Experimental Game Dev Interviews
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  • Running a 35+ Person Virtual Indie Game Studio

    Posted on May 14th, 2011 IndieGamePod No comments

    Chris talks about running a purely virtual indie game studio with over 35 employees

    You can download the podcast here…

    Or listen to it here…

  • Want to Speak at the GDC Online Conference…

    Posted on May 3rd, 2011 IndieGamePod No comments

    Here’s your chance :)

    Here’s an e-mail I got from the GDC Online folks…this might be relevant for some folks here…the call for submissions closes pretty soon…

    *** Start E-mail ***
    The call for submissions to present lectures, roundtables and
    panels at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) Online 2011
    is now open through Thursday, May 5th. GDC Online focuses on
    the development of connected and cloud games including social
    network titles, free-to-play web games, kid-friendly online
    titles, large-scale MMOs, and beyond. The event returns to
    Austin October 10-13th.

    The advisory board is seeking submissions from social & online
    game professionals with expertise in any of the following tracks:
    Business & Marketing, Design, Production, Programming, and Customer
    Experience. We are also accepting submissions for the three
    Summit programs; GDC Virtual Items Summit, Game Narrative Summit,
    Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, and the one-day Game Career

    Submission guidelines and full details here: http://www.gdconline.com/conference/c4p

    Use this link to submit a proposal: http://c4p.gdconline.com/gdco

    Game Developers Conference Online
    October 10-13, 2011
    Austin Convention Center
    Austin, Texas

  • Free Friday: Corona Cross-Promo Tool (Beta)

    Posted on April 29th, 2011 IndieGamePod 5 comments

    Hey folks,

    Here’s the code I mentioned last week…a little belated…but we would be releasing some code for Corona developers…here for indie devs to help cross-promote their Corona games with other developers.

    It’s in beta form…
    you can download it here…

    You can also sign up for the service here…

    You’ll get a “promo id” via e-mail…put that in your promo .lua file…so all downloads through your game give you credits…and then your game gets promoted in other people’s apps :)

    Feel free to add feedback + comments :)

  • Corona Game Jam Finalists Announced…

    Posted on April 25th, 2011 IndieGamePod 5 comments

    Hey folks,

    Thanks for all the submissions. We received 4 submissions…I tried to test them out…but none of the apks worked on my emulator!

    Thanks to Ansca Mobile, I have 3 indie licenses + 1 pro license left to give away.

    So…the folks that submitted will get at least an indie license…but if you want a shot at the pro license…I need to see a working .apk …or a video of the game by Tuesday at 8 pm PST.

    Here are the finalists…
    1) Jeremiah
    2) Eduardo
    3) Joseph (Gravity Bounce)
    4) Aapo

    If you want to try for the PRO version of Corona, send a video by tomorrow…or a working apk (should be built for Android 2.2)…

    For the other finalists that are fine with an indie license…send an e-mail to support with the e-mail address associated with your Corona account and whether you want the iPhone or Android indie license. I need to pass the info onto Corona so they can activate your subscription.

    You have until Tuesday, 8 pm PST to do this.

    Thanks again to everyone that participated :)

  • Thanks for All Game Jam Submissions, Winners Will Be Announced Tonight…

    Posted on April 25th, 2011 IndieGamePod No comments

    Hey folks,

    Thanks for the all the submissions. I’ll get a chance to check out the games and announce the winners tonight.

    Also, I mentioned that I would release some code this weekend to help with Corona game development. That’s been delayed by a few days…as there are some things that need to be refined…but it’s on the way :)

  • Developing an Indie Zombie Shooter, Part 1

    Posted on April 5th, 2011 IndieGamePod No comments

    The founder of Secret Base studio talks about developing an indie zombie shooter…

    You can download the podcast here…

    Or listen to it here…

  • Guest Post: Rethinking War in the FPS

    Posted on March 30th, 2011 IndieGamePod No comments

    Games like Call of Duty and Battlefield have shown that war games, done right, can be amazingly fun and wildly addicting. They do this because they are designed well, and the concept of it all opens up a lot of fun possibilities for the designers to work with. But through Call of Dutythe many iterations, with many more to come, and a lack of emphasis on story, designers have dulled the terribleness of war.

    That is not a good thing. Just to make sure we’re clear here, I have no problem with games focusing on war. I just feel that the with light-heartedness some companies put into their games, they are missing something incredibly moving.

    First, let’s put war into perspective. In war, multiple countries ask or force millions of men and women to fight one another with weapons that blow holes in people. Millions of young lives come to an end for the better of the country.

    In war, people go through traumatic experiences. People lose limbs, are given quick surgery so they can get back up to help, watch friends die, and go through absolute hell. The lucky ones come back, and the absolute luckiest come back in one piece. Some, after war, cannot sleep. Others cannot be in public. Some go through flashbacks, completely losing grip on reality.

    Words cannot describe how terrible it is, a lot worse than the armed forces commercials make it sound, not because of the physical demand, but because of the psychological torture one experiences on the battlefield. How much of this do video games take into account? Not much.

    When you play Modern Warfare 2, you do not think about any of this. The story is more like a James Bond movie than a war story. There are many things designers can do, if they are willing to step outside the ditch they have dug out for war games, to refresh and make right the genre. Modern Warfare 2We need to reexamine the blueprints of the modern war first person shooter.

    First, designers need to change the way they show their enemies. When you infiltrate a camp in a usual game today, you are made to believe that everyone you are about to kill is a dirty, rotten, cocky scumbag, as if that justifies killing them. The designer is telling you it is morally acceptable to kill these people, using some of the same methods that wrestling-writers use to make you root for a certain person, the good guy.

    The designer should avoid giving you these thoughts. The player should know that he is probably killing respectable people, men AND women, who probably have loving families at home like you. Instead of doing this, designers have twisted them into the generic “bad guys”, either to make the player believe in his cause or to make what the player is doing morally right, somehow.

    So, I want to see the occasional enemy pull out a picture of their family after being shot. I want to see the youth in their face. I want to see both sexes on the battlefield. Before infiltrating, I want to watch from afar as the “bad guy” picks up a piece of trash, or horses around with his/her friends.

    Secondly, the overall story, the war, needs to be a little less cut and dry. In Modern Warfare 2, the good and the bad is carved out very bluntly. Sure, there is betrayal and going undercover, but I am talking the issues – the reason you’re fighting.

    It should be possible that your country is wrong. The right-wrong question in the game should be open to moral debate. Maybe there are rumors that you’re country is fighting for the money, not for the good of people. By leaving this question open, and removing the black and white approach on all levels, we allow the player to question the morality of it all on his/her own. This is one of the things you think about in war – am I fighting for the right and just side? What would it be like to fight for a side that people didn’t support (Vietnam?).

    Also, designers should put more focus on the character, or, if the design is aiming to put you in the role of a generic person, you. When you are running through a dark jungle, you should see things in the darkness. When you are in an intense situation, your aim should be trembling. Your charcter is not a superhero – he’s just a regular guy in an extreme situation.

    If the designers choose to have a protagonist with a strong story, we should learn his/her Rambobackstory. Seeing a picture of his kids might make me be a little more hesitant to running through the front steps of enemy territory rambo style. Every soldier has a story, and experiencing it can fill a gap long present in war games and motivate the player to do what is right, to survive, or whatever.

    Things need to seem out of control. Checkmarks kill the player’s feeling of uncertainty. You know exactly where to go at all times in today’s games. What if you are given only a generic location in which to search for something, or you’ve been told something wrong. You want to keep the gamer on the edge. He/she should never feel completely comfortable with what is happening.

    Finally, gamers should witness some of the horrific events that real soldiers go through. Seeing a dead family sacrificed in order to get to the bad guy would be a life-changing experience. Actually playing an accidental role in such a thing would make you ask even more questions. IsSaving Private Ryan what I am doing right? The use of moral choice, the same concept used in games like Bioshock and Infamous, would work very well in this genre. By the end, it should be up to the player as to whether he/she wants to fight or not.

    Game designers need to get out of the clichés they have dugout for themselves. The designer, instead of sticking to the usual formula, should experiment and try new things. Pull a Metroid, when we realize we’d been playing as a girl. Make the player question something he/she has not questioned before, in previous games and in real life. Even above that, developers should encourage innovation and change if the designers believe it will better the game.

    The designer should take the gamer through what it means and feels like to be a soldier. The player should be questioning his/her actions throughout the game, and making believable enemies and a complex story can help this. You should see the psychological effects of war on your character, and at times, the game could become into a sort of survival horror game. More uncertainty would also help add to the game, both in ethics and in tasks. The game should be throwing things at you to make you reconsider your actions in the game and your beliefs in the world.

    This being said, I am aware that too much of this could drive the player from the game, pushing the horrors of war a little too much. When you picture this different kind of war fps, you shouldn’t picture running through the jungle, over carcasses from the school you just bombed. You should picture something little more gradual.

    When the game starts, you could have no reason to question anything your government is doing. Red Badge of CourageIn many stories of war (Red Badge of Courage), the character goes into the experience looking forward to the heroic adventure he/she is about to go through. This would be a perfect metaphor as to what the player pictures as he/she puts the game into the drive.

    The game could start like the regular war shooter, with obvious good and bad. As the game progresses, smaller things might occur to make the player think. Seeing a friend’s legs get blown up, seeing things moving through the trees, helping an injured child, beginning to realize the corruption on top, and beginning to understand how terrible war is could make the player think.

    Combining this with a good, thought-provoking story, including the slow realization that your country Is doing bad things, could set up the player for the ultimate moral dilemma in a game. Do you decide to go with your country’s plan, which will kill many innocent lives, or do you stand up against it?

    I do realize the large conflict a game like this would cause. Morally, I think it is okay to portray war through a video game, especially if the designer makes it a goal to force the gamer to Six Days in Fallujareexamine assumptions about war and life. In fact, I thinking making a war game like this would be more responsible if anything, as you would better show what war really is. This may be considered bad, but it would better than portraying war as a heroic trek, not taking into account the death and destruction. This has been a hot topic since Six Days in Falluja, but I hope I’ve represented the case well.

    These are some things to think about while you are preparing to make another general rehash of what’s already been done. I believe we can combine a genre that many see as thoughtless and all gameplay, with the ability games have to make you think and open your mind to create something that will shine as one of the most respected games to date, while keeping the gameplay fun.

    Dylan Woodbury lives with his family in Southern California. He runs http://dtwgames.com, a game design website that posts intriguing new articles every week, both beginner’s tutorials and theoretical ideas. He also has an interest in writing, and is planning his first novel. His primary goal is to change the world through video games.

  • Guest Post: Design Your Game — Ideas

    Posted on March 23rd, 2011 IndieGamePod No comments

    Ever wanted to design your own game? Most people who are interested in game design have had an idea for their own game, but where do we get these ideas? How can we make them better? This chapter in the Design Your Game series will concern ideas and where to look.
    Ideas come from everywhere. They can come from other video games, other forms of entertainment, or just life. Shigeru Miyamoto once had the idea for the game Pikmin when he was weeding his yard!

    If you are looking for a game idea, just live your life, and whenever you do something, ask, “Could that be a game?” This is part of the game designer mentality. Game designers are always looking for new sources of fun in the world around them. Mowing the lawn might not be a very fun game, but what about the things you are mowing? The bugs might be fleeing for their life beneath your very nose. What would it be like to be a bug in the suburbs? And that is how the process goes.

    Many games are thought of by playing other games, but you have to be very careful, because if your idea and soon-to-be game is too much like the preexisting game, it may get lost in the shuffle and be seen as a knock-off.

    You need to be constantly examining the living and nonliving things around you, things on the news, daily activities, and using your imagination, much like Shigeru Miyamoto did, to create a solid game idea.

    Now, once you have a game idea, don’t stop. At this point, you should write NOTHING down, but keep it all in your head. Think of new possibilities within your game idea. What if the weeds I pulled were creatures? Maybe there were different kinds. Some might like water? Some could be fast? Strong? Maybe you have to collect them and use them to complete challenges. Or what if they followed you around and you could use them in large quantities? But what about a story… Why are you doing this… Maybe you want to get back home, because there was an earthquake while you were out of town? Or maybe you’re on a new planet as an astronaut! Maybe you have to explore the planet… or, better yet, you have to find the pieces to your broken spaceship!!!
    See how a simple idea of weed creatures can mutate into an entire game! This process, of course, took place over longer periods of time, but until you think you have a solid concept which includes basic gameplay (mechanics and challenge types) and a basic story, do not right anything down – nothing is permanent, and once you write it down, you will hesitate to change it — TRUST ME. Mull it over in your head.

    Take some time to do that, and write down everything you thought of when your concept has met the requirements I gave. If you want to submit your concept for my feedback (I will not steal it – I promise), please do so below. You can even choose to have it have a chance to be published in this series as an example (you can choose not to though). Also, unless you are very lucky, it is going to take a long time for you to get to the point to write it down, so don’t rush. People who already have ideas: try to evolve them if you can, make sure you have no gaps, and make sure it isn’t already a game. If you want a really good chance of getting it published (but do so anyways if you can, as it will help me criticize it), enter how your idea evolved and where you got it from in the coments-submission section of the site.

    Good Luck!

    Dylan Woodbury lives with his family in Southern California. He runs http://dtwgames.com, a game design website that posts intriguing new articles every week, both beginner’s tutorials and theoretical ideas. He also has an interest in writing, and is planning his first novel. His primary goal is to change the world through video games.

  • Free Casual Connect Europe Videos Online…

    Posted on March 17th, 2011 IndieGamePod No comments

    Hey folks,

    The Casual Connect organization was nice enough to make the Casual Connect Europe conference videos free for people…you can check them out here…

    Enjoy :)

  • Mobile Game Community Project: Whatever Quest

    Posted on March 8th, 2011 IndieGamePod No comments

    At the Game Developers Conference, there was a whole summit on Smart Phones and I got a chance to talk to a fair amount of mobile game developers. I think it’s interesting to see that mobile may play an important part for game developers.

    Last year, the podcast show tried to do a community game project. It didn’t get as much feedback from the community as hoped…so this year, we’ll try something different. We’ll focus on a mobile game and see how that goes.

    The community game this year is called “Whatever Quest” ….and can be found on the Android market. It uses the sensor systems of smart phones to drive the game. “Whatever Quest” turns everyday life into a quest.

    In the next few weeks, I’ll go into more details about the game design and look for feedback on ways to enhance it :)

    “Whatever Quest” is meant to be a public service project…with the aim to get people to use it for their everyday activities.

    You can download the game in the Android Market. Right now, it has a one-star review. It’s not perfect, but gotta start somewhere :)