Oh, hello, didn’t see you there…

Hello friends, it’s been a while! Blogs tend to come and go, you’re familiar enough with the reasons for that, so I’ll instead give a little update on what I’ve been doing in the last two and a half years!

  • Publishing games and doing what I do at Phoenix Online Studios
  • Writing reviews for The Walking DeadFear the Walking Dead, and (formerly) Legends of Tomorrow at 411mania.com
  • Got a new fulltime job working on the new Mass.gov website
  • I had a kid! Yeah, I buried the lede, this is really the big one. His name’s Rowan, and he’s great.
  • Generally figuring out what life looks like in this new phase. Turns out having a kid will kind of redefine everything.
  • Started working on a novel!

Since Rowan came along, finding time to be creative has been hard, but in the last year I missed it dearly and made a point of finding time for it. I’m happy to say it’s been going well and I’ve been putting a lot of work into not just writing but into outlining, plotting, and asking a lot of questions about my writing to help me improve it. I’ve also been working (admittedly more slowly) on a new game design.

Since this has gone relatively well and I’m dedicated to pushing forward, one of my resolutions for 2018 is to resurrect this blog by posting once a week. That’s the goal, we’ll see how I do with it! Once a week seems doable, though. I’m not locking myself in on any specific topics or days for these posts. And hey, if there are special requests, please let me know in the comments.

I’m looking forward to getting back to blogging. Happy new year!

 

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Game Design: Support the Story Experience

More than once I’ve been asked what advice I have for people who want to design games, and everytime my first piece of advice is make sure everything in the game supports the story/experience.

I have usually just said “story”, but not every game’s main thrust is the story–hence, story/experience. What does that mean? Even if your game is open world exploration or a MOBA fighting game (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) or an FPS, and not an adventure game (as is my wont), there’s still a specific experience you want players to have. A mood, a frame of mind, a social interaction, or whatever else. I would add that I believe most people unconsciously add their own story to games that don’t lay out a specific one (ask me sometime about the narrative I’ve decided to paint when my husband plays World of Tanks!), but even if they don’t add their own, there is still the experience.

That’s what it means in theory. In practice? It means don’t add anything to your game that doesn’t support the story you’re telling. Don’t do it because when you do, you waste your time (and money and resources) and you waste the player’s time on something that is superfluous, unimportant, and may even remove them from the gameplay experience. This is why you should never add a puzzle for the sake of a puzzle. Only add a puzzle if it reinforces a point about the characters, the world, or the plot. If it’s there just to kill time, then that is all you’ve done. Killed time. And with the modern game audience, that’s all it takes for them to move on to the next thing.

My favorite examples of these are, of course, from adventure games. In that community, it gets called “moon logic” a lot, or puzzles where your true goal is to “figure out what the designer was thinking.” At the peak of this in my book are three puzzles from King’s Quest V: cheese in the machine, pie at the yeti, and emeralds in honey.

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621 Followers?! Er, make that 140-something.

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m going to have a very busy summer. Also, there are apparently 621 people following my blog — holy crap! I know some of you are friends of mine whom I know quite well, but I’m quite curious as to who else is following and reading my stuff.

I’d love to hear from anyone following the blog, so feel free to post a comment and say hi, let me know what you like about the blog, and what you would like to see more of!

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that WordPress is a little tricky about this, and folds all of your Facebook friends into your number of followers when you link the accounts. Still, that leaves about 140+ followers who came here of their own accord and hit follow, so I’d be happy to hear from you folks! (Or any of the Facebook friends as well…I’m nonetheless curious who’s actually coming by and reading.)

Thanks for reading! Enjoy this picture of a corgi!

A Busy Summer

Despite my hopes & plans to post regularly with a DIY PR and Tropes post every week, I’ve gotten behind. I blame working on making games, and also working on making games! Yes, that’s right, for the summer I am working not only with Phoenix Online, but also with Jane Jensen’s new studio Pinkerton Road as an Assistant Designer! Which is SUPER EXCITING. While it means I’ll not have anything even close to a relaxing, beachy summer, that’s quite alright by me: I’m working on my dreams, loving it, and getting some fantastic experience. Plus, as my dad pointed out, I burn easily anyways.

I’ll endeavor to try and keep up some semi-regular posting, however, on DIY PR, Tropes, and my writing in general. I hope whoever’s reading enjoys!