Posted by: Tj'ièn | February 17, 2011

Dreams

It has been a while since my last post here, but I suddenly felt the urge to write…

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed. I’ve been overwhelmed by a lot of things, by what’s happening in my personal life as well as what has happened in my professional life. I suddenly realized that I was overwhelmed when I was mindlessly browsing the net when I decided to go and have another look at our studio’s blog and see if there where any new posts and then my attention was drawn to the names at the side, links to the blogs of our studio’s artists. And while I visited each of their blogs I not only realized how talented they are, something I was quite aware of before this particular visit, but I realized they are all working on their dreams. They are all really trying to make their ambitions a reality, something I can only show the deepest respect for.

Some months ago the designers at our studio, including myself, were treated to a prototyping workshop by Vlambeer’s Jan Willem. Since then I’ve occasionally been following Vlambeer and their journey into the games industry and they seem to be doing really well, giving talks and lectures across the country, winning the Global Game Jam Netherlands and soon. These guys are working hard on their ambitions and they are fulfilling their dreams, and they also make it seem easy.

Since a few weeks I’ve been counseling game design students with their graduation project, which allows them to create something stunning without a pre-determined outcome set by their education, but only set out by them. In our first meeting they had to present themselves, their skills and their ambitions for after school while providing some details on their project as well. I’ve always found it extremely fun to help students achieve their goals, work on their skills as a designer and improve their chances on landing a job in the industry or start their own company. It’s fun to see people working on achieving their dreams.

When I started this article I didn’t know where it would end, or why I should write it in the first place. But now I slowly start to understand that the people that have impressed me the last couple of months are the people that are really chasing their dreams. So why is it that these observations strike a particular chord with me? Why am I touched, and moved. Why do I feel the need to put my thoughts on paper? Why do they make me feel anxious, nervous, jealous, tense and insecure? Could it be that it is time for me to chase my dreams? But what are my dreams?

Surely something I need to think about.

Posted by: Tj'ièn | May 1, 2010

What is good design?

There is no right answer and definitely not a single answer to this question as ‘good design’ is relative to your perspective on it, such as a commercial standpoint or an artistic standpoint. Ico, for example is a great game and a typical example of good design from an artistic standpoint, however, commercially it wasn’t a success. There are plenty of examples of good designs that are a commercial success, but aren’t necessarily exhibiting artistic strength, such as sport games for instance.

Ico and NKA 2K10

I do have a personal view on this. A good design is one that focuses on a single element and does no concessions in achieving this goal. Both doing no concessions and focusing are really hard to achieve and rarely happen in my opinion.

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Posted by: Tj'ièn | April 27, 2010

What is the difference between toys, games and puzzles?

This is an interesting question and something I thought about for quite a while. We all feel that there is a difference between these things, although when we take a closer look they are all quite similar. Puzzles have rules and goals just like games. Games are played, just like toys. Some people have described playing with Lego is similar to playing a game; there are unwritten rules on ‘proper ways’ to use the bricks for example.

So where do toys end and games start? Where do games end and puzzles start? Where should we draw the line? My answer is we don’t draw the line.

The way I see it, they are all part of the same thing. The only difference is the player’s role while operating with them.

PuzzlesGamesToys

With puzzles, there is usually only one answer, one solution. The player’s role is confined to finding the answer to the puzzle. Like a riddle, the puzzle challenges the player to find the answer. The player is limited.

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