Category Archives: Seattle

See Auto Fire at Seattle Indies Expo!

On PAX Sunday (September 1), there is an special event at the Motif just down the street from the Convention Center… The Seattle Indies Expo 2019. In this magical place you will find a great selection of local developers showing their newest stuff and I’m super-excited to say that Auto Fire was selected to be among the games featured!

The Seattle Indies group is a vibrant community that supports the work of game creators across the Pacific Northwest. It’s a pretty amazing group, and it’s exciting to see such strong support for game development in the Seattle area.

The SIX is separate from PAX and free of charge, so it’s a great chance to slip in and see games that you won’t find anywhere else. I’ll be there demoing from noon to 9PM with the most polished auto combat yet. Some rad games have kicked off here, so if you’re in the area, come on down and check everything out!

Snowmageddon and ‘splosions

Seattle was pretty well snowed in for the last 4-ish days, so I was hoping for a long weekend to work on the game (between back-breaking bouts of shoveling). Welp. I got it, but did I end up with a ton of progress? Well, I got some new points of interest in on the maps, improved the roads, threw exploding cars based on attack angle and its velocity and some other fun things…

Unfortunately, I ended up battling stale pointers and strange issues for most of the time. Ugh. A more robust system that doesn’t poop out exceptions every blue moon is good, but I am sooooooo ready to get back to the fun stuff.

But on the upside, I was able to cap off the weekend fixes with a stress test… 🙂

Comfortable Cliches

chest2I’ve been holed up for nearly a week in the wake of Seattle Snowpocalypse 2008.  Unexpectedly, with all the other things I could be doing, my best friend was one that sat on my shelf for nearly two months…  Fable II.  Over the past few days I’ve put a whole lot of hours into my mostly-good-with-occasional-bouts-of-greed-or-deviance character.  My wife Sandi’s done the same with hers.  Strangely we haven’t tried coop because we’re usually off doing small things that would drive the other crazy…  Her with her ownership of pubs and fruit stands, and me taking on every single bounty hunter mission and finding every last gargoyle.

In all Fable II is a fun fantasy romp.  Being one who enjoyed the first Fable more than most, I wasn’t particularly surprised.  “Big concepts” like property ownership and marriage aside, there’s something comfortable to me about slipping into the newest fantasy RPG.

That even includes some very “cliched” concepts.  You grow to expect them, even get mad when they don’t materialize…  In action movies it’s the cars that explode after any collision, the bullets that knock people ten feet backwards, or the trusted mentor who’s been behind the plot the whole time.  Fantasy games’ve got plenty of ’em, and I don’t mind one bit:

  1. Stealing from people’s houses.  RPG’s have had a long tradition of ordinary citizens of keeping awesome loot stored in their bedrooms, frequently even in prominent chests.  While Oblivion made a point of scolding you for stealing just about anything, I feel cheated if I know my in-game neighbor has some incredible bauble sitting on his bedstand.  While I usually don’t choose “thief” as an occupation, I can get obsessed with the idea of taking it without getting caught…  Luckily Fable II only considers taking items from dressers or bookshelves to be actual theft.  Anybody that puts their belongings in a huge, gilded chest apparently deserves to forfeit them to the next hero that comes by.  As it should be!
  2. Dead-end jackpots. If I’m winding my way through a dungeon and find a side passage, I just have to go down it to see what’s there.  And once I reach the end, I look around to find my prize.  I’ve been playing/making games long enough to know that real-estate is at a premium.  Someone made this nook for a reason…  now where’s my loot?  Games that don’t reward my obsessive exploring properly can leave me feeling betrayed.  God, I’d probably get a brain hemorrhage if I ever tried to play Pathologic.   (“You will not find a loaf of bread at the back of the cave. You’ll find a stone wall at the back of the cave, because it’s a fucking cave.”)
  3. Treasure hidden behind waterfalls.  If years of gaming (and the occasional movie) have taught me anything, it’s that when there’s a waterfall, there’s gotta be a secret cave behind it.  For a while there it was the rule rather than the exception.  Even though I’ve done it a thousand times, I still feel a bit clever when I step behind the rushing water to find a nook that houses a chest full of glittering gold.  When I brave the falls and find only a rock cliff wall, it’s a fair disappointment.  There’s a bit of comfort in the fantasy that all waterfalls in the world might conceal a secret or two…

ghostpirate2Special Bonus Cliche:  Pirate Ghosts!  Zelda, Mario, Oblivion, Final Fantasy, City of Heroes, Alone in the Dark…  Man, games just love those ghost pirates…  It may just be the fact that they are humanoid-yet-supernatural enemies (which can make them easy to create the assets for) that can attack the player en-masse, but they seem to show up in side-quests in a ton of games, even though they’re rarely the main focus.  And who can blame them?  Wrecked ships to wander around, distinctive garb and speech, and promises of a hidden treasure to be unearthed…  Irresistible, I tell you, for gamers and designers alike!

Back In It

Depth Graph

After a week or so in my old stomping grounds of Madison, Wisconsin, I’ve returned from GLS.  It was an intersting show, with lots of folks with interesting stuff to stay.  It was also great to see some old friends, talk some shop and reminisce. 

Certainly my favorite thing at the conference is my former Raven cohort Nathan McKenzie’s presentation of some great, fun-looking games that also have some incredible potential to teach as well.  Nathan is preaching a philosophy (which I fully agree with) that instead of trying to make the existing, must-maligned “learning games” into fun experiences, we should instead consider making fantastic games that apply learning to existing play patterns that demand learning from the audience already (such as memorization of real spanish words rather than game-fiction terms like “Bulbasaur”).  His two demos were really cool to see.

By popular(?) demand, below are the slides for my GLS presentation, “Combating the Curse of More: Focusing Your Game”.  It was a bit different than most of the heady topics discussed at the show, but it seemed to go over well for those that were looking for more of a “dev” point of view.  An overview of the talk seems to have popped up on Gamasutra as well.

This week also marks the start of a new role as Lead Designer at Hidden Path Entertainment in Bellevue (Seattle-area).  Once again, I’m diving into some new, exciting stuff with some incredibly talented and capable people…  I’m utterly excited to see where this path (ha, a pun) will lead.

Click on the Banana to get the file.

I am a banana!

More Talk Powerpoint

One Last PAX Experience

I hit PAX on Friday and Saturday, so I should post my notes before they become irrelevant…  It was my first PAX, although I’ve been to many similar con-type events in the past.

General show:

  • With its unabashed “nerdcore” attendee list, PAX is better described as a mini-GenCon than a mini-E3. They have an impressive size for being a fairly young show, but it still is very much centered around fandom of the Penny Arcade comic. The sessions with the authors and on the PA game were some of the hottest tickets, as opposed to other sessions talking about more “serious” topics of development.  Not surprising, it’s not supposed to be a GDC or anything, despite heady topics about PR and episodic content.
  • On the upside, it actually had a fairly impressive turnout of games in playable form, including many that I hadn’t seen before in any form. I assume that falling at the same time as Leipzig gave the publishers some ready-made material to show.
  • Aside from what I mention below, there was a great spread of playable games:  Haze, Eye of Judgment, Metroid Prime 2, Conan (console), Heavenly Sword (a new demo), Warhammer Online, a big America’s Army thing, and several dozen more I’m not thinking of here.
  • Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony and EA all made an appearance, which is impressive given recent news that E for All won’t have that sort of backing.
  • Overall PAX surprised me with an air of “legitimacy” as a serious show. It would take a couple more years, but if it ultimately balloons into a notable national event, it’ll be cool for Seattle. Continue reading One Last PAX Experience

PAX Day Friday!

Surreal sent the entire company to PAX (the Penny Arcade Expo) on Friday…  It was conveniently located in downtown Seattle this year, at the Washington State Convention Center, not too far away.  A few of us actually found a reason to take the semi-famous-but-usually-useless Seattle Monorail (it only travels end-to-end from the Space Needle to downtown, not very far).  The rest of us found that it wasn’t that far of a walk… and we were able to stop at Shorty’s for a dog in the process!

Some of the guys have some impressions that will be posted shortly.