Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Week 5

Monday, September 23, 2013

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Steam OS!

Just watched the final countdown for Steam’s big announcement!

Steam is getting a free living room OS to expand the Steam universe!  Coming 2014.

Here is IGN’s take on the announcement.

I also listen to a new Udemy course by Paul Fraser of Ironclad Games called “How to Get Hired as a Video Game Artist.”  I am a Producer, but this is very useful information for anyone interested in the industry.  It could also be useful to hiring managers searching for a simple way to give advice to future applicants!


Today we start our second rapid prototyping cycle.  We start by discussing three types of prototypes: first playable, white box, and vertical slice.  Most of us tried for vertical slice on our first projects, but this class is really about first playable and white box.  Our thesis games will be vertical slice.  Our job is to get to an idea that is fun and innovative.

Our new assignment is to go from concept to delivery in one week on a game based on a 1980’s, pre-crash arcade game.  Pac Man, Space Invaders, its up to us!  Employ the proven mechanic, with a twist!

If we can’t find the fun in a game in seven days, we’ll probably never find the fun, and seven days is early enough we can walk away without too much investment.

We are to read the Gamasutra article “How to Prototype a Game in Under 7 Days” by Thursday, then make a game that is complete, small, and tangible, that can be looked at, evaluated, and changed.

We are to deeply understand the rule set and gameplay. Focus on inventing the toy first, then embellish. Iterate mechanics each week.

“Rapid is a state of mind.”

We also talk about the importance of the aesthetic of a game, which is how a game makes you feel more than just how it looks.

My new team:

Rob Guest – Artist
Siddharth Bhavsar – Engineer
Kehan Chen – Engineer
Allen Alvarado – Producer
Jed Merrill – Producer

As a group, we come up with two concepts, one based on Pong, which is really a late 70’s game, the other on Tron.  Three of us want Pong, two Tron, but we ultimately agree to go in the Tron direction lest we not have any Engineers.  Rob and I decide to do the Pong game on our own sometime.  In going for Tron, we stipulate that we’d rather have controls not limited to up, down, left, and right, that preferably allow curves.  That idea evolves into Silk and Steel, a ninja combat game similar to Tron and predecessor Snake, but with the flowing style of Journey, 2012’s Game of the Year as chosen by IGN, among others.


In Game Production, Amy asks us about the new Rapid Prototyping assignment.  We give general pitches about what our projects will be like and report on function and minor dysfunction in our new teams.


In Game Design, we discuss articles addressing games in health care and education. We also cover two chapters of Jimmy Maher’s book The Future Was Here: The Commodore Amiga.


We refine Silk and Steel further, with the initial prototype programmed in Unity by Rob Guest, our talented Artist.  The Engineers show off a basic Tron game that is less compelling, but an interesting direction, merging an element of the board game Blokus.  We borrow his power bar idea for Silk and Steel, and Kehan Chen volunteers to merge the two over the weekend.

I propose we name the ninjas Silk (female) and Steel (male) so the name reflects more than the basic aesthetic of the game.  Allen likes the idea, but Rob prefers Shadow Ninja as a game name.  I suggest a setting based on the courtyards of the Forbidden City in Beijing, China, even though most ninjas are from Japan.


I qualify for Valve’s beta program for the new Steam Machine, though chances are less than one in 1,000 that I get one of the 300 beta consoles.

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