Archive for July, 2010

How privileged is a geek girl, anyway?

The last time I made a post at the Border House, I got called out on my privilege in flippantly suggesting that writing your own games is way easier than it looks. That really got me thinking, and a post I found today on the Geek Feminism blog brought those thoughts back to the forefront: If you were hacking since age 8, it means you were privileged.

As I’ve likely detailed before, I have indeed benefited from the privilege of exposure to computers at a young age. My father, an engineer and longtime gadgetphile, started bringing them home when I was about three, and before too long, I was typing DOS commands and installing software just like the rest of them. When I was ten years old and suddenly found myself curious as to how video games were made, and was subsequently given a book that taught me how to program in BASIC. These things could never had happened if my family wasn’t affluent enough to afford both the equipment and the education required to use it. That, I’m quite loathe to deny.

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Lend me your voices, part deux!

So, the voices of Charlotte and Trevin have now been cast, and since they were getting a little bit lonely, I figured it was time to start casting a few of the secondary characters in the game. These parts are a lot less involved than the former two, and as such, won’t be paid roles; however, you’ll be rewarded with indie street cred and a signed physical copy of the game once it’s finished.

The deadline for submissions for the characters listed below is Friday, July 30 August 6. Have at it, folks!

But wait! There’s more…

1 comment.

Hidden Features

Here’s a question that recently came to my mind: is it necessarily good game design to leave your best features hidden, or hard to discover until you do a lot of undirected exploration?

I thought of it because after I played Mory’s latest game (which I recommend!) I was told there’s a lot more in it than I might think. It reads to me like not-so-subtle encouragement to play it again and discover these hidden features, which I’ll make an effort to do, but can’t always guarantee these days. But then, it made me think of how I designed Chivalry is Not Dead and how, while some people were able to figure out what I was getting at because they replayed the game several times, others played it once or twice, didn’t see anything of interest that would compel them to keep trying for new endings, and wound up missing out on what I saw as the essence of the game. In a way, I’ve been trying to combat this tendency with Life Flashes By; it’s a game where it’s relatively easy to find what you’re looking for, and where you can see all the content in one playthrough if you want to.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m a fan of games that hold your hand and tell you exactly where you need to go and what you need to collect. I’m not sure I even like tutorials, for that matter. I think being able to explore things is essential to my ideal playing experiences, and I’m far from against hidden features in principle. I just want to make sure that as many people as possible understand what I was getting at when I designed the game in the first place, even though they might not agree with everything I’m trying to express. But maybe it’s just me; maybe some game designers are more than happy to close their best stuff off to only those who are “worthy”. [1]

  1. Interestingly enough, that sounds suspiciously like the design philosophies of most games of the arcade and NES eras. Not saying that’s a bad thing, of course — there’s something to be said about doing what works, and there’s nothing out there that’s as proven to work as the classics. It can also be argued that I’ve absorbed more design philosophies from casual games than I’m willing to admit.