I loved the gaming year of 2019. It was an in-between year for me where I worked on many different things, and very different than the intense 2018 (which was all about Yoku’s Island Express release). But quite a lot of games played:
To start, my game of the year was Subnautica. Released on consoles in December 2018, I played it obsessively in January and was already quite certain the experience would be unmatched for the rest of the year. There are so many things in that game that inspires me as a game-designer: An amazing combination of open-world gameplay with a steady trickle of smart narrative to advance the story. Great balance of deep and accessible base-building. Gameplay progression that isn’t afraid to hold back some of the best (and probably most expensive) features until late – all the way up to the final sequence. Using depth as a soft progression blocker was super-effective and gave many wonderful tense moments. And doing all this as a small team using early access is such an impressive achievement. I’m struggling every day to stop myself from playing the upcoming expansion until it’s out of early access.
Continue reading Games Retrospective – 2019
First half of the year wasn’t a very active one for me due to finishing up the development of our own Yoku’s Island Express. However, after shipping Yoku, I’ve dedicated a good chunk of time to making my games-backlog smaller. The Game of the Year contenders for me this year was all indie: Celeste, Dead Cells and Hollow Knight. (This might be because I haven’t yet gotten to the AAA beasts of God of War and Spiderman, but I will!)
Continue reading Games Retrospective – 2018
PS4 – The Witness, No Man’s Sky, Dark Souls III, The Last Guardian, ABZÛ
Xbox One – Inside, Trials Fusion
PSVita – Knytt Underground, Child of Light, Need for Speed
iPad – Hearthstone, Crashlands, Reigns, Super Mario Run
Mobile – Pokémon Go
PC – This War of Mine, Stardew Valley, The Flame in the Flood + 20 more
Pretty awesome year, right? Even the Vita got some love, but I’m very much looking forward to next year’s Switch for a new portable gaming console. The Witness takes home my Best Game of the Year award, with Stardew Valley and This War of Mine as the runner-up. This was the year of the survival/crafting game for me. I feel the mechanic has been very explored now, but I can’t help myself from getting dragged into it. This War of Mine was the most inspiring one for me, due to its phenomenal mix of procedural and designed content in combination with its intense narrative wrapper.
While grabbing coffee at the office today, I started chatting with some of Arrowhead’s game-designers. We were talking about MOBAs and since I haven’t really played any of those, I asked them to describe the drafting process I had seen on the TV broadcasts of the recent world championships. I found it very fascinating how the two teams take turns not only drafting from the list of heroes, but also get to ban others so the other team can’t pick them. I think that mechanic is interesting on many levels, and after a brief period of talking about it I suddenly came up with a design for a card-game using some of the same concepts. Here are the rules: Continue reading Draft/Ban poker game
It always feels good when you spend a few hours getting that idea in your head down on “paper”. This is a concept of card-base adventure game with semi-realtime combat that I mocked up a few weeks ago.
Trading-card games as a mechanics for video-games seem to getting more popular every year. I’ve spent a bunch of time in the excellent Hearthstone recently and they nail so many things in that game. Blizzard being awesome as always.
Continue reading Sci-Fi card-game concept
The year is almost over, and Colors! 3D is not in your hands yet. This is due to the gallery integration feature. The term that Nintendo uses for features like the integrated gallery is “Rich User Generated Content”. This is not something we see too much of on consoles, so it’s been taking quite a while to work through.
Continue reading Colors! 3D dev diary – What color are you?
I’ve been told that I’m over-zealous about latency. Having spent more than 10 years working in the video-games industry as both an engineer and a designer, I’ve found latency to be one of easiest things to point out that differentiates a good experience from a bad one. It’s usually not easy to fix though.
Continue reading Colors! 3D dev diary – latency, latency, latency
LucasArts day 112. So, I never followed up on GDC. The weather was beautiful and I had a great time seeing some of my old friends. I only had chance to attend one day of sessions but that meant that I got to see industry-legend Hideo Kojima’s keynote about Metal Gear Solids evolution and Keita Takahashi’s heart-warming talk about Noby Noby Boy. But the session that gave me most was the Experimental Gameplay Sessions. Again, it’s clear that innovation within games is often not coming from the established developers. It almost seems like we are returning to the age of the bedroom coders with very few right and wrongs. Continue reading Story reflection
LucasArts day 46. I’m starting to count down for Game Developers Conference. Even though I’ve been working in the game industry for over 10 years, I’ve never been there. I guess that having it across town makes it easier than it being 9 time-zones away. Today I got a mail from Nifflas, the maker of Knytt which is one of my favorite independent games, Continue reading Countdown to IGF
LucasArts day 36. Last December, LucasArts did something that to my knowledge other companies only dream of. They dedicated a full week for the whole company to go nuts with creating game prototypes. No matter if you were a hardcore programmer or if you were a part of the marketing department; for one week, you got to get your hands dirty and try out that idea that you previously only had been able to talk about over lunch. Continue reading What can you really do in a week?