I forgot how exhausting it can be to just sit in one spot for sixteen hours a day. (That might sound counter-intuitive, but I'm used to chasing four kids all day and having a little more free time to clean, etc.)
With our announcement last week, I found my daily routine having to be completely up-ended. Instead of spending a few hours on the forum and only another hour or two checking news feeds, I spent almost six hours per day on the forums (updating threads, answering private messages, investigating new members), and then three to four hours reading news feeds, and then there was the very, very busy business of getting around to updating my webpages...
And then the truly unthinkable happened: Dreamweaver crapped out on me in a most terminal fashion.
And I'm pretty sure my installation disks are somewhere in the back of the garage.
I'm going to go pretend like I'm not about to cry.
Because I'm a fan-to-company liaison as much (if not more) than a company-to-fan liaison, I had not seen the trailer before it was released at the Showcase yesterday. I was stunned, delighted, disgusted, disturbed, and above all THRILLED by it.
I think what struck me most about it was that very subtle reference to the language of dreams, the teeth falling out without significant pattern. For most dream analysts, this can indicate things like feelings of powerlessness or being unable to defend or feed oneself. An odd thought...
I love Aggies. I totally do. Texas A&M has released a study that suggests that young adults who play violent video games after having a rough day or partaking in especially frustrating activities are LESS likely to be violent themselves AND derive direct emotional benefit from playing the games. This is not meant to suggest that all violent video games are appropriate for all cases - they make a strong point of emphasizing that they focused on young adults and not children - but it's legitimizing what I think we've all known for a long time: sometimes, after a long hard day at work, it's good therapy to just blow s**t up.
Take a gander - and a big thanks to 1UP.com for bringing us the story - and tell me what you think. Do you use video games to relieve stress? What kinds of games work best? Have you noticed a different kind of emotional response to different types of games? (I have! But you first!)
We're all very excited by EA's new Vorpal Blade from the original Alice game, but it started a discussion, and I'd like your input.
How important is merchandising to you? What elements of a game inspire you to want to collect things relating to it? I've seen everything from knitting patterns to collectible toys to hand-sculpted statues to t-shirts, and these could be in relation to any number of games. (Don't even get me started on the tattoos!) I'm always left wondering if my particular tastes really reflect those of other gamers, given that I'm not particularly "typical" in any other way. I like to collect things relating to a strong story, personally, but maybe you're of a different mind.
What does a game have to have for you to want to turn it into a collection?
I used to sit in awe and just a little bit of jealousy when I was a kid, watching friends play endless rounds of "Pong" on their Ataris. Video games for me were carefully-collected-and-hidden quarters spent in long afternoons of Ms. Pacman, Joust, Tempest, and Galaga. And then we got our first PC, a Texas Instruments 8088 with TWO 5.5-inch floppy drives AND a mouse!
(And, yes, I'm mostly sharing this to assure you that I am Old.)
Fast-forward many years, and I work for Spicy Horse Games, the latest endeavor of our illustrious leader (and my high school buddy), American McGee. I get to see the newest and neatest developments as we unfold the process of creating games, and it's often things that the general public will never lay eyes on. (Sometimes, that's quite a blessing.) What I do, however, is not so much about game development as it is community development. I manage the forum and keep the hint of our works in the public eye... but not just any eye.
I am the SPHORax, I speak for the fans.
More and more, I think game developers are starting to get the idea that the key to their success comes not in "focus groups" (comprised mainly of people who are not in the target demographic) or in "statistical analysis" (trends of what games perform well over what period of time) but more and more in the words of what comes directly from the public, the people who are buying the games themselves - not just those buying the advertising for the games. Why does Madden Sports or Halo titles do so well in the marketplace? Because that's where the advertising dollars are. What would happen if we turned the model upside down and instead started designing games creatively from the feedback we get from the people who are actually playing?
That's where we're going, I think - certainly as a company and ideally as an industry. If you can only buy one game for a year, let's say, what would you want to see it in? Different endings? How much play time? What would be "too much"? How aggressive should it be? How gentle? How many puzzles versus how many shoot-em-ups? How many character options? How important is multi-player? What is appealing about single-character linear stories? What is appealing about sandbox worlds? What stories mean the most to you?
These are the things I explore, both as a community manager and as a sometime writer. What's the point of writing a story that no one else wants to read? I know that we're working hard to keep a finger on the pulse of What Gamers Want, but is this an across-the-board good thing? Where is the line between what we think you'll like, what you specifically ask for, and then something totally new and mind-blowingly amazing?