“Console Wars”, or its robust full title “Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation”, documents the fourth generation of video game consoles through the eyes of Sega of America CEO Tom Kalinske, with occasional perspectives provided by Nintendo of America’s Senior Vice President Howard Lincoln and Sony’s Olaf Olafsson. Overview The book starts in 1990, after the home console crash of the early 80’s and subsequent revival by Nintendo with the Famicom/NES in the late 80’s. The book’s main plot follows how Kalinske took the then unknown Sega from a 5% market share to 55% of the home console market through marketing the Genesis as an edgy, more adult video game console in-contrast to Nintendo’s family[…]

In my previous developer update (Link), I showed off the “core” experience of my current game. It can be summarized by solving logical gate problems (AND, OR, XOR, etc.) horizontally and vertically where each bit can impact multiple equations, changing one bit to solve an equation left could un-solve an equation right, or up, or down. But what to do with a novel puzzle that is both dull and complex at the same time? How do I containerize puzzles? How does the player feel progression? What is the overall reason to play this game over the 500 other games released that month? The best place to start looking for answers is at how your contemporaries solve the problem of framing[…]

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[…]