Friday, November 18, 2016

MIGS '16


Haha, christ, the last time I posted on this was in 2014. 

ahem 

But yes, I was in MontrĂ©al last weekend to return to MIGS after 4 years, this time to talk about Firewatch. And as promised, here are the slides with full text in the speaker notes. I usually prefer to split those up but didn't have time to do it for this go:


Will it be another two years before I post on here again? Only time will tell! (Probably)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Firewatch



Sometimes, I forget I have this blog! The last ... nine months were part of that time.

But I remembered now, and just in time to share the first video of Campo Santo's first game, Firewatch.

All the footage is in-engine, ain't that somethin'?

Folks interested in see what we're going to be up to as the game moves forward to follow what we're doing at our dev blog, where I'll even post occasionally (and probably more often than here, if we're being honest).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gamercamp '13 Text and Slides


I recently gave a talk at Gamercamp in Toronto, which was fantastic. First time at the event or ever in Toronto and both were outstanding, 10/10, would go back again.

As promised, here are the slides and text from the talk:

http://bit.ly/nels_gc13

There's a .doc and a .ppt in that .zip. I recommend you fire up the .doc and the .ppt side by side. Every time you read a bold word in the .doc, advance the .ppt. If you have any thoughts/questions/feedback/whatever, I'd love to hear it.

Also, I can't believe I didn't post about it here, but I left Klei like ... three months ago. I'm partnering with Sean Vanaman, Jake Rodkin and Olly Moss to start a new studio called Campo Santo. It's going to be pretty cool.

Monday, April 1, 2013

GDC '13 Slides & Text


I have returned from GDC (and PAX East proceeding it)! Simply, it was an amazing time. I am also physically ruined and confused as to what day/age it is. But hey, at least the weather here in Vancouver is gorgeous.

As promised, here are the slides and text for the talk I delivered on Friday at 10 AM. I cannot guarantee that the text is the same as the words that came out of my mouth on the day of (in fact I promise it's not), but it's close enough to be well representative. Heh, it's actually possibly more thoughtful and composed in parts that whatever I burned through that day.

Here it be: http://bit.ly/nelsgdc13

There's a Word .doc, a .ppt and a .odp (OpenOffice's PowerPoint-but-not format). I actually created everything in OpenOffice, because I sure as hell can't afford the Office suite at home and when saving to .ppt from OpenOffice, the videos disappear. So, uh, sorry about that and if anyone knows how to fix that, let me know.

I recommend you fire up the .doc and the .ppt/.odp side by side. Every time you read a bold word in the .doc, advance the .ppt/.odp. If you have any thoughts/questions/feedback/whatever, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks to everyone who came to the talk on Friday despite almost certainly great revelry the night before. It was fantastic seeing everyone at GDC and can't wait to do so again, hopefully sooner than next March.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Conferring

I'm going to be speaking at GDC this year! Specifically, I'll be talk about the design of Mark of the Ninja on Friday at 10 AM. If you're at the conference and want to have your ears filled by me, it would be awesome if you came by. Some other folks from Klei are going to be talking about Ninja in more of a general post-mortem sense as well, on Monday at 1:45 PM, so you should totally come for that too!

In a back-to-back conference/convention horrorshow (it will be fun, but literally flying across the continent both ways in three days is not the stuff of joy), we'll at PAX East in Boston the weekend before GDC as well! Klei is #774 in the IndieMegabooth and I'll be there for part of the time. We're showing off both Don't Starve and something brand new for Ninja, which I'm quite excited about.

Also, I'll be on a panel on Saturday night at 7:30 PM about communicating information through UI with most of the folks from Three Moves Ahead. It should be pretty cool, so if you're in Boston for PAX, come out!

Finally, I realized I've been slacking on linking my Unwinnable posts. My second one was a bit about Dark Souls and other games that create joy through suffering and most recently, I posted about the usefulness and hazards of playtesting. So read them words!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Unwinning


Both in person and on here (I think), I've mentioned that some changes would be arriving here in the near future. Well, the good ship Change has indeed arrived.

I've started writing a monthly column at Unwinnable, the first of which went live today: http://www.unwinnable.com/2012/12/06/on-faith/

Unwinnable has amassed a truly staggering body of talent and joining them is both incredibly exciting and a little daunting. But I am looking forward to it very much.

What this means for this site is, well, at least monthly, I'll link the Unwinnable columns here. Heh, so this place will be slightly less of the barren wasteland it has been since Ninja got crazy, but I'm not sure how much less. Random one-off thoughts that probably aren't fodder for a full column might end up here, but this site will be primarily for various announcements and other similar things from now on.

This site has been incredibly invaluable for me, with the conversations that rose out of it and everything I learned composing thoughts here. But its mission is also largely accomplished, I think. Everything I considered here I tried to apply to Mark of the Ninja and I know that game would have been poorer had the conversations here not occurred. This blog helped me connect with some tremendous people whose writing and games continue to inspire and challenge me today.

I wanted make my perspective part of a collection of voices though, and Unwinnable was an amazing opportunity to do just that. It's kind of crazy to think that when I started this almost exactly four years ago, I had no idea what would be in store. It's been an amazing ride here with Above49, but it's time to take what I wanted to do here to the next level.

Hope you all will take a look at the piece over at Unwinnable and check out all the other amazing writing that's on their site. And my tremendous, profound appreciation to everyone who's commented, linked and simply read the words I put up here. It's been so, so valuable for me. Really, thank you all.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Holy hell, do I love Dark Souls


After finishing Mark of the Ninja, I had a pile of games on my mantle that I didn't have time to play. Dark Souls was the one at the top of the heap and, well, I haven't gotten any further into the heap yet. I honestly don't even know what to say about Dark Souls. I've connected with it on a more basal level that probably anything else I've played in a long time. There's so much going on with the game that's presented in such fantastic, confident ways, I almost don't know what to make it so. So I'll just relate one tale from a few nights ago, and apologies, if you haven't played Dark Souls, this will probably make very little sense:

Basically, I just an absurdly amazing time in Anor Londo.

I'd never been through before when I arrived at the large palace/cathedral building. I made it through a bit of the place, nothing too crazy. I see a note on the ground that says "Need Humanity." I figure, why the hell not?

Go back to the bonfire where the Sun Knight is, Unhollow and then there are like 4 summon signs on the ground. I pull in a person, without much idea of what we'll even do, and I must have accidentally summoned two. Just as they're appearing, a Spirit of Vengeance invades my game. We pile on him, but he leads us through a crazy chase all through the castle, pulling as many enemies as he can. We chase him onto one of the roofs, where he tries to ambush us at the top of the tower. Doesn't work, we take him down.

Then I follow my two new pals further into the castle, to places I've never been. We end up in a big hall and then I get a message that says something like "Eye of Death is pulsing." I have no idea what the hell that means, but I figure it means someone is about to invade my game again. (Ed: I later figured out what this means and oh boy, was it satisfying) There's a giant white doorway, no idea what's on the other side. Figure what the hell, better than being invade.

Step through with my two mates and holy hell, I guess it's not one boss but TWO. Ornstein and Smough, who I don't know anything about, except I remember people speaking about them on Twitter back when the game came out, which can't be good. My two allies take one each and I pile onto Orstein. We lose the guy fighting Smough part of the way through, so my partner moves over to him. Smough goes down first, but Orstein was almost out of life too. Except I discover kill one, the other heals and gets *gigantic.* We persevere though and take him down without my pal dying.

Then, because it's Dark Souls, my friend then just silently disappears. But I'll remember you, The_Demise (PSN username). You were a badass and a friend, even though we never shared a word.

And that's basically the saga. The emotional experience isn't just one of victory and success though. For me, going anywhere you haven't been in Dark Souls is a harrowing affair, as you have no idea what you're going to run into. The chase with the Spirit of Vengeance included some areas I'd never been, and my overreaction later was all going blind. It's exciting in the truest sense of the word, with all the positive and negative connotations.

What's even more interesting is some people have said Dark Souls is a game about memorization, but I don't think that accurately capture the game at all. There's so much choice in the game, it's very difficult to imagine any two people having the same experience playing the game. There are so many choices on both the micro (rapier or axe? sorcery or miracles?) and macro (did you go to the Catacombs first, or the New Anor Londo Ruins?), but they're all focused through a tremendous tight set of levels. If the game was more open and mushy, I think it would feel as distinct. Truly open world games just end up seeming like, "I did crazy shit and blew stuff up, so did you." Matthew Weise recently related that he felt that Demon's Souls/Dark Souls were the best Looking Glass games he's played since 2000, and thinking about it, that might just be why I like them so bloody much.

And on top of that, you have the multiplayer component, which can provide truly unique moments like mine above. The experience you have are unique yours, which make the feel more tangible and genuine somehow. Just like real life, no two people will experience the same event the exact same way. Yet it feels like a lot of games seem to create identical experiences with their games, at least as far as the substantial bits that really congeal in your memory are concerned. Part of the reason why I think systemic games are interesting is that they fully embrace providing players with the means for generating their own unique arcs through the game that are truly their own. They're more real (or less unreal) and there's something very interesting there, I think.

Alright, I got one more day to invest in Dark Souls before the twin cruelties of Dishonored and X-Com necessitate a bit of a respite ... probably.