Writing and Design

Steve Ince, freelance writer and game designer, posts thoughts and comments on these two meaningful aspects of his life.

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Name: Steve Ince

Monday, February 28, 2005

Mr. Smoozles wallpaper

As requested by Peter Brooks. :)

Mr. Smoozles 3

Disclaimer - The opinions of Mr. Smoozles aren't necessarily those of the management.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Mr. Smoozles 2

Oh dear, he has opionions...

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Mr. Smoozles

Partly inspired by the wonderful drawings on Skudfisher, but also by the need to do something new and from scratch, I introduce the legendary Mr. Smoozles. (Well, he'll be legendary when I work out what he does...)

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Go to the Skudfisher site now! If you're still reading this, you didn't do as I told you. What, you want to know what it's about? Lots and lots and lots of wonderful doodle-characters. Someone let me make a game with these characters... :)

Crunch Time is bad

An excellent article, Why Crunch Mode Doesn't Work: 6 Lessons has been posted on the IGDA site. I've long felt that the inefficiencies of crunch time far outweigh the benefits and this article backs up that view with some excellent facts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Aww... Don't you feel sorry for them?

More EA troubles. I loved the following:

"Hasty's lawyers contend that Electronic Arts' software engineers should be eligible for overtime because they "do not perform work that is original or creative," have no management responsibilities and are seldom allowed to use their own judgment."

Is it me, or does that just say it all? :)

Monday, February 21, 2005

Radical ideas

Ron Gilbert suggests that games journalism should take the industry to task much more and in the main I agree with him, though will it ever happen when magazines are regularly sucking up to publishers and developers in the hope of getting an "exclusive"? The word "exclusive" has actually become meaningless, due to its misuse in the media of all kinds. How, for instance, can two magazines both claim to hav an exclusive on the same subject/game/developer/etc?

One part I particularly agreed with was the part about e-mail interviews. When I'm pushed for time and am asked to do an interview, I have been known to copy and paste from other interviews if the questions are the same. There are only limited ways you can answer a question like "How did you get into the industry?" (Actually, how I got into game development has become meaningless today as you couldn't recreate what happened to me in the current industry climate.)

Bone, the game

Telltale Games have just announced that they are making a game based on the comic book series Bone by Jeff Smith.

As Bone is one of my all time favourite comics, I hope that the guys over at Telltale are up to the huge task of matching the storytelling and characterisation quality that made the original such a hit. Needless to say, this is one game I shall be watching with eager anticipation.

Good luck, guys - I hope the game is a real success.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Dane & Joe

I've just updated Dane & Joe with a strip that finishes off the storyline I started ages ago.

My intention is to revive it again within the next couple of weeks and have already created another new strip and am currently writing more in my spare time. Well, the bit of spare time that isn't taken up with designing SC1, of course. And playing KOTOR 2. And cooking. And eating...

Damn! When am I going to sleep?

KOTOR 2 and other stories

I've just got my hands on KOTOR 2 and have managed to play a couple of hours so far. It's pretty much more of the same, so we'll see if it's possible to improve on the previous, excellent game. One of the things I like about both of the KOTOR games is the way the interface is handled. What could have been a complex series of different screens is very clear and manageable. I think I'm going to take my time over this game and savour it.

I bought Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds volume 1 yesterday. Such a beautiful book with the whole thing printed in a dark brown instead of the usual black of "regular" graphic novels. It really helps to convey the feeling of a world heavy with decay.

Woke up this morning to find my world was covered in snow. It feels very strange that we've managed to go most of the winder without hardly a flake falling and as we get towards the end of February we are given a world that looks like a Christmas card. Our cat, Acrasia, took one look at the snow through the open door and promptly turned around. I think she was trying to tell me something...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

"It Made Me Laugh" No. 78

These people never should have gotten married. By way of Neil Gaiman.

Friday, February 11, 2005

SC1 moves forward

I've spent the last two days doing some work on my personal project, SC1. I did some work for my prototype yesterday, but today I pushed on with the actual proposal document, which is moving along nicely at last.

Any more work on it, however, is going to have to be done at weekends for the time being as most of my time until July is taken up with an exciting project I'm working on starting on Monday. I can't say anything more about it than that, which is a shame because it looks so good.

Back to SC1, and this game is looking stronger the more work I do on it. I promise that when the proposal and the prototype demo is finished, I'll reveal what it is. However, I don't know exactly when that will be...

Don't mention the A-word

Having grown a little tired, over recent years, of seeing the same diatribes trotted out in condemnation of the adventure game genre and how it's either died a million deaths or is the epitomy of boredom, I thought that the best thing would be never to refer to the term again.

With this in mind, all of my own future designs and ideas for games will fall under the new genre title, "Escapade".

Which games actually belong in the Escapade Game (EG) genre is yet to be fully defined, but my feeling is that they should be dynamic, but not necessarily include action. The story and characters can be dynamic, or the gameplay, or both. An EG will include action if the style of game requires it. I'd like to think that excessive or gratuitous violence should not included as they seem to be well catered for in other genres.

EGs should, perhaps, have a grand, larger-than life feel to them with a sense that they are inclusive in their approach to the game players.

They should, first and foremost, have a high Interaction Density.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Great Designers - article

I've just read a very interesting piece on what makes a great designer. This came by way of Ludonauts. I agree with about 90% of it, but any differences are down to a simple matter of outlook, not principle.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Drive a car on your table top

Take a look at this piece at Edge Online. I thought that the video that went with the piece was pretty amazing. It will be really interesting to see where this kind of technology actually goes.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Nintendo DS

I was a little skeptical about the Nintendo DS when I first saw it and thought that the PSP would have it beat hands down, but the more I see about it, the more I'm shaking that feeling. I saw a demo of one in a shop today and it looks and feels rather nice. I also found this, a video for the game, Another Code. It has me intrigued...


Early last year I was contacted and asked if I would give a seminar to a group of students doing an MSc course. Nothing happened at the time and then I met up with the guys running the course at GameStars in September. We were then able to organise something a little more concrete.

Today I gave that seminar and would like to offer a big thank you for the way that everyone made me feel so welcome.

I was so incredibly nervous before attending, but I'm a firm believer in looking to the future through education and the passing on of knowledge and experience. The subject was "Writing and Narrative in Game Design" and it went down very well, with an excellent discussion session afterwards. One of the lecturers attending was from another department and asked if I'd be interested in talking with his students also. So that was a real plus.

When I was having lunch with the leader of the course before the seminar, we were talking about the increase in games related courses. I suggested that no one seemed to be giving enough thought to the actual game design aspects. Surprisingly, he had been thinking the same thing and is looking to establish a course in the near future. For those of you thinking of taking a course in game design, Sheffield Hallam University may be the place to go in a couple of years.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Eight Myths

Here is an interesting essay (by way of Edge Online) by Henry Jenkins. Certainly put things into a clear perspective for me. I particularly agreed with the following:

"Meanwhile, a sizable number of parents ignore game ratings because they assume that games are for kids. One quarter of children ages 11 to 16 identify an M-Rated (Mature Content) game as among their favorites. Clearly, more should be done to restrict advertising and marketing that targets young consumers with mature content, and to educate parents about the media choices they are facing. But parents need to share some of the responsibility for making decisions about what is appropriate for their children."