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[…]

What is it about the art of the late 80’s to mid 90’s that we can’t let go? How many 20XX platformers look like they could run on a SEGA Genesis? Why do 90% of indie-JRPGs seem like they visually resulted from the equation “Earthbound meets X”? When did Symphony of the Night clones become so ubiquitous that Metroidvania is now in the gaming nomenclature? I can’t logically comprehend why this period stuck so much. Sure we can all look back at those games and say, “Wow, this shit still holds up today”., but what does that actually mean? I can’t remember the last time I saw Atari 2600 inspired game art garnering press online. Nobody is eager to relive[…]

Somewhere in your game development career you start to notice game design is really a trade of manipulation. Utilize this technique to teach people not to do something, that technique to reward them for their actions; training a new player has a lot in common with training a puppy. Nothing in my game career makes me sadder than realizing that the most effective technique for making players feel as though they have accomplished something is to make a number increase. Dave Arneson, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, was said to have invented experience points and level advancements during the evolution of Chainmail’s combat resolution (link). Here, in the early 70’s, a game tool was invented so powerful that nearly 50[…]

I hate tools development. Tools are one of the few parts of game development that don’t contribute to the final experience. Sure we can all make excuses about easing development and streamlining content creation, but when all is said and done tools aren’t moving units. Don’t get me wrong, tools are needed. How long would a platformer take to develop if every single platform, enemy and item was placed and tested via pixel number instead of crafted inside a level editor? But tools iteration is the siren calls, luring game developers away from creating and towards solving problems that didn’t need to be solved. In fact, lots of famous SaaS companies started out as game developers that focused a little[…]

Sriracha, also known as the Rooster from hell (nobody calls it that), is a spicy chili sauce that exploded in popularity over the last 10 years. Demon’s Souls, FromSoftware’s breakout hit that revived the company known mostly for the mech series Armored Core, started a series of games that exploded in popularity over the last 10 years. When I eat something topped with Sriracha, I immediately regret it. The pain, the heat; what flavor was I seeking out that I thought dosing the red liquid of Ragnaros was a good candidate to bring me there? I am wondering, “Can I go on? Can I really finish this meal I so regretfully ruined with this evil sauce? Surely the second bite[…]

The age old question of new game developers is where do I start? Do I create art? Do I start programming frameworks? Do I make physical prototypes? Do I mod an existing game? Like most things in life, there is no actual answer. Let what drove you to take the mammoth task of developing a game inspire your work. Jenova Chen chased an emotion with Thatgamecompany’s third outing, “We wanted to bring in a new feeling between people online.” Doom was inspired by id’s late night D&D campaigns. Chase whatever muse started this adventure. For my current game, the muse was the idea of solving logic gates. For those that don’t know, logic gates are things like AND and OR[…]

The obligatory first post title. Maybe it’s because WordPress un-ironically has a default post with this title, maybe I am nostalgic of getting text to appear on screen from an intimidating new programming language. This blog is where I hope to dump any and all of my thoughts on game development, strip down the game design of anything that I am playing or has become popular with the kids and keep a development blog for the random game-related side projects I have going on. “Who is this overly confident person’s blog I stumbled across” you mightshould be asking yourself. My name is Eric McConnell, a white color office worker by day and aimless indie game developer by night. I’ve released[…]