the art, design, and assorted garbage of


2014: Year in Review

What a strange, topsy turvy year it was. Last year I had plans to “finish things” and I had a bunch of unfinished projects waiting to be wrapped up. I started off well and completed a few tutorials, but then I had a major course correction in my life: I decided to go back to school and pursue a Masters degree in Digital Media.

Improv Class

What this meant was that I had to stop what I was doing and build a portfolio and all the other documentation in very short order. I used this opportunity to build out my ludography which I had been meaning to do for years, but never got around to. I also had a bunch of academic type documents which took my much longer than I expected. I was quite nervous about whether I would be accepted as I don’t have a Bachelor degree, but I do have close to 20 years of experience. Well, as you can tell, I was accepted and have been doing very well. The biggest challenge I have had has been teaching full time while also attending school full time (oh and a 3 years old at home). It meant that I had to really become ultra-organized as I had no spare time at all to waste.

The whole year wasn’t all about school though. I did work on a game for my daughter, a simple spelling game, doing all the art, design and coding. I was able to complete the initial planned release, or at least everything aside from the audio. I has hoping to get it out on the market before the end of the year, but decided to hold off until sometime in the near future.

That’s about it. Honestly it was all a blur and I know I likely did a lot more than I can remember. As for 2015, it’s going to be one crazy ride. My Masters program goes into high gear, with a lot more focus on my own objectives (I plan on building a company coming out of it). I still hope to get a few more tutorials out, but we will have to see what I actually have time for. Either way, it’s going to be a blast!

Super Battle Tactics: A Critical Analysis

When it comes to being successful in the free-to-play games market, a title has to have more than just addictive gameplay: it needs to feature elements that encourage the player to spend money and to return to the game on a daily basis. A few games have done well in achieving this, though most fail in some regard. To understand the difference between a hit game and one that misses the mark, it can be instructive to look at a game such as Super Battle Tactics, an interesting game with some evident flaws which currently hinder its potential.


Super Battle Tactics is a casual, turn-based strategy game for mobile devices developed by DeNA Vancouver. The premise of the game is that the player is competing on “Tank TV”, a game show where a winner-takes-all battle ensues between two teams of tanks. Much like real-world game shows, everything is designed to be over-the-top, from the music to the vehicles to the hosts themselves. The core gameplay is fairly simple in that it consists of building, upgrading and battling your team of tanks against an online opponent’s. It is within each of these gameplay modes that one can see DeNA Vancouver’s attempt at addictive gameplay mechanics, opportunity for monetization and hook to bring the player back to the game. (more…)

The Neurological Effects of Game Mechanics

I wrote this short thesis as part of my application to the Masters of Digital Media program at the Centre for Digital Media. I’ve decided to share it with everyone with the addition of images.

In order to create a successful video game, game developers are constantly chasing after the elusive elements that will hook the player in. The primary strategy developers rely on is gathering user feedback through data analytics and playtest sessions during the later stages of production. While this information is incredibly useful, it often comes too late in the process for any meaningful change. To improve the chances of success, game developers need to be able to understand neurologically how individual game mechanics affect player behavior before they even start prototyping. This understanding starts by looking at three categories of stimuli common in games: Physical, Mental, and Emotional.

Saccades_FPS Physical Stimulus