Lostcast 125: A Strange Tractor
When competing in a crowded market, a Strange Attractor could help your creative work stand out.
- LDG on Twitch
- LDG mailing list
- The “Strange Attractor” in Video Game Design
- Axiom Verge
- Ghost Song
- Dan Adelman
- Food Network Stars
- The Room
- The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
- Shining Force Central
- VGMpire Episode 22 – Shining the Blues
- Sequelitis - ZELDA: A Link to the Past vs. Ocarina of Time
- Lostcast 77: Deprecast
- The Spoon Theory
- Give Me Dessert First
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap
- Mega Man X
- You were played out by Chronosphere
still working on this episode, but all this talk of pizza, here’s a strange tractor from the 80s
Thanks for pointing out that strange attractor article. It was interesting to see push back in the Gamasutra comments (from a pretty noteworthy dev) over the consultant speak. I hate buzzwords as much as the next dev but I didn’t interpret the article in that way. It seems like a useful lens for understanding how users will react to your game in the market. As a studio working on “Yet Another Roguelike” these discussions really help evaluate our design.2
Currently working on http://sparklite.redbluegames.com
Yeah I remember you saying you were working on a roguelike. Just don’t call it Yet Another Roguelike! If I understood the article, make your main character a tractor or something and you should be fine ;)
oh yeah and I also remember the grabber thing:
That was the one! Good memories… and then I killed it :(
A lot covered in this podcast!
Clones - In relation to the point about the number of cloned mobile games, I’m undoubtedly not the first person to make this observation BUT… I find it funny that Apple, for example, are so aggressively litigious at the hint of the possibility that someone is copying them yet they allow so many clones.
Unplayed steam games - How I get around this is I share my library with my brother and he plays a lot of the games I don’t get around to or bought just because they were on sale.
For the love vs for the Business - it’s almost like you’ve committed a crime at times to want to make money from something creative rather than struggle for your “art”? When I think of the advice I’ve read over the years that suggested things like “write what you know about”, “play the songs you want to hear”, or “make the games you want to play”. I can understand the sentiment behind the advice (to me it’s pointing out the importance of finding your own style) but unless you are incredibly lucky to have a very wide appeal (or “strange attractor”) right out of the gate that will only get you so far. I can’t help think that it often leaves people feeling like they’re a failure.
If I understood the article, make your main character a tractor or something and you should be fine ;)
haha that explains the unexpected success of this game.2
Currently working on http://sparklite.redbluegames.com
BUT… I find it funny that Apple, for example, are so aggressively litigious at the hint of the possibility that someone is copying them yet they allow so many clones.
Yeah it’s hypocritical, but those actions make the most business sense. I think a more curated app store could yield more sales, but as an easy way to govern it: protecting their own apps yields them better business, and other than that more apps out there generally betters their business. It’s shitty, but it’s the way it is.
This reminds me of the old aphorism of ‘you are what you do’ which I just made up - basically if you want to be a great pianist you are only going to accomplish that by sitting your arse down and playing the piano.
If you spend all your time playing WoW then that is time that you are not improving at the piano.
But, more complexly, if you treat yourself as a character in an RPG, then you want a bit of balance in your levelling. One of my favourite lunchtime games, My Pet Protector illustrates this perfectly - you can spend all your time earning money as a stable-hand and build up your strength to a great degree, but by the end of the game your renown is zero and no-one knows who you are.
SO, going back to the piano example, if you spend some of your time going to concerts, and write reviews for a magazine as well as teach people how to play and organising gigs for yourself, then you are boosting your ability, not at the actual key-hitting part of piano playing, but at the part which allows you to have more opportunities to play the piano in front of people, due to people knowing that you actually exist and that you play the piano.
Now go back and re-read this post but substitute the words ‘make games’ for ‘play piano’, and there you go!
Not sure how to relate this to game development, but with playing the guitar, and playing games like starcraft 2, there are effective ways to train, and poor ways to train. In starcraft 2 for example, just grinding ladder games is actually an ineffective way to improve. Playing is good, but you need to assess where your biggest gaps are, and focus on closing them. You need to practice & repeat build orders so you can execute them flawlessly in a real match.
I can almost guarantee the same goes for gamedev in how you improve. You need to keep trying new things. New mechanics, pushing your art style, more complex ai and behaviour routines, You need to re-assess your previous games, figure out where you cut corners and where the design shortcomings are. I think Matt & Geoff do a pretty job at this, and it’s actually why “self deprecation” is a bit important. Though what matt & geoff do is more like criticism and analysis of previous work.
A poor way to train gamedev would be to only do 48 hour game projects. Getting complete games is good for sure, but you sometimes need to shoot for a little bit bigger goals in order to challenge yourself more. Can get into more complexity that way, more interesting mechanics. Me personally, I have problems creating a lot of content to make games last a decent duration. Just something I haven’t been able to pickup from jams as much.
Love the comparisons to other disciplines. With something like drawing, it’s an easier thing to improve in small increments as you get feedback right away – was this drawing of a tree better than the last drawing of a tree I did? If not, there are definite ways to improve, such as perspective drills, still life studies, value compositions…
With games it’s harder to practice and even more difficult to measure improvement. I think game jams are a great way to practice and build confidence, but you’re right in that you don’t get the full spread there. You get practice at moving quickly, keeping things simple, and FINISHING something, which to me is terribly important. (Wanted to point out that more complex doesn’t necessarily mean better. For me and Geoff particularly, we need to get better at doing more with less.)
The hard part is that games like AWL can take yearssss to complete. Humans don’t live that long, so you can only practice that full stack so many times! Instead we have to zero in on certain aspects, like here I just improved the graphics, here I made a prototype with an amusing attack mechanic, here I made a simple “macro-only” game to see how this game loop feels after N plays in a row…
This stuff is hard!
Interestingly, we’re losing Lostcast listeners. I wonder if this more advanced, abstract stuff is turning most people off?
You get practice at moving quickly, keeping things simple, and FINISHING something, which to me is terribly important. (Wanted to point out that more complex doesn’t necessarily mean better. For me and Geoff particularly, we need to get better at doing more with less.)
So agree with this, I guess to better sum up, what I mean is: challenge yourself. It can be easier to do this with bigger projects, and by bigger it can even just be something that takes you a month or two, vs just a weekend.
Interestingly, we’re losing Lostcast listeners.
Last episode was pretty game dev focused, I really liked it actually. I wonder if the trend of different things caused a drop? I dunno, still my favourite to hear every week.
Yes! Challenge yourself. To do this, I feel like one should always be just outside of their comfort zone.
aww thanks that’s great to hear! Geoff was saying there’s an ebb and flow, and it’s been uphill for a while, so a dip is inevitable. I’m probably too sensitive to download numbers because I always check them at the first of the month ;)
@richtaur are you seeing a corresponding rise/fall in your other channels?
Twitter: hit a plateau after 2k followers, can’t seem to grow much
YouTube: just crossed 300 subs!
Twitch: steady trickle of new followers each time we stream