Tweets 9
Friday, 24 September 2010

Here's some of my latest tweets from twitter / facebook with a bit more explanation.

I seem to be getting distracted by all sorts of things lately, but another Demon went into the Din's Curse expansion today. Basically at this particular time I wasn't getting much done on the expansion, but some of the artists were.

Working on seeing how hard it would to be play movies in the engine today (nothing fancy of course). -> Finally have my movie code working correctly, just need to clean up a little bit and get it working on the Mac. -> Got all of my movie stuff finished finally, including support for the Mac and all of the little details. :) I was investigating.working on movie stuff because we might add some kind of intro movie to the expansion. Nothing really fancy of course since we don't have an entire department devoted solely to cinematics.

Working on version 1.007 today, fixed some bugs, rebalanced some stuff, and added a Very Slow world option. This was just a small update about 1.007 work.

Doing a pretty major pass on elite and artifact items today (and probably tomorrow). -> Still working on beefing up the unique items, takes a while when there are 400+ of them (not including artifacts or legendary items). Version 1.007 had changes to most unique items in the game.

Now when you purchase Din's Curse from us you get the Windows AND the Mac versions. I have been thinking about doing this for a while now. I'm glad we finally got this setup.

I feel like I made expansion progress today by adding a new world map feature. I believe this was the feature that you can look at maps of levels that you aren't on.

Got a bunch of things done on the expansion today, mostly little things, but progress is progress. I hadn't been getting much done on the expansion before this.

Added Lost and Semi-Hardcore character options to Din's Curse expansion recently, more to come. -> Added Prima Donna, Only Hope, and Hunger advanced character modes to Din's Curse expansion today. I've added a lot of advanced character options since we shipped originally. We used to only have hardcore and cursed.

Announced today that we got a North American retail deal for Din's Curse with Masque Publishing, should be in stores early to mid October. Getting a retail deal is nice! Hopefully we will sell a lot of copies and we will see royalties.

Added Poor Town, On The Brink, Aggressive World, and Demanding Town world modifiers to Din's Curse expansion today. -> Added anti-magic areas and world modifier today to the Din's Curse expansion. -> Added Gigantism, Berserk, and Temporal Flux world modifiers today to the Din's Curse expansion. I think the world modifiers idea worked out really well in Din's Curse to make each town a little more unique, so I've been adding a bunch more for the expansion. A lot of these are from ideas posted by our gamers.

Added Two Handed Mastery, Magical Deflection, Breech, and Demon Armor skills today (so far). -> A few more skills added today - Terrorize, Shield Blast, Demonic Roar, and Blood Sacrifice. I now have all of the Demon Hunter skills working in the game. They still need a lot of balance and polish, but being able to play the class is a good first step.


Activision movie idea
Friday, 17 September 2010

Apparently Activision is considering selling game cutscene movies, see the original link here.

I instantly thought of two ways this might play out.

1) An hour or two of completely new cutscenes that contains a cool new storyline set in the same game world, so basically a real movie. Sold for $10 to $20. This would be kind of cool and a similar idea to buying game novels. Extra, cool content for the fans is always nice.

2) Rip the cutscenes out of the game, add nothing new, and sell them for $20 - $30. This sounds like a terrible idea. Your fans already own these cutscenes when they bought the game. Everyone else really doesn't care about watching the cutscenes or they would have bought the game. And charging more than a normal movie DVD, are you serious?

Unfortunately, it sounds like Activision is going more towards the 2nd option.


Game length and value
Tuesday, 31 August 2010

A bunch of game developers blogged about game length and value a couple weeks ago. No one asked my opinion but how has that ever stopped me before? :) Here's a link to Wolfire's blog about this topic (which also points to many other blogs).

Here's my take on things in the form of a formula:
value = quality * time / cost - buying pain

Basically, 20 hours of great gameplay is better than 10 hours of great gameplay (assuming the same cost). So yeah I think game length is important. It does very much impact my perceived value of a product. Seriously would anyone really claim that a $50 game that lasted 1 hour was a good value? Only if it was the best 1 hour of their gaming life.

However, 10 hours of great gameplay plus 10 hours of boring filler is worth less than 10 hours of great gameplay. To me boring filler is a negative number in that equation above. I would much rather take a shorter game without the filler getting in the way.

Quality is very subjective though and people are going to value quality vs time and cost differently. Is a good 10 hour game better or worse than a 5 hour game that was great? Is a 100 hour good game better or worse than a 5 hour great game?

One thing that confuses the issue is how long is the story line? Personally I don't think it usually matters because there are 4 typical scenarios. 1) There is no storyline like in Civilization or Tetris. 2) I stop playing before finishing the storyline. 2) I play through the games multiple times because the gameplay is more important than the story and/or the game has lots of replayability. 3) I play through the storyline once and finish there. In this case, the length does matter, but everyone is going to go through the story at a different pace. What it really boils down to is how long do you play the game? That's the only time period that actually matters, not some marketing speak about the storyline length.

And finally that weird buying pain part. Personally I find buying stuff is kind of a pain. Going through a painful buying process to play for an hour is probably not worth it for me no matter how good the game is.

How this all plays out for me is that I like good to great games that I can play for a long time. Cost doesn't matter as much. I'm fine with spending $60 on a game that I'm going to play for 50 hours. $20 would be better of course. However a game that I don't expect to play more than a few hours isn't even worth purchasing for me even if it's only $1. I would rather just go play another game of Civ.


Tweets 8
Friday, 13 August 2010

Here's some of my latest tweets from twitter / facebook with a bit more explanation.

Added our first new demon into the expansion today. A couple more to go and many different versions.

Added better shadows into the game today (that really wasn't the plan at the start of the day. :) This was one of those, I wonder how hard this would be type of things.

Every time I speed up the engine some it seems it find something else to slow it down. In this case I made some culling optimizations and then added in the new shadows option.

Figured out a way to make some of the line of sight stuff look better today. When something that you have already seen goes back out of sight, it is much less likely to blink all of the way back to black.

Cliff is hilarious sometimes, I'm either not that brave or not that foolish - This was Cliff's public spat with Mark Rein at Epic. Note: I have no issues with Mark or Cliff, the whole thing was just amusing.

Non-game related: I've read 7 Patricia Briggs books so far this month. I've never read her stuff before. They are pretty good. This is now actually 14 over the last 2 months. I like her Mercedes Thompson and Alpha & Omega series the most so far.

Still working on Din's Curse 1.003, keep finding little things I need to fix, looks like patch will come out next week. This was a big patch with major new features. Looking back on it I wish I had put much of this in the original version.

Had a minor but frustrating hiccup today with the patch so I'm pretty sure beta 1.003 will come out tomorrow. This was actually a zip vs loose files issue that I caught at the last second. The new shadow stuff was reliant on the loading order of the shaders and having the files in zips changed it. So all of a sudden it just broke.

Non gaming related: went to the Fort Worth zoo yesterday, had a chimp charge me & smack the glass wall in front of me with his hands. This was pretty amusing. It really looked like he was trying to challenge me.

Lots of publisher and reviewer emails today, oh and shareholder/director meetings by myself. All corporations legally have to have shareholder and director meetings each year. So each year I have 2 meetings all by myself. They for some reason go really fast.

Working on lots of new builds today - patches, full builds, and demos, unfortunately it's really boring work. I at least have these processes written down so that they are as quick as possible, still really boring though.

Woke up this morning and decided to sneak in an extra world option into patch 1.005 (very fast pace). I thought I was done, but for some reason decided to sneak in another feature. Some times it's really nice being an indie.


Weird DC bugs part 2
Friday, 30 July 2010

Here are a few more weird or amusing bugs that I have had to fix in Din's Curse because of the crazy amount of possibilities that exists in the game.

We had another amusing summoned monster issue that I fixed. When you hurt a monster it tells your minions that they should attack that monster also. Well when you cast something like a fireball, it also tends to do damage to objects like lifestones that you usually don't really want to destroy. However, your minions don't know that, they just know that you attacked it and they should too.

We used to have a bug where zombies and skeletons that were buried could roam around underground. In DoP we have a monster that really can do that but zombies and skeletons aren't that good at digging.

Monsters tend to get a little pissy when something damages them. Unfortunately sometimes they aren't very smart about it. At one point in time monsters would try to retaliate against ground traps that can't be destroyed. What's worse is they were very persistent.

DC allows you to get a little creative in how you kill things. For example, if there is a monster standing near some poison barrels, you could destroy the barrels and the monster will likely die from the poison. Unfortunately, you didn't use to get the credit for the kill.

Here's another weird side effect. Sometimes you can get a quest to go kill some Scarabus' that are causing problems. Well actually killing Scarabus are pretty difficult since they are basically suicide bombers. Now days you just have to be the last one to hurt it to get credit if they explode.

Undead pretty much attack anything. I actually have to go in and tell them what they aren't allowed to kill on sight, things like cave-ins and recon totems.

Tornado and ice storm spells at one point in time put fire elementals out just like a normal fire. It was kind of cool but a level 1 tornado would destroy the highest level fire elemental boss in 1 shot.

The thief specialty has a disarm skill and pools of oil, alcohol, and other similar things are considered traps by the engine. You see where I'm going right? A thief would walk over a pool of oil, disarm it, and it would disappear. I guess we should send a thief out to the gulf.

At one point in time cave-ins showed up on the mini-map like monsters as red dots. This wasn't too big of a deal until there was a huge cave in somewhere and you bothered to look at the mini-map and noticed what looked like an invading army.

At one point in time Din himself could get poisoned or petrified. This reminds me of a bug in Ultima Online where someone managed to kill Lord British.


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