Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights


This Link Drag is Free to Read

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OLD “RPS Exclusive: Gabe Newell Interview” - John Walker

The worst days [for game development] were the cartridge days for the NES. It was a huge risk – you had all this money tied up in silicon in a warehouse somewhere, and so you’d be conservative in the decisions you felt you could make, very conservative in the IPs you signed, your art direction would not change, and so on. Now it’s the opposite extreme: we can put something up on Steam, deliver it to people all around the world, make changes. We can take more interesting risks.

“Selling candy to babies” - Rich Stanton

“The F2P space for kids is unfortunately a highly predatory one,” says Jeffery. “There are a lot of developers doing things they must know and feel are not the right things to do. It is predatory, and it is lucrative. We make six apps a year. Companies like TabTale make 200. It’s a machine, a freemium converting machine.”

LONG “Games By Design: AI War: First Four Years Postmortem (And By Extension Arcen History)” - Chris Park

That AI War can gross more than a million dollars (and growing) while serving that sort of niche -- and have players happy about the prices they've paid, and not grumbling about it as they do with certain $80+ titles that I can think of -- is quite something. It shows that there is a lot more life in the "small spaces" that the big AAA publishers are ignoring. And it's something that I think should be a hopeful sign to players who love various "dead" genres. Most "dead" genres could provide this level of developer income and this level of player happiness for the right game sold the right way, I'm convinced.

“Positional Balance” - Matt Pavlovich

Positional balance is a relatively new notion in game design, and it seeks to lessen the possibility of a runaway leader and keep players engaged through the duration of a game, even ones nominally at the “back of the pack.” The primary concerns of positional balance are addressing the runaway leader problem and implementing catch-up mechanics.

“Repeating History: N++ And The Case For Conservative Game Design” - Michael Thomsen

“It’s actually pretty shocking how lucky we are to live here,” Burns said. “From attending our first GDC when N was in the Independent Games Festival, to securing the loan to make N+, to help with financing N++, we would be in a vastly different position today were it not for government support of small businesses. Without this support, we probably could have still made the games, however we would have had to cede control of them — as well as the majority of the royalties — to a publisher.”

“How Long Does It Take to Make an Indie Game?” - Joseph Mirabello

Also, looking back, here’s a tidbit I learned about myself during prototyping: feeling overwhelmed leads to demotivation. Demotivation leads to stagnation/distraction/facebook. Working mostly in solitude makes this worse: the sense of a shared investment that comes from teamwork is replaced with an echo-chamber of doubt. Devising strategies to combat self doubt, therefore, became a crucial part of development (maybe that’s worth a blog of its own someday).

VID “Music Object, Substance, Organism” - David Kanaga

Liquid is of special interest being at the edge of chaos, as it were. It is between stillness and chaos. More or less viscous. Besides, we are inside of music. It is not in front of us, like a picture, going away if we turn around or close our eyes. No, music is like a bath. We have to dry off after to get away from it.

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This Link Drag is a Murder Robot

This week's Link Drag discusses Depths of Fear :: Knossos, ethical problems in self-driving cars, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Lost Alpha, what the economist for EVE actually does and a little more.

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This Link Drag is Deadlocked

Some news! I've decided Link Drag is going to be more regular. I'm hoping weekly, but we'll see. However, I've decided to stop publishing Marginalia as that sucked up resources out of proportion with its audience.

I'm officially back from sabbatical next week but, until then, if you're new around here, why don't you give The Aspiration a read? It's one of the best things I ever wrote, you know.

And if that's not good enough then how about the seven links below?

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This Link Drag is Pointless

Last time there were twelve links. This time, merely a dozen. In this episode: thoughts on the first-person screamer, the blurring of casual and hardcore, Facebook makes a play for the next big space, and does art need to have a point?      

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Marginalia 8


Grasmere, 2006

Marginalia is an eclectic compilation of links tailored for game developers. Links contributed by Amanda Lange, Ben Serviss, Raph Koster, Tale of Tales and Miguel Sicart.

In this edition: the mundanity of excellence, violence as narrative, and the price of secrecy in game development.

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This Link Drag is Ellen Paged

Twelve links shall rule them all. In this episode: Ellen Page is gay, Rich Stanton loves Revengeance, droqen pells his hoggam, an economist tells you that Eve tells you nothing about economics and why isn't everyone watching The Smash Brothers already?

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This Link Drag is Back

Okay, I killed it last year. But it's back with a simpler format. Instead of doing painstaking write-ups for each link, I'm sticking to Name - Author - Quote. Click if you want, click if you don't want. I'm also not going to structure the links at all - the old Sideways links are now mixed in with all the game ones. The upside is that it's easier for me to knock these out.

In this episode: Stuart Campbell moans about digital distribution (a man after my own heart). Pippin Barr finds Thomas Was Alone dreadfully dull. Joe Martin has the skinny on the original Deus Ex design document.

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The 2013 Review


It’s the last Electron Dance post of 2013, so it is time to take stock of what I wrote and what you didn’t read, you stupid filthy dingbats. And did you know Electron Dance was on the Sunday Papers nine times this year? I know, poor show!

Also revealed: the top ten posts. Everybody likes Top Ten posts, right?   

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Marginalia 7

Shiodome Station, Christmas 2003

Shiodome Station, Christmas 2003

Marginalia is an eclectic compilation of links tailored for game developers. Links contributed by Amanda Lange, Ben Serviss and Raph Koster.

In this Christmas edition: why we should embrace luck, why some people like Beyond: Two Souls and how the Jump Point Search algorithm works.

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Marginalia 6

Pontoon Dock DLR Station (under construction), London 2004

Pontoon Dock DLR Station (under construction), London 2004

Marginalia is an eclectic compilation of links tailored for game developers. Links contributed by Amanda Lange (GameSprout), Clara Fernández-Vara (NYU Game Center), Christoffer Holmgård (ITU Copenhagen), Miguel Sicart (ITU Copenhagen) and Raph Koster.

In this edition: how videogames made oral storytelling culture new again, political art made with computer technology and putting the player back into game design.

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