How Do You Develop Iconic Characters For Your Video Game?

Nothing makes a game sing more than a great lead character. Where do you find them?

Photo courtesy of http://pacman.com/en/

Sometimes I wonder if the fault is in our engines. There’s a sameness to a lot of games. A sameness in movement. A sameness in look. And a sameness in character. Which means a sameness in story.

But in any creative the key to great success is originality. Sure, after a hit game you’re going to see 20 hit games that simply look like variations on a theme. That happens in movies and TV and on the shelves of your local bookstore. Why should video games be any different?

What I’ve been working on are different ways to look at story, different ways to approach things, and asking myself how do you develop iconic characters? Because if your aim is a great game, it begins right there, with a great character living a great story.

That’s what captures people and spins them into the heart of your game. That’s what they remember. And that’s what signs them up for the next ride.

We’re talking story here, which gives rise to character, which underlines your game with iconic force.

I’m not discussing iconic characters in games (because that’s already been ably done right here) but rather looking at ways to pop those iconic characters out of your personal brain pod by examining the context of your story.

Now some games are more story focused than others, but every great character has a story, even if that story only belongs to the design team. Every character needs context and that context begins, always, with desire.

What does the character want above all else? To chew on this let’s look at a simple character that also is arguably one the greatest video game characters of all time: Pac-Man. A simple character in a simple story.

Pac-Man’s whole goal is to survive. And when he doesn’t he lets out that plaintive little cry of despondency, a perfect match to your dead hand on the joystick. I have failed. I have been eaten. Desire so clear-cut means everybody instantly connects with a character, and yes, everybody apparently connected with Pac-Man. And identified with Pac-Man. Another essential criterion for an iconic character.

The context of Pac-Man is the Maze. He’s caught in a Maze. Aren’t we all? That’s the underlying message of the game and why it was an instant cultural tsunami.

A strong, clear-cut desire in a universal context. You can’t beat it.

Let’s stick with Pac-Man a moment because by examining and re-examining context, we deepen our story. What I am suggesting is when you get stuck in your story, check your context. If you find your way forward from the contextual point of view, not only will you uncover new storylines, you will deepen your protagonist’s character.

Pac-Man is trying to survive. Pac-Man is also insatiable. And Pac-Man is trapped. To ultimately survive Pac-Man must escape the maze. The Maze is everything. It defines every single thing about Pac-Man. His world is bound and limited. His hunger is a product of the Maze. His harried scurrying, crazy left, and right, and backward and forward, his limited choices a product of the Maze. Everything about Pac-Man is the Maze and if you want more character in this little ball of fun, keep returning to the Maze, because the Maze will give you endless ways to develop his character, and therefore his story.

You can write a War and Peace length epic novel about Pac-Man if you keep harvesting context from the Maze. And no, I am not going to do that. I said you could do it.

Let’s say some mean ass game producer gives you the assignment of developing Pac-Man’s character. Where do you begin? The Maze. Once upon a time Pac-Man was bored.

What next?

He was bored because he was stuck in the Maze. The Walls were high, the paths limited. The same slog again and again. What would that context mean to Pac-Man? I’d say it would drive him crazy. Pac-Man is insane. In fact, Pac-Man has reached his breaking point. He can’t take the Maze anymore. He snaps. He becomes a homicidal maniac.

Now what?

What if he escapes the Maze? Without the Maze, he wanders the city in an unconfined rage. He kills and maims and becomes Dark Pac-Man. The lack of the Maze is the now context. Without the confines of the Maze he loses all touch with reality. He begins to hallucinate. He starts to babble, but people he meets mistake his babbling for enlightenment. Pac-Man becomes a guru, with followers and a religion springs up. He’s carried around the city in a golden chair.

And then?

Umm, The Maze! Always return to the original context to find your story. He decides the Maze now means survival. He needs to escape the crushing pressures of being The One. He must get back to the Maze. But without walls he is hopelessly lost, there are no boundaries, so how can he find the Maze again?

You figure it out.

There are a million roads to take in a story, but the right ones will be the ones that return to the context of your story. A context can evolve, and shift, and sometimes change completely, but when you get lost in your storyline, step back, check out your context and right there is your new way forward.

Understanding your context and placing your character firmly inside of it can lead you to a protagonist with iconic resonance.


Does Your Team Have What It Takes? (Take The Test & Find Out.)

Video game development is only as good as the team.  But what makes a great team?

I was part of a team that produced 25 grand operas. One after another. Hard work, but the team worked together seamlessly.

I was on a team that launched a major brand globally in 118 countries. The team came from everywhere, had different backgrounds, spoke multiple languages, but pulled together beautifully.

Then I was on a team that produced a TV show. It was a slog, all 200+ episodes, like pushing a big stone up a steep hill.

What was the difference?

If a company wants to outstrip its competitors, it needs to influence not only how people work but also how they work together. NY Times.

It's the Golden Age of Collaboration. 80% of workers time is spent in meetings, or on calls, dealing with emails, or productivity tools like Slack or Streamframe.

Project Aristotle was designed by Google to collect data on teams. The goal was to understand what made a great team. Tracking individual's behaviors, even who had lunch together, allowed Google to amass a huge amount of data to draw sharply sketched conclusions.

And what were they?

I'd sum it up this way:

Okay, yes, I'm being a touch facetious, but studies of how the better performing teams function always came down to fundamental dynamics between team members. In a great team everybody gets a chance to talk, people show respect. Emotions are key. If a team feels suppressed or bullied, its performance suffers.

So maybe a good way to assemble a great team is to test your intuitive understanding of people's emotions. In a room filled with people, emotions are complex and fluid. Reading the teams emotional landscape can make you a great leader. And great leaders lead great teams that get great results for your business.

The Reading The Mind's Eye Test was developed to test the emotional response of highly functioning people with Aspergers. But it also serves to check your ability to read the emotional mindset of the eyes. The eyes, after all, are windows to the soul, and the soul is the homestead of our emotional state.

I got 27/36, so maybe I'm not the hot shot team leader I think I am.

How did you do?

TAKE THE TEST HERE. 


Game Dev on Speed: The 5 Minute Meeting

Video game development is hard work, but you can lose whole days in meetings.

There are days when long meetings are productive. The whole team gets in a room. The discussion is lively. People get their ideas out. People get heard. Teams develop a sense of comradery. But there are other days when meetings become a drag, go on forever, have no focus and ultimately no purpose. Nothing gets done. An entire work day down the tubes.

What's the secret for a great meeting? What are some of the techniques? And is it possible to get more accomplished in less time?

In video game dev you need meetings, you need to get together, you need everybody on the same page. But time is money. So how do you make sure your money is well spent?

It's all in the prep.

Here are steps you can take to make sure your team gets together, talks it over, and gets back to work in the shortest time possible. All the while increasing productivity. And maybe staying less stressed and more healthy as well!

6 STEPS

1. Set an agenda and distribute it ahead of time.

Maybe you have time to do this or maybe not, but if you do, you'll save a ton of time. If everybody knows what you're talking about, people come ready with questions AND answers.

2. Start the meeting off with a quick intro of the topic.

Set it up. If you're the one who called the meeting, it's your meeting, your responsibility, your agenda. Get it going in the right direction right from the start.

3. Assess the problems you're trying to solve.

Have a discussion about industry trends - who's doing what to solve similar problems, new technologies, new ideas. Reference your thoughts. Prepare slides to back up your idea.

4. Discuss solutions.

Make a list and assign the list to different people to try out different solutions. Set up threads to discuss the process. Or even better, solve the problem right there. Don't make a meeting that has to solve too many problems. Pick a problem and solve it. In a sense, as a manager, you might want to use a meeting to teach problem-solving. If your team gets good at problem-solving, maybe you can have fewer meetings!

5. Actions.

Every meeting must result in action. Otherwise, it's a bunch of people getting together and bullshitting. And we've all been to too many meetings like that. Once you have the problem defined and solved, set actions to put into place the solutions, and be specific. Assign the work to a particular team member. Get it done.

6. End every meeting with a summary and a set up the next session.

A healthy production pipeline is always active and has a strong direction. Don't let your development drift.

Get these steps down and your meetings will fly.

But there's one other consideration to set up a quick paced meeting.

What kind of meeting are you having?

There are four basic types of meetings, and knowing which kind your calling makes everything go smooth. And quick.

4 Meeting Types

1. Creative: Discussing any aspect of a story, production, art, design, any detail that needs a creative discussion.

2. Decision: Anything that needs to be decided, budget, purchase of software, team assignments, any organizational discussion, timeline, milestones, when you need decisions to move forward.

3. Information: A breakdown after an industry show, discussions about clients, plans about travel, new technologies to discuss, industry trends, company policies, and programs.

4. Analytical: At the end of development, a dissection, what you've learned, how to apply the experience going forward, the nuts and bolts of the business.


3 Pillars of Great Video Game Design

An idea floats in the ether, formless, a spark, inspiration, but to bring it into focus you need a great design.

A great game, no matter the medium, engages people, gives them new challenges to take on, and skills to learn, and rewards them in the end. This might be chess, or it might be Final Fantasy. It's fundamentally the same.

A well-struck balance between different factors is the hallmark of great game design.

There are three elements that work together to produce a great video game design. There are multiple factors at play, some of them intangible, but balancing these three fundamental parts of a game design, getting everything just right, can take you a long way down the road to a game experience that hooks you and won't let go.

1. Gameplay

Is it possible to make a game so intuitive to play you jump into the game, and you're completely immersed from the start? Maybe not, but I believe that should be the goal of every great game design. It's truly a fundamental part of games that is often overlooked. People will talk story (so will we in a moment) and art and atmosphere when they discuss game design, but the gameplay makes the difference. Good gameplay design gets you into the game fast, and you forget about it. It's seamless. What can be more fundamental and critical in game design?

You might spend hours getting the look of your characters just right, but if the gameplay is off, nobody will ever get a chance to enjoy all your hard labor on character design.

There is a place for all those elements people often discuss when it comes to game design, but I rolled them into one big, meaningful whole because seeing them that way creates another concrete pillar for our game design triad.

2. Dimensionality.

Let's borrow from String Theory for a second (yes, really) to discuss dimensionality as height, width, depth and time. To create a vibrant four-dimensional place, a game must look to different emotional elements working in harmony: Soundscapes, art, music, voices, story, all combining to design a real immersive atmosphere, The idea is to transport a player.

Gameplay gets them into the game, but dimensionality propels the player into another world. The perfect balance achieved, and the player is barely aware of the game at all, the player becomes part of the game. To bring a player to this state, it's important to understand all the elements of a game's dimensionality must work together. Anything superfluous must go.

A great game can be a crude sketch, a simple world of 8-bit depth, but even in the most straightforward game the right dimensionality draws a player into the game and provides a memorable experience.

Let's play that again; the greatest compliment a game designer can hear.

Which brings us to the third pillar a fundamentally sound game design must have, and arguably the most important. Without this, you might as well not even begin.

3. Concept.

When I was a kid, I started out in an advertising agency that was devoted to the Big Idea. The Big Idea was everything. It was undeniable. It was unique. It set an impossible standard, but it served an exact purpose. Unless your idea resonated, breathed, had its own momentum, you shelved it and looked for another one.

Believe me; I spent many hours staring out my office window at 3 A.M. waiting for the Big Idea to appear. And when somebody nailed one, it sent a charge up and down our New York skyscraper. Nothing has more power than the Big Idea, and it's as true today as it was twenty years ago.

Do you alway come up with a Big Idea? No. If every game, every designer had a Big idea, the world would be a better place, but sometimes you have to move forward with what you've got.

The point is to examine every aspect of your game idea until you have shaped and understood your concept. Because Big Idea or not, everything must serve the concept. If it doesn't, hit delete.

Test your concept, challenge your concept, go over it with other people, make sure your entire team is on the same page about every aspect of your concept. What's the ultimate test of your concept? You can't wait to start. And that eagerness to share your work is at the bedrock of every great game design.


The Beautiful Process of Digital Art at Streamline

In our digital art, we seek mystery and depth.

We endeavor to break new ground, wander new realms, find our way to something new every day.

It is an artists' charge to do no less.

An artist strives to stand away from society. To be different. The rest of us - the bankers and politicians and scientists and teachers - are under no such obligation. But an artist stands alone by choice, becomes their own testing ground, their own experiment, creates their own path and rules. Not that any of this process is all that considered or fits any pattern or route. The best art surprises the artist as well. It is unexpected. All revelations are.

Experience in art only means experience in discarding and choosing, no experience in the process, and every master will tell you the life of an artist is losing all technique until all you are left with is the core of your inspiration.

So most of us take it for granted the life we have, the nuts and bolts of it, but an artist recasts it, approach the mystery beneath, not to solve it or find any great answer there, but merely to point and say all may not be as it seems.

In digital art, in the complex collaboration of video game development, this dance toward art is the greatest challenge. It requires a process that is rigorous and free at the same time. It requires a depth of communication between different teams. It 's hard. But it's possible. And the result can be translucent.


Confirmation Bias or How To Trash Your Game Dev

You're not so smart. And if you need proof, read on about confirmation bias.

Okay, I'm not looking for a fight, but in an industry loaded with geeks, let's be honest--everybody's an Einstein.

Or at least dresses like one.

Come on, I've been to GDC. There's nothing like a convention hall teeming with unbridled geekery to reveal what's at the core of our industry.

So it's no surprise on video game development teams there's no shortage of passionately voiced opinions. That 9 AM stand-up can be like discussions on a Reddit thread.

But here's something to consider: What if all those opinions are not a matter of right or wrong, or even (gulp) knowledge, but are a matter of something else--like a lifetime of assumption?

What if what you hear from the programmer in thick black-framed glasses at the end of the distressed communal table is not in fact 'fact', but confirmation bias?

But the guy is a certified code warrior, right? He invented that app that--well, we don't remember what it did, but he flipped it 50 million on his 13th birthday.

Here's the rub: Even a super-geek can fall victim to this insidious symptom.

What is confirmation bias?

Kevin Hendzel, on his blog Word Prisms, states about confirmation bias:

"It's deadly in scientific research because it drives well-meaning and quite dedicated researchers to interpret evidence in a way that's unwittingly partial to existing beliefs or theories, which skews results, blocks valid conclusions and often points in the wrong direction."

Oh, that's wrong, I mean that's plain wrong. Scientists! We count on them! How can they fall victim to this?

con·fir·ma·tion bi·as

noun

The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories.




Charles Lord, Lee Ross & Mark Lepper wrote:

People who hold strong opinions on complex social issues are likely to examine relevant empirical evidence in a biased manner. They are apt to accept "confirming" evidence at face value while subjecting "disconfirming" evidence to critical evaluation, and, as a result, draw undue support for their initial positions from mixed or random empirical findings. 

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 37(11), Nov 1979, 2098-2109.
Now you understand the comments section of the internet. Thank you. But we have a different concern here.

Imagine you and your team are in the middle of an incredibly complex video game production.

The scrums are no fun, the sprints needs splints and agile is just a dream. In other words, pretty much industry-standard. But another manager's nightmare is loose. The information you get is not accurate, or turns out not quite the full story, something is off, and the production veers out of control no matter how many state-of-the-art management software platforms you deploy.

Is the faulty intel the result of confirmation bias?

How can you tell?

Is there a test you can apply to your process to weed out the broken, erroneous or misinterpreted data?

Not a test, but there is confirmation of confirmation bias.

Watch this:

Okay, that wasn't too hard. But it was a spiffy example of following rules no matter what, and in the experiment, Peter Wason, an English psychiatrist, demonstrated people are biased towards confirming existing beliefs.

Why are people that way?

Wason concluded they focus on the cost of being wrong, rather than following scientific methods to reach a validated conclusion. People have a natural inbuilt fear of embarrassment. Have you ever done a piece of creative work and twenty people say it's great, and one person says it sucks? Which opinion lingers?

Wason demonstrated instead of trying to falsify a hypothesis, people try to confirm a hypothesis.

Wason used the same test as is in the video. And the results were the same too.

People made a rule then couldn't bring themselves to break it. In the video, people looked confused the rule wasn't their rule!

They were wrong. People don't like to be wrong. Hence, confirmation bias, which can be a frantic hunt for facts to support their wrongness.

And another link of this chain; you find what you want to find, or see what you want to see;  a twist on this is one's person's history becomes another person's conspiracy theory.

What does this have to do with video game development?

It's something to keep in mind for any business management, something to understand.. The wrong decision in business can be the last decision a company makes. Commitment to a strategy, tactic, plan, or even a product, in the face of evidence things are not going all that great, becomes a business Hail Mary. Personal belief, misleading personal experience, or worse of all, a manager afraid of being wrong can be a lethal dead-end for any business or production.

Do you have any examples to share of how confirmation bias might have messed up your development?


TPP & Video Game Development

The largest trade agreement in human history is veering toward the finish line.

Gobierno de Chile @ Flickr

"For America's friends and partners, ratifying the TPP is a litmus test of credibility and seriousness of purpose."

Prime Minster Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore

Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations have been on-going since 2011. Five years of off-the-record meetings and negotiations involving a dozen economies scattered around the Pacific Rim. (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.)

Now American President Obama has 100 days (give or take a day) to get this done. Congress is ready, but a lot of folks are nervous about signing off. And if you think reading and absorbing 6000 page legalize text and all around global is fun, or a beach read, think again.

To me, the subtext of the Prime Minister’s statement gets it done now because the next American president might kick it to the curb, and with it all the work and plans the region was counting on for the next fifty years. Whoever the next president might be (Clinton 76% chance, Trump 22% chance) the TPP is in serious trouble in the US. Say the word 'globalization' in a place like Ohio (a battleground state in the November election) and you’ll get yourself turned into a full-time mascot at a local bar league softball game. 80% of American politicians are up for election in November. Take a guess at how many of them are stomping around their district singing praises of the TPP?

So much has been written about his thing, and I have to say, about 90% of what I read is essentially bullshit. How could it not be? First, nobody even had the document until six months ago. Second, it's a hard slog getting through it. I'm enough of politico-geek to try it, and my hobby is arcane language written by low-level staff members of economic ministers. But wow. What does it all mean? Does anybody know? And is this thing even legal?

Let's start with that last question first. The short answer is no, the TPP is not law, not binding even. It's an ‘obligation.' An 'obligation' can go all the way from 'you have to do it', to 'it’s a favor', and that’s a lot of wiggle room. You leave that kind of wiggle room in a document and you can count on a lot wiggling; especially, when your ‘obligations’ stretch across a dozen borders and cultures and languages. The TPP is like retirement savings for lawyers. Disputes in this thing are going to keep judges pounding gavels for years at a time. So there’s that.

But what on earth can all this fret and worry have to do with Pokemon Go? Or any video game development?

I'm glad you asked. This is, after all, a post about that very question. So here is my dollar store explanation of a single critical issue put together after too many hours in the coffee shop reading. The whole treaty affects everything to do with the video game industry, but one particular article hones in on the matter (and fears).

First, here is the TPP. Read it yourself. Good luck.

Okay, finished? Here we go.

Copyright.

Nail me to a tree, right? The copyright discussion usually turns into a bloody hack fest when discussed by video gamers. Me? You don't want to know what I think because I'm most likely on the opposite of everything in your religion. I like copyright. I've made a good living from copyright. I want it to last forever. So yeah, let's keep it civil and say this: The TPP doesn't change a damn thing about copyright. I mean you didn't think it would, did you? Or even could? It levels the playing field in that American practice will most likely be the ‘obligation,' which means the life of the IP owner and 70 years. I say obligation because it's not the law to do that. Here's an actual quote:

Each Party shall endeavour to achieve an appropriate balance in its copyright and related rights system, among other things by means of limitations or exceptions that are consistent with Article 18.65 (Limitations and Exceptions), including those for the digital environment, giving due consideration to legitimate purposes such as, but not limited to: criticism; comment; news reporting; teaching, scholarship, research, and other similar purposes; and facilitating access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled.

Note ‘digital environment.’ That’s the footprint of Microsoft and Sony and every other heavy hitter in the video game industry. Do I think this is a lethal spear into the gut of data miners and modders? Nope. The laws in place are the laws in place. I see this as global ass-covering, mainly. It was uncool (and illegal) to rip off somebody's work before, and it's still uncool. Keep calm and play on. Wear your cos-play outfit in peace; especially if you're blind.

And then there’s the DRM issue. Check this out.

Each Party shall provide for criminal procedures and penalties to be applied if any person is found to have engaged wilfully and for the purposes of commercial advantage or financial gain in any of the above activities.

A Party may provide that the criminal procedures and penalties do not apply to a nonprofit library, museum, archive, educational institution, or public non-commercial broadcasting entity. A Party may also provide that the remedies provided for in Article 18.74 (Civil and Administrative Procedures and Remedies) do not apply to any of the same entities provided that the above activities are carried out in good faith without knowledge that the conduct is prohibited.

For greater certainty, no Party is required to impose civil or criminal liability under this subparagraph for a person that circumvents any effective technological measure that protects any of the exclusive rights of copyright or related rights in a protected work, performance or phonogram, but does not control access to such that work, performance or phonogram.

They should have paid me to write this thing up. I see all that as reducing to something like this:

If you break DRM, and you don't re-sell stuff, it's between you and whoever, your choice, but the TPP police aren't coming for you.

More pithy, right? Look, I can be as naive as the next guy with a laptop and a basement, but so far the TPP is not tying my whitey-tightys into a knot.

More to come, I'm sure. There are issues around trade secrets and corporate law-bending, and evil mega-corporation with appetites for your babies. Massive, clumsy free-trade deals are on the I-hate list of every blogger and social media maven from here to Alpha-Centauri. But unless you think somehow we're going to end globalization and return to either a Games of Thrones world (unlikely) or a Walking Dead world (more likely) we need to figure out how to trade. Just like Louis Ambroise did. (Look it up.)


Do You See The $30 Million?

Pokemon Go is video game development on steroids. Where's this new technology taking us?

You're walking around the streets, you're gathering in parks and people without a screen in their hands side-step around you like you're a gang member. And in a way, you are.

Yes friends, Pokemon Go dropped $30 million bucks to develop their amazing game and judging by the hordes walking around the world with their noses buried in a screen, it was worth every cent.

Here's a quick synopsis of the whole Pokemon Go story from our friends at Federator.


No Man’s Sky: How To Be God And Have Fun At The Same Time

Okay, everybody is going to play this game. It's a single player game. It's a game you'll never finish. And you get to play God. Not bad.

Having god-like powers is no new thing in video games, but having accidental god-like powers is. I couldn't help but think I'm creating this as I went toward new planets. Is this how God felt when he was spending the 7-days making everything? Was it just like this? By being and going, the universe unfolded beneath his/her/gender-neutral feet? No Man's Sky is THAT kind of game, pushing video game development into far reaches of the galaxy.

It isn't exactly beautiful because the scale of play is something like 18-quatrillion planet possibilities and not everything can be beautiful. It has Minecraft-like features. It's not really finished either—it has the feel of work in progress in places, but man, they have made some serious progress. But it does evoke a mood, a feeling, a reflection of the meaning of things, the meaning of existence and I mean that in a literal sense. That's a pretty impressive result, wouldn't you say?

I'm not expecting a mainstream pop hit here. This game will appeal to a particular crowd - the kind of people who think intergalactic terraforming and random alien encounters is their idea of a good Saturday night. But it is captivating in an experiential sense. You kind of vibrate with expectation with this game. It's the ultimate explorer's thrillgasm, like you're Livingston AND Stanley AND Captain Kirk all at the same time.

It will grow. That's key to this whole fantastic venture. The longer people play this game, the more interesting and varied the No Man's Sky universe becomes. It's like we're all Einsteins with our little relativity sandbox to play in.

And maybe we bump into somebody's warped world on the way. Though that appears unlikely, like in, you know, the actual real universe.

And you can name things.

Of course, for me, that means a bucketful of worlds and places named after existential philosophers, like Kierkegaard Gardens, Heidegger Canyon, or Kafka Lane (No Outlet.) Yes, kitschy, but No Man's Sky evokes a combination of kitsch and metaphysical musing that would have made Satre proud. Well, maybe less depressed.


What Video Game Developers Learn From Toru Iwantani, Pac-Man Creator

A project lays out in front of you, perhaps without shape, but with a goal. And some will start down a path with just that. If the goal is compelling enough, the process can be chaotic or highly organized. 

 

An exciting goal draws divergent streams together until everything flows in the same direction. 

 

1. Acknowledge your limitations

Can limitations in a process serve to focus results? In her book, Susan Lammers, Programmers at Work, Susan Lammers interviewed Pacman designer, Toru Iwatani.

“There’s a limit to what you can do with a computer. Hardware limitations become my limitations. They restrict me, and I’m no different from any artist–I don’t like constraints. I’m also limited because the only place the end result appears is on the screen. Turn the computer off, and the images vanish.”

 

2. Promote an active naïveté

Frontiering in an industry can create an organically uninhibited process. There’s lessons to be learned from this kind of informed naiveté and the inspirations it can produce.

“I had no special training at all; I am completely self-taught. I don’t fit the mold of a visual arts designer or a graphic designer. I just had a strong concept about what a game designer is–someone who designs projects to make people happy.”

3. Define a goal, with a strong pull

It’s possible an absolutely irresistible goal will organically create the process needed to achieve it.