News is a big thing for gaming and so far we have only dabbled into the blogging news field, up until now that is. Welcome to the Editor's Notes, updated with news that relates to the modding and indie scene. Not only will we fill you in on the news but also offer our opinions, giving the community a chance to discuss topics relevant to there interests.
A bit late to the party but better than never right? The Left 4 Dead blog has posted part 2 of a series of posts dissecting the game's art direction. This part concerns the stylistic choices in regards to lighting within levels that Valve put into effect to streamline the visual information given to the player. Amongst those discussed is the light-infused fog:
While sudden zombie attacks were inarguably scary, they were also frustrating—players weren't being given the information they needed to react. They wanted that "Here they come!" moment, and we weren't giving it to them. The solution? Light-colored fog:
While not as realistic-looking as actual fog in some settings, it meant playtesters could see attackers in the distance. Once they were able to anticipate attacks, playtesters started to have a much better time.
More importantly, these posts reveal some of the thought process when trying to straddle the divide between realism and fun as a developer. Read more of Left 4 Dead's behind-the-scenes analysis of its art direction by checking out both Part 1 and Part 2.
Cyan Worlds the developers behind the MMO Myst Online URU has confirmed that the title will soon be open source, giving fans the source code for the servers, client and tools. They have also stated they will host all the files on their data servers. By the sounds of it the community will be able to create server side content and puzzles for your avatar to wonder through, long live the adventure genre! This brings up a few points to talk about: Myst Online may be on its last legs as far as supported content is concerned but how will players be able to separate the wheat from the chaff for custom content? Will we see amazing new stories or will there be an influx of unfinished, broken puzzles? Let's hope for some filtering system or a website similar to gmod.org for sifting through content.
The content will be rolled out in 'stages' starting shortly as stated by Tony Fryman, CEO of Cyan Worlds. And until that point they will continue to support one free online server. Let's just hope for Cyan Worlds sake this new venture works without too much input from the original developers.
Double Fine action news reports on the launching of their Psycho-pedia—a collective of infos and tidbits all to do with Double Fine's last release, Psychonauts. It offers a behind-the-scenes peek at many of the concepts that gave life to the final in-game art. Of particular note is the G4 Icons show that chronicles the crunch mode that the Psychonauts team entered in their home stretch and a look back at Tim Schafer's career as game designer. Schafer's tenure at LucasArts during its heyday had him involved with some of the best games to come out under the label like Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle and Grim Fandango. Tim and Double Fine are currently at work on Brutal Legend to be distributed by EA.
If you haven't picked up Psychonauts yet, Steam is having a holiday sale. Those wanting more Tim Schafer goodness can also check out the Grim Fandango Puzzle Doc that was released some time ago and is now hosted on ModDB.
Game designer and educator Dr. Lewis Pulsipher discusses the attitudes and points of view that most successful game designers prescribe to in his latest article on gamecareerguide.com. In it, he explains whether you want to obtain a degree or just learn game design on your own, having an "educated" attitude is a must.
Pulsipher goes on to state the core themes that are prevalent in every successful game designer and whether or not designer need to be pro players. Read the whole article on Game Career Guide's site (which every modder looking to break into the industry should have bookmarked anyways).
While there are many standout projects on ModDB, there's a greater amount of people who constantly question how to do things which are covered, in great detail, on other areas of the internet. This article is great way of suggesting that developers need to have an educated, always-on mindset when it comes to game design.