The Lazy Designer

New Feature: Couch Games

I know I’ve been terrible with keeping to my blog posting schedule so I hesitate to commit myself to anything else, but here I go, anyways.

Over the past few months I’ve continued learning how to use Unity to build games. I’ve moved a bit beyond some of the cruder prototypes I’ve put together and shown here previously. Starting next month I’ll begin blogging (probably just once each month) about the design process I’ve been using on the current title. The updates won’t be overly detailed, but should provide some insight into what’s going through my head as I work on the game. They will also be paired with a build that can be played (for sure a PC download, possibly a web version).

What game is this!?

Don’t get too excited. The current game isn’t that much more interesting than the other games I’ve tossed up here. But my intent with this is to take something from concept to release and have it at least be somewhat presentable. (If you don’t look at the art I make for it, anyways…)

I’ll talk more about the game in the first update in September, but the basic gist of it and the next few games I’ll work on, after it, is to create “couch games”.

Couch games

No, I’m not referring to something that happens on a second date.

By couch games, I mean, videogames that that can be played on a PC and that support keyboard+mouse play as well as controller support. (Each couch game I make will support 1-4 players.) My kids and I have been playing games like Monaco and Spelunky lately… this is the kind of stuff I want to make. Albeit, more basic, given my team size and resources.

So… simple games but I hope of some entertainment value… basically they’ll resemble classic arcade games, things you can play side-by-side, with friends.

I’m not building these to create games, per se, but to explore various design-objectives (as well as improve my workflow experience with Unity). I suspect the most valuable aspect of building them will be the writeups I create for each build. But I hope some of the games will prove to be amusing diversions in their own right.

(BTW This first game is codenamed: Hauler, so if you see that word bandied about on the blog, this is what it refers to.)

Are You Working on Anything Else, Brent?

Yes and no.

I’m very busy writing wise… I’ve started a new novel and I’m doing some edits on past work. But I do have a bigger game on the backburner as well. Part of the reason I wanted to take Hauler all the way to release, was to get a feel for how the process works with Unity and the challenges of the various platforms. Basically each “couch” game should help me move forwards on the “Bigger Game” (how’s that a for code-name, eh?)

Unfortunately I only get about 10 hours of “game dev” time per month, so progress will be slow. That said, I have been working on Hauler for a few months and I’m several builds ahead of what I want to talk about next month… I hope to stay ahead. So what you’ll be seeing in September, is what I had built last spring.

By Release, Do You Mean “Sell”?

Do I intend to sell Hauler and/or the other games I make?

As part of the investigation aspect of how to release games on PC and exploring the various channels, I’ll probably experiment with putting the games up for sale. But since I even hesitate to call these games, this will be more experimentation than any delusions that they’ll sell.

As well, with each blog post I intend to release a snapshot of the game. So if you are interested in trying them out, you can, and then if you are really ambitious you can compare the various builds and ask me why I removed features from one build to another and stuff like that.

So, no, this is not a money making venture. More an experiment than anything.

Former lead designer at BioWare (Dragon Age: Origins, Neverwinter Nights). Creator of Raiders of the Serpent Sea.

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