High level game design

design, indiedev

When people speak of luck, they mean that there are things outside of one’s control and/or knowledge structures that affects some outcome. Let’s call this the unknown. A game’s success is both composed of the known and the unknown. For instance, consider the image below: Here max_oats is saying that despite Eric being really good at the known, Stardew Valley only got as big as it did because of the unknown. ...

Game quality is all that matters


Recently I got into a small discussion with a few other devs over how much your reputation as a developer matters. The automatic position most devs have on this is that it matters quite a lot: if you have a good reputation further releases will be more likely to succeed, whereas if you have a bad one further releases will be more likely to flop. I disagree with this very strongly. ...

Self-expression vs. vesselization


I was watching this talk by Edmund earlier and it’s a very good one. I think I agree with pretty much everything he says in it, except the very first point: I think honesty is what art is and, you know, business makes it dishonest. It’s a difficult field as an artist to be in, because, to some degree, the dishonesty of selling something or being a salesperson can easily taint your work and you can attempt to manipulate people into feeling a certain way, playing more, putting more money into the machine, and it’s a dangerous thing. ...

Deep instinctive changes

indiedev, psychology

This post is a response to this discussion on twitter. # When I first played PUBG for hundreds of hours I could visibly notice myself becoming better at making and sticking to plans. The game is so open and you’re constantly threatened, so if you want to get good it forces you to come up with your own structures to deal with all the inherent uncertainty and randomness. The same could be said of many games, but I feel like the BR formula is especially good at it because of how high stakes it feels. ...

Unity and Godot, artists and their hatred of money

indiedev, psychology

A week ago John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity, said this: More specifically: Creatives are the most beautiful and pure, brilliant people. They’re also some of the biggest fucking idiots. It’s a good, somewhat Trumpian quote that rings true to me. And the response by most indiedevs was about what you’d expect: Now, I’m no fan of Unity. I don’t use Unity, I’ll never use Unity, and back in 2018, when goodwill towards Unity was still very high and its obvious problems were basically ignored by most indiedevs, here I was, autistically going on about how actually it sucks. ...

Authorship isn't real

indiedev, psychology

Information wants to be free, culture follows evolutionary flows — viral memetics — and accreditation, provenance, patents, copyright are all burdens that strangle the free flow of the work and ruin its memetic fitness. Recognize memetic culture cedes no authorship, no credit; art is produced in a lucid state playing handmaiden to collective unconsciousness — and accelerated by the web — Art comes from beyond the self, comes from the network, or God. ...

Competition isn't real

indiedev, psychology

There is no competition among indie developers. The more successful indie games there are on Steam the higher your future chances of success as an indiedev. Outsized success creates demand for more games similar to it, and as more of those games are created and each further outsized success happens, a new genre starts to establish itself. As the audience for this new genre increases, more developers are enticed to make games for it, creating a positive feedback loop that only ends when no more outsized successes for it happen. ...

Luck isn't real

indiedev, psychology, luck

Your body and your mind are you and you are them. Your body speaks to you through instinct, your mind speaks to you through reason. You feel in control of your mind because reason is weak, you don’t feel in control of your body because instinct is strong. Body to mind coercion is the default state. Strong ancient instinct is a natural winner, which is why you eat and play more than you should, and exercise and work less than you should. ...

Why indiedev creativity is stagnant and how to fix it

indiedev, psychology

April Fool’s Day is a great example of how agreeableness acts as a blocker on creativity. Only on the day where wild and silly things are socially accepted do companies try aggressive changes to their products that might make them a lot better, as the social cost of change becomes lower. For instance, Path of Exile’s battle royale mode started out as an April Fool’s joke. People liked it so much they constantly asked for it to be brought back over 3 years. ...

Status addicts

indiedev, psychology

Recently I got in trouble over saying the n-word. Yes, that’s right. More specifically, I said that I had a generally positive view on them, but gamers currently don’t take kindly to folks with these newfangled fancy ideas ‘round these parts, so this kind of pushback isn’t unexpected. What was surprising was that, like in ‘em good ol’ days, I even got called an “n-word lover” by this here boy what calls himself ‘DANDEE L’OREO’: ...