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Level With Me: Play Cohort 2 Now

an interactive interview

Level With Me was a series of interviews with game developers about their games, work process, and design philosophy. At the end of each interview, they designed part of a small first person game. You can now download and play the final resulting game!...

As the interviewer and sole producer / artist / coder, I had a lot of control over the final result. When Auriea Harvey said she wanted a forest, what does that mean, exactly -- 5 trees or 39 trees? 100 meters wide or 200 meters wide? How tall or short is each tree? What kind of tree is it? Should it look realistic or not realistic? There are countless decisions to be made about trees, not to mention everything else in the game, and as the game developer I was supposed to make them.

The aim of this interview series is the same as it was last year: to demystify game development while emphasizing its mysterious magic. How do we finish games? How do we decide when to work, and what to make? What is important to us when we are making?

You now have 7 (more) sets of answers, and you're not expected to agree with all of them -- but I think we can all agree that the diversity makes us stronger as a community.

Cohort #2 was:

1) Auriea Harvey (Tale of Tales)
2) Andrew Weldon (Bungie)
3) Richard Flanagan (Phosfiend Games)
4) Alex Austin (Cryptic Sea)
5) Steve Gaynor (Fullbright Company)
6) Liz Ryerson (independent)
7) Thomas Grip (Frictional Games)

This game was developed in two phases: in phase one, I interviewed people every few days and frantically tried to implement their designs before the next interview. The art was quite rough and the player movement was quite buggy. Being a good game developer involves being able to see past roughness and imagine possibility -- or, know what roughness needs to be preserved or cut for the good of the game. In the second phase, I spent a few hours a week on cleaning up the art and fleshing out designs. Most of this development time focused on tuning the player movement, the "game feel" that makes a game interesting to interact with. There's an adage that the last 10% of a game is 90% of the work, and it certainly felt like that here. The result is definitely not a perfect game or anything, but I think it has its charms.

- Play in-browser (8 mb)

- Windows (17 mb) -- unzip all files in and run levelwithme_windows.exe
- Mac OSX (23 mb) -- unzip and run
- Linux (28 mb) -- extract lwm_linux.tar.gz and run either the .x86 or x86_64

If you're curious, the project files for this game are available on GitHub.

This game was built using Unity, a freely available 3D game tool. If you are interested in learning to use Unity, I suggest downloading it and looking through their extensive learning resources. If you have prior coding experience, I highly recommend the no-nonsense tutorials at Catlike Coding.

Remember that you do not need anyone's permission to become a game developer (or a game journalist), you must simply just start making games and writing about games. At their cores, both activities are about conversation. Design is an interview with yourself. Now go forth.

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