Monthly Archives: November 2012

Featured In Game Analytics

Awesome news! The metrics work we did at Junebud is to be featured in this brand new book about game metrics (link here)! Junebud’s CEO Ola Holmdahl and MilMo’s producer Ivan Garde were interviewed during the summer of 2012 by the company Game Analytics for this book. GA is a company focused on the use of metrics and telemetry for video games, also running a really cool blog about metrics.

I know Junebud is not around anymore, but it’s great to see that MilMo is back online, and that the Junebud Crew can share the XP we gained when working with metrics guided game design. A book like this is very much needed for the video game industry. Right now it’s hard to find anything written about metrics and game analytics. Most of the info out there comes from blogs, event  lectures and a few experienced designers  As I briefly mentioned in some posts before, I work in the industry, and the job I do is very much metrics related.

I analyze where a game might lose players, how they behave in the game and how to improve their experience in all kinds of ways. Some people might think of Zynga, but it’s not really like that. Zynga (and other social game makers) tend to work with metrics driven game design. I’ve never worked on a product where we record every single click, or where we try to fool or trick the players into spending money. If it’s a free to play game, the paying should be optional. The players should spend money on the product if they feel like the product is worth it, not because they have to, in order to proceed with the gameplay or beat opponents.

To me metrics collection from players is a tool for finding hidden bugs, exploits, to give the designers true facts about what the players seems to be enjoying about the game, and to find out more about what kind of people who use the product. I have countless examples where artists made things they think the players will like, or when designers think one certain level is the best one, because they themselves like it (steam punk anyone?).

And when I sat down and analyzed how many players who paid for a specific weapon, or how many players who returned to the game after playing a certain level, I find out the game developers are not always right. Experienced game developers are good at guessing what the players want or need, but sometimes it’s good to get facts and numbers. There’s always room for improvements and adjustments. It’s not about replacing designers, artists and programmers with a computer, or building Skynet, it’s about reality checking  Sometimes when you build a game you love so much, you get into your little bubble, and you forget to think about the player. That’s where I come in. The designers give me their best guess, I measure  track, analyze to find out if something’s unclear or frustrating to the user, and share my findings with the rest of the team so they can improve the game. In the end I want as many players as possible to experience as much of the game as possible, not quit because they don’t understand the tutorial.

Learning To Draw: Post #10

Hi guys, I’m back with a new bunch of drawings and paintings! New things on top, old stuff at the bottom of the post, so just scroll away! Real life is once again taking very much of my energy, I try to draw every day, but right now I don’t have the time and energy (gotta focus on my job and working out to avoid back pains). Good news are that my wrist is finally fully recovered, so time to get back to plenty of analog drawing with pen & paper!

 

23th Nov. A few minutes each. Drawing free hand Halo inspired stuff on the train. The first Halo game means a lot to me. I could even say it’s one of the main reasons I got into computer game development first place.

 

18th Nov, 1 hour. Spooky guy. I had a concept of some kind of “friendly looking zombie” in my head. Paid a lot of attention on the teeth, but not so much on the eyes :/

 

Documented the steps when drawing this spooky guy. Usually I draw the concept first by hand, and then take a photo of it, open it up in Photoshop, and continue to draw on top of that sketch. This, however, is drawn digital all the way. I paint the picture in several steps, save it as a .jpg, and open it up again in PS, use curves to adjust colors and shades. I do that many times while working on the picture. Paint on top of that and continue towards details and finish off with highlights at the end. It’s important to start with dark colors and then work towards light colors, to “sculpt” with colors. Still trying to figure this shit out.

 

18th Nov, just some color sketches. Every night when I close my eyes to sleep I see a mix of colors together, some of them just so beautiful. Unfortunately I did not manage to paint any of the combos xD This was more like an experiment.

 

14th Nov, dragon, 1 hour. This was painted to make me relax, while listening to a documentary about homosexual animals, haha!

 

13th Nov. 2 hours. This space dude turned out better than expected, but when I was done, I was just so extremely tired. Learned plenty of stuff, but gosh, took me like two days to recover from this crunch.

 

13th Nov. Photo studies of human faces and its different parts. 30 min/each. Feels like making progress now when I found out how to adjust “pen pressure”  and “transparency” when using color!

OK, so I’ve been running this project for almost three months now. Never thought I would last this long when I started out in August, but I did. And somehow all this painting and drawing, studying and browsing art pages has changed the way I look at pretty much everything around me. I look at the faces of all the strangers at the subway, and I want to ask them if I can take their photo, because ALL human faces are just so beautiful. I simply can’t stop looking at faces. I make notes in my own head of how many different noses, eyes and lips there are, to remember them later on. Skin color, hands, eyebrows. I study human faces all the time, without thinking about it.

I look at how the city lights scatter across the surfaces of a lake when taking my midnight walks, and I try to make it a mental photograph, because I know I’m gonna benefit from studying how light works in all kinds of environments. I freeze time in my head when talking to my friends at a restaurant, trying to learn something from each frame, how the shadows falls on a face lit by living candles, what color a glass of water really have. How to composition of all elements in my sight could be improved or scaled if I painted the scene.

Got my copy of Loomis’s “Creative Illustration” this week. So far it’s good reading. Provides me with plenty of basic teachings I’ve completely missed ^^

I visit the library in town, and unconsciously try to broaden my own visual library, to pay attention to how the furniture is made, how the books are put on the shelves. It’s crazy. I don’t think about all this stuff, it’s just happening on its own. My subconscious is making notes, taking photos, saving design, studying faces on the bus. Remembering what colors hide in the fur of a dog walking past me on the street, on my way to the super market.

And when I close my eyes to sleep each night, just before I fall asleep, I see batches of colors next to each other. It’s like my brain is trying to sort out what colors go well with each other, even when I’m just trying to sleep, not thinking of creating or painting at all. I feel like I opened Pandora’s box three months ago, and now this drawing and painting thing is growing stronger each day, it’s almost as if it’s a living and breathing thing inside me, and all I can do is to feed it with opportunities to grow. I have no idea where this will end, or when I’ll lose interest, but until that I’ll just push it, grind and see what happens.

Previous post on my “Learning To Draw” project here: 987654321

Five Weeks Later

Just a normal desk decoration!

A storm on the horizon. My view!

Christmas party at Paradox’s main office this weekend. Our CEO Fredik Wester held a great speech and said “To some people it might look as if we are hiring random strangers off the streets, but that’s not true. We are just growing so fast it might be hard for some people to keep track of all the new faces. It’s really exciting times right now!”. Paradox has been growing very fast the past two years, I’m very happy I get to be a part of the ride!

Every Friday we have “Fancy Friday” at work. The developers put on some nice clothes. A guy even dressed up like a gentleman and had one of those gentlemen’s walking sticks. The had made the Alien head in 3D, then sent it to a 3D printer company! Pretty impressing!

Stockholm at 05 pm, already dark. Beautiful but cold!

It’s been five weeks now since I started at Paradox North, working with community management and metrics analytics. I can’t talk much about the games I’m working on, but I can tell you I’m involved in Magicka and Salem among others. My position is very interesting and a bit challenging, since I’m working with a lot of projects at the same time, but my base is set in Paradox North and their upcoming new project. I’m a company wide resource so to speak.

Salem is a crafting mmo, a big social experiment. It was the game that made me interested in working for Paradox in the first place. I was hoping to put my experiences of working with an mmo to a good use. Salem is a sandbox game about the pilgrims settling in a new world. Each server is an open world, and the players can change the world by modifying it, craft tons of items, explore the nature and make their own rules and society. There are really no rules set by the developers, it’s up to the players to make their own. Death is permanent, and if you die you make a new avatar and that avatar is considered a “grandchild” of your old avatar, inheriting the lands of the old avatar.

Players gather in gangs and help each other out, they defend property or destroy other people’s stuff. Sounds kinda harsh, but I think the possibilities of everything that can happen in a game like this, is just so exciting! We are giving away free beta keys each day at this site (click here), if you want to try it out : D Salem is developed together with a company called Seatribe, creators of Heaven & Hearth. It says on their site they “specialize in permadeath & forum drama“.

I’s a bit confusing, but the studio I’m working for, Paradox North, is a studio within the great Paradox studio itself. Paradox consist of Paradox Interactive with all the producers handling external contacts with games they are publishing. Then there’s Paradox Development Studio that craft their own strategy games, working together with Paradox Interactive. We have an office in New York as well, where our marketing has it’s hq. The name “Paradox” is mostly associated with publishing of strategy games, but today the company also make their own games and sell both digital and physical copies. Paradox South is a content studio based in Skövde, focusing on art. Paradox North (my studio), is located in the same building as Paradox Interactive & Development Studio in Stockholm. We’re a studio making a new secret project. When I can, I will tell you more about the game in the making. All of the studios and departments are working together and share some resources and locations.

This weekend I’m gonna spend drawing and reading my copy of “Creative Illustration” written by the great artist Andrew Loomis, just relaxing and sleeping as much as possible. It’s been a long week and I need to stress down.

Learning To Draw: Post #9

Hi guys, it’s time for a new post about my personal project “Learning To Draw”. I started taking drawing seriously during the last days of August this year (yay, 2 months later and still going!). I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pen, but for some reason I’ve always pushed drawing and painting to the back of my mind, thinking I don’t have time or I need to concentrate on more important things.

A collection of all the things I’ve posted on this project so far. I’m not posting it all since I think it would be very boring to look at…

I finally decided to do something about my drawing this summer. I started taking it seriously and have been drawing at least 1-4 hours (some days even 8-10 hours) almost every day since. I want to find out how far I can go. I want to find a way to express my feelings. So here’s the latest batch! Newest things at the top of the post, older at the bottom. To see all the posts, chose the tag “Learning To Draw” or click my links below the last picture.

This might not look like much, but I finally learned to get all the settings of my digital brush to work like they are supposed to (pressure sensitivity). They each took 30 min to make, and the design of the blue robot is from Guild Wars 2. I finally feel like I’m ready to start painting by “sculpting in color”, which has been one of my ambitions for so long! 8th Nov.

A bug. 1 hour. 6th Nov. I’ve always loved insects!

Generic outer space guy. A lot of my friends asked me if this picture features a giant penis, and no, it doesn’t. It’s just the way it looks…Sorry. 2 hours. 5th Nov.

A snowy deer. 35 minutes. 2nd Nov.

Fantasy creature. Calling this one “I’m Your Best Friend”. About 1 hour. 1st Nov.

Face study of manly man to learn the basics of human faces. 1,5 hours. 1st November.

First attempt to drawing more realistic looking anatomy in Photoshop, digitally. Need more practice, but since I don’t mind looking at half naked guys/girls I’m up for it! 1 hour. 31st October

Things I want to do this week is to: order my favorite book of Loomis on figure drawing, start drawing a daily self-portrait, learn more about color, and do some quick 60 sec anatomy sketches. Previous post on my “Learning To Draw” project here: 87654321

Sharing My Thoughts On Booth Babes With Casual Connect

A few months ago I wrote a blog post called “Women In The Gaming Space” (plix read it before you read the rest of this post). It was a response to things I’ve been thinking of for a long time, even since I started playing games a long time ago. It became a very re-tweeted post, and so far it has been read more than 300 times! For a blog with 30-70 views/day that’s quite a lot! People at game events even come to me and want to talk about the post, share their own experiences of being a minority or that they really want to see some kind of change about how women sometimes are treated as sexy candy in-game or at booths at press conferences.

So last week I summarized these things I’ve been thinking of, and posted it on Casual Connect’s Facebook page. I figured out the only way to hope for a change, was to make those with power aware of what I’m thinking. So here’s what happened:

My post at Casual Connect’s FB page. I know there’s some typos etc, but that was because it was straight from the heart and in the heat of the moment. If I had hesitated and read it trough several times, I don’t know if I had still had the guts to post it. I was seriously afraid of Internet trolls and the Saouron eye of hate that sometimes drown feminists like Anita Sarkeesian in a tsunami of hate and misogyny. 

To my big surprise I got a response by Casual Connect, the post is still up one week later, and no trolls posted rape threats to me :O Let’s hope Casual Connect 2013 contains no naked chicks! The link to this post got liked around 25 times on my personal FB-page, and the tweet containing a link got re-tweeted around 10 times. A handful people even sent me a-mails and expressed their support. Thanks guys!