My 15 minutes of fame on Gamasutra

After I spoke about prototyping at the IGDA Leadership Forum, Gamasutra (who covered it) asked if I wanted to do a full-length feature on the topic. I’m terrible at writing non-fiction, but what game developer doesn’t want to be on Gamasutra? I immediately said yes.

It took me four months.

It was terrible – I kept writing and rewriting myself, then putting it off to finish our game, then putting it off again to start a new game, and every time I looked at what I’d written, I’d rewrite it again. It was going nowhere so fast that my boss and Gabby had to sit me down at GDC and say, “Luna, please take a day off from your work duties to finish the damn thing.”

And that’s exactly what I did. I went to Peet’s in Redwood City, downed a couple drinks (good enough for a few hours of WiFi), and finished the damn thing. I sent it to Gamasutra a few days later.

And now, HERE IT IS! Bwahahahaha!

Quick and Dirty Prototyping: A Success Story

I guess for most writers, this wouldn’t be a big deal – I mean, it’s not a novel or anything. But I think it’s good for our little studio, and is kind of cool for me, too. There is not much excitement here in Redwood City, so consider me excited. (It even has its own news blurb, plus a cute little banner of our goblin on the front page.)

Okay, that’s enough celebration. Back to work!

An existential moment

Just a quick note to say I’m at GDC Austin, having an existential moment. I was sitting there in a room full of game writers, and people were asking them questions like: “Should I go take an MFA to be a better game writer?” or “How do I get hired as a freelance game writer?”

And I realized, with an actual physical jolt, that two years ago I was one of those people asking the exact same questions.

I got the same answers back then – go and write, go get experience, it’s better to actually write a game than talk/research/study about it, etc. I was all set to take an MFA before I’d asked. As luck would have it, I never got to study – because I got hired soon afterward.

All through the day, I found myself relating to a lot of the comments and examples raised, thinking, “Oh, that totally happens in the casual games industry”, or, “Oh, I’ve had half of my story chopped out , too; I know what _that’s_ like.” So, two years later, I am writing/designing my own game – how cool is that? I’m really not sure how I got here, but I am damn happy.

(I also got a lot of producer jokes today, which I took in stride. I will probably get designer jokes in November.)

I’ll write a proper GDC Austin entry later – I need to get some scripting work done, and check the builds, before heading off to drink with other writers. Life is good.

Historical quotes and translations

One of the things I love about being a game designer is I get paid to research and learn the coolest, funniest things.

Today’s historical fact, found in my random reading:

The mantelpiece commemorates the marriage in 1510 between SirJohn Campbell of Argyll and Muriel Calder of Cawdor. The allegorical design and the inscription in dog Latin have never been satisfactorily explained or translated, all of which is highly satisfactory. The writing may mean ‘In the morning, remember your creators’. Or it may mean something quite else, like ‘If you stay too long in the evening, you will remember it in the morning.

If you are into this kind of thing, the English translation of Lorem ipsum is actually quite wonderful.

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but because occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?

With all the crap that fills up the Verse, I’m always pleased to find these little gems.

Around the web

Last week, I wrote my first “serious” article for the Boomzap developer blog, on how to work from anywhere. I wrote it while working from my favorite coffee shop, and snuck a picture of my table while doing it:

(Points if you can figure out what I'm eating/drinking)

A few days later, I wrote a quickie article for my friend Joelle who wanted to know where I liked to hang out in Singapore. Actually, it was more of a rushed e-mail than an article – but she went and published it anyway, on the Globe website. There is an embarrassing picture of me with my hair blowing wild under the Merlion, which she found on my Flickr.

And somewhere around this time, I was asked by the university to submit what they call “copies of scholarly output” – upon which I looked at my 60+ written articles for Casual Review and wished they were scholarlier. I haven’t written anything longer than a page in years (my NaNoWriMo novels not included, as they weren’t serious anyway) and I’m wondering if I should just sit down and do it, so I’ll have something respectable to show.