Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Resurrection and R.O.B.

After nearly three years of neglect I have decided that it's about time I resurrected this blog. In that time I have shipped two more games, worked for two different companies (and seen the Australian industry collapse along with those companies), and travelled around Europe on two separate occasions. So in the spirit of pairs this post is also a two-parter.

Firstly, by reviving this blog my intention is to motivate myself to write more and help re-ignite my interest in following game dev trends and culture - interest that I found lacking in 2010 as I watched the Australian games industry collapse in upon itself and take the companies I and my friends worked for - and our jobs - along with it. Rather than immediately look for more work I decided instead to take my savings and backpack around Europe for the better part of a year. I return now refreshed, revitalised and re-motivated just as the Australian industry itself is regaining it's legs with many former devs findings success in a fast growing indi mobile scene. Let us hope this is the start of a re-birth for the Australian games industry.

Secondly, before I left Australia for the second part of my Euro-tour I submitted an entry into Game Career Guide's Game Design Challenge. In this case: The Return of R.O.B., whereby the challenge was to design a game that utilised the NES's short-lived peripheral. I set out to design a game that not only embraced R.O.B's limitations but would be played with a two-button NES controller also. An interesting reductionist exercise for someone coming from an Xbox360 and PS3 development background.

It became apparent early on that R.O.B. was far too slow to be used as an ally or tool of the player without becoming exceptionally frustrating, so instead I decided to make him an adversary. His sloth-like pace would instead act as a means of projecting his intentions to the player - provided the player is paying attention to this off-screen action - and thus building tension as the dangers slowly pile up. For the ruleset I took a systemic approach, with the goal being that every action that R.O.B. takes and every pickup that the player can use has a compounding effect on the game world and the enemies. Thus a few simple rules and inputs would amount to an ever-changing play-space - but crucially a predicable and controllable plays-pace, the mastery of which is the key to success.

My submission, along with the other top entries can be read here.

I rather enjoyed the exercise, and I would like to take part in more Challenges in the future.

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