whatisgame

A Difficult Question Every Game Designer Asks

As a game designer, there is a question you will ask yourself sooner or later…

What is a game?

What makes something a game and something else not a game?

I thought it would be easy – and obvious – to answer it myself. I am, after all, enjoying games every day, so I kinda know my stuff.

I was confident that I knew what games were, but I couldn’t formulate a definition.

I tried to forget about these silly questions and focus on game development. However, I couldn’t bear the thought that I was working on something I couldn’t even define.

I need a definition! What is a game? Am I the only one asking this question? Am I right for trying to answer it? Is there even an answer?

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Top Things Not To Do Early in Game Development

I rarely finish my game projects. Is it laziness? Sure, but this explanation is too simple.

I like to think of it as research: I am constantly working on prototypes to test my ideas, and I can throw them away with no strings attached.

It is a “fail fast, fail often” approach that resulted in me being more experienced in fast prototyping and cutting costs early on.

I have, without a doubt, succeeded in one thing: I know exactly what not to do in early stages of development. Continue reading

Never Bring A Speed Display to a HammerFight

I just bought Hammerfight on Steam, it’s a game about killing giant bugs by swinging a giant hammer. Read that again. The concept is brilliant and cannot fail, don’t you agree with me? Come on, it’s impossible to get bored if a game can be described using “giant hammer” and “giant bugs”.

The game was fun, I had a blast. Controls are neat and well thought of: the hammer is attached to your ship by a chain and the ship follows your mouse. You swing your hammer using the centripetal force caused by the movement of the ship. In reality however, you use your arm a lot, mine hurts so bad right now !

Despite my fan-boy enthusiasm, and my desire to put a ring on it (because I love it), the game has a flaw that spoils the fun a bit.

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Stop Making Games for Pussies

How many times did you spend your hard-earned cash on some game everybody talks about, just to find out that it’s complete crap ?

When you buy a big franchise game you expect a great gaming experience in return. However, you often get disappointed because the dev team wanted to target the widest audience possible, diluting any true value in the process.

Not all players are alike. Some people want action, flashy graphics, amazing soundtracks, and quick rewards. They will judge a game by the first 10 seconds of play, often based on presentation and other superficial stuff. They will run away at the slightest sign of difficulty, and will not give the game a chance to show its true potential. Pussies !

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Dodge Bullets Now

What I like most about shmups, aside from destroying bazillion enemies all by myself, is dodging bullets.

There is an out of this world satisfaction in beating a level after having shitloads of bullets thrown at you.

I’m curious about the origin of this feeling, and how other people perceive it. Let me share some thoughts and questions with you about the matter. Continue reading

The Javascript Adventure

It was a quiet summer day, I was programming a game prototype in C++ while listening to a violin concerto.

I read an article about Javascript. I didn’t know anything about that language. Well almost nothing, I did some Javascript programming back in school, but it was simple web page manipulations. My ignorance didn’t bother me, and I didn’t need Javascript anyway.

I was happy with my C++ and Java skills. I didn’t know that a different philosophy existed out there, and I didn’t care … until I discovered web development and the wonders you can create with Javascript and HTML5.

I attended a conference by Google in Rabat back in 2011, that’s where my little programming world literally collapsed. I saw many awesome experiments : 2D and 3D games, one-page applications, 3D animations with real-time rendering, all on web browser. I was mesmerized by the awesome opportunities offered to me through Javascript and front-end web development in general.

I know that web development is not only about Javascript. But let’s talk about that for a moment. In retrospect, learning Javascript has literally changed my life. I became a better programmer because of it, and perhaps also a better human being.

This article is a brief and informal description of my little “adventure” with Javascript.

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