Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Flying Without Instruments

Apple's App Store has been silent over the Christmas holidays. Not for everyone wanting to make a purchase, no, that would be an insane policy on Apple's part, not to mention a tough sell to their shareholders. No, all the sales reporting has gone dark, covert, like a special ops team maintaining radio silence, or a partner that's angry with you. Apple isn't even reporting via the children - "tell your father we've sold an extra hundred units..."

Frankly, it's driving me crazy, like being a kid on Christmas Eve. I was okay at first, actually I was depressed at first - despite my best efforts and a great review it seemed that sales had simply halted. 

Just as I was getting used to the idea that the world is much more humbug than I previously thought, Hippo Mobile Solutions contacted me to mention that all sales reporting is suspended over the yuletide week! 

So, will it be a Santa that visited, or Scrooge? By which I mean Scrooge before he became reformed. Actually, I  wonder if Scrooge changed his name after his Christmas revelation - it would be hard to turn over a new, more generous, leaf when you've got the name Scrooge.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Five Men Standing

It would appear that I am quotable, see the image below...

I sent my comment while I was still working at Sidhe - I should have been less impetuous and waited a few weeks! If you want sparkling copy like this then send me a copy of your game!

I wasn't looking to be the Roger Ebert of game design, but when I played IQideas' new game Five Men Standing I couldn't resist sending them my views - I already had their email address on hand, having submitted a game to them in the past

If you're looking for a last minute Christmas purchase then I highly recommend you get this game, it's ridiculously good fun.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Iterating Quality

Game design is all about being able to iterate as rapidly as possible. Read all about it on Gamasutra.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Tripeaks now on iPhone!

Yes indeed, iPhoners, iPod Touchers and iPadders, you too can now enjoy the unbridled Christmas joy that is Christmas Tripeaks!

Making a church out of  cards - a good idea if you're a game designer, a terrible idea if you're an architect...

When you've bought it and played it obsessively for a week, be sure to come back and leave a comment.

Android owners, go grab it here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

One Page Game Design Document

Writing detailed game design documents has never been something I have much trouble doing; I enjoy writing and when I'm working on a design by myself I find the best way to actually think it through in detail is simply to sit down and scribble, sometimes on a computer, but often on paper, it depends on how the mood takes me.

Why this works so well for me I am not entirely sure, but I suspect it's the fact that writing allows all the ideas and requirements to have a strange kind of dialogue as they fight to get onto the paper ahead of one another.

Like all conversations this dialogue can have many forms: Sometimes it's like meeting someone you're attracted to, replete with all kinds of awkwardness and mistakes - "er, you look very petty, I mean...". Sometimes it can be very serious - "and if you fail to accomplish this then the earth is destroyed...". Sometimes it's jovial - "and that's nothing compared to the way it looks with a feather in it!". Rarely, though, is it very short.

This is generally a good thing - game design documents serve one great purpose, quite apart from telling the team what the game should be, and that's giving the publisher confidence that you know what you're talking about. There's nothing like a big weighty tome to build confidence.

However, yesterday I completed the first draft of a GDD that is just one page long. Admittedly, it's for an iPhone game and there are a few details not in there, because I haven't figured them out yet, but it's still a fairly complete spec, in just one A4 sheet, and no, I didn't use 0.04 point text.

This would never fly with a publisher; in just the past year I've heard a publisher mention that a game design document didn't weigh as much as they'd like!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And now you can contact me...

I was pondering things that I needed to do and it suddenly occurred to me that there was a huge gaping error on this here blog. This was not the lack of a browser based MMO where you play a planet that eats other planets, or a guerrilla marketing campaign in which I parachute into war zones and help people settle their differences with a good old fashioned game of canasta. No, it was neither of those things, although they are missing. Instead it was some way to contact me, which is a foolish omission. 

I decided against setting up a carrier pigeon route, as the distance to New Zealand might be a little too much for such birds, and my Morse code skills are poor, to say the least. So I went with email instead. 

You can now reach me on Jon@twotailedtiger.com

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Tripeaks

I've been working with Hippo Mobile Solutions to make a thoroughly festive game - a Christmas edition of their Tripeaks card game. 

An Angel - Just one of 30 Christmas themed card layouts...

The game features:
  • 30 wondrous Christmas themed card layouts, plus classic Tripeaks!
  • An array of beautiful backdrops to put you in the yuletide mood!
  • Unlimited deals, so you never have to start back at the beginning!
  • Lots and lots of festive family friendly fun!
Tripeaks Solitaire is amazingly easy to pick up and play, yet utterly enthralling and almost impossible to put down. All you have to do is move cards from the festive layout on the screen to the foundation pile, but they must be one rank higher or lower than the card already on your foundation pile. If you can’t go then flip another card over from your stock pile and see if that’s of any benefit to you. If you think it sounds simple to learn, it is, but there are hidden depths and skills you pick up along the way to finishing all 31 card layouts. And all the time you’re playing you’ll be immersed in a colourful, cosy, cheerful, fabulous world of Christmas.

If you're an iPhone owner then do not despair, that version will be out very soon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!

To this, my new and most professional blog. After over 15 years of salaried life I am striking out into the freelance world. Tomorrow will see the conclusion of my nearly 3 years as the senior game designer at Sidhe, and I suddenly realised that I had somewhere to write about nearly everything in my life except the actual day-to-day activities of my professional life.
So, here it is, although I haven't anything to write yet, because I still have one day left as a salaried man.