In my opinion, Art is the most important aspect of any game. It is the first thing the player connects with about your game and, likely, the leading factor into a potential customer opening up their wallet. Art can be familiar, bridging the gap between a new product and warm feelings from games they already enjoy. Art can differentiate your product from competitors or alienate an entire customer base. Of all the emotion and mood-setting properties of your game’s Art, the color palette is perhaps the most important. Unfortunately Color Theory (link) and other wonderful things you would learn during some MFA graduate program take years of practice and thousands of dollars to learn. Fortunately technology has bridged the gap[…]

Resident Evil 4 earns the high praise, and borderline legendary status, it has received. The game married over the shoulder combat with a thematic feeling of dread to produce claustrophobic action set pieces that were unlike anything else on the market at the time. There are a few things that linger in the mind after playing RE4: the first time Leon’s head gets chainsawed off, the creepy merchant that somehow knows how to upgrade military grade weapons and that amazing knife fight scene when Krauser reveals himself. If you don’t remember, the early 2000’s were not nice to the Resident Evil series. Resident Evil – Code: Veronica was universally praised but released on the ill-fated Dreamcast to weaker-than-expected sales. Resident[…]

I finished a tech demo and content building tool for a puzzle game I have been working on. In this context, text demo is meant to be a proof-of-concept build that has playable gameplay and gives me an environment to test and validate functionality that doesn’t have visuals (serialization of classes, save/load functionality, data driving gameplay and content, etc.). The gameplay is solving logical gate (and, or, xor, nand, nor, nxor) puzzles by turning bits, the circles, on or off. Your goal with each puzzle is to make all the squares on the outside turn on. The connections between circles or between circles and squares are logical gates. The side where each square sits dictates where the logical equation starts[…]

Staying true to a laser-focused design is important when making games. Without a north star to look at when making decisions can lead to games that feel lost, contradictory or, at worse, soulless. Art designers use mood boards, accountants have bottom lines but what do designers have as a north star to look towards when weighing which game mechanic to implement or which features to cut to ship the game in time? Story time: I once worked at a big game publisher in their central org. One day, a co-worker presented our “targeted” games list based on some indicators that were questionable. Our target games included very broad categories and genres like “Action/Adventure” or “FPS”. What constitutes an Action/Adventure game?[…]

One tool I do not see enough developers use is a content burn map. This is one of the most powerful pre-production tools for any Producer or Product Manager and can answer questions from scoping and progression to drop rates and content burn rate. Have you ever pondered: How powerful will player characters be after  3-months? How many levels do I need at launch? How much content do I need to make and at what rate do I need to release it? Then I have the tool for you! A content burn map, which is a name I unceremoniously came up with for this article, is a tool that models how different cohorts of users interact with your game over[…]

Chances are if you have ever interviewed for a Product Manager role at a game company, FAANG or any b2c tech company you have been asked some form of this question: “You walk into the office and metric X is down by Y percent. What do you do?”. After you get the obligatory “blame it on the engineers” joke out of the way, you’ll need to dazzle your interviewer with what is known in consulting as root cause analysis. As games as a service continue to dominate the industry, root cause analysis will become an increasingly important skill to have in any live ops role PM role. Here’s the scenario: you come into the office and your daily revenue from[…]

After a long layoff, I’m happy to announce my blogging ways will return to a normal cadence. For the rest of 2019 and through 2020, I will be providing a new entry each and every week from breaking game design processes to sharing my thoughts on game strategy and the industry in general. – Eric McConnell

So I was listening to classic rock the other day and Rush’s 1980 anthem “Spirit of the Radio” came on the playlist. I’ve probably heard this song over a hundred times in my life starting all the way back to my dad driving me around Knightdale, NC and playing classic rock on FM 105.1, but something about the second verse really hit home this time around. All this machineryMaking modern musicCan still be open-heartedNot so coldly chartedIt’s really just a questionOf your honesty, yeah your honestyOne likes to believeIn the freedom of musicBut glittering prizesAnd endless compromisesShatter the illusionOf integrity, yeah Spirit of the Radio, Rush Neil Peart’s lyrics were about the transition of free-form radio to the commercial format[…]