Friday, December 7, 2007

She'll blow apart!

Ok I really would like to post more than once a week here but I honestly don't think I will be able to.

My new day job is with a company that is in a sorry state, and as the new golden child of the IT department (that means I have the Scotty Syndrome) I find it hard to write in my blog after working 12 hours a day on Linux administration and other arcane hardware stuff.

Wait wait... you don't know what Scotty Syndrome is? Ever watched Star Trek? The old ones with the campy pained ladies and the stupid styrofoam bad guys... yeah that one. Scotty would never tell the captain or crew what was really going on, instead he would just say "It will take more time than we have." or "I don't have the power." but in the end he would do it anyway. Eventually he told LaForge "How do you expect people to think you are a miracle worker if you tell them how long it will really take?"

I haven't had to lie about timelines to anybody yet, at this job or at any other game development task in the past. I just get things done that fast... and with the glut of slow untalented morons on the market it is easy to appear to be amazing.

Perhaps my musing on that subject has indeed turned in to some more sound advice for game developers, and many other people in many industries too.

You see, people are in a rush. The game biz is very much similar to movies and film of all kinds. Once you get that big idea, you have to sprint to the market because the odds are good that somebody else has the same idea and they are working on the same product.

Didn't you ever wonder why the movies Comet, Meteor, and Armageddon all came out the same month? Most of it is called "me too!" by those of us who took marketing 101 back in college and learned that term. They try to ride off the hype and buzz created by one, but they are also often similar ideas that blooming in different minds at the same time.

Maybe the universe shoots ideas out in a linear fashion and while your head may get in the way and thus receive this celestial knowledge, like a gamma ray the idea beam continues onward and strikes some other guy's head too. This explains why people with good ideas often go insane, or are awkward at parties.

The game business is young, it has that youthful energy and hyperactive exuberance that screams to get everything done now in a rage worthy of Veruca Salt. I'm often amazed at how long it can take somebody to cement a deal when all around people are trading signatures on contracts using a chair as their table. This really actually happened to me TWICE at Casual Connect.

I eavesdropped too, hey it was my booth space they were encroaching on I had a right. The game design was awful. It made the guy a few grand. Kudos to him!


Probably because he had a reputation already as being a guy who says "It will be done in 3 months" and then delivers in 2. I bet he also delivers stuff that is solid and works.

This is a statement on how to succeed. The market loves a superstar, but most often is easy to impress just by being slightly better than mediocre because of the huge amount of talentless hacks that everybody considers "normal". Check out coding horror someday and read their article on how many people fail a fizz-buzz test that call themselves programmers. You have met people like this. You might even be a person like that...

So regardless of the fact that it takes me 30 seconds to setup the CEOs Treo 650 and it took their old admin 3 days, I am still very busy pulling my new company out of it's suicidal nose dive perpetrated by about 5 years of terrible administrators.

I'll write more on game design as I can, and share some of the ones burning a hole in my notebook.

By the way, I would like to get you involved more in this blog. Yeah, you, the 18 to 35 year old male with a PC or Mac computer and more than just a passing interest in video games.

Where do you do your best design work? What environment do you find you get the most ideas in?

For me it's airports and planes. Seriously. I look back at my little red notebook with my ideas and designs poorly scrawled all over the pages and I can recall the smell of the recycled air as I wrote those words on a flight to somewhere.

Why is that?

For me I think its because that space is dead, there is no distraction or sound or motion, I can just sit there in a void of activity and let my mind wander around and create in itself a game that would be fun to play. Then the creation of the idea itself becomes a game a I try to balance rules, systems, interaction, and then encase it all in a story so that you aren't just scalded in the eyes with raw math when you load my game.

There-in lies a new game: Eye Scalder! Throw boiling hot Math at your players in a game so horrific it feels more like a time share seminar than entertainment!

Now you answer. Where is your idea place? Why?

1 comment:

Patrick said...

I've got the benifit of being the only yanqui game designer in Argentina, I just need to translate this principle to the wider market and I'm good.