Pericopes

Snippets from Justin Parsler.

Jobs

Posted on | August 8, 2011 | No Comments

A couple of jobs (David Maclure is to thank for putting this guy onto me). Both would suit MA students who have not yet found the entry level positions they are looking for:

Design Assistant

My client is a new development studio founded by industry veterans to produce AAA titles on next-gen platforms.

Their vision is to build a world class development studio by attracting the most talented game developers available, and making the best games possible.

They are currently ramping up their team to begin production on their first project and are looking to make a number of key hires, including a Design Assistant.

Applicants should ideally have some prior design/game experience, or relevant University training. Working in tandem with the lead designer the successful applicant(s) should be able to think on their feet, create exciting level designs and work with the development team to implement and mould existing designs.

Prior experience of modding and basic scripting would also be looked upon favourably.

All applicants MUST be able to provide a portfolio of their design work to supplement their application.

Please contact Phil Jeffries for more information at: Phil@aswift.com

Gameplay Implementer

My client is a new development studio founded by industry veterans to produce AAA titles on next-gen platforms.

Their vision is to build a world class development studio by attracting the most talented game developers available, and making the best games possible.

They are currently ramping up their team to begin production on their first project and are looking to make a number of key hires, including a Gameplay Implementer.

The successful candidate will be tasked with using 3DS Max to implement gameplay into the game, under direction from game design team.

The candidates will be responsible for:
- Working within the team to ensure design and implementation of missions are delivered within the constraints of the project scope/timings, making optimal use of assets/tools and maintaining product consistency and quality.
- Realising direction and assembling the game missions in line with the game script and gameplay design, using internal development tool.
- Maintaining cohesive design documentation and communicating this to the team and external parties/licensors.

Skills and software packages needed:
- Proven level design ability, and understanding/experience of level implementation packages (e.g. Unreal, Hammer).
- In depth knowledge of games across multiple next gen platforms, with an analytical approach to what makes certain features work.
- Good verbal and written communication skills.
- Strong problem solving mentality.
- Demonstrable experience of successfully working in a fast-paced team environment.
- Flexible approach.
- Experience with 3DS Max would be a distinct advantage.
- Knowledge of programming or scripting languages would be advantageous but not essential.

Please contact Phil Jeffries for more information at: Phil@aswift.com

University Candidates

Posted on | April 6, 2011 | 1 Comment

Recently, the ‘No to AV’ lobby have been evoking the powerhouse that is Winston Churchill. Seems he opposed the 1931 Representation of the People Bill, which was an attempt to reform the electoral system in this country by, amongst other things, introducing AV. I decided to read his whole speach as I had long thought he was pro reform  -turns out it seems he was, but (like most of us) thought AV a bit of a dumb system and was, instead, pro proper PR.

Anyway, a political system reform rant is not why I am writing this blog entry. Rather, the Representation of the People Bill was also intended to reform the University Seats: universities elected their own MPs and, if you had a degree, you got a vote. This was obviously a que for people who wished the bill to pass to abuse universities.

Step up Sir Charles Oman, the MP for Oxford University, whose various utterances in defence of universities and university MPs made me laugh. This is the essential reason for this post: amusing quotes from the 30’s that are too long for facebook.

Here are a couple of snippets of Sir Charles Oman’s wisdom:

“Member for Deritend should be informed, that the university process is one for the elimination of the unfit. It is no longer possible for the dolt, or the idler, or the trifler to get a degree at the university. It may have been so in old days, when examinations were more or less farcical, but for the last 100 years examinations have been a serious matter. To say that a man goes up to the university and then goes down and is dubbed an intellectual and has a vote in consequence is entirely concealing the facts. To get into the university in the first instance the undergraduate has been put to a great deal of trouble, has had to pass a series of examinations; and if he prove an incompetent person he will find that he has been extruded long  before the end of his time of residence, and will have gone down. Anyone who has gone through a university course nowadays, whatever may have been the case years ago, is entitled to call himself an educated man. It is no longer possible to talk of a man going up to the university and taking the course and coming down no wiser than before.”

Also, this one:

“It is said that there can be very little in the universities, since the most divine figure of all never passed through a university; that our Lord never went to a university, and therefore that universities are unnecessary. The answer to that is that it is recorded that at the early age of 12 our Lord stole away for three days to hear the lecturers in the Temple and to ask them questions. If that did not show a desire for university education in the heart of the most divine figure of all, I am at a loss to say what better evidence could be procured. But that is a point about which I was led to say something by what I heard from the benches opposite.”

And a final word from Mr Ede:

Then the university vote is a Conservative vote?”

The full text, starting with Churchill’s bit is here.

Worst USPs ever!

Posted on | February 13, 2011 | 6 Comments

Below is ablurb and set of ‘key features’ (which could also be called USPs) for a game called ‘Altered Beast’ available on Gamersgate. This is also where the blurbs come from. I have not played the game, but the blurb(and more specifically the USPs) speak for themselves:

“Rise from your grave as Zeus, the legendary Greek God, brings you back to life with those famous words. You will set forth on a mission to rescue his daughter, Athena, from the wicked God of the Underworld, Neff. To survive the gauntlet of mythological foes, you must hunt down the three headed wolves that inhabit each stage and collect the Spirit Balls that they release. Spirit Balls increase your strength and allow you to transform into a variety of forms including a Werewolf, Weredragon, Werebear, Weretiger and the ultimate form of Golden Werewolf. Each creature possesses powerful attacks that are required to bring an end to the evil Neff.

Key Features

  • There are references to Alex Kidd and his girlfriend, Stella, in the first level of the game. Their names appear on tombstones.
  • The short reptilian creature that resembles a chicken later has a cameo in Golden Axe as the Bizarrian creature known as Chicken Leg.
  • The Japanese title for this game is Jyuouki”

Other than not being sure what ‘those famous words’ are, I am awestruck at how well those three ‘key features’ perfectly communicate what the game is all about. Not.

Facebook games

Posted on | February 9, 2011 | 5 Comments

Because I play a lot of facebook games, I get a lot of such games advertised to me. The blurbs that go with these adverts often make me laugh, and I feel some of them need translation -  in order for a prospective player to really understand what the company pushing a particular game is really thinking. Here are four random ones from today:

“We were totally desperate to come up with something that would stand out!”

“Someone else made a facebook game about city building and we should totally rip them off and bankrupt them.”

“Farmville made megazillions! Gimme some of that!”

“TV viewer figures say you will like this.”

Dungeons

Posted on | February 5, 2011 | 2 Comments

So, I realise that because I do not really have time to write long, properly thought out posts(well, medium and somewhat thought out in any case) I had stopped writing any at all.

So here is a very short post that nonetheless might prove interesting in an effort to get back into blogging.

Dungeons is a new PC game, just released today. It is by Kalypso, who in my experience tend to clone older successful titles using more modern tech. Usually, these games are a bit buggy and often not very well structured. Dungeons is plainly a remake of the old Bullfrog classic, Dungeon Keeper (which a google search will find you a free download of).The premise sets you up as a ‘Dungeon Lord’ and you build rooms, traps, monsters and so forth in order to butcher hordes of attacking hero types.

Whilst my personal experience of Kalypso has been of buggy games, a couple of hours of play has turned up no problems. The game is also good enough that I wish I did not have so much work to do over the next few days – it is pretty engrossing.However, it nearly got turned off because the intro sequence and tutorial are so bad, so if you play it, perservere.

Though it copies Dungeon Keeper to a large extent, using much of the terminology of that game and having a ‘dungeon heart’ you have to protect, there is nonetheless a very interesting core mechanic. Heroes, when ‘killed’ are actually knocked out and dragged off to cells by your trusty goblins. While in a cell, they slowly lose ’soul energy’ and you gain it. This soul energy is one of the main resources in the game. However, heroes have more soul energy if they are happier when locked up. To that end, you have to try and give them the things heroes want – treasure, gear, books to read and monsters to kill  -before you finish them off. It is a pretty funky mechanic which gives the essential simplicity of Dungeon Keeper a very engrossing twist. I have also found it to get tricky enough a few levels in that I actually had to think about what I was doing.

The graphics are moody and dark without being impossible to make out, the voice acting not bad, the humour almost funny sometimes.I am glad I bought it; moreover it uses a clever core mechanic which, while close to many I have seen, is basically new to me. Clever design.

It is available on Gamersgate – link is to the right.

Failbetter games – internship/work experience

Posted on | December 4, 2010 | No Comments

Alexis Kennedy of Failbetter Games/Echo Bazaar(EBZ)(who came in to talk to us at Brunel) is looking for a couple of students/recent graduates to take part in a funding bid associated with developing a set of narrative tools akin to the type used by Echo Bazaar. This is not ‘blue sky’: there is a lot of  work in place.  The potential workload here is very flexible and as such could fit in with being a full time student(BA or MA): this is more a work experience/internship sort of deal than a full time job.

In the first instance you should mail Alexis asap so he can send you a content disclaimer (this is an anti-trivial lawsuit measure). He will tell  you more, but after returning the form he will want a
CV and, more importantly, a writing sample to Alexis Kennedy at alexis@failbettergames.com.

This writing sample should be suitable for EBZ and include the loot/skill/quality connotations (so write it and stat it). Other than that, it could be anything that fits that game(opportunities, ‘plot arcs’, places, isolated events -anything you want to make up). Don’t do a huge amount – one or two really good entries will suffice, and worry more about that than a CV. The stuff you will be working on is not EBZ, but it is a good testbed in which to show your skills suit the tasks at hand.

You can find EBZ at here, but if you are reading this with intent to apply then you should know this already:)

This is a massive opportunity to get professional design work credit under your belt whilst working with some very cool people on a very cutting edge narrative engineering project and I suggest moving on it if it sounds like your sort of thing ASAP

Applet experiments

Posted on | May 24, 2010 | No Comments

I am experimentng with Java applets produced by MMF. Hopefully, there should be a functioning (naff) ball bouncing game below. if you are subbing and receive this then, well, it might take me a few tries to get this working.

OK, well it is working, the problems (bad ball bouncing, no key to escape playing and so forth) are due to the naffness of the game, rather than applet problems. Woot, that as easy. However, if you could post any problems with this below that would be most appreciated (as I have no idea how well it works on other browsers/machines etc).

UPDATE: I have now moved this onto the page marked ‘Games’ – top right hand corner of the blog – where it should not spill over the rest of the blog page.

Quality WoW phishing

Posted on | May 14, 2010 | No Comments

I received a really high quality phising con email today:

“Dear World of Warcraft fans, because your server is there a large number of illegal transactions, and other server players were a large number complaints to your account. The To World of Warcraft, we conducted a detailed analysis and review. After this analysis, we draw preliminary conclusions: Your account has been participating
too many the illegal transactions, we will permanently ban your account. At this moment we are to understand your feelings, if you have any questions please visit
(I have cut out the link)

Blizzard of fraud and abuse department “

Fit for Purpose?

Posted on | April 19, 2010 | No Comments

I have been playing King Arthur the Role-playing War-game  on and off now for many months – it is an extremely long and time consuming game. Rather depressingly I have just hit a bug: one of the quests that needs to be completed to progress through the game is broken: some armies do not spawn that you need to kill, which means you cannot kill them. The specific quest is ironically called ‘The Never-ending Feast’  - ironic because it never ends. The game still continues: random quests spawn and crusader armies appear in Britain which you can beat up, but essentially the game will not progress.

The latest patch at time of writing (1.04) mentions this quest and says a bug has been fixed with it -but apparently not the this bug as I have the patch. Because I did not notice that the game had gone wrong, I do not have saves from before the quests triggered, so I cannot go back and see if the armies I need to kill will trigger if I try again.

I am guessing that I have played about forty hours so far (at a guess, it been spread over months). So say I am depressed is an understatement. Well, I was depressed, until I noticed that the company who made the game (Neocore) had released a load of downloadable content for the game just recently – at which point I just got angry. I would rather they had fixed the bug  -which I note has been reported for some time judging by the many forum posts from people in the same position as I am.

The experience is rather like buying the DVD of a film and finding the last twenty minutes are corrupted, being offered no solution, but simultaneously being offered a collector’s edition with extra features on it -which still has the end corrupted. It is just not acceptable. It is plain from the way the game progresses that a lot of late plot had a lot less attention lavished on it than the early plot –the material becomes a lot thinner later on and changes from making many small choices that add up to being significant to making one or two big choices (which, of course, is much easier to implement). Plainly, as well as less creative attention being paid to this later material, it had a lot less play testing also.

I will write something about the game in broader terms at a later date, as a lot of things about it are interesting. If you still fancy playing it, you can get it at gamersgate (my personal favourite digital game distributor). However, save often and keep permanent backup saves in case you need to go back.

Personally, though, I am giving up: I would need to start again and I just cannot bring myself to.

Hidden Images

Posted on | April 2, 2010 | No Comments

I was watching ‘Antique Road Trip’ the other evening. At least, that is what I think it is called. It features a couple of antiques experts driving around buying stuff and then auctioning it to see who can make the most money. It is actually rather fun. Or perhaps I have finally succumbed to antiques loving middle age and need to be put down for my own good.

Anyway, one of the things they looked at  was a biscuit tin from Huntley and Palmer, made in the 1970’s in which the designer, who had just been sacked, concealed some dodgy images.

Apparently there was also a jam tin with the word ’shit’ hidden on the  lid. I wondered when this tradition of designers screwing with their employers started? Was it with Da Vinci’s Last Supper which, badly thought out conspiracy theories aside, clearly shows Jesus sitting next to a woman? It seems plain to me the tendency for games designers to hide things their publishers might not want people to see is not a new phenomenon. Has there been any game studies material written on this? If so, it has passed me by.

There is a plain lesson for the industry here though: do not piss off the gal/guy who is doing the front line work unless you remove them completely at the same time.

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