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My Complete and Utter Video Gameography

April 15, 2016 12 comments

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Although I’m best known for my work on tabletop games, electronic games have been my bread and butter for the last 25 years. Like a lot of “names” from the golden age of tabletop RPGs – Mike Brunton, Jim Bambra, Zeb Cook, Lawrence Schick, Ken Rolston, Paul Murphy, and many more – I found in the early 90s that the electronic games industry offers writers and designers something that the tabletop games industry cannot: a chance to actually make a living.

So far, I have worked on more than 40 electronic games that made it to market, as well as quite a few that didn’t, and a handful that have not yet been announced. Below is a list of the first category.

If you are interested in finding out more about my services and availability as a game writer, a good place to start is my LinkedIn profile.

Merge World Above (Merge, iOS/Android), MY.ru 2020 – Narrative Designer

HAWK: Freedom Squadron (Bullet Hell, iOS/Android), MY.ru 2017 – Narrative Designer

Dawnbringer (Action-RPG, iOS/Android), Kiloo 2016 – Story Designer/Writer

Metal Skies (Arcade, iOS/Android), Kabam 2014 – Localization Editor

Blades of Excalibur (Arcade, Web), Kabam 2014 – Localization Editor

Ravenmarch (Strategy, Web), Kabam 2014 – Localization Editor

Wartune (Strategy, Web), Kabam 2014 – Localization Editor

Wartune: Hall of Heroes (Strategy, iOS/Android), Kabam 2014 – Localization Editor

Heroes of Camelot (Card Battle, iOS/Android), Kabam 2013 – Story Designer/Writer

Dragons of Atlantis: Heirs of the Dragon (Strategy, iOS/Android), Kabam 2013 – Writer

The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth (Strategy, Mobile), Kabam/Warner Bros. 2012 – Story Designer/Writer

The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age (Strategy, Web), Kabam/Warner Bros. 2012 – Writer

Arcane Empires (Strategy, iOS/Android), Kabam 2012 – Story Designer/Writer

Mobile Command: Crisis in Europe (Strategy, iOS), Kabam 2012 – Story Designer/Writer

Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North (Strategy, iOS), Kabam 2012 – Story Designer/Writer

Imperion (Strategy, Web), Travian Games 2011 – Writer/Editor

Viking Tales: Mystery of Black Rock (Casual, iOS), AiLove 2011 – Writer/Editor

Ruse (Strategy, PC/Console), Ubisoft 2010 – Story Consultant

Empire: Total War (Strategy, PC), SEGA 2010 – Writer/Designer

Dragonica (MMORPG, PC online), THQ/ICE 2009 – Localization Editor

America’s Next Top Model (Casual, Mobile), PressOK Ent. 2009 – Writer/Editor

Houdini’s Infinite Escapes (Casual, Mobile), PressOK Ent. 2008 – Writer/Editor

Parking Frenzy (Casual, Mobile), Reaxion Corp. 2008 – Writer/Editor

Parisian Puzzle Adventures (Casual, Mobile), Reaxion Corp. 2008 – Writer/Editor

Detective Puzzles (Casual, Mobile), Reaxion Corp. 2007 – Writer/Editor

Men in Black: Alien Assault (Casual, Mobile), Ojom 2006 – Writer/Editor

Online Chess Kingdoms (Casual, PSP), Konami 2006 – Design Consultant

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (RPG, Xbox/PC), Bethesda Softworks 2005 – Pickup Writer

Spartan: Total Warrior (Action, Console), SEGA 2005 – Writer

Rise of the Nile (Casual, PC/Mac), Evil Genius 2005 – Design Director

Rhiannon’s Realm: Celtic Mahjongg Solitaire (Casual, PC/Mac), Evil Genius 2005 – Design Director

Medieval: Total War – Viking Invasion (Strategy, PC), Activision 2003 – Writer/Researcher

Nightcaster (Action, Xbox), Microsoft 2002 – Voice Talent

Em@il NASCAR Racing (Casual, Email), Hasbro 2000 – Designer

Nomads of Klanth (MMO Sim, PC online), AOL 1999 – Lead Designer

The SARAC Project (MMO Sim, PC online), So-Net Japan 1999 – Writer/Designer

Microsoft Fighter Ace (MMO Sim, PC online), Microsoft 1997 – Writer/Researcher

Air Attack (MMO Sim, PC online), VR-1 1996 – Researcher

G-Police (Sim, PSX/PC), Psygnosis 1997 – Writer/Designer

Beyond the Limit: Ultimate Climb (Adventure, PC), Microsoft 1996 – Designer

Touché: The Adventures of the Fifth Musketeer (Adventure, PC), US Gold 1996 – Writer

One Small Square: Backyard (Edutainment, PC/Mac), Virgin 1995 – Writer/Designer

The Legacy (RPG, PC), MicroProse 1993 – Pickup Writer

Fields of Glory (Strategy, PC), MicroProse 1993 – Writer/Voice Talent

Harrier Jump Jet (Sim, PC), MicroProse 1992 – Writer/Designer

B-17 Flying Fortress (Sim, PC), MicroProse 1992 – Writer/Researcher

Castles: The Northern Campaign (Strategy, PC), Interplay 1991 – Writer

Other Bibliography Posts

My Complete and Utter Warhammer Bibliography (Warhammer, WFRP, HeroQuest, AHQ)

My Complete and Utter Warhammer 40,000 Bibliography (WH40K, Adeptus Titanicus/Epic Scale)

My Complete and Utter Cthulhu Bibliography

My Complete and Utter D&D/AD&D/d20 Bibliography

My Complete and Utter GURPS Bibliography

My Complete and Utter Vampire: the Masquerade and World of Darkness Bibliography

My Complete and Utter Fighting Fantasy and Gamebook Bibliography

My Complete and Utter Colonial Gothic Bibliography

My Complete and Utter Dark Future Bibliography

My Complete and Utter Myth and Monsterography

My Complete and Utter Bibliography: The Rest of the RPGs

My Complete and Utter Bibliography: Odds and Ends

Nintendo and Smart Devices

March 18, 2015 Leave a comment

Four years after CEO Satoru Iwata urged develpers to ignore smartphones, Nicholas Lovell’s blog on Gamasutra covers Nintendo’s change of attitude toward smart devices and explores some of the challenges they will face. The article is a good read, and although it’s not possible yet to determine exactly how Nintendo will affect the app market over the next few years, it’s certain that their effect will be significant.

I’m especially gratified to see this move taking place, since I raised the possibility myself four years ago in one of this blog’s first posts. I wonder if Iwata-san read it? I know, it’s far more likely that he studied the developing app market and tracked the increasing pressure it’s been placing on the market for dedicated gaming devices, and came to the same conclusion that I did. But still: Iwata-san, if you’re reading this, thanks for all the games, and good luck!

E3 2012: Triple-A Dinosaurs and Indie Mammals

June 9, 2012 4 comments

I didn’t go to E3, but I’ve been reading a lot of the recaps on Gamasutra and elsewhere, and they paint an interesting picture.

More than one commentator thinks that the show is out of touch with reality. AAA games are being marketed, according to one writer, through “unabashed pandering to the lowest common denominator” – which is to say, killshots and boobs. Regardless of the gameplay in this years triple-A offerings, detailed killshots and bountiful cleavage are the marketing bullet points. This shows very clearly how the AAA studios see their core market. More tellingly, perhaps, it also reflects their opinion of their customers, which seems anything but complimentary.

A lot of the real creativity right now seems to be coming from the indie developers, with small budgets and big ideas. It seems to be a law of nature that when a certain budget threshold is crossed, fear overcomes everything else and a deep creative conservatism kicks in. The result is me-too products (“We need to mitigate risk by sticking to tried and true formulae”) whose only innovations are brighter colors, more detailed kill animations – and more boobs.

Does this reflect the true state of the industry? I doubt it. Heck, I sincerely hope not. E3 is out of touch with reality, says at least one industry figure. At best, the blood-and-boobs obsession reflects what the marketing folks are thinking, rather than what the developers are dreaming. Given the recession, sales are shaky, and I guess a lot of marketers are fighting over the safe, reliable core market: a market that, according to Gamasutra’s Kris Graft, marketers see as “Bloodthirsty, sex-starved teen males who’ll high-five at a headshot and a free T-shirt.”

Thanks a lot, AAA developers. It’s nice to know that you hold gamers in such high regard.

But while the dinosaurs are roaring and stomping, I think the real story is down among the mammals: the indie developers whose low budgets give them more creative freedom. Arkedo co-founder Camille Guermonprez likes the analogy as much as I do: he said “When you’re small you move faster, so when the situation is changing, you better be some kind of high-running little lemur than a big dinosaur, because you’re going to get a tree on your head, otherwise.”

E3 is big and expensive, and no indie developer has anything like the cash needed to get noticed in that bright, noisy jungle. But that doesn’t mean they’re not important. Angry Birds has made ridiculous amounts of money, and there’s a huge scramble for the mobile and handheld market right now.

At last year’s GDC, Nintento chief Satoru Iwata urged game developers to ignore smartphones. I wrote about it in one of the earliest entries on this blog. This year, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida said that small games and indie developers are vital. He didn’t rush to embrace smartphones, though, because Sony is pushing the Playstation Vita. Sony is still trying to be in the device business and the games business at the same time, facing itself with the same dilemma that prompted Iwata-san to rail against smartphones.

We’ll see how that works out for Sony: meanwhile Nintendo’s Eshop is averaging a mighty 4.7 lifetime (so far) sales per customer in the 3DS games category. I’d love to see how that stacks up against iOS and Android apps, but I haven’t been able to find any corresponding figures. Let’s just say it seems on the low side to me. But then, if you ring-fence your apps and your device together, you’re denying youself any additional app sales that might come from ports to other devices. With device sales, it’s trickier to judge: do people really buy a device because it’s the only way to play a certain game? That used to be the case in the days of the Console Wars, but today I’m less certain.

So there we have it. E3: full of sound and fury as always, but apparently signifying little more than a depressing race to the bottom as far as marketing is concerned. Meanwhile, the mammals are busily harvesting nuts and berries from the iOS and Android bushes, and not worrying about comets. A couple of dinosaurs have gotten smart enough to harvest nuts and berries, but they insist on designing, building, and marketing their own bushes that grow nuts and berries only they can eat.

Okay, enough. I know when I’m straining a metaphor. But you get the idea.

As snapshots of the industry go, the above may not be that accurate. It’s just what I gleaned from reading various articles that themselves were condensed through the lenses of the reports who wrote them. But it’s a picture, of sorts, and if anyone out there has a different view, then hey – write a comment and set me straight.