segunda-feira, 16 de outubro de 2017

Blood, sweat, and pixels: the triumphant, turbulent stories behind how video games are made

In this moment I'm reading the excellent book "Blood, sweat, and pixels: the triumphant, turbulent stories behind how video games are made". True stories about how the work in the gaming industry could be full of anxiety and despair.

Jason Schreier (the author) interviewed more than 100 professionals from this field and the result is a book with many different views about the creative process behind a game, the difficulties, the mistakes and victories.

Schreier (2017) in the introduction of the book discusses about why is so hard to make games. The author points out that: 1) games are interactive; 2) technology is constantly changing; 3) the tools are always different; 4) scheduling is impossible; 5) it's impossible to know how "fun" a game will be until you've played it. From this point to the end, in each chapter, one game is used as an example to explain the how this area (as the title of the book says) is full of "blood, sweat, and pixels".

Excellent reading.

Click here to buy.


SCHREIER, Jason. Blood, sweat, and pixels: the triumphant, turbulent stories behind how video games are made. New York: Harper, 2017.

domingo, 1 de outubro de 2017

About gaming narrative

The gaming field is a plural space for different genders, styles and types of products. Nowadays, we have a multifaceted environment where indie games coexist with AAA productions; one place in which hardcore gamers are experiencing extremely challenging games in consoles and, at the same time, casual games in their smartphones. We are facing an ecosystem where games could be played anytime, anywhere.

In this sense, there are abstract games that are completely based in mechanics, with no storytelling background, and games fully developed in complex narratives. In the very beginning of gaming industry, we didn’t have much to tell in the limited interfaces. Pong, as example, is about bouncing a square ball using a vertical rectangle. On the other hand, Donkey Kong, for Atari console, has an interesting narrative layer where the hero must save the lady from the giant gorilla on the top of the building. Many years in advance, we can find some publishers like TellTale or Quantic Dream that created games fully based on narrative components like Walking Dead, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and many others.

As we’ve discussed previously, it is a market full of opportunities for many types of ludic products. However, in this post I want to focus my attention in some interesting narrative features and how they are important in a gaming project.

First of all, it is essential to point out that the player “is at once the subject and the object of the play” (EHRMANN, 1968, p.56). We must always keep that in mind in any kind of gaming project. The game is an inanimate thing: codes, pieces, cardboards, miniatures etc., but the experience with the game is full of life. This experience is what we need to focus in: how we will deliver a good experience to the player.

A good narrative is one possible way to deliver a meaningful experience to the player. Following some ideas from Dansky (2007, p.5), it is possible to say that

On the most basic level, narrative strings together the events of the game, providing a framework and what can alternately be called a justification, a reason, or an excuse for the gameplay encounters. At its best, narrative pulls the player forward through the experience, creating the desire to achieve the hero’s goals and, more importantly, see what happens next. At its worst, narrative merely sets up the situation and turns the players loose to do as they see fit. It achieves these goals through three important techniques: immersion, reward and identification”.

This author (DANSKY, 2007, p.5-6) also explains that there are three fundamental pillars that we need to think about gaming narrative:

1) Immersion: in a simple way, it refers to the state of mind where a person is completely absorbed in what they are doing (we’ve already discussed this feature using the idea of FLOW in this post); immersion refers to the moment in which we are so involved with the game that time passes different and we can’t notice the world outside the experience. We are talking about games, but a good book/movie/conversation could have the same effect. Consuming many references is the secret to create a good narrative.

2) Reward: Dansky (2007, p.6) says that narrative can also be a reward to the player and “the narrative events can be revealed gradually, delivered as rewards for achieving in-game goals”. As an example, in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice great part of the game’s rewards come from narrative pieces that tells us the background of the main character and some tales/legends from the Nordic culture.

3) Identification: something that, in the gaming context, provides justification for the actions during the experience. In Papers Please, for example, you assume the role of an immigration police officer from a dystopian nation and your job is to stamp entry visas. You must take some moral decisions based on the characters’ backgrounds and part of the meaning of this experience comes from the identification feature of the game.

Narrative in games is a great subject to discuss in future posts. Soon, I’ll bring a wide discussion about it.



DANSKY, Richard. Introduction to game narrative. BATEMAN, Chris (editor). Game Writing: narrative skills for videogames. Boston: Thomson, 2007.

EHRMANN, Jacques. Homo Ludens Revisited. Yale French Studies, No 41. Game, Play, Literature (1968). pp. 31-57.

quinta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2017


Six years of gaming content in 286 posts.

Thanks to the followers.

Long live to GAME ANALYTICZ!

Check the first post by clicking here.


domingo, 10 de setembro de 2017

Roger Caillois and one possible view about the complexity of games and play forms

In his iconic book from 1958 “Man, Play and Games” (“Les jeux et les homes” as the original title, in French), the sociologist Roger Caillois discusses how a gaming culture can be an essential element of social changing.

In the first chapter of the book, Caillois presents one interesting view about possibilities of play forms and how they can combine among them. In a very synthetic way, the author says that there are four play forms:

1) Agon: play activities that depend on physical abilities like soccer, basketball, chess (mind effort), boxing etc.

2) Alea: ludic situations that depend of pure chance, like lottery, casino roulette and dice-rolling games based only on luck.

3) Mimicry: role-playing games and theatrical activity (make-believe game).

4) Ilinx: Activities where there is risk of life and vertigo. Tightrope, bungee jump and other extreme sports are some examples.

Trying to summarize these ideas, I created the following image:

It’s important to highlight that these categories can combine themselves in other situations. One “Dungeons & Dragons” RPG session, for instance, can combine elements of mimicry (in the role play) and alea (in dice-rolling situations). Poker can combine alea factors (the way the cards will appear in the table) with agon (the strategy and mental effort to create strategy).

This post is only a synthesis of an important idea from Caillois. I strongly suggest the full reading of “Man, Play and Games”. It’s a fantastic way to dwell deeply about games, game design and ludic elements in the contemporary scenario.



CAILLOIS, Roger. Man, Play and Games. USA: Illinois University, 2001.

sexta-feira, 1 de setembro de 2017

Teaser trailer: MIND ALONE

In a partnership with SIOUX Studios from São Paulo I'll launch my new mobile game soon (end of October probably)! MIND ALONE is a text-based ludic interface. It is an experimental puzzle game that uses different functions from smartphones to create an immersive suspense/terror narrative. It is a “scape the room” game, but the room is your own mind. Each memory is a puzzle. The aim is to solve the puzzles, recover your memory, reach the surface and wake up from this mysterious nightmare.

Check the teaser trailer:

Wait for news here!


domingo, 20 de agosto de 2017

One game design exercise to rethink the past while looking at the present

This semester, I’d like to propose my students one interesting exercise from the book “The ultimate guide to video game writing and design”. Though I’ve made some modifications, the main idea is to recreate a modern game in an old fashioned way.

Some steps are necessary for this mission:

1) Choose one game from the last generation of consoles (Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch) and mobile devices (Android and iOS). The more complex, the better.
2) Try to imagine and recreate the game for the Atari platform (keep the essence of the narrative and few elements from the mechanics).
3) Using samples and print screens from Atari’s games, build a few simple interfaces for the game. This will be a big challenge. In some way, the interface must resemble some core visual elements.
4) Create a prototype for the cartridge cover.

Below, is one example that I created for this post using the game THE LAST OF US.

I tried to maintain the shooting mechanics with stealth. Characters must use the stairs simultaneously to reach the other side of the screen. In a minimalist way, I tried to keep the essence of the "clickers" enemies. Interface is very simple with stamina and ammunition.

The new game's cover is an homage to a very similar story - the movie LOGAN.

To the check the main idea from THE LAST OF US, watch the trailer below:

Many people are creating modern-retro-art for Atari games, you can check out some interesting examples in this link.



DILLE, Flint; PLATTEN, John Zuur. The ultimate guide to video game writing and design. New York: Skip Press, 2007

terça-feira, 8 de agosto de 2017

Ernest Adams - Agency vs Story

Visit to search through interviews with over 100 of the videogame industry’s most influential designers and visionaries.