2017 MAY 17 — “IN ORDER TO MAKE AN APPLE PIE FROM SCRATCH, YOU MUST FIRST INVENT THE UNIVERSE”
Take a moment to get a feel for the world you want to play in. Is it gloomy like Dickensian England? Is it the pastels and clean “space-age” lines of idealised 1950s middle America? Is it the pessimistic, curb-stomping nihilism of 1980s Britain? How about the gritty, patched-together underdog starships of Star Wars versus the clean, well-funded starships and optimism of Star Trek? Or the brightly comedic swords & sorcery of D&D versus the grime-smeared grey morality of The Elder Scrolls?
You don’t have to tell me. Just write it down.
tags: adding realism to fiction, fictional sociology, game design, worldbuilding, writing
2016 SEPTEMBER 3 — RELATIVITY
There are two ways to create fictional maps. The first is to completely build the world before writing the story; the second is to write the story and build the map as you go along.
tags: adding realism to fiction, design, game design, Lord of the Rings, writing
2014 MAY 16 — TOLKIEN ECONOMICS
Every fictional society is going to be idealised in some way. The logic which governs a fictional society will always be more straightforward than that which governs a real one. Some aspects will be simplified or glossed over and others will be detailed down to a ridiculous level of minutiae.
tags: adding realism to fiction, discussion, fictional sociology, Lord of the Rings
2014 APRIL 28 — GETTING SHIRTY
Let’s discuss what’s really so wrong about a company selling an anti-“fangirl” shirt at WonderCon and why their response to public criticism shows that they are not mature enough to be running a company.
tags: bullying, current issues, gamer life, marketing, the problem with stereotypes
2014 APRIL 06 — PLAYING WITH CHAOS
Computers operate on a principle of order. Events occur either as pre-determined by the designers or according to a series of AI if/then commands created by the programmer.
Humans do not operate on a principle of order.
tags: Dead House, gamer life, tabletop, Wyrmhole Gaming
2014 MARCH 25 — FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
A lot of terrible armour design has been committed over the years in the name of style and visual design. But what if you want to design armour that isn’t traditional? Well, the trick — as with all things — is to know and understand the rules before you go about breaking them. Welcome to Armour 101.
tags: adding realism to fiction, armor, design
2014 MARCH 11 — AUTOMATON
Do you feel trapped? I know a lot of people who do. We’re already living in a dystopian corporate hegemony.
tags: random, Shadowrun
2014 MARCH 3 — SELF-FULFILLING DISAPPOINTMENT
Playing games is no longer the venue of nerdy loners, it is an indelible aspect of modern life and can be found in nearly every country in the world regardless of its development level.
tags: industry, life lessons, marketing, the problem with stereotypes
2014 FEBRUARY 24 — FOR LOVE OF THE GAME
While there’s significant risk to the creators that all their hard work may not pay off in the end, the reason behind taking that risk is for the love of the game rather than the money.
2014 FEBRUARY 17 — BIGGER ON THE INSIDE
Game buildings are Escherian conundrums in which the floorplan inside frequently does not match the exterior footprint, or for which the visual scale does not compute with the scale of other things ingame.
tags: gamer life, game design
Through writing — the process of which is more comparable to a jigsaw puzzle than a journey — I’ve found points in the original concept which were weak and needed to be restructured in order to prevent the whole thing from collapsing.
tags: writing, life lessons
2014 FEBRUARY 4 — MULTIPLE-PERSONALITY GAMER
I enjoy roleplaying, and when I join an MMO, I tend to focus on the RP-only servers because I’d rather get ensconced in the world than focus on levelling up and acquiring gear; a similar situation occurs when I play a single-player RPG.
tags: Dragon Age, EVE Online, gamer life
Let me spin you a tale of a rookie PVPer, a mercenary corporation returning to piracy, and the weirdest extortion racket in lowsec.
tags: EVE Online, gamer life
2014 JANUARY 20 — PLAYING AT DEITIES, part 2: MAPS
One of the down-sides of reading so much while you’re trying to write creatively is that your brain can trip over someone else’s prose, and the risk of getting lost in another writer’s forest is fairly high when you’re only just finding your own footing.
tags: life lessons, writing
2014 JANUARY 13 — EXCLAMATION MASK
My first full-time job was heavily customer-oriented: I was a cashier at one of the big Native American casinos in Connecticut. I was also too young to gamble, but it was legal for me to work in a gambling establishment. I quickly learned what the customers at such places expect to see from the employees: being behind a layer of bullet-proof glass and a countertop is like being one of those old fortune-telling robot machines.
tags: random, writing
2014 JANUARY 6 — PLAYING AT DEITIES, part 1
The down-side of creativity is that we always start with the things we know and our personal experiences. This isn’t always because we particularly want to: the introduction of too much alien information can drive away a potential audience.
tags: life lessons, writing
2013 DECEMBER 24 — TECHNO-FAIL
It took my stuff two and a half weeks to reach the US via container ship from Iceland; it’s now been a week and a half in Customs, and I only got the release confirmation on Thursday.<
Tags: life lessons
2013 DECEMBER 16 — THE WRITERS’ THINK TANK
My work is a patchwork of personal history and absorbed lessons. As one of my incredibly enlightened teachers said, you have to learn what NOT to do first before you can break the rules and expect to get away with it.
Tags: life lessons, writing
Jewellery-making is a minor hobby, and one which I suppose I could market somewhere if I had more stuff to show off and sell. But I usually only make stuff when inspiration hits, or I find a particularly unique piece in a craft-store bargain bin (bargain bins are underrated, you find the best stuff there).
tags: crafting, conceptual
The best part is when I’m in the middle of working on something and get interrupted by others with conversation which could wait until I’m not an hour into a highly-focused session and have just hit that sweet spot of concentration where everything just gets done… until someone breaks it by nagging for attention. At the office, most people understand that headphones on means “busy”, but it’s a different story when sharing space with your parents.
Tags: life lessons
2013 NOVEMBER 24 — FRESHLY GROUND
Most of the time, grind is used as a means to an end: whether it’s a skill level, higher faction reputation, better gear or a coveted achievement title, there’s a reward at the end for engaging in repetitive activities. This is found in pretty much every online game, and takes a variety of forms from the classic “Kill Ten Rats” to helping designated NPCs with menial tasks and the occasional escort mission.
Anyone who’s seen me out knows I’m a crazy social butterfly — to the point where I’ve been asked if I’m taking drugs, which I just don’t touch (that’s a subject for a different time); however, I have to be ready for it. I literally have to mentally prepare myself to spend a pre-determined amount of time in social situations, both in-person and online.
Tags: life lessons
Discussing another player’s personal life and details in a manner intended to intimidate them is not considered a RLT, however it is considerably out of line. The problem is that, as social animals, humans set themselves up for this without ever intending to.
Tags: industry, technology
2013 NOVEMBER 5 — TO NANOWRIMO OR NOT
It was supposed to be a comedy, a fairly dark one, but still a comedy. That was before I learned that I’m terrible at writing comedy. I got a couple of chapters into it, discovered I had no idea where the story was going, and dropped it.
2013 OCTOBER 29 — IT’S A TOOL, NOT A HANDICAP
Not every film or show does this, but in productions of which I would expect better, people flail swords around like they’re crowbars, and clomp about in their armour like Ripley in her power-loader. If that’s really how things were, it’s amazing humanity made it through the middle ages.
Tags: history, combat
2013 JANUARY 26 — DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
Also, there’s the fun part of telling people what you do for a living. Most people look sceptical until I tell them I do customer support. The few in the know will be envious; then I get to pimp the awesomeness.
People talk a lot about personality types. Alpha types, and Beta types; those who lead and those who follow. But there’s one personality type that isn’t considered very much, yet shines brightest in games such as EVE Online.
Tags: industry, EVE Online
2012 FEBRUARY 10 — SOAP OPERAS and STEREOTYPES
It’s tough to write believable, human characters, particularly for a game, where the writer has minimal control over how the player chooses to interact with the NPCs.
Tags: industry, Dragon Age