Blogs, Blogging, etc.

A quick list of the pc gaming blogs I follow:

  • Twenty Sided – Shamus Young has a large body of readers. His blog has high quality writing with a large volume of posts. He has been blogging for a while. He also has an irrational dislike of Fallout 3, which I am struggling to forgive him for.
  • the CRPG Addict – An unnamed professional. CRPG Addict set out a while ago with upon a quest to play a veritable timeline of CRPG games in order. He is up to about 1987 so far and going strong. This is a really interesting read, steeped in the lore of CRPGs.
  • I visit the forums at MossMouth Games  occasionally. The main site is blocked at work, or I would visit it more. I really like Derek Yu’s work, he is a Name in the indie dev world, as much as that world has names. Look around mossmouth, and especially his other blog TIGsource and it is not hard to see why.
  • Tilting at Windmills – This guy is a trip. He is blogging about developing a CRPG on a TI-99/4a. The challenges of developing a CRPG alone are not enough of a feat for this ironman, he also throws in the headache of memory management for antiquated equipment. This, to me, equals Awesome-Nerd-On! Unfortunately he has not updated in a while, it seems he has been lulled by the siren song of MineCraft.
  • GameDev Dad (Used to be Viridian Games ) – Anthony Salter. I have never met the man, but I would love to do so. He has been a huge role-model for me ever since reading his saga of developing a 40-hour game. He has been going through a tough time lately as life unfolds in the way that life does…
  • Stingy Hat Games – Handshakes is a student/writer/game developer. His current project is a dating-sim flash game I think? Its not really my niche so I haven’t been following it real close. His blog has some awesome stuff on it about a quake based project. I am anxiously awaiting updates.
  • Ultima Aiera – This is a site I found at Stingy Hat Games. It is a news site, that updates frequently. Who knew Ultima still had so much activity! I have a soft-spot for Ultima, and there is some good stuff here.

I was thinking about these blogs as a whole, and I realize that they fall into two broad categories: Critics and Artists. I am not saying that any of these are only critics or are only artists, but the divide exists.  Neither of these viewpoints is wrong, they are just…different. If you have looked at my past posts (which doesn’t take very long, I am a bad blogger.) you can see I have indulged in both myself.

Artists are in tune with their work. They are excited by a new development, they are slogging through a grindy bit, they are relieved that a certain part is “done*”, or they are talking about new tools or methods. They very rarely look up from their work, and are not considering the larger framework og games that their single project will encompass.

Critics are looking at a submission, they want to have fun, but they have a very high bar. They are comparing each game to other games that they like or dislike, and making corresponding judgements. These judgements may or may not be fair, depending on a whole slew of things.

So what does this have to do with anything? I was reading a post by Viridian today about how he wants to improve his game in a great many ways. The game he is talking about is Inaria, which is the game he completed in 40 hours and inspired me in the first place. What frustrates me is that about this is that previously he was just talking about avoiding feature creep, and then in the next post he is talking about surrendering to feature creep altogether!

So why do I care? Feature creep is a real concern to me. I am working on a project that I hope to finish, and I understand the lure and the danger of feature creep all to well. There is so much temptation to say “Oh! I forgot to add broadswords!” and then add that to your item list. Then you have to consider where the player will find broadswords and add the objects there. Then you have to consider how a broadsword is different from a longsword or a cutlass and account for that in the way you balance the pace of your story and the progression of your difficulty…. etc.

 Artists are on one side, Critics are on the other, and the game is in the middle. This is the fundamental conflict: Critics say “Why couldn’t the developer just make this one tiny little change? It would have been more fun!” and artists say “Well, I could make that change, but then I would have to change this, and this, and this, and this…”

 Lord, give me the wisdom to know when I have enough features, and the strength to resist designing more.

*No project is ever truly done to the designer. It just stops accepting changes. In the case of a single developer-designer, you just have to will yourself to forget about it and not change it anymore.

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