Paul Barnett Talks

Gamasutra have an article up on Paul Barnett of Mythic’s recent presentation at the GDC. Despite being one of the faces behind Warhammer, he seems very excited about the ‘new Golden Age’ of simple, fast-to-market indie games made possible by iPhones and the like. Makes me wonder if we’re chewing the leg of a dead horse, trying to make an indie game that has all the trappings of an old-style hardware hungry, labour intensive MMORPG. But I’m not bored of immersion, of virtual worlds that feel like places you can live in. It’s something games just haven’t ever quite delivered for me yet, and I don’t care if I chew until I hit bone – I’m doing this thing.

Wikiwiki – Documenting Game Design

I decided that the only way we were going to progress with the MMO project was to start inputting all our research, discussions, decisions and design documentation into a Wiki. I tried a few out and settled on Netcipia. It has the same problems as PBWiki – the WYSIWYG isn’t, and the overall feel is cluttered and not customisable enough. But it’s free, and it’ll do for the time being. There are tools available for working on MMO design (e.g. Video Game Design Pro 2006 (http://www.thecorpament.com) ), but I’m not ready to invest in a commercial package at the moment.

I made a list of articles I wanted to write for the blog, but feeding the Wiki has taken up an immense amount of time. And that’s the thing with a collaborative project; you have to write everything down. Topics on the Wiki cover our initial vision for the game, background reading on sandboxes, multiplayer game design, player psychology, combat systems, skills trees, and elements of world building, such as geography, climate, flora, fauna, transport, technology and politics. We also needed to think about marketing and finance, and there’s a huge section on development tools, as we’re working our way through, evaluating the available options.

It’s a more than daunting task. We’ve been talking about it for six months, and the work is only just beginning.

Peculiarities of grief

Sunday = Mother’s Day. Get only slightly upset, at bedtime.

Monday, I am unable to get out of bed. Stay in bed until noon, spend afternoon dozing in the bath and reading horror stories. Forms go unfilled, emails unsent, writing unwritten. Today I’m only a little better and it’s taking a lot of tea and cake to keep me from going back to bed.

It’s the dreams. I dream about her, and I’m exhausted like I cried all night.

Failing to Write

I have a job interview today at noon. I have to try to remember how to do job interviews. I have to try to remember how to look like someone who works in an office. I have to try to remember how to look like someone who gives a flying f*** about working in an office. /sigh

After the job interview, I have my 3rd session with my new writing mentor. He’s trying to help me work out why I don’t write, despite having had 6 months without the burdens of working in an office. Let’s take yesterday as an example.

Tedious detail behind the cut

When They Were Right and You Were Wrong

In his review of Black Static 9, Lawrence Conquest backs up all those critics of Haunt-Type Experience¬†who didn’t like the quotes from Parapsychology. Which was, um… almost everyone. Like my CW class, he just doesn’t think they add anything to the story.

So do I regret ignoring the advice of a roomful of smart people and keeping the quotes in? Not really. If I’d taken them out I’d always have wondered if I was doing the right thing, because my guts just kept on telling me they had to stay. I still feel like they had to stay.

However, Lawrence describes the quotes as ‘pseudo-scientific rationale’. I hate hate hate stories that crowbar weak science into a narrative; it always bounces you right out and makes you go wtf? I’m thinking about midichlorians, and the science bit in the middle of The Time Travellers Wife. The key thing for me in HT-E¬†was that the science was the story. I obviously failed to get that across; I failed to make the SF and horror elements of this story gel.

Is this a personal weakness, or a problem inherent in cross-genre writing? Or both?