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Visualizing the Creative Process

Visualizing the Creative Process
As I coach new developers, I've taken to scribbling out the same useful diagram for visualizing the creative process again and again on coffee-ringed napkins. In order to limit my future abuse of culinary paper wares, I've reproduced my images in a more formal fashion in this essay. The conversation usually starts with the following statement: "Creativity is like a snake swallowing a series of tennis balls." And when confused looks inevitably result, I sketch some variant of this odd little picture: Using this as a starting point, we start chatting about joys and pitfalls of creativity.The Brainstorming PhaseFailures in brainstormingThe Culling PhaseFailures in cullingCyclingFailures in cycling The Brainstorming Phase We all start with an idea. Brainstorming starts out small and expands over time There are several activities that occur during this phase:Ideas: Generate new ideas related to your initial insight. A multitude of experiments arise during brainstorming Problems with brainstorming

Graphics News #14 « Frogatto & Friends November 20th, 2010 by Jetrel We’ve added a new tileset to the game, which is exclusive to the new “arcade mode”. Unlike our full, story-mode tilesets, which are essentially a hybrid mix of 16×16<->64×64 tiles, intermixed in lots of wacky combinations, this tileset is a strict collection of 16×16 tiles. It’s not possible to do very organic rock faces and such in this tileset; everything will feel very blocky – however, it makes for much more flexible arrangements of tiles (since quite a few up-close arrangements were not possible with our story-mode tiles). Especially for our arcade mode, which will be based on some very tight platforming challenges, this is a good fit for gameplay. Ultimately, we decided that rather than choosing between either style of tileset, we’d choose to have both. Also, here are some updates on forest stuff; showing off some new branches, better foliage, and one of the new palette shifts. (click to zoom in)

Platforming Games 101: Running, Jumping & More Presented by Gamerforlife The Racketboy crew is back with yet another ambitious effort to educate the masses on some retro-gaming (and even some modern gaming) essentials. In this Retro Gaming 101 installment, we will be taking a lot at one of the most essential and popular genre in video games. Platforming games really kick-started and pushed the 8-bit and 16-bit generations and the genre has remained an integral part of modern gaming culture. Of course, the Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog series are the most well-known examples of the genre, however, there are many games that preceded them and there are many subsequent games that broadened what we can expect from the genre. Genre Foundations What is a Platform Game? While some video game genres more often focus on killing, defeating or avoiding enemies (shooters, beat’em ups, fighting games, survival horror, etc.), platform games are more about how skillfully players can move through an environment. Donkey Kong (Arcade), 1981

Critical-Gaming Network - Blog - Complex Time Simplified pt.2 Take a 2D fighting game for example. Using the dynamics of 2D space the animations and matching hitboxes for attacks create a variety of timing challenges. Intercepting an enemy target with an attack of your own is the equivalent of hitting a moving target with a moving target from a moving position. It can be difficult to wrap your mind around the fact that most attacks move the character in one way and strike in another and that both of these aspects can be used to create tight strategies. So if you haven't already checked out my An Examination of Skill article series, at least watch the video on the various timing challenges in Super Smash Brothers Brawl found at the bottom of the page here. Of course, playing at such a level is something most players will never experience. image from capcom-unity.com The answer is hit-stun and block-stun. For players that may be used to other kinds of action games where they always have full control of their characters (Super Mario Bros.

Mass Effect: Massive Interface Fail Part I Mass Effect received a lot of praise when it came out. It still receives a lot of it. It is considered as one of the prime examples of next-gen western RPGs. It is a status I don’t think it quite deserved. Yes, Mass Effect offers a visually and thematically rich, cinematic experience. “You won’t get away with your sloppy interface design this time. One can argue a lot about the various shortcomings of the game and whether or not they bear a significance to judge the game. The endeavor turned out to be more laborious than I thought. Character Customization Lazy interface design. The game greets you with a series of menus for customizing the appearance and character of the player’s avatar. Blind re-using of generic interface elements: Facial features can be controlled by adjusting horizontal sliders. The HUD. Let us move to something more common: The HUD. (Bad) Styling obscuring function: Let us focus on the health bars in the lower right left corner. Character Management End of part I

Triple Town Beta (Now with Bears) Exciting times. You can now play our puzzle game Triple Town in your web browser. We are releasing it as a beta and the game should evolve quite substantially over time. Triple Town is a special game. On the surface, it is a simple match-3 variant, but after a few games you'll start noticing the strategic depth. The big addition for this release? Bears, bears everywhere Triple Town helped solidify how I construct the world and setting in my games. (You can read a bit more on the theory of how games are unique suited to creating emotional experiences in my previous essay on Shadow Emotions and Primary Emotions. Tuning emotions When I revisited the Triple Town design, the emotions were already clearly evident. Emotions are complex to say the least so we need some sort of entry into the topic. There are a variety of theories. An ambiguous physical response (your adrenaline jumping and your heart rate elevating)The system-derived context of the situation you are in. Monsters or children?

The Power of Mario Voilà, c'est mon tour d'avoir fini "l'Histoire de Mario" de William Audureau. Bien intéressant, même si j'avoue que le côté "pourquoi lui ?" mis en avant par l'auteur ne correspond pas à ce qui m'intéresse le plus. Ce qui me tente, moi, c'est de comprendre comment sont apparu les mécanismes qui en font à ce point un jeu hors pair. Au risque de décevoir, je dirais que graphiquement, Super Mario Bros était dépassé techniquement avant même sa sortie. J'en veux pour exemple Pac-Land en arcade en 1984. Un des grands absents de ce point de vue, dans le livre d'Audureau est sans doute le bloc-question. I'm pretty lucky we have Pix'n'Love editions around, to provide us great retro-gaming material. La fonction du bloc-question est claire et géniale en même temps: indiquer clairement au joueur l'emplacement des bonus tout lui cachant le nature de ce bonus -- et ça tout en utilisant le mécanisme premier du jeu: sauter. Mais alors, que s'est-il passé avec la forme ?

run, you fools! Mario, Sonic, Rayman ... chacun d'eux peut courir, mais l'impact sur le gameplay est chaque fois différent. Voilà un petit dessin-du-dimanche pour refaire le point. L'élément intéressant (pour un platformer) n'est pas tant qu'on va plus vite en courant, mais plutôt la manière dont on va exiger plus de maîtrise de la part du joueur quand il doit affronter "un saut plus compliqué". It's not that much about going faster, but rather about clearing longer holes with a jump. In most platformers, this is achieved through the RUN mechanics ... but not all. Check out my scribbled notes for details ^_^ Dans SuperMario, il faudra gagner en vitesse, donc essentiellement contrôler l'absence d'obstacles. Rayman, en comparaison a un bouton de course "binaire". Keen, lui ne court jamais (ou tout le temps, c'est selon), mais l'activation du pogo permet de faire des sauts plus longs (mais ici aussi, il faut faire d'avantage attention au timing et à l'environnement).

Critical-Gaming Network - Blog - Mario Melodies: Interplay part.1 In order to describe how a game is played over time, one must take into account the range of effects the players actions have on the characters, enemies, and the environment. Previously on Critical-Gaming, we've described game mechanics as being concrete versus abstract, and existing in one of three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary mechanics are a limited set of mechanics that make up the core of the player's interactivity and the core feeling/action of a game. In real life, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Interplay is the back and forth encouragement of player mechanics between any two elements in a game. The easiest way to think of interplay is offensively/defensively or in counters. Once you have run out of counters between the two elements you're examining, it's easy to map out which mechanics were used at each level, what kind of mechanics were used, and what additional elements were involved in the situation. Now for some examples.

Special! Youpie! Ma fée m'a retrouvé mon GBA micro avec Super Mario World dedans ^_^. Et à reprendre ce jeu-là, je me rends compte que je m'étais assez fourvoyé sur le compte du monde "Spécial". Je le considérais comme le passage secret ultime, d'une difficulté crasse, qui ne raccourci rien et qui mêne à un objectif bizarre et pas drôle: la transformation de toutes les couleurs du jeu (plus terne) et le remplacement des tortues par des "faux mario"... Wéé ... A l'époque, j'avais du mal à passer le deuxième monde du jeu, et je n'avais plus aucune chance de terminer un niveau en une vie une fois arrivé dans la forêt illusoire. Maintenant que j'ai atteint un niveau un peu correct (jusqu'au chateau avant la vallée de Bowser sans game over), les choses m'apparaissent différemment. Donc oui, c'est dur (parce qu'on pousse en avant les nuances du gameplay et les techniques avancées), et il faudra de la mémorisation pour venir à bout de certains niveaux. Et les koopa-mask, alors ?

game design So I managed to rent DK returns on the week my brother went abroad on holiday. In 4 days of play (together with other activities :P), I could reach world 6 (canyon of skeletton dinosaurs) with some help of Super Kong in Tidal Terror. A few boss fights put some stress on me, but with a stock of ~200 golden coins, there's not much I really fear. The game is globally great, and I love how it comes with a lot of new (imho) ways to hide secrets in the levels, with breakable items, flowers to blow over and funny things like "keep bouncing and the bananas keep flowing. A la base, Donkey Kong Returns n'avait pas franchement attiré mon attention. Comme d'habitude dans un DKC, il y aura des objets spéciaux à trouver dans le niveau pour accéder au monde caché. Diddy's jetpack is somehow a curious replacement to Dixies haircopter, but well, here it is and it's gonna be useful. Clearly, Retro Studio did a wonderful job of packing the background with spectacular environment for the action.

Critical-Gaming Network - Blog - Dialogue: The Mechanics of Language Scene: KirbyKid stumbles across a podcast recording session at a gaming conference. The podcasting group consists of an avid gamer, a host that writes reviews for a popular website, and a game designer from a AAA game. KirbyKid listens in on their conversation from a distance. Passerby: I wonder if that game those guys are talking about really does have innovative mechanics. KirbyKid: Innovative whats? Passerby: Innovative mechanics? KirbyKid: Oh. Passerby: I read, play, and talk about video games a lot. KirbyKid: Good luck. KirbyKid hands the Passerby a business card. 8-bit Mario and Donkey rest at the bottom. Passerby: Cool. KirbyKid: Actually, I'm curious. Justin: It's any working part of a video game. KirbyKid: I really appreciate that you bothered to present specific examples, and picking Super Mario is icing on the cake. Justin: Why is it terrible? KirbyKid: Actually, there are free game design glossaries out there. Justin: Whoa! KirbyKid: Really? Justin: Alright, explain away.

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