New (and Improved) Quarter

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School starts up again for me today. It is the first quarter of my new major (Culture, Literature, and the Arts) and is filled with classes that I hope will be fun for me. Today, for example, I have Video Art followed by Creative Writing: Poetry. I’m looking forward to it.

It’s also a scary quarter, because I’m signed up for 25 credits. If you aren’t familiar, a normal full load in a quarter system is 15 credits. It’s possible that I’m crazy to take so many classes, but I want to stay on track for graduation at the end of the summer, and there happened to be tons of classes I wanted to take this quarter.

Part of what I’m trying to do is learn the discipline to manage the work. I’m not working, so the course load shouldn’t be too much if I manage it properly. Of course, I also have to acknowledge that my ADD is a hurdle and establish coping techniques appropriately.

Fun, challenging times ahead.

Good Game Design is Holistic

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I tend to be very outspoken about my belief that gameplay trumps everything else. This is particularly important in video games, where resources are often spent on other things in the hopes that nobody will notice that the game isn’t fun to play. The funny thing is that really well-designed games tend to blend compelling gameplay with good production values.

By way of example, I offer Kingdom Rush. Here’s a fairly standard tower defense game with a couple of small twists. The gameplay is well-implemented and compelling. But I have to acknowledge that the same gameplay with lower production values wouldn’t be as much fun. The design (game, visuals, sound effects, and music) all come together to make a game that’s better than it otherwise might be.

This is the same thing that makes Angry Birds a runaway hit when there were many nearly identical games already on the market (e.g. Crush the Castle) with less uniform design. The gameplay is an important part of the equation, but it’s like a movie script: you still need a director, actors, and countless production people to make it all come together into something great.

Kingdom Rush (and Angry Birds for that matter) holds another lesson that I need to take to heart. Good design needn’t be fancy. If you have simple art that is well executed, consistent, and appropriate to the game’s themes, it can be better than something far more complex.

Happy St. Ludo’s Day!

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Being the sole adherent to Jayist belief, I hereby declare the first official holiday of the faith. The first day of the new year is to be set aside in honor of Saint Ludo.

Saint Ludo is a figure shrouded in obscurity. It is said that he produced divine board games when he and his fellows were stranded in the dead of winter. Some accounts have it that he transformed an incomplete game of Chutes and Ladders into something actually fun to play. In honor of his miracle, his feast day is traditionally observed by gathering with loved ones, ordering pizza in, and playing games. In some cultures, gifts of games or game aids are exchanged.

 

Jayism

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It will no doubt seem, to the casual observer, incredibly conceited for me to espouse a philosophical ideology and then to name it after myself. I have no excuse for myself other than an inability to come up with anything better to call it and, possibly, the fact that I don’t have a bunch of followers hanging around coming up with politically correct names for me.

I should also note that my procrastination has gotten the better of me (again). By the time I have gotten around to writing this, Wil Wheaton has already long since published pretty much the same thing.

There are two tenets to Jayism. The second is closely related to the first, but is, I think, a very important qualifier.

  1. Don’t be a dick
  2. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Why am I bothering to tell you this? All will become clear.

 

 

His What Now?

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This new site is called His True Arte, which might make no sense, I don’t know. The first of two Italian fencing manuals printed in English in Elizabethan London was His True Arte of Defence by Giacomo di Grassi, published in 1594. The banner image that I will be using, if Word Press ever condescends to actually upload it when told, is taken from the second such manual, His Practice by Vincentio Saviolo. None of which explains my use of the title. I want to be free to talk about all the “arts” of my life: games, stories, blacksmithing, swordplay, and whatever else comes along, rather than being focused on one topic. Also, I’m still getting used to the idea that it’s okay to be interdisciplinary in my art. So, yeah. My true art. With an extra ‘e’ because that’s how I roll.

A Year of Accomplishment

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New year’s resolutions are dicey at best, so let’s say this is my new year’s intention.

As 2012 is the year in which I will earn my bachelor’s degree, I intend for it to be a year filled with other accomplishments as well. I’ll talk about them right here, on my Web site. To that end, I intend to write a little something here every day. Maybe an observation, maybe thoughts on stories and games, maybe some fiction of my own, maybe a rant–but something.

So raise a metaphorical glass with me and wish me luck getting things done in 2012!