Archive for July, 2007

Human Brain Cloud: Massively Multiplayer Word Association Game

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

humanbraincloud_shot1.gifThis is the first in a series of mini projects that I will be posting here. Human Brain Cloud is basically a massively multiplayer word association game where it gives you a word, and you type in the first thing that comes to mind. In this way, the brain cloud grows to become a giant network of interconnected words and phrases. The network started with just one word – “volcano“. All other words (several thousand at this point!!) have been submitted by visitors to the site. Play with it here

The Game Design Kiss of Death (or, I hurt you because I love you)

Monday, July 2nd, 2007

Making games used to be EASY back when they were small and there was nothing at stake, but now that I am making my first real live full game, it’s suddenly more difficult and taking longer than I expected. The difference is I care more and I actually think it has potential to be an extraordinary game. This “love” and extra effort, it turns out, is toxic.

Here’s the problem: I’ve noticed it’s really hard to create a subjectively judged project like a game or music or whatever of high quality if I actually care about it. If I don’t care at all, it’s really easy. What a cruel joke. The inverse relationship looks about like this scientific chart.

graph_howmuchicarevsawesomeness_320.gif

And it’s not just me. I think, in general, this phenomenon can be described by the following Kyle’s Theorem of Destruction #2a: As love and effort increase, the probability of self destruction approaches 1. Why does this happen? It’s not the lovin that causes suckage. Not directly anyway. The suckage, I think, comes from slipping into a subjective relationship with the project where it can be completely ripe with suck but it’s impossible to notice because hours and months of work and extraneous double checking and focus group testing have brought the project to a certain point where you really hope it’s what you wanted back with the original vision, but you aren’t really sure and can’t even tell the difference because you have stared at it for so long you don’t even know what the hell it looks like anymore.

We want to avoid this.

Ok but this is nothing new. We always hear about those art guys – when they “can’t see their painting anymore”, they look at it in a mirror to see it again with a fresh perspective. Or whatever. When I write music and I get so sucked into it I “can’t hear it anymore”, I transpose the entire composition up or down by a half step or so to hear it again with a fresh perspective. So that’s nice, but WHAT CAN WE DO FOR GAMES AND GAMEPLAY? What small easy thing can I change to totally change but not change the game so I can play it again for the first time with a fresh perspective? I think I might know of one solution, and it’s the only one I’ve found so I sure hope it works: DISTRACTION.

Oh, Hillary Clinton’s announcement video has been slammed for being calculated (not that that’s new) and over-focus-grouped in a campaign effort to present a “more likable” image .. which basically turned what was once strong and polarizing into something watery and insincere. I think I remember something similar happening sometimes to some of the projects at one of the large game companies where I possibly worked for a while.

Anyway, DISTRACTION:

When working on something, I really value a strong objective viewpoint so I can be extremely self critical and know precisely what works and what doesn’t without any stupid love blindness getting in the way. So I’m hoping that if I completely distract myself from the main project (whatever it happens to be), and move into more of just a fuck buddy relationship with it, and meanwhile get obsessed with a different project periodically for a week or even just a weekend fling, that I will avoid falling into the subjective love rut and continue to see the main project “for the first time” .. or at least as objectively as possible anyway to maximize freshness.

I’ll probably post a few of the little distraction projects, prototypes, toys, and whatever on here. We’ll see how that works.

Anyone else deal with this kinda stuff or am I a crazy little bunny? Thanks for reading, I love you.