The blog of game developer and designer Jason P. Kaplan.

Flew the Coop, Go!Speed!Go!, starcatcher

These games are no longer available in any format, with the exception of starcatcher which started life as a Flash game and still can be played in that format.  Though it is my intention to make one or more of these playable again in the future in full, presently the only proof I have that they every even existed is on my phone and in the following poorly edited videos.

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Just a quick update.

As of tomorrow, my web presence will be altered as I am letting my web hosting expire for a while.  While this will not affect things like Tumblr or social networking presence, it will result in a few of my pages going down and some email unreliability.  Notably, the pages for my iOS games are coming down, alongside those emails, as well as the apps themselves for various reasons in the near future.  Please also remove my old email contact@jpkaplan.com from your records as it will no longer be a reliable way to reach me; you can find my most up-to-date email at any time on my homepage.  Thanks!

Exploration, Combat, and Games (Oh My)

I have been playing a lot of games recently (thanks Steam Sale) and have come to realize that what I like about games has shifted.  Generally, the primary mechanic for a game, the thing you need to progress, to accomplish the major element at the end, and the thing that games have largely been about since the beginning is combat.  This is often a skill based mechanic, where you as the player get better at it as much as the character in the game improves through stats and upgrades.  Often the game culminates in the biggest battle which is the ultimate test of your combat skill obtained to this point.

Lately, when I play a game and enjoy it, it is not because of the combat, it is in spite of it.  If the combat is truly well designed it flows smoothly, I can get through it without dying, and it serves the purpose it was designed for.  But when a game has combat for the sake of combat, if that is all the game is, I start to lose interest, get frustrated, and fail to enjoy the game.

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I generally try to not get angry about … stuff because WE’RE FLOATING ON A ROCK IN SPACE AND IT DOESN’T MATTER.

— The ever-wise Jonathan Remedios.

Why I Was Bothered By Xbone But Not By Steam

Let me be clear: I am not happy with Microsoft’s reversal, I largely think that it was a backwards step, shows weakness on Microsoft’s part, and will set us back another generation when we should be moving forward.  Hell, the specific concern was not even my number one concern, which was more in line with the fact that I am afraid of the mandatory Kinect.

However, I did also disagree with the always-online DRM issue that many have cited, the “how will we be able to play the games in 20 years when all the servers are off?” concern.  “But wait,” you say now, “is that not the same problem with Steam? And did you not just get over that?”

So: yes, I did just get over that.  Why then have any issue with Xbone-as-it-was?

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This Is Not A Review Of: The Last of Us

Or: Yeah, I think this is the best game of the generation. Possible spoilers.

Mostly, everyone agrees that The Last of Us is fantastic.  It’s getting perfect 10 ratings (which, it is important to remember, does not mean that the game is perfect, it is simply the highest rating possible for a game at a time) and yet there are a few sub-par reviews out there too.

Well, that is fair.  People have opinions.  But some of the common negative threads confuse me.  I am not defending the game per se, nor am I rebuking the reviewers or the points, but I want to address why I personally did not seem to have the same problems.

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You can expect to be compensated fairly for your hard work. You should be passionate about what you do for a living, but you should never let anyone try to shame you into believing that you must sacrifice fair compensation for a job that you love.

Undead Labs

From their jobs page, believe it or not. Worth following that link in the quote as well and reading about their policies… very inspiring.

You mean the generation that paid three times as much for college to enter a job market with triple the unemployment isn’t interested in purchasing the assets of the generation who just blew an enormous housing bubble and kept it from popping through quantitative easing and out-and-out federal support? Curious.

— Comment by Eric Garland from The Cheapest Generation: Why Millennials arent’ buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy (via bear-in-a-foxhole)

(Source: bostonreview)

Life Hacking

Or: How to Make Every Day a Little Bit Better.

I was going to settle into a night of playing video games when a TEDx talk that a friend of mine did popped into my Twitter feed.  After watching it, my brain took me back to this morning when I had read an interesting article on things you should do right now.  I have been collecting some ideas for the past half year or so on simple things one can do to improve their life.  Though there are people more dedicated than I on sharing this information, I would love to contribute what I can.  So instead of diving headfirst into entertainment tonight I thought I would share some of these things in the hopes that they might help someone.

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Sloan has not only participated in the many amazing, globe-spanning, nano-shrinking changes in computer tech over the past four decades, he has stayed current with the changes - and kept himself gainfully employed - by taking full responsibility for his own career and professional development.

Talking to John Sloan made it clear that long-term survival in the tech industry was about much more than just mastering a specific set of skills. Instead, it’s all about taking personal responsibility for learning and adapting over the years and decades.

Brian S. Hall on John Sloan, How To Thrive In The Tech Industry For Decades

TOJam: Haters Gonna Eight

This weekend is #TOJam the 8th, a.k.a. Haters Gonna Eight.  This is only my second TOJam, the first being the 6th, a.k.a. Sixy Times where I made Pirattitude with droqen.  I enjoyed making a 4P party game last time, and with a theme to match (“Uncooperative”) I decided to make something similar.  Actually, I made what is basically a mod to Pirattitude, stripped of a lot of the complexity and introducing some other systems like knock-back and a goal location.

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You Get Out What You Put In

Last night I attended @IGDAToronto's panel on edumacation, on whether or not formal schooling is the path to successful game… stuff.  Panelists talked about game art, game development, and game design pretty indiscriminately, but it seemed “design” got the largest focus because it is the least concrete of the three. It was an interesting debate, but it was clearly five different panelists with two or three sets of opinions and two specific agendas. Debate almost devolved into the realm of pure semantics, but that (blessedly) went nowhere; we have all been down that road and I think the panelists knew that would not really help the audience.  I listened through the panel, agreeing and disagreeing, and decided to compose my thoughts here.

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We can’t see the future. We just… at every juncture we’ve tried to make the decision that was least bad.

— Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade (via maxistentialist)

(via maxistentialist)