Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Course Analysis: MIS496A

The class that this blog was originally created for has ended! This was one of the best classes that I've taken at this University so far. Thanks to my tendency to morph class assignments into interesting personal projects, here are some of the things that this class has allowed me to do:
  1. Start a gaming blog!
  2. Make some cool QR-code posters for my club.
  3. Get the idea for how to run our club's awesome Facebook group.
  4. Get an internship with Riverman Media for next semester.
  5. Make my first seriously-designed level.
  6. Design an impressive infographic resume.
Of course, none of these things are what made this class so great. After all, I wasn't the only student who loved this class. So in this post, I'm going to analyze this past semester and figure out why exactly we found this class so enjoyable.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nine GameDev-Related Things to do During your Holiday Break

I just finished writing a lengthy blog post on my club's website on how to productively spend one's holiday break. An article with that much effort put into it would normally be posted on this blog, because on the club website I usually only post short summaries of what we've been up to, which no one really reads. And so I'm tempted to describe this latest article as a guest post on my own side blog.

The reason why I decided to post this article there as opposed to here was because it's very specifically written to my members. When I asked some of them during our last meeting what they were planning to do during the break, I was shocked to find out how little they seemed to value the free time they'll have starting next week.

Or maybe I'm just weird. After years of struggling to find the time to work on the Interguild, I seemed to have developed some strong mental barriers against wasteful time spending. But that's not to say that I have good time management skills. It just means that I procrastinate by finding something else to work on. For instance, today probably would've been better spent writing my 10-page final paper for my MIS class, rather than writing a 10-page blog post for my club.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Level Postmortem: MIS496A HW5

Postmortems are traditionally reserved for critiquing the development processes of entire games, but it shouldn't be too far of a stretch to apply the same kind of analysis to a single level.


This level was made for a homework assignment for the class that this blog was originally created for. The project was really open; all we had to do was create "something" that would highlight what we've been learning in class. Some people made videos, others made skits, and one group went as far as to make a advertisement campaign with the goal of getting more students to sign up for the class next semester.

Naturally, I decided to make a level, and the game I chose to make it in was Canvas Rider, an HTML5 remake of the popular Flash game Free Rider 2. The level is currently uploaded to the Interguild. To play it, copy the code in the textbox, visit the game page, paste the code into the textbox under the game, and click load.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

How to Think Like a Designer: Applying Graphic Design to Game Design

I made the above posters a few weeks ago as part of a class project where we had to initiate a QR code advertisement campaign, which I naturally dedicated to my Game Developers Club.

Making these posters was surprisingly nostalgic. It reminded me of the three years that I spent learning graphic design in high school. My school offered four years worth of graphic design electives, all of which were taught by the same teacher. Because I transferred into the school during my sophomore year, I only had time to take the course for three years.

That class taught me one of the most important and universal skills that I've ever learned: how to think like a designer. Not only has this applied directly to making websites, but it has also helped me improve at public speaking, cinematography, writing, and of course, game design.

In this post, I'll be analyzing how this class was able to teach me this valuable skill so that you too can start thinking like a designer.

Friday, October 21, 2011

History of the Interguild, Part 3: Finding the Right Home

At last, we've reached the final installment of this series. In Part One, we saw how the Interguild community was formed by players who fell in love with the game Hannah and the Pirate Caves (HATPC), and in Part Two we saw how TNT, the creators/owners of the game, nearly destroyed this community through their repeated neglect and mismanagement of HATPC.

In this post we'll look at the story behind the various websites that have housed our community throughout the years, how they've affected the course and identity of the Interguild, and how we found our ultimate home in

This was a very difficult post to write. The major challenge was in figuring out how to properly organize these ideas together into a coherent article without confusing you with various jumps in chronology. It was because of this design dilemma that I finished this post so late, along with the fact that school is getting very busy lately. At one point, I tried staying up until 5am one Saturday night to see if I could finish this, and I still didn't finish. But now the wait is over...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The UA Game Developers Club has Gone Global: Join Now!

Remember how in my last post, I mentioned how I made a tribute image for the Extra Credits Facebook wall? Well, the first guy to respond to that was a student from the Netherlands (no, Interguilders, it wasn't jellsprout). He was asking me to respond to what he recently posted on EC's wall. It turns out that he's currently making a game with other students for a course requirement, but he needed help with some serious problems that was hurting his development team.

After I gave him some great advice from Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design, he wanted to add me as a friend on Facebook seeing as we were both students interested in making games, it would be great to share thoughts and resources in order to learn more.

Most of you already know about how I started a club at my university last semester called the Video Game Developers Club. We recently started our own Facebook group, so I invited my new Dutch friend to join the group. And just like that, we became an international club!

At first I didn't take the "international" aspect of the club too seriously, but today I started thinking, why not? Game development is already one of the most diverse and interdisciplinary industries out there, so why not join an equally diverse group?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Update on Email Subscriptions

This isn't that big of a deal, but I figured that I might as well let you guys know. As I explained a few weeks ago, those of you who subscribe to this blog via email get the email notifications some time between at 11pm-1am GMT -6:00, which is about 10pm in my timezone. I realized that I've been publishing of the blog posts after midnight, which means that you probably have to wait an entire day to get the email notification. So I moved the email sending time to about 3am-5am GMT -7:00.

That means that you will now get your emails about five hours later than usual, but the whole point of this is so that they don't come a day late.

In Other News...

Check out this huge pic I made for Extra Credits to celebrate the end of the Guest Artists Marathon. I posted it on their Facebook wall about an hour ago.

Click here for full resolution
If you don't know what Extra Credits is or why they've been having a guest art marathon, check out these articles I've written on them.

Understanding QR Codes through Game Design

Wow, four new blog posts within the past week? That can only mean one thing: this post is for another homework assignment.

But don't let that turn you off, because I am very excited about this post. This will be my first entry into a series of posts called Understanding through Game Design, where I analyze non-game-related topics as if they were games (I also plan to analyze actual games eventually). The idea isn't all that crazy, because any game designer will likely tell you that it's quite a challenge to find any form of human activity that cannot be explained in terms of game design.

So today, I'll be talking about Quick Response codes, also known as QR codes. When I first heard about these a few years ago, someone had told me that they were supposed to be a replacement for bar codes that could store data in two dimensions rather than one.

I never imagined that they would become the widespread phenomenon that they are today. In this post, I'll be trying to figure out why exactly people are having so much fun with these things.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Indie Games and the Crowdfunding Revolution

It's about time I started balancing out some of these super long articles with smaller ones that are more straight-to-the-point. So the point of this post will be to fulfill my latest class assignment, which demands that everyone in the class make their next blog post as a response to an article about monetizing social media (actually, I think I've already written about this topic...).

This might be a bit of a stretch (like almost all of my posts so far), but I'm going to be responding to a very interesting article from a few months ago called "The Crowdfunding Revolution: Perspectives." That article was actually the first part of a two-part series, with the second part named "The Crowdfunding Revolution: Making Your Choice."
Crowdfunding services – websites that act as both a social network to connect projects with backers and as a marketplace or escrow house for project funding – have become a popular business model in the last two years, and several more have sprung up alongside Kickstarter, each with their own perks, quirks, and twists on the basic model.
These articles take a look at the growing popularity of crowdfunding as a tool for independent game developers. Those of you who follow this blog might have realized by now that I like history, and so what caught my attention was the idea that this business model could potentially lead to significant changes in the game industry.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

History of the Interguild, Part 2: TNT Ruins Everything

During part one of this series, I pointed out many of the good things that the creators of the game Hannah and the Pirate Caves (HATPC) did to help its fan community grow. In this post, I will go through all of the major mistakes that TNT made with the game during the past eight years and how the community has reacted to each of these issues.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

History of the Interguild, Part 1: Five Years of Caving

For those of you who don't know, I run a gaming community called, and today is the Interguild's 5th birthday! This community is a big part of my life, so I wanted to dedicate a blog post to them.

The Interguild is a very interesting example for how a strong community can form around a single game. In this post, I will be trying to figure out what the major factors were that contributed to the growth of this community, and I'll also be critiquing how the creators of the game both helped and hurt that community throughout the years.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nom: the One-Button, Phone-Rotating, Running Game

The rise of the mobile games industry is one of the best things to happen to video games within the last decade. This market has vastly expanded the number of people who play video games, while fostering a very fertile environment for innovation and creativity that cannot be matched by other game markets.

Having said that, however, I personally don't pay much attention to the mobile games industry. I don't even have a good excuse. I have an iPod Touch but I mainly use it as a pocket-sized web browser. What finally got me thinking about mobile games was the fact that my client for the class project is Riverman Media, a two-person mobile-game studio. I figured that if I'm going to be of any use to them, then it's about time I started learning all I can about this market.

And that's how I came across a popular cell-phone game called Nom. This game was made way back in 2003 by a Korean game studio called Gamevil. Before talking about the game, I think it'd be best to give some historical context first.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Evolving!

Wow this blog grew faster than I expected. Actually, it's still super small, but I just didn't expect it to grow at all. So to accompany this "growth", the name has been changed to something less goofy and the domain name has been changed accordingly. The old URL will now redirect you to this one.

And due to popular demand, you can now subscribe to this blog through your email! Just look at the top of the right sidebar for the subscription field. Everyday, FeedBurner checks to see if there are any new posts on the blog, and if there are any then it'll send you an email. The emails get sent out between at 11pm-1am GMT -6:00, which is Central Time in the United States and Canada.

I started this blog less than a month ago for a university course called Business Intelligence: Web and Social Media Analytics. We are tasked with maintaining this blog throughout the semester, posting at least once a week about anything that's related to the class in some way. After my first two entries just happened to be about games, I decided to keep the pattern going.

Pretty quickly, I realized that I wanted to keep this blog once the course ended. I had tons of great ideas for posts about games, but they didn't really link with any of the course material. I intend to work in the video game industry some day, and I hear that having a blog is a great way to tell employers that you really do think about games all the time. But probably the biggest motivator for keeping this blog has been the praise I've gotten after showing it to my friends and other people I know from the Internet.

For the sake of the class, I originally decided not to change anything about the blog until the semester was over. But then I realized what a tangled mess it would be to change my blog's name and URL after it had ranked up some followers. Aside from that, nothing else is really going to change. This is still a blog for school, but the tricky part will be balancing my target audiences, the gamers and the classmates.

And because this doesn't count as a "real" blog post, you can expect that I'll post something more interesting before the weekend.

EDIT: The class has ended! Click here to read my analysis of the whole semester.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

History of Extra Credits, Part 2: "Inspired by Humanity"

Be sure read my previous blog post before reading this one, because it provides much of the backstory.

Can't Pay the Bills

While the Extra Credits video lecture series was having an incredible rise in followers, the show was in fact suffering from some serious monetary issues.

The Escapist, the publication that originally hired the show and therefore made weekly new episodes possible, was having a hard time paying their bills. To help them out, the Extra Credits team told their publisher to prioritize getting everyone else paid first, because they didn't want to be the ones to crowd out other people's paychecks.

Over the course of one year, the Escapist had only been able to pay the Extra Credits team for four episodes, which meant that they owed them about $20,000. Daniel and James have basically been working on it for free, while James has been paying Allison's wages using his own money.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

History of Extra Credits, Part 1: The Viral Spread of an Online Lecture Series

About three and a half years ago, Daniel Floyd was a graduate student pursuing a masters degree in animation at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He was taking a required course on contemporary art history in which the students were assigned to do a research thesis on any topic of their choice. Daniel's topic was storytelling in video games, and the final paper was about 15 pages long. Now all he had to do was create a 10-minute oral presentation about it for the class. Rather than making a boring powerpoint, he made this video presentation instead.

A couple months later, he was tasked with a similar project, this time for a media theory course, so Daniel created another presentation with the same style. Unlike the previous video, this one had exploded in popularity after some major gaming publications featured it on their websites, praising its analysis of games as a new art form that is still in its infancy. Daniel was so blown away by how popular his two presentations had become that it motivated him to keep making these videos outside of course projects.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Selling Games using Social Media

In the video game industry, it can be difficult to determine whether a game will actually return a profit. Game enthusiasts tend to believe that one of the key factors to a game's success is how high it scores in online reviews, and yet some of the most highly praised works still manage to get relatively unsatisfying sales figures.

One interesting story about this is the game Ōkami. The game was published by Capcom in 2006 for the PlayStation 2 system, and two years later a Wii version of the same game was released.

This game had almost everything going for it: very high reviews, several awards from leading publications, compatibility with two consoles, and an almost worldwide distribution. And yet the game just didn't sell very well for some reason. Guinness World Records found Ōkami to be the least commercially successful game to have ever won a Game of the Year award from a major publication.

Around the same time that Capcom released the Wii version of Ōkami, the company began working on the game's sequel, known as Ōkamiden. This time they decided to make the game for the Nintendo DS handheld system, probably anticipating that by moving to a system with lower production costs, they may increase their chances of profiting from the title. There was still, however, the challenge of marketing the game, and to make it worse, the team had a relatively low marketing budget.

This is where Facebook comes in.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Impressions on Class

I just may be the youngest guy in the class, but other than that, this is turning out to be a much more interesting course than I had hoped for.

I signed up for this class because I thought it would be great to take it alongside with ISTA 230: Web Development. I have always been an amateur when it comes to making and running websites, so I figured that it's time I finally get a formal education on the subject. Plus, I imagine the skills that I learn in this class will also help me advertise my club better.