On the Blogroll: Psychochild

We have a great many sites on our blogroll. Why not take a little time to talk about some of them? Besides, it’s Friday, and you’re either looking to avoid work or need something to read over the weekend. Let’s trawl through our friends’ archives and see what’s interesting.

This week: Psychochild’s Blog, written by Brian Green. He is best known for running Meridian 59, but he has done other things.

I often think of his blog as a place that gives a solid introduction to game design aspects. If I post about the grind or tanking, I assume you know what I’m talking about and get right to it. There are, however, many people who do not really know except in the most superficial way, such as the new people picking up the MMO addiction everyday, to say nothing of the legions of idiots who don’t know anything but think they do. If you don’t have your own previous link exploring the issues before issuing a diatribe on the latest brouhaha, Psychochild’s Blog is a great place to look to give your readers a thorough introduction. Or you should read it because one of your commenters might toss up Mr. Green’s link, tell you your idea has been tested and failed repeatedly, call you a newb, and kick digital sand in your face. Charles Atlas approved!

From 2006 until the beginning of this year, Mr. Green hosted a Weekend Design Challenge. Given a few years, this covered a lot of ground. That ranged from designing a theoretical board game over a few months, building a game around the theme of “glue,” a farming game, and all the assorted aspects of games ranging from quest rewards to cheating to market research and business plans. For a long stretch of time, that was all that the blog had, which is why he stopped doing it.

To give you a few recent hits, there are two posts to help you avoid that digital sand on non-mana resources and defining “indie.” I note this first one because it approaches the topic in a well structured way, like an encyclopedia article. He also hits the gameplay implications. That which you consider obvious is not always so, and it can help to make things explicit. So he considers two classes in The Lord of the Rings Online™:

These two resources change the behavior of the two classes. Champions are encouraged to build up fervor to get to their more costly and more powerful attacks. At the beginning of combat, a Champion has limited choices, but they open up as more fervor points are generated. Hunters, on the other hand, are encouraged to plan ahead. Moving around a lot means that the hunter will not get access to their higher level abilities. Maintaining range and using immobilization traps (or a good tank) is important for a Hunter.

To give you one more recent hit, here is a three part series on replacing the levels. You do not need to agree with everything he has to recognize that Psychochild’s Blog gives you more to discuss substantively than many of our blogs that talk about last night’s raid or the latest forum meltdown (which is not to say that I do not enjoy the occasional meltdown).

Those are some from this year. You have some time on your hands: trawl through the archives. Find a favorite post from previous years and tell us why we should read more Brian Green. Something interesting in the Weekend Design Challenge? A commenter who really hit the mark? It’s a day of talking about the community, so join in! :)

: Zubon

5 thoughts on “On the Blogroll: Psychochild”

  1. I met Brian face to face a few years ago at IMGDC and we even shared a table at a sub shop in Minneapolis for lunch. I peppered him with questions and thought I might annoy him but it turned out to be a great conversation for me. He offered up some books I should check out and he complimented our little site here.

    Glad I was able to meet you Brian, keep up the great work!

  2. He also takes the time to comment on many blogs, adding a developers point of view to the discussion without it ever feeling as though he’s gracing you with his presence and that his word is gospel, unlike an unfortunate number of other developers who I’ve experienced.

    He seems a very unassuming and insightful fellow from my experience of him on various sites across the MMO blag-u-spore.

    A fine person to highlight and no mistake.

  3. Aw, this was a nice surprise to find in my RSS reader this morning! Thank you for the very kind words.

    I find that a lot of times I just want to focus on looking at a problem from multiple angles. Too often I think people get stuck in ruts; people either complain about an aspect of MMOs without offering solutions or just glumly accept the problem. I like to look at problems and really dig in to them to find a new way of looking at them. In the case of non-mana resources, for example, I wanted to look at what was out there and see if a designer could come up with more resources of that type. People always clamor for “innovation” but that’s often difficult without a lot of evaluation.

    Now, let me return the kindness: I love Kill Ten Rats because it offers a wide variety of viewpoints. I really enjoy the discussion and insight because while everything isn’t sunshine and roses, the writers often try to identify the root of an issue. You don’t get the bitterness directed toward designers as a whole or specific organizations. On the other hand, the posters aren’t too timid to point out a problem and call it what it is.

    Keep up the good work! And, I look forward to future editions of this where I find out other blogs I should have in my reader. :)

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