Tagged: game design

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update and I just returned from GDC, so this is a good time.

First, in my silence I’m programming a lot, sometimes 12hrs a day, and the game is really coming together.  As an artist I spend so much time trying to make the work of my hands be as good as the vision in my head.  Aspects of Archmage Rises are beyond what I imagined a year ago when I started this project.  It is very exciting!

It was my first GDC and I didn’t know what to expect from it.  (more…)

I’m relatively new to art appreciation.  A big turning point for me was a few years back when I read John Milton’s Paradise Lost.  Since then, my appreciation for art and the artists behind the work has continued to grow.  I even have some Peter Max limited edition prints hanging on my walls.

I’m a huge fan of fantasy art and pretty much any game art coming out of TSR in the 1980s.  There is something about the oil on canvas, seeing the stroke of the brush—which for me sort of elevates the work.  I’m not complaining about the perfection found in digital painting—just that I like the “handmade” quality brush strokes bring.

Archmage Rises is a love letter to tabletop role-playing games.  The art style is ’80s TSR for the modern area.

Seriously awesome! (more…)

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso

Sid Meier’s Pirates! is arguably the most important game ever made . . . and it also ruined my week.  You see, I’m working on Archmage Risesand part of my elevator pitch is, “It’s like Pirates! but with mages and permadeath.”

“Live the Life” is exactly what this Pirate simulator delivers! (more…)

This past week, I focused my development efforts on the user interface (UI) of Archmage Rises.  Proper software development methodology mandates that we should take on the highest priority, highest risk items first.  We should do this to save enough time and energy to deal with the truly dangerous issues: the unknowns.  Archmage Rises is a UI-heavy game, and the interface is core to the entire game experience.  Fortunately, I’m working with the very talented UI artist Rick Grossenbacher.

Note: We’re only about a quarter of the way through the process, but I thought I’d share the approach and progress thus far. (more…)

If you’ve been following these dev blogs, you’ll know that I have been living at my cottage for the last three and a half months.  No, I wasn’t kicked out due to some indiscretion or ill-advised car purchase. I was living in the cottage so I could manage the little store I mentioned a couple weeks ago. After a job well done, it was time to come home.

So last week, my family arrived en masse to bring me back to civilization. Talk about an ironic reversal of what college students happen to be experiencing this week: I’m finally returning home, not leaving it. In fact, my week has been taken over by family matters and getting resituated.  Although my wife is made of pure, delightful chaos, I am of the Spartan persuasion—and I happen to love order with a nice task list by my side. There were so many chores to do around the house once I was finally back. . . .

OK, it wasn’t this bad, but it felt that way.

Despite the upheaval, I can proudly announce two major developments for Archmage Rises:

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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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