Author Archive

Retroist on Enchanter

29 December 2010 Leave a comment

Enchanter by Infocom

Retroist has published a short look at Enchanter, including ads. From the site:

Originally intended to be Zork IV, Enchanter, debuted on computer store shelves and in my case some shelves at B. Dalton’s bookstore in 1983. I did not own my beloved Commodore 64 at that point…nor any other computer for that matter but I would always visit the shops and read and then reread the backs of the Infocom games. A couple of years later when I did get the C-64, I decided on a beginner level title, Wishbringer. Thanks to a school chum I was able to get my hands on Zork quickly after that and my devotion to ‘Interactive Fiction’ still burns brightly to this day! Of course how could you not love the little extra details that Infocom included in their titles? True, they were a means of copy protection, but thanks to the Zork Library you can see what I’m crowing about!

Categories: classic games Tags:

Table-top Coleco

28 November 2010 Leave a comment

I was extremely envious of my friends who had one of these. Almost everyone who had one had only the Pac-Man version. Come to think of it, I don’t know anyone who actually had the Galaxian version.

Categories: classic games Tags: ,

More on Ms. Bunten

27 November 2010 Leave a comment

I previously linked to a short write up at Obsolete Gamer where I wrote about the beauty of Seven Cities of Gold, one of my favorite games of all time.

GameSetWatch, a really cool blog I follow regularly (it’s part of the whole Gamasutra family of blogs), has published anarticle about Danny Bunten’s last GDC speech. Bunten was actually the first ever GDC keynote speaker ever.

Categories: classic games

Seven Cities of Gold

13 November 2010 1 comment

Obsolete Gamer has a profile of me and (one of) my favorite games of all time, Danny Bunton’s classic Seven Cities of Gold. Sadly, the video they have up is of the EA remake and not the Atari 8-bit computer version, but anything to promote such an amazing game is alright by me 😀

I’ve been a gamer ever since my mother brought home a classic Coleco Pong console when it was first released. We progressed to the Atari VCS and Colecovision, but my best gaming memories are when we got the steaming hot Atari 800XL 8-bit computer. I spent entire weekends playing Steve Meretsky-designed Infocom games, but my true obsession was with Danny Bunton’s Seven Cities of Gold. This game was absolutely amazing for its time. You are an explorer out to discover the New World and bring back riches to the Queen of Spain. You just can’t sail west and get lucky. The brilliance of this game is the unique quality it had for its time: random maps, but very intelligently done random maps. Rivers would flow from mountains, villages, cities and towns would team on their shores and on coast lines. You can bribe chiefs to get their gold, or enter town swords killing everything in sight, but there was consequence. If you had a bad reputation, natives might not want you around, and getting gold would become increasingly difficult. There was even seasonal changes, and storms that could wreak havoc on your ships when at sea. And the Queen? She was never satisfied. But I always got my promotion. Eventually.

Categories: classic games

Ian Schreiber’s New Summer School

11 July 2010 Leave a comment

Prof. Schreiber is teaching a new free (or paid, depending upon what you want to get out of it) course again this summer:

This is Ian Schreiber writing (yes, I’m still around, even if I haven’t posted here in awhile). For those of you who were following this last summer, I ran a free online course on game design. It was a fun time.

I’m taking what I learned from that, and doing it again this summer on the topic of game balance. The course website is here, everything else you need is linked to from there, and I hope those of you who are interested in game design will join me again as we continue our journey.

The first lesson, “Intro to Game Balance,” has been published and can be found here.

Categories: education Tags: ,

Review: Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in ALL of Us

11 July 2010 1 comment

Haven’t posted in a long time, so figured I’d post a review of a book I recently read. It’s no secret I’ve an interest in casual game design. The addictive simplicity of play is what appeals to me. If you think about it, one can consider the old coin-op games like Pac-Man and Tempest and all those greats, heck, even Pong, casual games. But generally the consensus is that the first real casual game to really jump-start the casual design movement is Bejeweled (speaking of which, I tried the World of Warcraft version yesterday. It was meh. I’ll stick to my iPhone version (tied in with Facebook).

The book in question? Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in ALL of Us by Gregory Tefry. [Purchase from Amazon]

What I like about this book is that it’s really good for budding game designers or those who are interested in designing casual games, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Trefry starts with the basics: writing the game design document, what makes a game, and the like. He then goes into a myriad number of major casual game design themes (e.g. matching) and discusses what makes a game like Solitaire or Bejeweled work, not work, and examples of games that don’t quite get it. This is actually very important: one of the key factors in design is knowing what works, what doesn’t, and why, and how you can build upon this. Design is not at all about lines of code: it’s about solid concept expressed extremely well so that others one the team, from the artists to programmers etc., can work with your vision and create a solid product.

For the experienced designer, this book has benefits as well. Casual game design is different: your focus isn’t on large, complex systems, but smaller, addictive forms of game play that will inspire your game to be played by players who don’t have the time to invest in a large project. Casual Game Design’s focus on example games really helps the experienced designer looking to work on a different genre to see design differently.

The Two Minute Look at STO

20 March 2010 Leave a comment

As seen on my FB wall:

this is where i was disappointed with STO and where i hope it will go as I know this is a longer term design thing.

to me, Star Trek is about three things, and I list them in order of what I feel is important: exploration, creativity (here, meaning creative choices), action.

STO definitely has some measure of action, it is combat oriented.

There’s some exploration, but it’s very structured. The random quest generator is okay in this area but not enough. I think EVE actually does a really good job with exploration. You’ve skills and probes, which you triangulate in space and then let them do the work for you. It becomes a really interesting mini-game that can be, at times, a little frustrating. Wormhole space expands the play area tremendously. Would wormholes work in STO? maybe not, but definitely probing and exploring would. And it would fit the IP perfectly.

Creativity. I would love more opportunities to make choices with meaning in the game that have consequences. For example, let’s say a station on some planet is being blockaded by a race of ugly guys. The game could make some suggestions for me. Attack them in space. Beam down and do something nefarious to their plans. Bribe them with trilithium. Based on skill or something, the option would have a consequence. What if I’m a shitty diplomat, and I try the bribe option. I would have a low chance of success. If I fail, how will the ugly guys respond? This is actually something I’d really like to see in games in general, but I think it would really expand STO’s capabilities really nicely.

A secondary thing to creativity would be a real crafting system. But one in which I can experiment. Perhaps improve my drives, or create a new product that has some use to someone. I like collecting, and many players do as well, but giving it to some NPC on some distant sector doesn’t cut it. The current design for crafting is a really strong indicator that Atari forced Cryptic to cut corners.

Action. I’d like to see politics, treaties between differing groups, conquerable space, etc. The ability to set up stations, that kind of thing. That’s very EVE as well, but it fits with the IP and from EVE we know it’s doable and brings a whole different measure of fun to the game. And players who don’t want to be involved in that don’t have to be.

Categories: design, MMO Tags: ,