Voices from the Nerdosphere pt 1: Video Game Developer Blogs

One of the reasons why we started Ninja Dog Corps was to open up our in depth, nerdy discussions to a larger audience. We’re still getting our feet wet over here, but it’s nice just casting our thoughts out into internet-ether.

Sometimes it seems like we are alone, chatting away on facebook or even loudly in public spaces about the failings of Terminator Salvation,  or the sorting out the virtues of Assassin’s Creed. It doesn’t really matter where we are, a nice restaurant, or walking down that most deviantl of streets in Toronto, Yonge Street – our various geekeries are always on the mind. I find it amusing how disinterested everyone looks and sounds as I go about my day. People idly chat away at those “whatever” kind of topics, but no one ever seems really passionate about anything.

At least, not loudly in the way the Ninja’s Dog’s bark.

It’s appropriate, although a bit of a shame, then, that so much stimulating conversation about the the nerdosphere happens on the double-you-double-you-double-you. Recently I’ve taken to reading the blogs of Iroquois Plisken, Leigh Alexander, and Michael Abbot, to name a few on the gaming side of things. There’s also a tremendous amount of good comic’s discussion going on, like Timothy Callahan, or the folks at Funny Book Babylon, to name a few. I’ve included a few on the side bar to the right of this page, and we’ll be adding more in the future as we go along, maybe citing a recommended reading post to go along with it.

Today I’d like to point out to a few game designers who also maintain internet web journals. Many of them peel back the curtain, and offer an insight into the production/development of games that communicate the struggles and the concerns of game making (and makers). Some of them make games that I haven’t played, some of them make games that I will likely never play, but it’s interesting to see the thought process behind these works. As a gamer, and one who is vocal about the potential of games, it’s cool to know that many in the industry feel the same way, and humbling to see thier struggles made bare.

Steve Gaynor of Fullbright : comes to us from 2k Marin, where I’m sure they’re busy putting the finishing touches on Bioshock 2. Recently he posted of a list, Design of a Decade , which looks at some of the most significant games from the past 10 years in terms of innovative design. I took to heart this post from 2006 about the value of keeping a notebook. I agree, it’s good for the soul.

Jordan Mechner’s blog: includes thoughtful pieces on art, cinema, and comics, all this from the man who brought us Prince of Persia. I find it interesting that he’s remained in close contact with his creation all these years, and in it’s various incarnations. He helped reinvigorate the series with The Sands of Time, wrote a comic, and is even lending a hand in the blockbuster movie from Disney. Even more impressive, Mechner displays a keen understanding of the unique power inherent in each medium.  Lastly, don’t forget to check out his sketchbook entries.

Scott Rogers of Mr Boss’ Design Lair : has worked on everything from the first God of War, to most recently Darksiders, Maximo and even way back, Pac-Man World for the PS1. I’m quite fond of his level design drawings, which have a charm and immediacy about them independent of the game they’re meant for.

Clint Hocking of Click Nothing : comes to us from Ubisoft Montreal. He’s worn several hats but most recently he took up the role of Creative Director on Far Cry 2. One of his most talked about pieces is a thoughtful critique about Bioshock.

Soren Johnson of Designer Notes: has worked on the Civ games and most recently was a designer/programmer on Spore.

There are a number of  God of War alumni: who have blogs but have remained stagnate for months or years now. Too bad though, many of them illuminate the challenges of combat design, and much to my surprise, many of them drew their inspiration from Street Fighter, of all things.

Of course, how can I forget the God of God of War David Jaffe. I love that his writing, and of course his games, come from a sincere, passionate place.

As an illustrator, I naturally gravitate towards other visual artists. I was surprised to find that many developers have some kind of background with the arts, either formally educated or self taught. Steve Gaynor took up illustration and transitioned in the sculpture, and a similar story is shared by Keita Takahashi. It’s something we should probably look into further in another post, perhaps.

I think this is a good place to stop, I’ll have to revist gaming blogs another time, next up – maybe comics!

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One response to “Voices from the Nerdosphere pt 1: Video Game Developer Blogs

  1. Great post, Rey. I will definitely have to look into some of these blogs when I’m holed up over the winter.

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