Notes about game design

May 26, 2012 permalink

Brian Moriarty Listen

Game designer Brian Moriarty delivered quite a talk at the 1997 Game Developers Conference, touching on everything from interaction design, emergent play, community-created art, creativity, self expression, and even an unexpected but interesting tangent about 101 Dalmatians. In hindsight, many of subjects he talks about would become evident over the next decade, from the Sims to Etsy to Minecraft to social networking. From Listen! The Potential of Shared Hallucinations:

Before we can learn, before we can grow, we have to be prepared to listen.

What does it mean, to listen?

The word is commonly understood to mean “attentive hearing.”

It has its etymological origin in the archaic verb, list.

“List!” they used to say. “Ssh! List! The wild boar is outside!”

But the verb “list” also means to tilt something to one side.

When a sea vessel leans to starboard or port, it is said to be listing.

So how did the word “list” turn into the verb “listen?”

Because when we try to hear something, we sometimes cock our heads in the direction of the sound.

So to listen means more than to hear attentively.

The word also implies a change of inclination.

A new slant.

To listen is to put ourselves into a receptive attitude.

A position to be re-aligned.

Also worth reading (the talk is also available for watching as a video in the GDC Vault) if you fondly remember the days of Hypercard, MUDs, and when text adventures reigned supreme on AOL, or if you like crazy 1990s Photoshop anaglyphs…

January 2, 2012 permalink

Prince of Persia C64

I was very happy to have gotten this far. I had the Kid, the Prince of Persia, running and jumping on my screen. I was able to control it and perform all the normal actions. And it felt right. Timing, speed, animations. Of course it was spot on, it was using the original code written by Jordan Mechner, lifted from its Apple II grave and brought back to life, with a new purpose.

At this point I was sure I could do this. It would only be a matter of months. Oh boy, was I wrong.

From the Prince of Persia C64 Development Blog, in which the author writes with excellent detail about his recent hobby attempt to reverse engineer and port the classic computer game to the Commodore64 (warning: lots of posts about pixels, sprites and assembly language debugging – your entertainment value may vary). The original Apple ][ source code for PoP had long ago been lost, but the game’s creator coincidentally posted a handy excerpt of the game’s design documentation as a PDF on his blog, and many other ports existed, so…why not try recreate the original code?

Bonus: Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner has collated his original design notes and journals into a nice 300-page ebook. Neat! I’d love to have a whole series of these for classic games.

(Via O’Reilly Radar)

October 19, 2009 permalink

The Complete History of Lemmings We Did Manage

The Complete History of Lemmings.

We did manage to fox Psygnosis now and then, and I can lay claim that it took John White an hour to figure out “Its hero time”. When ever psygnosis did some testing, we’d get back a fax with the level name, time taken to complete, and some comments and a difficulty rating. These were usually aound 3-6 minutes, and some general coments on how they found it.

Every now and again though, the fax would be covered in scribbles with the time and comment’s crossed out again and again; this is what we were striving for while we were designing the levels, and it gave us all a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

(Yet another good link via O’Reilly Radar)