Gamers, what are you up to?

October 12, 2008

Over the past ten or so days since my last post, I’ve been doing several relevant things (my justification for not blogging) toward my goal of writing in the game industry. I’ll list these things shortly, but I’m interested in what you guys and gals are up to. Now, I know that everyone thinks the indie project they’re working on is the next revolutionary idea and they want to keep it hush-hush, but c’mon. I know you’re dying to let someone know what kind of magic is happening and it might as well be me. Leave a comment with a relevant link to your site or wiki or whatnot; if for no other reason, use my blog as another way to market your project.

...sometimes the void looks back.

...sometimes the void looks back.

As for me, I recently purchased Fable: The Lost Chapters for the PC. I know it’s 4 years old or something, but better late than never, right? AND, with Fable 2 coming out this month, I think I’ve timed it perfectly; none of this waiting forever for a sequel. So, I’m almost finished with the Lost Chapters but feel like the game is more of a grind than actual fun now. I have never really felt all that attached to my character because he never says anything, even when directly asked a question. It’s a throw back to games like the first Final Fantasy or Breath of Fire (I loved this series!), but not in a good way. Don’t you think responses are just as likely to influence your “Good/Evil” gauge, or at least your public identity, as actions?

I also read Joseph Finder’s Power Play. Though this isn’t directly game related, reading is as big a part of writing as writing itself. If a musician doesn’t listen to music, why the hell are they doing it in the first place? If you like a quick read that is very smart and full of action, read this book. Mr. Finder has an amazing ability to keep a hostage situation believable from every perspective, while making you hate the big wigs in corporate America even more.

I just purchased Flint Dille and John Suur Platten’s The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design and wow! In the first 25 pages, I wrote 8 interesting pages based on their exercises. What I wrote may never see the light of day, but it’s writing – and it’s game writing to boot! If you remember, I attended Flint Dille’s panel at the Austin GDC and absolutely loved it. The man has a comfortable presence on stage and spoke with us (the audience) rather than to us. The same goes for the book; it comes across as casual/informal while tackling some very technical issues in an in-depth manner. Though I’m only halfway through it, I highly recommend it.

Lastly, if you haven’t heard, Richard Garriott is in space! This is just a cool thing, no matter how you slice it.

Now, I’ve shown you mine, time to show me yours. What are you up to? Show me, show me, show me!

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Following a night of music performed by the Austin Symphony Orchestra at Video Games Live, I spent Saturday at Richard Garriott’s lakeside retreat for Austin’s IGDA Summer Picnic. This was an excellent opportunity to meet some new faces in the local games industry while reacquainting myself with some familiar folks. I volunteered to help with the setup or the day’s activities and saw most of the attendants while directing them to their parking spot.

Mike McShaffry was at the helm of the picnic and could be seen throughout the day scurrying along in a John Deere cart. I met Mike back in February at a pre-SXSW mixer hosted by ScreenBurn and Austin Community College. At the same time, I met Kain Shin who also assisted with the volunteer work during the picnic. I knew from reading about Red Fly Studios on Kotaku that Kain was close to finishing the Mushroom Men project, but I was excited to hear that he was now soley in charge of the combat system for the game. Congrats Kain! Looking forward to this one.

Mr. Mike kicking up dust

Mr. Mike kicking up dust

The picnic was sponsered by several companies including KillerNICs and AutoDesk, with KillerNICs winning my personal award for Sweetest Marketing Ploy to Date. It was a chain with their NIC’s heatsink hanging from it. The catch is the heatsink is a “K” that smacks of Killer Instinct or the Blade movies – if, you know, Blade had a “K” in it.

Me in Killer Bling

Me in Killer Bling

When the sun started cooking us all, the Games2U truck provided a dark and airconditioned place for all of us gamers to do what we do best: kill each other in 8v8 Halo 3 battles. They also had outside screens for Guitar Hero and Laser Tag!

The Games2U Guys

The Games2U Guys

Of course, the most tiring part of the day came from Yoga Soccer and the mutations thereof. By the end, it was more of a basketball-soccer-rugby mashup that resulted in a few minor injuries and a lot of sweaty and panting volunteers.

Me trying to defend a girl in Yoga Soccer

Me defending a girl in Yoga Soccer

My personal thanks to Salt Lick Barbecue for catering the event, Amy’s Ice Cream for a little dessert and Opal Divine’s for the refreshing brew. Look for this event to happen again next summer and register early as some of my friends were unable to get in last minute.