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.
Thursday night was such a huge night. We won a BAFTA with Yoku’s Island Express for Best Debut. Getting up on the stage in from of the world completely threw me off in a way I didn’t expect, and I didn’t manage utter more than some quick thanks from my memorized list of all the amazing people that was part of its development. I’ll try to correct that here instead.
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!)
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.
Nope. Despite the semi-nerdy name, this is not a technical post. Now that Colors! 3D is finally announced, I wanted to talk about all the fun I get to have now, talking to various entities who are interested in all that we’re doing at Collecting Smiles. And one thing I have learned in the process is that it helps to have a buddy.
For the last year, my friend Shara has been helping me take Collecting Smiles from the loose organization that I started so long ago into a proper company. Just like me, Shara also spent time at LucasArts –and managed to pull off some great feats while she was there. I felt very fortunate to be able to work with her there, and so much more to have her with me at Collecting Smiles.
LucasArts day 572. Last Friday was my last day at LucasArts. It’s been a fantastic time, but now it’s time for me to move on. During my time there I got to lead a design team working on experimental games focused on creating new IPs. As a designer and programmer having worked on both small and big this was an amazing opportunity to really focus on rapid prototyping and building things ground up. It’s surprising how similar and different things are when you work on 6 month projects versus 2 year projects. As we are constantly reminded nowadays, the games and entertainment industry is in rapid transition and it was a luxurious opportunity to be able to touch some of the fronts of that from within the hallowed halls of Lucasfilm.
LucasArts day 22. I’m slowly starting to get settled in here. After a move into a permanent apartment last week, almost all the stuff related to my big move has been taken care of. I got my Social Security Card, all the benefits form are filled out, my banking needs are taken care of, and yeah… I bought an iPhone. I would estimate that about 80% of the LucasArts employees have that thing. Now I do as well. Imagine that, being a developer for it and all.
LucasArts day 13. Before I started working at LucasArts, almost every game I had been working on has started off with a full team. This is not to say LucasArts is doing things differently, it’s just that I’ve always been in the situation where we as quickly as possible must go from nothing to a full-fledge game-prototype in minimal time. Continue reading In pre-production→
LucasArts day 5. First week on the job is over. And what a job that is: Lead Designer at LucasArts. Who would have though back in the days when I got my kicks playing Manic Mansion that I would work at this legendary company that has developed so many great games over the years. I just browsed through them and just look at this list: Continue reading Donut Day→
My two year sabbatical is coming to an end. I’m starting as Lead Designer at LucasArts in San Francisco this January which is the beginning of a new phase for me. In September I released Colors! for iPhone and iPod Touch. This has turned Collecting Smiles into a full-fledged independent developer, and I wanted to write a few words of thanks to Apple for that.