A game by Heather Logas and her friends

Conversations

Highlights from Wednesday’s Live Chat

We had a great chat Wednesday, so I’ve decided to put up the highlights.

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Regarding Women, Indie Games, and Game Education:

Julzerator: The feedback about the last one [panel on women who make games] I moderated was that we talked too much about working in the industry and not enough about what drives girls to game and how to make games for girls

Deirdra: About the “working in the industry” angle, does anyone ever propose indie games as an alternate solution?

I blogged about this fairly recently:

http://borderhouseblog.com/?p=2454

Julzerator: I do!

HeatherLogas: People are really into making AAA games

Julzerator: I run a game design contest at KublaCon for board games

HeatherLogas: which I actually don’t understand AT ALL

Julzerator: I try to get more women involved

and one year a 9 year old girl won the contest

I had no idea the entry was from a girl cause her name is August

Deirdra: Cool.

HeatherLogas: I have been to (game education) schools and they are all about making AAA games its so weird

HeatherLogas: that is so awesome!

Julzerator: Her game was published too! Zman released it about a year ago

Deirdra: Yeah, the AAA thing so doesn’t appeal to me. But then again, I never went to game design school.

HeatherLogas: Oh man!! What game?

Julzerator: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/40238/order…

Deirdra: That is full of all kinds of awesome.

HeatherLogas: That is one of my biggest qualms with game schools. I don’t know why they don’t show alternatives to students for career directions

(I need to buy that game…
just on principle)

Deirdra: The thing is, indie games straddle the line between hobby and career.

Julzerator: they do

HeatherLogas: But if you really want to make games, especially if you want to design games, when you’re fresh out of school you’re better off making an Indie Game with some friends

Julzerator: And you can still make money at them

HeatherLogas: than trying to “get in the door” as a tester at a Game Studio

Deirdra: Absolutely.

Julzerator: but you have to deal with the business end of it yourself. I think that is what is scary

HeatherLogas: that is scary its true

Deirdra: I wish there were more game companies that encouraged side projects.

HeatherLogas: but there are some exciting things happening too

some experiments

Julzerator: the lawyers would object to that Dierdra

HeatherLogas: that are going to be interesting to see how they play out

like Codename

Deirdra: Kids in entry level positions could do grunt work to learn the ropes, and work on something original in something like Google’s 20% time.

Julzerator: And lower barriers to entry are showing up! IE. Facebook/Twitter

what is Codename?

HeatherLogas: http://www.codenamegames.com/

HeatherLogas: Yeah and the game studio gets to keep whatever the people come up with in 20% time, and everyone would be happy

Deirdra: The thing that makes me a little wary of indie games funds/competitions is that a lot of them tend to support things that are essentially mini-AAA.

I’m thinking of the IGF, in particular.

Julzerator: *nod*

Deirdra: It’s like there’s a certain threshold you have to qualify for, which doesn’t help people who want to make something really different.

Like, you have to prove you’d have an audience, but you can’t do that until you make the game and promote it, because there’s nothing really similar out there.

HeatherLogas: I think part of that is the audience of judges [note: I meant that the judges are used to playing AAA games, and therefore think of that level of polish = "quality".]

On where all our projects are (including BYCYE):

Malte: What is the status of the project right now?

Dan: [About his own current project] @Julie, it’s coming! I’ve got it 80% coded already, but the last 20% always takes 80% of the work.

HeatherLogas: @Malte its coming along

I am maybe 50% through the content

HeatherLogas: I am in the process of soliticing art

malte: sounds good for me;-)

HeatherLogas: thanks!

HeatherLogas: Actually, wow. I didn’t realize it but it probably is about 50% done

That’s pretty great!

malte: So now the harder part is ahead…

Julzerator: You Rock HEATHER!!!

HeatherLogas: I mean, its not done, but hey!

Julzerator: 50% is a big milestone

malte: Yes time for a little party

HeatherLogas: I am definitely having a party when its done!

Deirdra: Congrats on the 50%. I’m about 25% done my game…

Though perhaps more if you count “preproduction”.

HeatherLogas: Let’s be clear here….its [BYCYE] not 50% done

The CONTENT is 50% done I think

I mean the writing

and coding

there’s a lot left to do

art

and some sounds

malte: Ah , that is what i understood

Dan: Not to dismay you, Heather, but if your game is anything like our other games, you’ve got some rewriting ahead of you too.

HeatherLogas: Yes, I’m sure that’s the case

No worries!

Julzerator: I’m only looking at maybe 10-15% done on my game

HeatherLogas: It’ll get done

Jason Hill: <— in the rewriting doldrums

Dan: Julz what type of game are you working on?

HeatherLogas: I’m just saying that Dierdra’s 25% is not the same scale as my 50%. :) I’m sure Deirdra is actually much closer to done than I am

Julzerator: Social Media game

that will work on Facebook, Twitter, Hi5, etc

Dan: Julz what does it do?

Julzerator: it’s about racing

Dan: (It’s funny, I know a number of people who work on Social Media games, and whenever I ask them about their game, they tell me what it runs on, but not what the game is about! :-) )

Julzerator: dirigibles

HeatherLogas: yay! who doesn’t love dirigibles?

Julzerator: I *know*!

HeatherLogas: That’s because “It runs on Facebook” is a selling point

Deirdra: It’s about dirigibles or runs on dirigables?

On Social Media games, guilt as a game mechanic, exploration, and why Animal Crossing is better than Farmville:

Dierdra: Why am I supposed to like social media games, again?

Dan: @Deirdra I’m not sure you are supposed to like them. :-(

Julzerator: I agree with Dan… but I’m trying to make one that is really a game

Dan: I’ve described Zynga’s games as “unmusements,” in the sense that they’re not designed for “fun.”

malte: @Julzerator hope you can manage this.

Dan: They optimize for addictiveness and profitability.

Julzerator: you could say the same thing about Nintendo’s Animal Crossing games

HeatherLogas: noooooooooo

Animal Crossing is fun!

It’s also therapeutic

Julzerator: I find Farmville and Animal Crossing on the same scale of fun

HeatherLogas: Animal Crossing got me through grad school (the first time)

Deirdra: I like the exploration aspect of Animal Crossing, but not the guilt tripping.

HeatherLogas: (bah) Animal Crossing is way awesomer

Julzerator: and Farmville is only the guilt tripping part of Animal Crossing

Deirdra: I always played AC at night, so I hardly talked to the townspeople.

HeatherLogas: I think the exploration is a big deal for me too

that is not present in Farmville

Deirdra: Yup.

Julzerator: Yup

heh.. we could totally do this as a panel at PAX

HeatherLogas: I am all about exploration

I think it is my primary gamer motivation maybe

Deirdra: I would play WoW if you didn’t have to pay for it every month. Or at least try it.

Julzerator: I’m all about intresting decisions

HeatherLogas: I like visiting and feeling like I belong in a (fictional) place

Deirdra: I’m an exploration person too.

HeatherLogas: especially a well thought out place

Deirdra: Not just spatial exploration, but also the exploration of characters and emotions.

HeatherLogas: For me interesting decisions come out of exploration

HeatherLogas: @Deirdra, yes

Julzerator: I don’t like games that have a straightforward path, where any interesting decision takes you off on a tangent

Deirdra: Life Flashes By is essentially a story you can explore.

HeatherLogas: Sounds awesome!

Julzerator: but that don’t affect the main story

Julzerator: Ooo.. it does sound awesome

HeatherLogas: @Julie the hard part of that is creating a game that actually can come back and affect the main story without taking 7 years to make the game

Dan: FWIW, I WOULD say the same thing about Animal Crossing. In particular, withering mechanics are clearly not there to increase player fun.

Julzerator: Meaning, I’ve never finished Oblivion cause I’m only doing side quests and picking flowers… I don’t have much interest in finishing it

Dan: [Sorry, I keep coming back into the room and addressing old comments :-) ]

Julzerator: @Heather… YES.

HeatherLogas: Yeah my favorite parts of the Fable games were not the main stories

Julzerator: @Dan but withering and weeds get you to check in more often, if you are fully engaged with the game.

HeatherLogas: Esp. in Fable 2, I liked having my house and my husband and two kids and dog. I went there and felt like part of the community

HeatherLogas: I hate guilt trip mechanics

Deirdra: The withering is what made me stop playing AC.

HeatherLogas: Oh, I was going to say something else about guilt

I think guilt can be used powerfully in a game

like when you make a decision and you see the results of the decision and it makes you feel bad. That’s an emotionally powerful thing.

So I don’t want the game to use guilt for piddly stupid things

Deirdra: @Heather I agree. I tried to do a little bit of that in Chivalry is Not Dead.

HeatherLogas: Because they are wasting that emotion, and just making me feel angry

Julzerator: good point

HeatherLogas: I mean, I feel like they are just poking me with a stick by wilting all my flowers

On the value of the single player game experience:
Julzerator: Our natures are to do something with community around it. This is why I don’t think I’ll ever understand single player games very well

HeatherLogas: So where I like single player games is for having an intimate, private moment with another world and getting immersed in it.

I’m trying to use that feeling for creating game experiences that are introspective to the player

like curling up with a good book

Deirdra: I’m the same way. In a good single player game, it’s like you’re having a personal conversation with the game designer.

HeatherLogas: right

Deirdra: Books are like that too.

HeatherLogas: exactly

in fact, I am going back to school again and the research I want to do is using a CYOA style game (or series of games) for tween girls.

I want to have a conversation with them where I encourage them to think about their choices, believe in themselves, etc.

Deirdra: That’s awesome!

HeatherLogas: Its something that’s been churning in my brain for awhile

Julzerator: Ok, see… there is where I think I can wrap my brain around it… Single player experiences in games are akin to a book or movie where the player is eveloped and engaged in making decisions.

does that sound right?

HeatherLogas: Not even a movie

for me

movies are more public

Deirdra: A movie is more like multiple people in the same room playing a single player game.

Julzerator: ah, I watch movies alone

HeatherLogas: Unless its like a girly movie when your husband is out of the house and you’re sitting on the couch crying by yourself

Deirdra: I plan to do that at my launch party.

HeatherLogas: then maybe yeah

Deirdra: I watch a lot of movies alone too, yes.

HeatherLogas: But a book definitely

Deirdra: And by “at my launch party”, I mean having everyone play the game, not sitting on the couch crying by myself. :)

HeatherLogas: HAHAHAHA

HeatherLogas: important distinction
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At the BYCYE launch party, I hope no one is sitting on the couch crying by themselves either. :)