Jed Merrill, Producer/Game Designer

Week 8

Tuesday, October 15, 2013.

Week eight is Fall Break.

Never having been to a public university before (only private), I am not used to this tradition and am trying to make the most of it.  My Bench to Bedside medical student friends do not get the time off, and I feel for them, between episodes of The Walking Dead.

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I start by exploring the first week of a massive open online course (MOOC) on Coursera called Game Design For Learning.  I learn that games can teach you everything pirates need to know to make a living.  If Sid Meier’s Pirates! isn’t your piece of eight, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag should be a master class in sea stalking and ship sinking.

I consider how to fulfill the assignment Robert Kessler of Rapid Prototyping teaching fame gave us for the week:  “Play two games you’ve never played before.”

gonehome_1600x900I start with Papers, Please!, a Steam game, then download Gone Home, a contender for Game of the Year 2013 at IGN.  My personal 2013 favorites are the newly revised Street Pass for 3DS (most played in 2013, especially Warrior’s Way), Tomb Raider, Bioshock Infinite, and Nintendo’s remake of The Wind Waker.  The GTA theme has never appealed to me, though GTA V does seem to have something for everyone and is a contender on many lists.  How can it not be with a Titanic budget of $265 million?



I complete Pablo Munoz Sanchez’s Intro to Game Localization course on Udemy!  Once upon a time I did work similar to this in the Middle East involving databases, project managing Arabic translators, and programming the actual databases and interfaces.  It is interesting to hear and see the practices specific to localizing games.

As part of the 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion, most of us were linguists trained for interrogation.  We were primarily tasked to support the Iraq Survey Group in a search for Weapons of Mass Destruction, but did some of everything, from translation to protecting convoys to guarding Saddam’s son Uday’s swimming pool from officers taking late night swims.

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Pablo’s game localization course covers familiarization, translation, review, and testing, including bug reporting and statuses, transcreation, the importance of communication with game creators, and many other issues important to game translation, delivered from the perspective of one who worked in house for Nintendo and Square-Enix for many years. Pablo has a great sense of humor, making the $129 course one of the most enjoyable I’ve taken.

Need a laugh?  Watch one video referenced in his course, and its sequel:  Student vs. Homework and Student vs. Finals.

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Today I finish a Theme Park Design class by Steve Alcorn, a former Disney Imagineer. How might theme park design elements apply to video game design?  (Or game design principles to theme parks?)


In elementary school, I drew designs for my own Star Wars themed parks, complete with rides, food, and memorabilia, and was delighted recently when Disney teased at D23 Expo they are developing a Star Wars park!

More recently, a friend from CEO Space International invited me to help fund a theme park he plans to build in Florida. He asked me to be his Roy Disney, a great honor.

Now maybe I have a credential to do it?



I’m not giving away all of my Fall break secrets, but I did spend a little time today catching up on the last 24 hours of game and movie related articles on IGN.

Are games too stressful?  That’s what 2012 IGN Game of the Year “Journey” developer Jenova Chen says as he discusses emotion in games.

Meanwhile, the Oculus Rift team solves motion sickness by bringing latency to under 5 milliseconds and announce plans to release a 4K enabled Rift!  I’m guessing the dev kit I have on backorder won’t match those specs.  I watch the EVE Valkyrie trailer one more time and try to imagine the future in 4K.

Angry-Birds-Star-Wars-II-620x350In cross media franchise news, Disney plans Darth Vader television specials for Spring/Summer 2014. Sounds great, but bring back Star Wars 1313!  Meanwhile, former EA CEO John Riccitello criticizes Finnish developer Rovio for not adding enough innovation to Angry Birds Star Wars and its recent sequel.  Could he be jealous? Rovio is considering an IPO with a valuation higher than EA’s, not long after turning down a $2.2 billion buyout offer from Zynga.  EA bought the original Angry Birds publisher, Chillingo, for just $20 million in 2010.

It seems the business of games is more dramatic than games themselves!  Where is all this action in Game Dev Tycoon?  Maybe I’ll have to play for real.


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