DayZ and the mastery problem

Disclaimer: It should be noted that these are my personal musings and reflections, and do not reflect the official stance on design for any project I am associated with, nor the official position of my employer. So last time I wrote I started to poke into the core game loop of DayZ, and some of the implications when looked at things through a more traditional game design perspective. One of the things we ended up touching on very briefly was the mastery problem. Now, while obviously there is a direct connection to the economy of DayZ and mastery – there are larger points here. Some of the oldest design struggles DayZ has had since the mod days were directly related to experienced players who “mastered” the progression path and essentially ran up against an issue with agency. As I had mentioned earlier, player to player interaction (of any degree honestly) is the great motivator – the main attraction when dealing with open world gameplay that leans heavily toward supporting emergent gameplay. The original economy within DayZ mod was significantly smaller in scope. While the world size was effectively the same, the majority of the space was more or less unused/open/dead...Read more

DayZ and the core gameplay loop

Disclaimer: It should be noted that these are my personal musings and reflections, and do not reflect the official stance on design for any project I am associated with, nor the official position of my employer. Over the last week or so I’ve been re-reading through one of my favorite books on game design (A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster) and thinking over how DayZ as a game looks through the lens of the systems and lessons within it. For a book written well over ten years ago, it still holds up incredibly well when applied to the modern video game industry, a testament to how spot on Raph was with a lot of his musings within. There are several areas of DayZ as a whole I’d like to cover – but initially I’d like to take a look at how the core game loop for DayZ is both brilliant, and in some cases very lazy. (Yes, I said it – but you’ll understand why later on) DayZ’s core gameplay loop is pretty simple straight out of the box – it is effectively unchanged from the DayZ Mod, or the launch of the Early Access build...Read more

2016

As this year draws to a close, I find myself hating what I let 2016 become. I’m not sure why I’m writing this blog post, aside from trying to get my thoughts out of my head. I’m a game developer, and those in my profession are all too aware how deep we can get into our jobs. We do what we do because we have a passion for it, this isn’t a career path you often encounter someone who just fell into it. That tends to translate into long, long willful hours, weekend crunches, and our hobbies intertwined with our jobs. I used to think it was okay to put your career first. I used to think there was nothing wrong with everything else in your life coming second to the title. (Fucked up, amirite?) Over 2016 I had many challenges to overcome. It was a difficult year for quite a few things I can’t publicly discuss, but none of that makes how I handled myself and the things I did acceptable. Over 2016 I treated anything that wasn’t DayZ as almost not worth my time. What’s worse than that is, anything and anyone that pushed against that behavior was...Read more

Design vs Dollar

Disclaimer: It should be noted that these are my personal musings and reflections, and do not reflect the official stance on design for any project I am associated with, nor the official position of my employer. Years ago I had a gaming experience that has stuck with me to this day. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that said experience informs my decisions on an almost daily basis today, and probably accounts for at least half of the reasoning behind leaving Redmond and coming out to Prague. I know I talk about Ultima Online fairly often, so I’ll have to ask you to bear with me a little longer as I talk about it some more. While you could probably attribute a lot of the design decisions made early on to Ultima Online to a general lack of industry knowledge on how the then bleeding edge MMORPG space (Meridian 59 was just about the only other thing out there – unless you count The Realm of which I do not), I tend to look at a lot of them as bold and counter to the more commonly accepted norms of AAA design doctrine these days. While leading designers such...Read more
Early Access: The platforms missed opportunity

Early Access: The platforms missed opportunity

Disclaimer: It should be noted that these are my personal musings and reflections, and do not reflect the official stance on design for any project I am associated with, nor the official position of my employer. Full disclosure: I have used the Early Access model to distribute a title. Now, I do spend a lot of time playing – promoting – discussing other Early Access titles on Steam (eg: The Long Dark, Project Zomboid, Wasteland 2, etc). So take this tirade as having very little to do with the catalog of Early Access titles, and more specifically to do with the program and how it is managed by Valve. It was always my understanding that the intent of Early Access was to give consumers the option to gain access to your titles development as early as possible. Think something along the lines of your first submission to a publisher. In this way, the Early Access consumers play the role of the traditional publisher and gain access to your milestone submissions (or interim builds) as you progress through your development cycle. However, without any clear definition on what and how you enter the Early Access program, the consumers are left with...Read more