Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Booty Blocks

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

My good friend James works for Planet Moon, and they just finished a cool new iPhone game. It’s called Booty Blocks and it’s very cute. It’s a block stacking puzzle, but with a twist… you can continue to move the blocks after you’ve placed them, including using the iPhone’s tilt sensor to shake the whole stack. Great stuff. Congrats to the team!

How To… ?

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

This image shows the Google “auto completion” results when typing the phrase “how to”. The idea of auto completion is that the computer will complete the phrase you are most likely searching for based on what other people are searching for. In a round-about way, it tells you a little bit about what other people are thinking… or at least what Google thinks they are thinking! 🙂

Some results, like writing a resume or cooking a turkey, I’d expect given the economy and the season. But others, such as knitting, surprised me. I always find it fascinating to see what the world is pondering.

Writing Design Docs

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Brenda Brathwaite recently posted an excellent article on creating a game design doc. Her best advice:

Before you start writing, consider is your audience. Many new designers write documents as if they’re being written for gamers instead of a programmer who’s tired, annoyed and up at 3 a.m. coding your combat system…

So true! Even if you’re just writing implementation notes for yourself, this is an important thing to keep in mind. When there are a lot of complicated rules going on, it’s easy to get bogged down with loose ends when programming the implementation. Unfortunately, this sometimes means important details get overlooked. A careful and detailed list of requirements without a lot of extra hype cluttering it up is invaluable as a checklist when the going gets rough. It will help prevent anything from being missed.

Writing the right amount of detail is a fine art. You need enough detail to make sure everything important is explicitly defined, but not so much that the document becomes so overwhelming that you–or your team–will be tempted to just skim over it when you refer back to it later. Personally, I’m a big fan of writing design docs in html help file format, mainly because most of the editors force you to create drill-down type topics instead of writing the document linearly. Incidentally, many of the editors will also let you save to PDF or other file formats… it’s not the file format that’s important, as much as the concept of writing hierarchically instead of linearly.

Hierarchical format is very helpful when implementing because it allows you to keep track of the big picture with fewer minutiae details in the way while blocking out the architecture, yet you can focus in on the important-yet-tiny things when you implement the specifics. If you have the discipline to do it, keywording individual topics is also immensely valuable as the document grows in size. When programming large systems so many components end up more interrelated than people realize, and good keywords are another tool that help find everything important when you’re coding it up.

Women-in-Games Online Auction

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

The Women in Games International (WIGI) “Celebrity eBay Auction” has started. The auction includes lots of games and game-related books and merchandise, many of the items signed by the developers. Proceeds go to support Women in Games International.

Like many math and science-related fields, only 3% of engineers \ programmers in the game industry are female. Women in Games International’s goal is to help encourage more women to enter the industry.

A couple of interesting items from the list:

  • Lincoln Revolution poster signed by Sid Meier
  • 3 music CDs signed by The Fat Man
  • Electronic arts watch
  • BioShock Strategy Guide signed by Ken Levine
  • “Attack of the 5 Foot Women” Mixer

    Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

    IGDA Women in Games and Women in Games International is hosting an industry mixer at the VGXPO video games expo in Philadelphia, and my company is helping sponsor. Cool! The mixer will be Saturday, November 22 and will have food, drink and door prizes… plus, of course, hopefully lots of opportunities to chat with other people in the games industry.

    Going to be in town for the show? You can read more and RSVP the event here.