Posts

I did some streaming!

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I decided to try my hand at streaming playing a game. Looking through my collection of games on Steam, I chose Shadowrun Returns by Harebrained Schemes as my first game. It's fun, it looks great, and I'm curious if a second playthrough with a different character and making different story choices will substantially change the experience.

Twitch
YouTube

I don't have a regular schedule yet, but hopefully I can do a follow-up session soon.

Communication in Game Design (part 3): Communicating with your Player

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Last post on this subject for a while! In previous posts I’ve discussed communicating with your publisher and with your development team. As a game designer, the third group of people you have to communicate with are your players.
I can’t possibly cover this entire concept in a single blog post. There are numerous ways you are communicating with your players through the game, even before they hit start. Your advertising, box cover art, promotional materials are all communicating your game. Tutorials, menu interfaces, help screens also communicate extra information. Level layout, lighting, placement of collectibles, types of in-game currencies. But I want to hit on what I think is the main focus of communicating with your player:
Use consistent visual language.
That is the most important thing you can do. Remember, everything the player knows about your game is learned through interacting with it. You can’t be there to explain your intent. You can’t ship a designer with every copy of t…

Communication in Game Design (part 2): Communicating with your Development Team

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In my previous post I discussed Communicating with Your Publisher. Let’s assume you’ve cleared that hurdle, a publisher has agreed to fund the project, contracts are signed, hands shaked, you’re good to go. Now you have to make the game.
What do you have to communicate to the team that is actually going to make the game? I don’t mean just generally being polite and communicating nicely. What information about the game do you actually need to convey?
You will have programmers writing code, writing scripts, getting the engine to function or customizing an existing engine. They need to know what they are coding.
You have artists that need to develop or follow a consistent visual style and build all the assets going into the game. They need to know what art they are creating.
Designers all need to be using the same tools, following the same guidelines, so the game flows from one area to the next. They need to know what content they are creating.
Everyone needs to stick to a schedule …

Communication in Game Design: Your 3 Audiences

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One of a game designer’s most important jobs is to communicate the design of a game to their audience. That sounds pretty clear, right? But we need to clarify a few things about that statement. What are you communicating?How are you communicating your design?Who is your audience?
I’m going to focus on that last question first. Who is your audience? Identifying your audience will help you to craft your methods of communication. As a designer, you have three main audiences. Each has different needs and expectations, and you have to communicate with each group differently. 
Your three main audiences are: Your publisher (the people funding the game)Your development team (the people making the game)Your players (the people playing the game)
In this post, I’m going to focus on that first audience, your Publisher.

Group 1: Communicating with Your Publisher
This is a huge topic that could span several posts, and I may revisit this at a later time to go into more detail on various publishing mo…

Flotsam is now available

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Flotsam is now available from Parvus Press (they will be publishing my upcoming novel Necropolis PD). Magic, steampunk, airships, cults, aliens? Yes, please! This book looks very entertaining, it's next on my to-read list.

You can pick up a copy here:

Flotsam on Amazon   |   Flotsam at Barnes & Noble


So You Want to be a Video Game Designer?

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I am often asked for advice on how one goes about becoming a video game designer. Admittedly, it’s a great job. I design and play games for a living. My job is to create fun experiences for players. Many students want to know what they should study to get a job like this. So how does one become a video game designer?
First off, let me dispel a few myths.
No one is going to make your game for you No matter how awesome your idea, in general you aren’t going to submit your idea to a studio and have them pay you to make it. Ideas for games are the easy part. Most studios I know have several great games in development at any time. It’s not lack of ideas that’s the problem, it’s lack of time and resources to make them.Most experienced game designers I know never get the chance to make a game based on their original idea. If you want to do that, you better own your own studio or find some way to make it yourself.
Making games is different …

Writing Advice: Create a Writing Schedule

Recently, a good friend of mine asked me about my creative process. How do I go about my work? Do I have any advice on how to start writing? What’s a good starting point to get that cool idea in your head onto the page and into a final product? I have a few answers related to this. In later posts I’ll talk about how I approach problems, what tools I use, and more. But for my first piece of advice, I’m going to start very simple. It’s about creating a routine my brain gets used to.
What worked for me, the absolute most important thing I did, was create a regular writing schedule.
I’m a busy guy. I have a full-time job, I have a family, a couple hobbies, I like to read the occasional book, and in my own time I have to stay current on industry trends (that’s fancy talk meaning I have to play lots of different games). With all of that going on, how do I find time to write? For years I had tinkered around, moving from one half-finished project to the next, and I realized that something ne…

The Purpose of this Page

What is the purpose of this page?

Stating the purpose of my page helps keep me focused on what I want to update here. I'm busy. I like spending time with my family. I work most of the day designing a great online game (Wizard101). I'm writing another book. I play games for fun, but also to keep up with the latest and greatest games coming out (it's part of my job! Really!). I'm looking into possibly streaming on Twitch. Maintaining a blog and a Facebook page is a lot of extra work.

With that in mind, I'll keep posts short here, but my goal is to start updating regularly. But updating about what, you ask?

I'm going to talk about my experiences in writing a book and in designing games. I've been designing games for 20 years, I'll talk about what I do and my approach to design. My debut novel - Necropolis PD - is set to come out soon from Parvus Press. I'll talk about how I wrote a book and got it published.

I will point out examples of good writing a…

Necropolis PD Coming Soon from Parvus Press

My first book, Necropolis PD, is coming soon from Parvus Press. Here is the official announcement.

Parvus Press: Introducing Nathan Sumsion


Updating the site...

I'm in the process of doing a major re-work of the web-site. I have some big news to share, and that is coming soon.