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Isla: Link roundup 11/29/16

For submissions, suggestions, or things to add, send ’em my way: @isla_es.

Video of the Week: WIRED by Design: A Game Designer Explains the Counterintuitive Secret to Fun” with Ian Bogost (@ibogost)

Song thing of the week: Bate Rigason’s “Neon Genesis Evangelion – Fly Me To The Moon (Bate Rigason Edit)

Reading material: My Sensual Journey into Japan’s $90 Million Fake Anime Boyfriend Market” by Callie Beusman (@cal_beu)

Excerpt: “It’s easiest to think of a dating sim as a very loosely interactive choose-your-own-adventure game, the bulk of which is static text. Once in a while—about twice or three times per “chapter”—the player must choose between two behavioral or speech options: Will you comfort your attractive anime-style woman of choice when she seems upset, or will you pretend nothing’s wrong? Will you ask about her family, or will you ask about her career? And so on. The choices the player makes will affect the game’s ultimate outcome—and as Guan van Zoggel succinctly put it in his paper “Serious ‘Techno-Intimacy’: Perceiving Japanese Dating Simulation Video Games as Serious Games,” the goal is to “eventually engage in a relationship or have sexual intercourse with one of female characters before the game ends.””

Reddit thread of the week: How could you have tested a complex title like No Man’s Sky for fun-ness prior to release?

OP:  “The main complaints people have about NMS are that : a. A massive amount of important gameplay systems are missing. It’s kind of an empty shell of a game, sort of like buying a car that looks amazing on the outside but has a go-cart engine. b. People are severely disappointed with what’s actually in the game because it is so much less than what they thought was in the game.

So you’re play-testing the game. And you play for a few hours and one of the missing systems is missing, and you stop having fun. For example, NMS lacks a simulation of space and the stars are no longer generated in realtime but are cached as a skybox. So you can’t travel out in space a distance and then go somewhere out of FTL range. Or you get bored of not really having anything to explore.

The problem is this. It would probably take 2 solid years with a fully funded team to implement all the missing features. So if you try the game out at an early stage and it’s not fun, but it’s missing many complex technical features, how do you know it’s worth pushing forward and investing all the time to develop the advanced features?”


Artist of the Week: Illustrator Emil Jensen

Podcast of the Week: The Deep Fried Gamer Podcast (@_DeepFriedGamer)

Description: “This website is dedicated in large part to the art and theory of game design. I want to provide talking points and resources to aspiring students and young game designers who want to learn as much as they can about their craft, and the industry from ‘someone on the inside’.

I will also cover industry news, and do some game analysis. The style of this website is to focus only on the subject of discussion, without prejudice. It will not get bogged down in favoritism for a genre, platform or design style. I play everything I can get my hands on, and I always advise other designers to do the same. We should be thinking ‘how does this mechanic serve the overall themes of the game’, rather than ‘this mechanic is good or bad’.”


Random Link of the Week: Click it if you dare

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Isla: Link roundup 11/22/16

For submissions, suggestions, or things to add, send ’em my way: @isla_es.

Video of the Week: Cartoons and Conclusions: What Gravity Falls Did RIGHT” (contains great advice for TV shows and games) by Saberspark (@Saberspark)

Song thing of the week: Home” by James Wingo (@wintermute_j)

Reading material: 9 Things They Didn’t Tell Me About Being an Indie Developer” by Raghav Mathur (@Xinasha)

Excerpt: “When I started working with Daniel on SanctuaryRPG, I had no idea what I was in for as an indie game producer. Quite honestly, I don’t think any of the team ever thought that SanctuaryRPG could turn into anything beyond just a hobbyist side project that gets a few downloads. Three years, one-hundred-thousand lines of code, two Humble Bundle placements, and over 500,000 downloads later, I can definitely say that we were wrong.”

Reddit thread of the week: How do you develop games when playing games no longer retains your interest?

OP Excerpt:  “I’ve noticed that as I get older (37) I find myself playing fewer and fewer games. I spent just about every second growing up as a kid playing video games, yet these days I don’t even own a console and most of the games in my steam list I’ve not even installed. I can count on one hand the games over the last 2 years that have actually grabbed my interest and had me hooked for at least a week. The only game I consistently put hours into anymore is Dota2.

Which makes it strange that I’m an almost full time indie developer (between client work) who is meant to making my own video games. Video games which I love to build, but don’t necessarily play myself.”


Artist of the Week: 3D artist and modeler Michael Zechner (@miczec)

Podcast of the Week: “Out of the Fridge” (@OutoftheFridge) a weekly comics and comics industry discussion podcast

Random Link of the Week: Click it if you dare

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Sean: Taking a Break With Friends and Family

Short game update. Custom shader was written that solves our previous sprite problems but only on Windows. Seems to be an issue with how Unity renders things on OSX and not an issue with the shader itself. So now we wait. In other news, it is Thanksgiving and I intended to spend this week surrounded by friends, family, food and drink. I hope that everyone else endeavors to do the same with the ones they love. So until next week, go eat, drink, be merry and don’t get too crazy during Black Friday Steam sales. Sean

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Christian: Stress Test

I’m done with level  loading for now. The Json level has proved to be everything I need it to be at the moment, and our level one prototype still needs doing, so it is on to that. Almost immediately it became clear that the AI Manager would need re-working. So, what I’ve been working on is a new spawning method, that condenses the three dictionaries I had previously into one, while allowing for the placement of generic AIs (like enemies) along with the unique ones (like nemmed). So far it is going well, and I think this new system will be a lot more user friendly.

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Isla: Link roundup 11/15/16

For submissions, suggestions, or things to add, send ’em my way: @isla_es.

Video of the Week: How to Intentionally Create Discomfort Through Game Design” from the GDC Vault (@Official_GDC) with independent designer Dietrich Squinkifer (@TheSquink)

Song Sound thing of the week: The Sound of Hyper Light Drifter” also from GDC with Heart Machine’s Akash Thakkar (@AkashThakkar)

Reading material: How Valve Tricked Players into Being Less Toxic” by Matthew Gault (@mjgault) at Motherboard (@motherboard)

Excerpt: “Multiplayer online battle arenas, or MOBAs, are one of the most popular kinds of video games in the world. They’re also cesspools full of toxic gamers who scream when they lose and hurl abuse at their team. If you’ve ever played League of Legends or Dota 2, there’s a good chance that one of your games ended with a fellow player filling the chat window with racial epithets and threats of sexual assault.

The publishers of these games battle this toxic behavior with mixed results. Valve, Dota 2 publisher owner of the digital storefront Steam, even tasked its in-house experimental psychologist Mike Ambinder to deal with Dota 2’s worst players. It was a challenge, but he’s had some success.”

Reddit thread of the week: Asking developers and designers alike, why wouldn’t a game like Sword Art Online work?” by /r/Shiekira

OP Excerpt:  “Obviously the Sci-Fi sort of VR isn’t a possibility, but that’s not what I’m talking about. More about the design of the game. The whole “floors” system, the way that some don’t pursue the floors but others do and those two co-exist, and design philosophy behind a game vs the philosophy behind a show. Like every game designer has once dreamed, the game would be amazing to participate in so why haven’t we came up with it? Why is it not a reality?”


Artist of the Week: Pixel artist Yaammy (@y_a_a_m_m_y)

Podcast of the Week: Script Lock (@scriptlockcast)

Description: “Writers Max and Nick Folkman sit down with other writers and developers for an informal discussion about storytelling in video games.”

Random Link of the Week: Click it if you dare

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Christian: A Star Trek Teleporter

The goal of the level editor is, much like a teleporter, to take the map created inside of the editor, and perfectly re-create it in the game engine. To this end I have bundled all of the data I need into a single json file, mesh included. This week was spent in using the information in that json to build the level in the game world. With some careful planning as to what information is to be included, this has been relatively easy. They most time consuming portion of this task has been creating an acceptable file hierarchy automatically. Currently, the game can take the json file and turn it into a collection of level segments, each appropriately rendered and textured. further tweaks will be needed as I go along, but it is shaping up well.

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Sean: Squanching

Not much is new. Shader work has hit a bit of a wall at the moment, so I did a bit of work on a new dialog system that I am really excited about. Work bits aside I have been loving my time spent with Rise of the Tomb Raider. Exporation and platforming just feels so damn good in that game. I also had the opportunity to try out the production version of the Vive and I was not dissappinted. Favorite game by far was Accounting. Roilands continues to inspire and I am so glad that Squantchtendo is something that now exists.

Stay Sqaunchy,


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Hadi: Back from a small hiatus

Hey guys!

I’ve been gone!

For about a week and some odd amount of days. Since the start of my absence I have been to Las Vegas, which is an unusual place to say the least, and the computer repair shop where I have once again managed to resurrect my compooper, Slavebot.

So now that I’m back it’s time to finish editing the remainder of our podcasts. Hopefully the music and logo are ready for us to release episode 1 on November 21st!

So until next time,


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Isla: Link roundup 11/8/16

For submissions, suggestions, or things to add, send ’em my way: @isla_es.

Video of the Week: Infinity Train | Minisode | Cartoon Network” created by Owen Dennis (@OweeeeenDennis)

Song of the week: Greatest Expectations” from the Distortions OST by estudio cafofo (@estudiocafofo)

Reading material: Video Games are Boring” by Brie Code (@briecode)

Excerpt: “I answered, and Kristina was crying.

She said to me, “Lydia died”.

We have no Lydia in our family. She was talking about the character in Skyrim. For three weeks she had been playing Skyrim obsessively. And now she’d accidentally killed Lydia and she didn’t have a recent save game.

Kristina said to me through her tears that she didn’t realize that you could develop an emotional attachment to a character in a video game. She didn’t realize that you could create your character and exist as a version of yourself in a world full of characters whom you care about. I had never realized that she didn’t know this, because I knew this so deeply. She said to me that for all these years, it wasn’t that she didn’t like video games, it was that she didn’t know what they were.”

Reddit thread of the week: Why negative traits in character building systems should be more common” by /u/HavenKeld

OP Excerpt:  “Many modern RPGs aren’t very stat-driven, turn based experiences. And voice acting may’ve limited dialogue more. Still, I think there’s room – and at least some demand(me) – for more… flaws and quirks in the player character in modern RPG designs. Most of the time I seem to end up building whatever is roughly most optimal for a preferred archetype, because doing otherwise doesn’t do anything interesting to the experience, just makes combat harder usually – and there’re difficulty sliders for that.

There is a downside to these negative traits in dialogue though, the “why can’t I just say this?” experience when you’re cut off from a dialogue option by some statistic. Maybe you feel like you are playing a version of you in the game, and/or it seems that dialogue choice is perfectly fitting with whatever you want your character to be. I would argue though that you’re not really being affected by as a person might be when actually dealing with the game world, and it makes your choices more like those of an impartial observer not genuinely concerned things like…keeping yourself alive, for example. Weaknesses of character don’t really come through in the right way, and having character traits allows ~some simulation of that. It won’t always be perfect, but it can be better than the alternative.”

Artist of the Week: Pixel artist Johan Aronson (

Podcast of the Week: Mike Bithell’s Bithell Games Podcast (iTunes)

Description: “Each week game developer Mike Bithell (Thomas Was Alone, Volume) and Alexander Sliwinski talk about the world of video games from inside a growing studio of their own. There will be scones.”

Random Link of the Week: Click it if you dare

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Christian: Itty bitty pieces

After a significant amount of time, I’ve been able to get the uvs and curved pieces more or less sorted out. As a result this week was spent dealing with the saving procedure. The way the game uses levels is a little bit complicated, but the basic method is that each “zone” is broken down into different “levels”. Each level is of a uniform size (for example, 10 units), and that allows us to tile the levels, only keeping up to 16 loaded at any one time. However, this creates the need for a level slicer when we want to make levels in the editor. It’s a really big pain to edit only one level at a time, so we want the level editor to work with zones, and not individual level tiles. I’ve done most of the groundwork for level slicing this week, so on that front only minor adjustments remain. Once I’ve got the level cut up, then I can begin the work of compiling the slices into level tiles, and then combining all of them into a single json file.