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Seth Paxton (Rubic)
Live hard, Play harder
Live hard, Play harder

Seth's posts

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So this is awesome - a new parody video imagines what would happen if you combined the hit television show Breaking Bad with +LEGO. The result? LEGO Breaking Bad: The Video Game.

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Well put, as always
The perfect elephant
Pick any dynamic in the world.  Now create a simple abstract model of that dynamic that can be played as a board game.  There is almost no topic you cannot approach in a playful manner. 

There are some design tools that help. They aren't always necessary, but I find that often they make incredibly tricky problems into something very attainable. 

- Build tools, instruments and playgrounds for the players. 
- Instead of single player systems, try multiplayer systems. 
- Instead of making using AI, give those roles to other players.  
- Embrace abstraction over realism.
- Use theme, world building and initial narrative as an entrance into the model, not as a message onto itself. 
- Be playful instead of prescriptive. Enable extreme, surreal and silly outcomes when players push the boundaries. 
- Don't be the writer.  Don't be the movie maker.  Don't be the performer.  That is the player's job. 

What surprises me is how freeing this perspective becomes.  I grew up around people that claimed (and still claim) that games will one day become mature when graphics and AI became good enough to talk about human relationships in a mature manner. I've found this self defeating perspective that stems from a deep misunderstanding of the nature of games.  It focuses on what games should be instead of what games can be. 

The story of the perfect elephant. 
Once there was a man looking for the perfect elephant.  He wanted a elephant that could be his friend and would follow him everywhere.  He wanted to play catch with the elephant and pet the elephant's warm fur coat.  He didn't have a barn, so the elephant needed to be small enough that it could curl up next to him on his bed and sleep.  The man had seen a brief glimpse of an elephant once at a circus and ever since had spent his days dreaming of the perfect elephant.

There are two typical endings to this story.  In one, he never found the right elephant. Each one he found, he tried to make into his perfect elephant. So many died from the horrible mutations and surgeries he inflicted upon them. A strange cult of freak elephant lovers emerged, but surprise, surprise, they were looked down upon by anyone with taste.  

In the other ending, he found a dog and lived happily ever after.

There is a third ending, a less taken path that is most informative to our study of games.  In spite of the expectations that stemmed from his childish fantasy, the man learned to appreciate elephants for what they were.  That amazing trunk!  Riding elephants!  The magnificent size of an elephant!  In this case too, the man lived happily ever after.

Let elephants be elephants 
So you want to make a game about relationships? Shockingly, people have played games about relationships for hundreds, likely thousands of years.  Play most card games or parlor games and you are exploring relationships in a fashion unique to games.  It is an intimate, personal, unique and player-generated experience.  It is not a method of conveying pre-existing lessons but a means of creating lessons. The game happens in the player's head and the impact is the unique collision of their iterative actions, their history, their current mental state and to a small degree, the seed provided by the game. The authored game system is a tool for the players to take in a some new direction. 

(This is by the way, why games are often difficult to integrate into schools.  Schools are almost always about conveying pre-existing lessons.  Learning through play doesn't always mean learning what some authority wants you to learn.)

Dreaming in systems
Some days I push myself to imagine wild impossible things.  Can we make a game about generosity?  Can we make a game about what it feels like to be childless in a culture that states only parents lead meaningful lives?  Can we make a game about leaving your old life behind and saying goodbye?

The answer is always yes. A universe of amazing, world changing game designs awaits. 
- Create a simple toy, possibly multiplayer, that embodies the desired systemic dynamics
- Give players the tools to explore that toy in a playful fashion
- Watch what unexpected things happen. 

Games generate a million little lessons, one or more for each player.   We can talk about the statistical envelope of those lessons as if it is a concrete example of authorial intent, but such language is a convenience, not a true description of the reality.  Embrace the player-centric engine of creation and discovery that drives all great games. It may be tempting to reduce them to some tired fantasy derived from other media, but it is worth finding a playful alternative. 

What is your perfect elephant?  Have you questioned your definition of perfection lately?

take care,

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Honestly, the description for this link says it better than I ever could.

(full disclosure, I know one of the guys on this team cause he used to run the local gamedev group until I took over)

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This awesome looking indie game has less than a day to finish funding - help while you can!

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OUYA is coming...

We've got some awesome news. We're on our way to KS backers very soon, and we're ramping up to FULL LAUNCH in JUNE!

We've made some fantastic gaming partnerships, and we've added a STELLAR new member to our team.

...and more? Yep. And more.

Read all about it!

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Incredible breakdown of a game that could run on some of the oldest possible systems

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NoSpaces! Not a NativeEnglishSpeaker!

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Kind of ridiculous, isn't it?

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Do you have a tumblr? Do you want to possibly win beta access to a new game? Then go reblog this before 3pm today!
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