design

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Matt Barton's picture

Matt Chat 129: A Chat with Graphics Guru Mark Soderwall

This week begins my interview series with Mark Soderwall, an awesome guy with 20+ years in the industry. His resume is huge, with jobs at Mindcraft, Atari, and LucasArts. He's worked on games NBA Live, the Terminator games, Demon Stone, and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, just to name a few. Now he's devoted himself to training the next generation and inspiring indie developers with his Game Creators Vault. Enjoy!

If you haven't supported the show, don't be a scrooge! If you like these videos, please put a dollar in my stocking!. Come on, McDuck, it's Christmas! As always, you can download the MP4 for playback on your mobile device.

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Jeepney Jeepers: All-Original Retrogame from Myth Core Productions

Jeepney Jeepers: Multiball FTW!Jeepney Jeepers: Multiball FTW!Armchair Arcade is pleased to present Jeepney Jeepers, the all-new game from Myth Core Productions, designed and programmed by Matt Barton with comics and graphics by Elizabeth Barton.

Aliens have landed in southeast Asia, and the only thing standing between THEM and humanity is...one man and his jeepney. Are you brave, fast, and just plain dumb enough to snap on that space-age laser prototype and defend the earth? Of course you are! So get your butt in that jeepney, yup!

  • An homage to classics block-busting games like Arkanoid and Breakout but with a crazy twist!
  • Blow up blocks, roast the invaders, rescue your fellow humans and--above all else--get to the last level and take on the awesome might of THE GORFINATOR
  • Collect upgrades and unleash the unbelievable block-busting power of the five-pronged MULTIBALL
  • Bust that crit bubble for the amazing SUPERBALL
  • Bounce up them balls as much as YOU want, no more, no less
  • Feelin' lonely? Bust out those poor little refugees for fun, fame, and profits
  • Get the energy boost powerups and ram right through the blocks with your jeepney
  • Surrounded? Don't panic, make THEM panic with your amped up car horn
  • Twelve colorful levels with an awesome retro-arcade inspired boss fight
  • Compete with friends and family for the honor of the High Score table
  • Why ain't you playing this already?

Download this sweet mama right now!
JEEPNEY JEEPERS (version: 1.04b)

And if you enjoy playing this game, please leave us a comment below. It's man and womandatory.

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Matt's Podcast #5: The Time Police (Design Project)

Hi, folks. I'm back this week with another podcast, this time discussing my game pitch for "The Time Police," a project I've been brainstorming and planning for some time. It still has a long ways to go, but I'm excited enough about the idea to want to make a podcast about it. If you have thoughts or suggestions, please let me know.

Download the podcast here.

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The Time Police (Working Towards a Pitch)

I've been working on this thing I'm calling a game pitch for a few weeks now and thought it was time to put it out there to see what people think of the general concept. In a nutshell, this is Deus Ex with Time Travel, Tactical Combat, and Disco Dancing. I've also made big changes to the way character creation, leveling, and dialog are handled.

It's not complete, but I think there's enough here for you to get the basic idea and see whether it sounds like something you'd be interested in playing. It's not totally original or super ambitious or anything, but for what it's worth I've tried to imagine the sort of game I'd most like to play and this is it.

Let me know what you like about it first, and then we can get down to what needs re-thinking.

Oh, I know for sure this is way, way beyond anything I'm personally capable of developing myself. The "dream scenario" is that we could get this to a real developer who can turn the dream into reality (without, let's hope, altering it beyond recognition).

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Matt's Podcast #3: The Five Games Every Designer Should Make Love to Every Night

Does Compute!Does Compute!I'm back this week to talk about the Five Games Every Designer Should Know. Read the blog post if you missed it. There's also quite a bit of listener feedback that covers such topics as why Icewind Dale and Neverwinter Nights aren't as good as Baldur's Gate, and why Portal isn't as unique as some people like to think. Enjoy, and feel free to comment below. Who knows, perhaps your comment will form the basis of my next episode!

Grab the episode here: Matt Podcast #3.mp3.
Post a review on iTunes.

Be sure to listen to Chris's episode first.

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Matt Chat 113: Jonas Kyratzes on Politics and Indepedent Game Development

In the last part of my interview with indie designer Jonas Kyratzes, we discuss his latest projects, including Alphaland, Phenomenon 32, The Strange and Somewhat Sinister Tale of the House of Desert Bridge, and You Shall Know the Truth. This last game is based on the Wikileaks controversy and leads Jonas into a sure-to-be-controversial discussion of politics in America and Europe.

Remember to check out Jonas' blog at http://www.jonas-kyratzes.net/

Download the mp4.

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Why Does Duke Nukem Forever Suck?

Forever wasn't long enough, apparently.Forever wasn't long enough, apparently.Well, the first wave of reviews are in, and it looks like somebody's gonna freakin' pay for screwing up Duke's comeback. IGN gives it a 5.5 and offers us this stinger: Duke has not aged well. As simple as he ever was, as irrelevant as he's ever been. Ouch! Joystiq gives it similar treatment: Allow me to borrow Duke's trademark line which he, in turn, borrowed from a fellow 1990s artistic endeavor, Army of Darkness: "Don't come get some." PC Gamer was more forgiving, settling on an 80 score, but warns us that the development-time-to-awesomeness ratio isn’t impressive.

The complaints are many and numerous, but most come back to how long this game took to make and how lackluster the finished product finally turned out to be. Wikipedia even has a special page just for the game's long and storied development cycle, which according to them went into production in 1997.

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Designing Videogames to Treat Videogame Addiction

Nintendo's treatment facility.Nintendo's treatment facility.We've heard often about the dangers of videogame addiction, defined by WebMD as a "clinical impulse control order" similar to gambling, drug addiction, or masturbation. Fortunately, some game publishers are joining forces to do something about it, including Nintendo, Activision, and Blizzard. As Larry Probst of Electronic Arts puts it, "We're fed up with viewing children and thirty-something year old men merely as markets to be ruthlessly exploited. Instead, we wish to leverage our resources to promote prosperity, justice, and goodwill." But what's the plan? It's a simple but cunning plan that might just work: design videogames that will themselves help treat and potentially cure videogame addiction.

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Stencyl - Easily Create Flash-based Web Games

StencylStencylIan Bogost recently pointed me towards an upcoming project called Stencyl, which looks a wonderful tool for anyone like me more interested in game design than programming. It uses some technology from Scratch, but is focused on browser-based Flash games. They also promise to have plenty of free assets available for non-artists and musicians. It looks like a brilliant idea, and one I could use myself as well as with students. I applied for the public beta.

I can't seem to find any information about their pricing structure and what rights you'll have over games you submit to Stencyl, though I haven't dug deeply into the website yet.

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Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost

Persuasive GamesPersuasive GamesYou may remember a review I posted a few weeks about Unit Operations, an academic book on videogames by Ian Bogost. That book, while certainly useful and insightful, is probably of interest primarily to game studies scholars. His newer book, Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, seems destined for a larger audience. It's a very good book with great insights and plenty of examples, especially for fans of retro and homebrew for the Atari 2600 and other early platforms. See below for my detailed review.

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