the Dragonlance novels got me thinking about a new kind of RPG.  One that is a realistic open world, procedurally-generated, and full of meaningful choices.  The question is: How can I build it? Is it even possible?

Shark Tank is a TV show where prospective entrepreneurs (fish) pitch their business ideas to industry titans (sharks).  After one of these pitches, Kevin (the grumpy Simon type billionaire on the show) asked, “Which is more important: The idea or the execution?”

Thinking for a minute, the entrepreneur nervously answered “Execution.”

“Right answer,” said Kevin.  And he proceeded to invest in the idea.

I had a solid idea, but I wasn’t so sure about how to execute it.  If I want to allow the player true choice, I have to address the cost of choice head on.  I found the answer in two places: another TV show . . . and the early ‘90s.

Cost of Player Choice

There is one reason why the same characters die at the same time both in my playthrough and yourplaythrough of Watch Dogs: cost.  Video game budgets now eclipse movies by a considerable margin—leading to less relevant choices.

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How to Have a Good Idea

I am very interested in what drives creative inspiration.  How to spark it, then harness it.  I’ve read books on it. I’ve looked into what the artistic masters like Da Vinci, Michelangelo or Bach did.  I’ll share the best advice I have assimilated on the topic:

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I wrote my previous post because someone asked me to.  I did not anticipate how well it would be received by the gamedev community.  Thank you, everyone!  Some favorite comments:

“I share a lot of similar background.”

“I wanted to contact you to let you know that I was incredibly inspired by your writing.”

“Thank you for this article. It may very well change my life.”

I enjoyed hearing thoughts from fellow developers on what I shared.

Some people wrote (in varying levels of harshness) that I’m going to fail again on PC just as I did in mobile.  They stated that past performance is an indicator of future performance.  If this were true, only people who have succeeded will succeed, and only people who have failed will fail.  But life shows us something quite different: successful people failing and unsuccessful people succeeding.  The real issue is not about past performance, but what has changed (the pivot, to use Lean Startup jargon) in the present.  My article did not detail how I am applying all of the lessons learned to Archmage. That starts now!

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I am fed up with the whole mobile/tablet gaming market.  I’ve worked hard for three years and released two games to almost every mobile device you can think of.  Never again.  From now on I am focusing all my development resources on the PC.  Frankly, I should have started there to begin with.

So how did I reach this conclusion?  I am going to share my story with you.  Openly and honestly.  Some of it is gut-wrenchingly honest.  Maybe this vulnerability won’t paint me in the best light, but I’ll take that risk in the hope you can learn from it.  (I have changed some people’s names to protect their identity.)
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