Tuesday, 27 July 2010


My blog has moved to my new website: www.designforplay.net

Thursday, 18 March 2010

KUDO Game Lab

KUDO Game Lab from Microsoft Labs, looks really interesting. It is a visual game development tool, aimed at children, and creates games for the PC and the XBOX 360 ! This is perhaps the most exciting point:

 "The programming environment also runs on the Xbox, allowing rapid design iteration using only a game controller for input. Kodu Game Lab can be found in the Xbox Marketplace in the Indie Games channel."

Game creation for children on the XBOX 360 ? Sounds good to me.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Go get 'em girls: Wives take on Rockstar

A significant portion of games students I have worked with over the last few years, join a games degree with a very blinkered view of the games industry, viewing it as some white, fluffy cloud, utopia. Don't get me wrong, working in the games industry is great, but as with anything in life, it's never that straight forward. So cue the wives of Rockstar San Diego employees, who have recently posted a lengthy article on Gamasutra, here outlining their grievances against Rockstart and how their partners are being treated. Some of the accusations are very serious, with claims of employees being diagnosed with depression symptoms and one eomployee even acknowledged to have suicidal tendencies.

To me these accusations are not surprising, and serve to highlight a potential downside to of working in the games industry. These accusations cannot be thrown at every games company, far from it, but for those looking to move into the industry, its worth being aware of.

I've experienced long periods of crunch time working in the defence industry, which never seemed to stop, there was a always some new, unexpected deadline. Combine that with, dare I say it, exploitation of employees enthusiasm for the job, in the end, I moved out of the defence industry to preserve my sanity. As much as I loved my job, 14 hr days, 6 day weeks and little recognition, were just too much.

While I cant say if everything in the Gamasutra article is true, judging by the huge number of responses, some by employees of Rockstar, it seems as if Rockstar at least have a case to answer.

IGDA have come out with a very strong response:

"IGDA finds the practice of undisclosed and constant overtime to be deceptive, exploitative, and ultimately harmful not only to developers but to their final product and the industry as a whole."

IGDA's 'Core Values' also strongly support the accusations made by the Rockstar Wives, and provide extensive advice on how to improve quality of life in the games industry.

You may want to check out http://yourworkplace.biz/ This is a link posted by Emmeline Dobson as a response to the original article. The site allows employees of games companies to rate their companies.

The original Gamasutra article is worth a read through, especially if you are thinking about a job in the games industry. It should not put you off pursuing your dream, just open your eyes a little and make you aware of the bigger picture.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Flash Game Design Competition

I have been invited to site on the panel to Judge the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations game competition. This a competition to design and create a flash based educational game for children between 10 and 12 yrs who are learning English as a second language. The closing date for the competition is 7th May 2010 and is open to all part-time and full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at UK universities

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Instructional Design for Serious Games - Webinar

I gave an online presentation a few weeks ago to the Association for Learning Technology, called "Instructional Design for Serious Games". I gave this talk in partnership with Scott Hewitt from Real Projects. Scott talked about various tols for creating serious games, while I looked at some examples of how design techniques from commercial video games can be of interest to designers of serious games, by using design techniques from games such as "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" and "Viva Pinata", to name a few.

Both sets of slides and a live recording of the online webinar, including the text conversations, slides and speaker audio, are now uploaded to the ALT Open Access Repository, just click on the link to the "Instructional Design for Serious Games - 08 Dec 09" Webinar. To view the live recording of the webinar you will need to download the Illuminate software from the support website here.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Emergent Gameplay in COD Modern Warfare 2 ?

Emergent gameplay in COD Modern Warfare 2: Brazilian gang member evolves new strategy for evading enemy fire - head but the door to break it down.....

Actually, this guy fell off the roof after I shot him, as he fell, his head got stuck on the door, with his legs still in the air !

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Unreal Development Kit Now FREE !

It seems the game engine market is changing, rapidly. Epic have now released the Unreal Development Kit, free for non-comercial use. With games like Whizzle being developed with it, the next couple of years could see some very exciting (free?) games being released.

Whizzle, Built with the Unreal Development Kit, Download here.