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Developer Blog

Dear Game Dev Community

This is funny – when I applied to be a volunteer at GDC 2013, I mistakenly read the essay requirement as 1500 words, rather than 1500 characters. I actually wrote a 1500 word essay, and only when attempting to paste it into the text box on the application did I realize my mistake. So I had to edit it down substantially, which turned out fine. I also ended up not being selected as a volunteer, which is fine too. I’ll still be at the conference in March.

However, I thought that the original version of the essay turned out to be a very heartfelt reflection on myself and my career, so rather than let it go to waste, I figured I’d share it here, in its entirety, unedited. And if you happen to be a fellow game developer reading this, whether we’ve met before or not, I miss you and I can’t wait to see you in March.

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Reflections on PRACTICE

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the second half of Saturday at the PRACTICE conference at NYU thanks to a very generious invitation from a friend. When I first heard about the conference, I was excited by the prospect of a game design conference in NYC, but was turned off by the price tag. But having gotten a taste for this conference, I’m confident I will fork over the money to attend next year.

Overall, I was really blown away by the quality and depth of discussion. It was a much smaller group than something like GDC, and I felt the passion for game design as a craft and life-long pursuit really permeated the atmosphere. I arrived toward the end of the panel on Saturday morning, and caught some words of wisdom from Richard Lemarchand which set the tone for my brief time there. He said something to the effect that a game designer should not hold on to a single philosophy of game design, but rather he should see games through the lenses of as many different design philosophies as possible. This was underscored by the juxtaposition of Dan Cook’s presentation on the creation of games as “value engines” (which I will get into more depth below) and Tracy Fullerton’s presentation of her game based on Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. I don’t know if it was intentional by the conference organizers, or by chance, but I can’t imagine two back-to-back talks with a more different approach to game design. Yet both were very thoughtful and fascinating in their own right.

I have been a long time fan of Dan Cook ever since I found his amazing Lost Garden game design blog. I have gotten a great deal of inspiration from what he has written about game design over the years. Dan’s talk did not disappoint in the slightest. You can read a good summary of the talk here so I won’t bother to summarize the talk. Instead, I want to highlight and discuss a couple of his points.
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I Fight for the Users

Every company makes mistakes that make their customers mad. That’s just a fact of business. You can’t please everyone all the time. But when you anger your entire customer base, you’ve got a problem.

That’s what happened recently to Activision and Treyarch, makers of Black Ops 2, the newest installment of the Call of Duty franchise, which came out just over a week ago. One week in, while ending a double-XP weekend, they removed a particular playlist (a collection of maps and gametypes in multiplayer that you choose). Most playlist updates are met with minor frustration and/or joy. This one was met with a surge of fury and vitriol.

Player Good Will

Fans of Call of Duty are an interesting bunch. They might easily be on some forum cursing you for making a completely broken game while they’re in their multiplayer lobby waiting for the next match to start. People will always complain, but the simple truth is that after so many entries in the franchise, they’ve got the formula down.
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Hello! I’m Heartonomy’s new co-founder, Rudd. Sometimes seen on the web as ruddzw (say hi on twitter!) or on Xbox Live as carbonsnow. In this post, I’d like to tell you a bit about myself. I’ll be working on our to-be-announced first game in the role of engineer, futhering the game implementation and building out online infrastructure, and taking up responsibility for our online presence. There’s a lot to do in a small company like this, so I’m going to keep this post short and sweet.

I’m an engineer by training and a gamer at heart. I graduated from Cornell in 2009 with a degree in Computer Science and two internships under my belt. Most recently, I was a software developer and tech lead for a NYC-based educational tech company, building web applications. I haven’t worked professionally on any games, but I’ve been tinkering with a few hobby iOS games as projects, learning about how to build games.

But like I said, I’m a gamer at heart. I’ve been playing games since my parents would let me have them, which ended up being a Super Nintendo system, where I fell in love with games like the Zelda and Super Mario series. On the SNES, my tastes were pretty simple and I stuck to mostly first-party titles. I worked my way up from there, through RPGs and first-person shooters, until high school when I started playing far too much Quake 3.

In college, in order to make sure I didn’t get too distracted, I forced myself to stop playing games, as they had taken up a significant portion of my life, in an unhealthy manner. But I still loved games. A while after the Wii came out, I decided it was time to slowly get back into games, so that I could enjoy them casually. I braved a blizzard to make it to a Best Buy early in the morning, where the snow had discouraged enough people from coming that I could actually get one of the Wiis in the shipment. I was back!

The next year, I was with my now-fiancée’s family for spring break, where her step-brother introduced me to Call of Duty. I think it was the World at War installment. It came surprisingly naturally to me. So soon after, I got an Xbox 360 and a Call of Duty of my own. By that time, it was Modern Warfare 2. Since then, I’ve played a lot of CoD. This time, in a more healthy manner.

I’m now hooked on Black Ops 2, just now ranked in the Platinum Division for the competitive Champions Series, and really interested to see Call of Duty‘s glorious return to eSports after MW3 messed it up a bunch. Call of Duty got me into the world of competitive gaming, with a mixture that I find really appealing: emphasis on twitch and hand-eye coordination, with an element of strategy where you can’t win by gun skill alone.

So why am I here? I’m here because I think Heartonomy can contribute a lot to the world of gaming. I see a distinct lack of good games on mobile platforms, and the ones that are good are almost all casual. I think it’s time to change that, and when we announce our first game, I hope you’ll agree.