Stumbling Upon Emergent Gameplay

     My friend and I were playing Far Cry 4 last week when we had an experience neither of us will soon forget. We stumbled upon a stellar example of emergent gameplay. I'll tell you the story and then talk a little bit about what I've learned about the concept.

WARNING: There may be a spoiler or two in this article. I'm not saying anything explicit about the game's narrative, but a picture of a map may reveal information you don't want to know (or something like that). Tread carefully.

The Encounter

     Far Cry 4, for those unaware, is an open-world first-person game set in the dangerous yet beautiful nation of Kyrat.

     When my friend and I play, we go "question mark hunting." All the hidden caves, items, or places on the island that one has not stumbled upon show up as question marks on the map, like so:

     Thus, we went on our merry way playing Dora the Explorer. One of us was Dora and the other was Boots. It was all tremendous fun, until we reached our next location.

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A Heuristic Analysis of Your Game

      I'm currently taking a course in human-computer interaction (HCI) in which the focus is to create a smooth and exemplary user experience for a smartwatch app by applying the principles we learn in class. One of the only requirements for our app is that it not be a game. Why? Building a game for a watch is an entirely different beast than building an app, and the "human-computer interaction" part requires a slightly different approach.

      That being said, we recently learned of Nielsen's heuristics for interface design and the method of heuristic analysis in general. I'd like to share with you all how a heuristic analysis is done and why it might be a good thing to do for your game. I also did a heuristic analysis of two games to see what I could learn, and how I could apply those principles in the future.

Heuristic Analysis

      Before I go any further I must say that if you would like to hear an explanation on this topic from the man himself, here is the link: How to Conduct a Heuristic Evaluation. A majority of

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What's it like to Take a Game Dev Class?

      Hey folks. Long time no talk. School's over for me, and the moonlighting profession has been taken up once more. However, I want to wind the clock back to the beginning of my previous quarter at UCLA, during which I enrolled in a class called "Game Development with the Oculus Rift." I couldn't refuse an opportunity to take such a class! In this blog post, I'm going to cover what it is like to take a class in game development, especially with virtual reality in mind, and how a class like this may benefit you or not.

What makes Virtual Reality any different?

Oculus pic

     At first, when we were all coming up with ideas for our games, a lot of them were rejected outright by our professor. The continuity needed in virtual reality requires a different kind of gameplay. There can be no cutscenes, no eye-blinking, no arm movement, no looking at oneself in mirrors—all these things can break the experience. This limited selection caused around eight of our fourteen teams to create horror games. Luckily, our team went a different route, really focusing on how the Oculus Rift allows

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Realm Racer Devlog #1: Inspirations and Procedural Generation

     If you've been following our twitter, then you'll know we've been making some progress on our game! If you haven't, well, then you should be following us!

     We've done some concept work, and are pretty satisfied with the direction of the game. It's planned to be mobile game—an endless runner, to be exact. However, what excites me most is that it will all be procedurally generated. The whole game. I'm talking the track, the obstacles, the power-ups—everything (even the environment, if we are really good)! It might be slightly hard, trying to balance the game and give the user a fair chance at making some headway, but the challenge will be fun and, more importantly, a learning experience.

Concept Art and Inspirations

     We drew inspiration from some things that consumed a large part of our childhood: HotWheels!

Concept Art Concept art from player view.

     To be more specific, Hot Wheels World Race, Hot Wheels AcceleRacers, and Hot Wheels Velocity X. The first two are movies (well, we own the game for the first one as well, but the the movie

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Perspective + Announcement

The announcement is going to be pretty short. Here is the lowdown: I'm going to GDC. That's right--in 2 days I'll be heading on over to SF and taking in all the things the annual event has to offer!

That's all, as far as announcements go. Now for the real topic of conversation--


In a small studio, most people wear multiple hats during the development process. For teams of less than 10 people, game design is often a decision made by multiple members, not all of whom hold the title "game designer." Similarly, a small studio may not hire a specific person to deal with all PR material--it may be a joint venture by some programmers and artists. This is perfectly acceptable given a lack of resources and time. But visual and sound artists as well as programmers have decisions to make too. So why aren't things like game architecture or implementation decisions discussed with people not in the discipline? I believe we can attribute this to a lack of perspective.

In a game jam I recently participated in, I had my first real experience with a game engine (Unity, to be specific). I had written 2 games before

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PacktPub Giveaway Winners!

     I have our winners from the PacktPub givewaway!

     In no particular order, the winners are:

  1. Charles J. Geringer, winning The Game Jam Survival Guide
  2. Jonathon Lewis, winning Game Data Analysis, Tools and Methods
  3. Jenny Allan, winning Mobile Game Design Essentials

      The winners will receive and email from PacktPub when the book has been put in their PacktPub account (if you do not have an account, PacktPub will help take care of that for you).

     Thanks for entering the giveaway everyone, and congratulations to the winners!

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