Satoru Iwata

It was with great sadness that I received news of Satoru Iwata’s death this week. Nintendo president from 2002, he was the first to inherit the title outside of the Yamaguchi family and saw the company through some difficult and prosperous times.

Although I would not consider myself a huge fan of the Nintendo franchise, I do have a deep appreciation for their consistent dedication to quality and the approachability of their titles. The first console I ever owned was the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES), which I remember very fondly. I would hurry to finish dinner so I could play Duck Hunt with my dad and since passed grandfather. I think they got even more from this game than I did, but I take some enjoyment from their frustration of being unable to shoot “that bloody annoying dog”.

I also owned the original Nintendo DS and was so excited to get my hands on it, I actually imported it from Japan months ahead of the UK release. It was around this point that Nintendo, under Iwata’s guidance, began to really explore making titles for all ages and preferences. Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training – part of my daily ritual at the time, had more in common with a modern smart-phone app than Super Mario Bros. And yet, it was an entertaining experience which promised the benefits of an active, healthy mind. It was the kind of thing even my grandmother could play and enjoy.

One of my lasting memories of Iwata, was when I discovered he reduced his own salary, and the salary of other executives within the company in order to reduce the loss of jobs at Nintendo during a rough financial period. It was such refreshing news, given that executives with capitalist mindsets typically tend to secure their own needs above those of their subordinates.

Ultimately, Iwata was a gamer. He was able to develop his career as a game developer as a result of his passion, and love for games:

On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.

Satoru Iwata – GDC 2005

Memorials to his life and accomplishments are popping up on Twitter (#RIPIwata) and news sites throughout the web:

Truly, his death comes as a blow to the gaming community worldwide. He has left a very large shadow.

Thank you, Iwata-san.

Academic and author Heather Chaplin delivers a clear warning against game developers who exploit addictive behaviours.

This trend [of Skinner Box design] is actually not only morally reprehensible, but actually bad for business if you just design down the hole leading to addiction.

Despite being a short video, it makes a very clear point.

Chaplin illustrates similarities in game development trends to those leading to alcoholism and substance abuse, and in fairness both cases generally have somebody who stands to profit by taking advantage of a person’s need to fuel their addiction.

A growing concern (though not a new one), is that games are becoming increasingly addictive. In May, changes to legislation in Nevada have seen skill-based slot machines with video game-style play approved for Las Vegas casinos. In an effort to identify with a new generation of gamblers, the idea is that the new machines will appeal to a fresh audience and continue to drive revenue.

Also of note is the potential move to legalise gambling in Japan, which some believe to have had a profound effect on the business model of Konami, a well known game developer. Following changes to the company’s corporate structure, and the loss of their figurehead, Hideo Kojima, many fear that the company responsible for Castlevania and the Metal Gear franchises, among many others, is all but giving up on console titles.

With such changes becoming apparent, it is important to ensure the competitive nature of gaming does not exploit the player.

Do you want to play to addiction in order to make money, or create a game that people want to keep playing?

Source: Gamasutra

Little Devil Inside

Neostream announced this week that they’re switching development of Little Devil Inside from Unity 4.6 to the Unreal Engine.

In their Kickstarter announcement on Monday, they stated the necessity of the switch was apparent after consulting with other professionals:

Development-wise, we’ve seriously been looking into shifting over to the Unreal Engine. We have been getting a lot of professional advice on this and although there may be a little lead time, overall, this just looks like a much more feasible option taking into account what we want to create and achieve.

Following a successful funding campaign which ended on the 25th of May this year, development on Little Devil Inside is due to start this month, aiming for an Autumn 2016 release. Their Kickstarter managed to crowd fund $306,515 (AUD) – A little over $56,000 above their initial target.

As a backer of this campaign (at the physical level), I’m somewhat relieved their decision to switch game engine has been made at this early stage. Whilst it’s a fairly big change, the team is still small and in the early stages of their development. As such, at this non-critical point, they have the time and resources to dedicate to learning the new software and refactoring their existing work.

Little Devil Inside - artwork

About Little Devil Inside

From the developers:

Little Devil Inside is a truly engaging 3D action adventure RPG game where you are thrown into a surreal but somewhat familiar setting with humans, creatures and monsters to interact with, learn and hunt – journey, survive and discover the world that exists beyond.

This game is not just about killing arch-demons and saving the world. Take in the atmosphere and live a realistic life in an unrealistic world. This is a game that tells stories about people with ‘unusual’ jobs such as hunting monsters and what happens in their everyday life doing so.

You can check out the first Little Devil Inside trailer below.

About Neostream

Established in 1998, Neostream Interactive Pty Ltd originated as a multimedia company and has transitioned fully into game development.

Experiences with projects in design, TV commercials, Animations etc. Based on these experiences, they now begin their first game title – Little Devil Inside.

Neostream’s founding members are two brothers; Kody Lee. (Founder, Creative Director, 3D / 2D artist, Concept, game design) and J.J. Lee (Founder, Programmer).

Source: Kickstarter

This video by Good Blood Games is the first of what I hope is an ongoing series of critical reviews called Dear Developer.

Javed, lead producer and animator at Good Blood, really seems to understand the problems facing Sega’s recent string of failures relating to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.

Whilst his suggestions are by no means absolute or exhaustive, in this short video he presents ideas which are backed by solid data and research. He speaks about the 16bit titles with personal insight and passionately makes the point that there is still life to be nurtured from their flagship hero.

Source: Good Blood Games

I recently happened upon this interesting video which looks at the sheer scale of Minecraft.

The game, which last year sold to Microsoft for $2.5 billion is huge in every sense, despite its simplicity. Developed by the Swedish game developer, Markus “Notch” Persson (@Notch on Twitter) and originally released in 2009 as a playable alpha, the game is an inspiring success story of an indie developed title making it big.

If you want to learn more about the game and the team behind it, the documentary Minecraft: The story of Mojang is an interesting and in-depth history which I’d recommend.

Source: WIRED

This is OZARIN! My own little slice of the internet.

I’m Bryan, and I spend most of my days designing and building websites, apps and interfaces. You can read more of my personal bio on the About page. It’s a little sparse just now but it’ll grow with the site, so please check back later.

I built this website, as I’ve recently taken a deeper interest in game development and hope to expand on my existing skill set and put my talents to work on building my own game. In the past, I’ve found that documenting my approach is not only beneficial to me, but that others can learn a trick or two in the process. Hopefully that’s through my success, though sometimes failure can offer just as much insight.

I’m pretty much starting from scratch. I have no formal training and despite working in the games industry, I haven’t been presented with any unfair advantages which would allow me to develop my abilities beyond anyone else. I’ll be sharing all of my resources and approaches to learning here, and I’ll revisit these at a later date in order to review how effective I feel they’ve been.

It’s worth mentioning I’ll also include all manner of non-programming related things here. If they amuse, entertain or enlighten me, I’ll be sure to share them with you. It probably won’t be entirely unrelated to gaming though.

For the time being, I’ll leave comments turned on, but I don’t have a great deal of time to spend moderating content. If it turns out to be mostly spam, then I’ll sever the commenting feature as I would a necrotic limb!

If you want to leave feedback or there’s a subject you’d like me to cover, you can use the contact form on the Get in touch page. You can also drop me a mention via the @ozarintweets Twitter account for a speedy, 140 character response.

Thanks for reading. And welcome to OZARIN.