Monday, August 28, 2006

Design Genres #8: Dungeon Crawlers

Today's "Design Genres" is both a regular genre introspective and a continuation of the Horror Hotel idea, as I'll be addressing Dungeon Crawlers as a whole and my spin on them for the Horror Hotel Dungeon Mode.

First, an explanation. Dungeon Crawlers are considered to be the most mindless of the RPG supergenre, as they focus on constant exploration and treasure/XP mining with the barest of plots or character advancement (from a literary perspective, not gaining levels). The most famous example is probably the Diablo series, or the expansive array of ASCII-based Rogue-likes, though in truth the genre has existed from extremely early on in video game history.

If we're being technical, Pac-Man is probably the first Dungeon Crawler. A spurious claim you might say, but hear me out: The entire focus of Pac-Man is to gain points. It's the only reason for playing. Well, besides fun, but no-one would play games if they weren't having fun. To do this, Pac-Man is constantly collecting treasure (pellets), defeating evil monsters (ghosts) and descending floors of dungeons which all look the same to repeat the process. The ultimate worth of any given playthrough is how highly you scored, which tends to be the same end goal for Dungeon Crawlers (how high a level you can reach). There's no limit to how far you can go before dying, as the system is designed to repeat itself indefinitely.

Of course Gauntlet is probably the first "true" Dungeon Crawler (which I'll now be referring to as DCs for the rest of this update), unless a Rogue-like snuck its way in before that iconic game. Red Fighter needs food badly indeed.

Because of this configuration for endless gameplay (a very promising promotion for developers to write on the game's box), DCs tend to be very common and, unfortunately therefore, very overdone. There's only so many ways you can present a game with this premise, such as tipping the ratio towards favoring a high number enemies (making the game closer to something like Doom) or a high amount of treasure (which is somewhat rarer, as taking the enemies out sort of removes the challenge).

Before I go onto my idea, I'll just note that Dungeon Hack is probably my favorite example of this genre. It is what it is, and knows it: A repetitive DC. But it uses this to its advantage by allowing the player to select the parameters of the game. I know some Rogue-likes do this too, but Dungeon Hack doesn't look like 500 lines of UNIX trying to eat each other, so I have to yield my preference to it. Setting these parameters (monster strength, dungeon depth, the amount of key + lock puzzles, the amount of treasure etc.) gives the game far more depth than its simple structure could otherwise afford, and allows you your personal optimum DC experience to boot. Though Dark Cloud 2 - probably my second favorite game of all time - is technically a Dungeon Crawler, I consider it far more expansive in the various forms of gameplay it employs to count it as such.

Now, as to what I plan to achieve with Horror Hotel's Dungeon Mode: First, as already explained in an earlier update, it will be a team effort. You'll control the leader and those following you will have their own assignments based on AI. All the golems in this game are built for their own purpose, meaning the AI is a no-brainer: Warrior Golems fight, Magic Golems keep their distance and fireball things, Helper Golems stay out of the way and clean up afterwards.

Next, an explanation of the inventory system: Golems turn items into magical "Spheres" while they're carrying them (sort of like Pokeballs in a way. In a really, really bizarre and roundabout way) and the size and strength of this sphere is based on a magical power statistic. Because the Golems use magical sub-space to store items (kind of like D&D's Bags of Holding), they only have so much magical "room" in their inventory before filling it up. This means that no matter how big or cumbersome an item is, if it's a perfectly mundane item (like a giant log) it won't weigh barely anything. Inversely, a magical gem (which is far more valuable) may end up being twice as heavy as the giant log. The Spheres are uniform in size, but they have a luminescence which indicates how strong a magical field the item it represents has. Once the luminescence meter is maxed out, the Golem has filled its inventory.

All Golems have an inventory score, but some Golems have an incredibly limited amount of storage depending on how they're built. A Golem with a lot of different powers (like the magic-users) will already be close to maxing out their magical potential, so they won't be able to hold much. Again, inversely, something useless like the Helper Golem doesn't require much magic to run and can therefore use its reserves for large amounts of storage.

This Sphere system should allow for an interesting capacity dynamic (you could carry half a building in there of furniture, but you may not be able to carry a pocketful of gems if they had powerful magic capabilities) and they'd be colour-coded to help you decide what should stay and what should go. What follows are the different items and their respective colours:

The enemies are seen as a different type of treasure in this game. Killing something always yields some useful item, even if the item is the carcass itself. There are numerous uses for the bodies, meaning it's sometimes better to go out of your way to defeat something challenging for its valuable remains. Enemy carcasses count as Red-coloured spheres of varying luminescence depending on how strange the monster was (since oddities require more magic to exist). I'll have to talk about combat and such in another update I think.

Furniture, the bread and butter of your hotel operation, can be found in various states of disrepair in the dungeons based on how old they are and what they're made out of. Most furniture would be rather magic-free, meaning a very low amount of storage room would be needed. A fully-furnished room could set your Golem back around only 10% of its storage space. Furniture would be White coloured, since it's fairly mundane. If you so desired, you could empty a treasure chest of items and then take the treasure chest itself as furniture.

Golem Equipment, the kind of things you can give your Golems to augment their abilities or use to build new ones, can be found in various places underground also. Golems are magical beings, so it stands to reason that Golem parts are magical too. This means that while these parts are very useful, they'll be a heavy burden to carry also. Golem Parts will be Blue. No real reason, I just like blue.

Gold, fairly self-explanatory. Gold can be used for buying anything the game has to sell you in the overworld, which includes everything I've mentioned so far (besides monster carcasses). Gold has a very slight luminescence, and since every gold piece you collect will be stored in the same sphere (which will be Gold-coloured, in a somewhat bizarre leap of logic) it'll eventually become a very heavy thing to carry. There's always been some disparity between DC camps about how gold should count as a carrying expense (since you can amass a lot of it and it is made of metal after all), but when you consider that you don't need to carry amounts of gold with you everytime you go into the dungeon (what will you need it for?) I figured it should add to encumbrance.

Finally, miscellaneous treasure. Anything that doesn't count as gold, furniture or Golem parts go in this category. Books, clothes, rings, boots, bits of string, rocks, food items, plants, gems, and so on. If they don't count as furniture or Golem parts, you probably can't use them. So you might as well sell them. All items in this category have their own luminescence and monetary value that can vary wildly so it'll be up to the player to decide what's worth keeping. They may all be one Sphere colour (I'm thinking Green) or I may decide to assign a bunch of different colours for them to make things interesting.

That's it for this massive update. Certainly is good to get out of that 50 words thing, what a pain. Pain for me, that is, not for you. These kind of giant updates are painful for you. Like I care.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Snakes on a Plane

Is a fun movie. It's as unpretentious as its name suggests, despite all the escalating internet buzz about its supposedly ironic moniker suggesting there'd be more than just simply snakes on a plane. Not really. Snakes is pretty much it.

That previous statement about still stands.

Nintendo DS

Nintendo fanboy bias aside, I think the DS is shaping up to be the best thing since the Dreamcast. The game library is phenomenal, with about 1 in 5 games being excellent (as opposed to the usual ratio of about 1 in 20). Watch this space for some of the better examples of DS's increasing archive of awesomeness.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An Update About Something Other Than Skies of Arcadia

Been working more on the Horror Hotel idea, though I've decided not to post any more of the stats. They don't really make an interesting read (and the golems were the best part). Explanation of dungeon part soon - I'm avoiding Diablo-esque cliches - once this dumb 50 words thing is over.

Theories About Skies Of Arcadia #3

Not really a theory, more of an observation: more games need battle status music. By which I mean - in my hamfisted nomenclature - music that shifts in mood depending on how the battle's going. The boss music gets upbeat once the boss(es) is/are almost dead, and downbeat when your characters are getting pummeled.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Theories About Skies Of Arcadia #2

I believe this game was inspired by two of the earliest Hayao Miyazaki movies. Namely, Nausicaä and Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Evidence: The ancient giant world-killing robots (Gigas) from the former and the sky pirates - including the elderly female pirate, who has Aika's hair - from the latter.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Allegorical Apocalyptic "Ancients" Syndrome

Or AAAS. A syndrome I made-up to refer to the cliché of any RPG world who uses an "Ancient race" as an allegorical reference to the near-future real world destroying itself at its technological peak. Very common in Japanese RPGs, though sort of explicable considering Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Theories About Skies Of Arcadia #1

Loopers are the reincarnated spirits of dead Arcadians, color-based on their nationality (red Loopers are Nasradians, for example). This explains why there's so many of them, their ghost-like appearance, and why the super-powered black Looper "Elcian" only shows up after Galcian dies (similar names you see).

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Skies of Arcadia Legends

Replaying this fantastic game. Too many good things to say about it that would fit in a 50 word blog entry. If I have to remark on one thing, it'd be the vacuum noise enemies make when they vanish. Clever, but pretty annoying, especially when a lot die at once.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Observations About This Blog

I've been told that this blog can be long-winded. Yeah. So for the next ten updates I'll be posting 50 words or less. That should bring the average wordcount down.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Video Game Webcomics

OK, since I have no scruples that I am aware of, and this blog desperately requires some controversy to attract readership, I've decided to make some frank criticisms of various leading video game webcomics in this update.

Incidentally, this entry has nothing to do with satirizing other gaming blogs doing the same thing for attention. Just so that's clear. Nor does it have anything to do with these comics' authors living off the proceeds of their creation and I being jealous of that fact. So we're double clear now, OK?

Penny Arcade - Man, where do I start with this one. First off, Penny Arcade is sadly lacking in all of the five major humor groups that comprise the recommended daily joke nutritional chart. Which I won't be posting. I will however be providing proof by way of case studies:

Case Study One:

This.. wait, what the hell is this? Making fun of wiggers? This.. I.. it's just so.. OK, let's move onto Case Study 2 -

Case Study Two:

Oh man, those wacky product services. Did you know, that some companies out there, actually screw with you with stuff like warranties? It's true. Not only is it true, but it's hilarious when this fact is communicated to others. Because we've all been there. That's why comics like this are so funny. Just in case you weren't bowled over by the wizard wheeze of the doubletalking phone guy, they interjected some cartoon violence for you to enjoy in the background. You know, so their demographic won't get frustrated with having to read too many words.

Case Study Three:

Ah here we see PA's modus operandi in full swing: The Video Game Parody. In this case, they chose the recent release of Dead Rising to stage their own little Dead Rising parody in the happy little world of PA where no-one's skinny or bald, except for game designers or publishers that they don't currently like at the moment. The only joke I can see is a reference to Alanis Morrisette's song about ironic things, which is in itself ironic as it lacks any actual examples of irony. What's ironic is that it was probably the point of the song to be ironically unironic, something lost on the Penny Arcade guys as they use the unironic reference to great ironicness. Actually, what they've done is admitted to listening to music made for teenage girls. And correctly guessed that their audience would find a crappy song reference funny. Just like that My Name Is Luca (she lives on the second floor, you know) incident that no-one understood a while back. I just like saying ironic.

Which is sort of ironic, right? In an ironic way. Case Study Four, then?

Case Study Four:

I think this is something against Mac users? I dunno. They have a long history of ribbing on Mac users so it's almost impossible to get in on the ground floor with their references to them. I guess they like patchouli because they're alternative or something. Hilarity.

That's enough PA bashing. You might've noted all the case studies are simply the first four comics I could find, because I sort of want to end this update in a good mood. Unmitigated crap always angries up the blood for some reason.

PVP - Ha ha, OK, now we start hitting the dregs. PVP is a comic about a game magazine or developer, I forget which (research is something I leave to the other satire blogs) and basically makes jokes about nerd-dom in general. But they interject these jokes with the mentor character talking down to whoever has a problem or issue needing to be resolved. What Scott Kurtz is doing here, as we say in the psychological help community, is "being an asshat". As sappy and sentimental as Garfield could often be, using Jon Davis' money-vacuum as an example of the kind of watered-down tripe all these webcomics aspire to being the exact opposite of (but secretly wish they could get as rich from), that fatass cat never had a story arc where he would give up coffee because it was "negatively effecting" his "relationship" with that retarded dog. And when I say story arc I mean going on about it for like 3 months. The giving up coffee thing was just an example, there's loads of them just like it. I feel like they should have headers saying "This Week: On a Very Special Episode of PVP..." to warn people about the preachy content on the horizon for the next few weeks so they can switch over to the PA guys smashing plates over their heads and saying "Well, this is a lot fucking better than playing a fucking EA game, those fucks."

I'm not even going to give PVP the benefit of a case study section. Moving on.

Ctrl+Alt+Del - So apparently, PA wasn't enough to quench your much-better looking-in-the-comic cast of nondescript and unentertaining gamers thirst for the week. Where to go? To PA-lite of course. Let's see what they're doing toda-- Ah, a Dead Rising parody. How marvellous and completely surprising. Now, it's equally likely PA stole the idea from them first. Or maybe it's equally likely they're both made by idiots following the fad of the month. You know, guys, Dawn of the Dead did come out like 30 years ago. But then maybe whoever does the funniest comic can be a secret playable character in the next game, Whee!

I think PA-lite is a pretty sufficient explanation of this comic. I couldn't tell you the characters, because I don't think I could care enough to find the character page. Oh man, being apathetic to people is such a burn.

Little Gamers - Little blob things that use leetspeek a lot. And come from Sweden. Maybe I should be kinder to them then. They have ninjas showing up a lot, which is something I've never seen used in a webcomic before. For those of you unaware of what a ninja is - and I'm guessing that's most of you because no-one ever uses them in webcomics - here's a short blurb from :

Ninja (nin-ja) n. - A member of a class of 14th-century Japanese mercenary agents who were trained in the martial arts and hired for covert operations such as assassination and sabotage.

Well how about that. Some kind of Japanese assassin spy thing. And now you know.

VG Cats - OK, so this comic is about two cats going on adventures in gameland. Or they're two cats who play games and imagine themselves in the game. Or it's one guy who watches too much anime imagining himself as two cats who imagine themselves playing video games. Man, this is some serious Muppet Babies-level delusional activity here. They all had to pretend they were somewhere else because a middle-aged Statler and Waldorf used to visit and touch them inappropriately. Well, perhaps not. Still, this comic would look like it was drawn by a 14 year old deviantart user (or devian tarts as I call them), except for the vast amounts of violence that tends to go on. Thankfully, unlike other webcomics where the writers have nothing to do but play games and write comics, this guy only updates like once every month.

Check out Case Study Alpha (switching it up with Greek letters now, oh yeah):

Pirates of the Carribean 2? Wasn't that in June or something? This comic is apparently registering some disgust with the cliffhanger ending. Because, you know, it was such a shock to the audience that a movie being made at the same time as its sequel was going to have a cliffhanger to separate them. By "audience" I mean "stupid audience". Though I'll give them some points by throwing Murray the Demonic Talking Skull in there, even though fans have been clamoring for a MtDTS cameo since day squat.

That's all for this week. Look forward to a new update on these masterpieces of mirth when the Snakes on a Plane movie rolls around and they all need to give their unique spin on the movie. Haha, there's snakes on a plane, it's just like the title says!

Also - just as a side-note on the above - if you use Snakes on a Plane as an expression similar to "c'est la vie" you are a MORONIC WASTE OF ATOMS. can go get itself shot in a rough neighborhood for all I care.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Game Idea Stage 3: Horror Hotel

Another Horror Hotel entry today. I feel like I should stick with one project before expanding on any of the other ideas in this blog: Partly because I don't want to be concentrating on lots of different things at once, but mostly because this is a blog intended for demonstration purposes and it'll only require one of my game ideas to go through a detailed design process to fulfill that goal. The fact that most of these games will go unmade for various reasons is another draw to not doing more work than I need to.

Before I begin, links to the previous two blog entries on Horror Hotel for anyone not checking the archives:

Instead of posting more of my hyper-realistic MS Paint renditions, I'll be concentrating on the meat and potatoes of the game: Statistics. That is, the items, treasure, dungeon levels, monsters, golem types, etc. I'll be sticking mostly with the dungeon-mode today, though I will cover the finer points of the hotel mode in a later update.

Golem Models:
Starting with the most interesting feature, the golems. Golems are what you'll be playing as for the dungeon segments. Well, you'll technically be playing as the main character who is controlling the golems, but no matter as the golems will be what the camera is focused on and what the player will see and control. The head golem will be controlled by the player, and will be the one all the other golems will follow (these will be controlled by a specific AI type by the way, which will be detailed below in the golem descriptions). If the head golem "dies", leadership will simply swap to the next golem.

All golems require parts to create and a blueprint for Crazy Uncle Pete to follow. The exception being the Helper Golem, which is your starting golem type. Because of how cheap it will be to make the Helper Golem (since it is an original class) you may be able to make several before descending into the first dungeon. Golem parts can be bought or found in dungeons, and blueprints are special items that are given to you after fulfilling certain goals (like getting past one level of the dungeon, defeating a boss or accommodating a specific guest in your hotel).

Golems have experience levels also, and can be upgraded once they reach a certain point. This will require additional parts (which become rarer as the upgrades get higher) but no additional blueprints are required. For example, your original Helper Golem reaches level 5 and has the option of upgrading to Helper Golem II. It'll require some parts to do so, but can otherwise jump up a class without delay once level 5 has been reached.

Golems may also have equipment, but it ties in with the upgrading above. Rather than pieces of clothing or weapons, Golems can be augmented with various stat boosts and powers and the number of available boosts is limited to whatever version of the Golem you're using. So the early Helper Golem model will only have 1 such slot for an augmentation, but the next upgrade up may have two or three.

As a final note: If a golem "dies" it simply breaks down, and can be transported like any other item in the dungeon. If a overloaded Helper dies, then you have a problem as all the stuff it was carrying will also be dropped. Any broken golems brought home can be repaired for a specific amount of money based on its level and any upgrades it has received.

Golem Types:

Helper Golem Class: Very slow and weak fighters with no magical ability. Basically mules for carrying items found in the dungeons, and since that's your main goal for being down there they are at least useful for something. Various safety features are included once they start getting upgraded.
Look like: Mechanized Igors.
Upgrade Powers: Higher Carrying Capacity, Safety Transport (transports self out of dungeon when in dangerously low health so you don't lose all the items its carrying), Damage Resistances, Immunity to Lava (for reaching hidden areas).

Fighter Golem Class: This is what you'll be wanting to use once you get down there. Strong fighters who are lacking in magic power but get some spells in later upgrades. Use them as tanks to protect the ranged units and helper golems.
Look like: Tin Soldiers.
Upgrade Powers: Bonuses to Augmentation Boosts, Can Branch to either Knight Golems (high defense, low speed) or Berserker Golems (high speed, low defense), Various Special Attacks, can attack more than once at higher levels.

Wizard Golem Class: These can support your troops or fight with devastating magic from a distance.
Look like: Orko (from He-Man)
Upgrade Powers: Bonuses to Magic and MP, Branch into Black Hats (attack spells), White Hats (healing spells), Silver Hats (healing, boosts, ice magic) or Gold Hats (attack, boosts, fire magic), can fly.

Archer Golem Class: Great ranged units, useless up front however. Very quick, so can quickly escape from enemies while shooting at them. They're fairly cheap to make too, which is good since they won't last long when cornered.
Look like: Crossbow wielding soldiers, upgrades to a miniature catapult and finally a GI Joe-esque machine gun soldier.
Upgrade Powers: Despite stronger bullets and a faster rate of fire, archers can also hit targets regular Fighter Golems cannot.

Jester Golem Class: Various support abilities, can distract enemies without getting hit, can unlock chests and doors and spring traps without being harmed. A useful little guy in various situations but not a very good out-and-out fighter.
Look like: A clown doll
Upgrade Powers: Resistance to Magic, Increased Evasion, Distracting Insult power, Spot Secret Passages, Invisibility.

Elemental Golem Class: Heavily dependent on one elemental type, takes more damage from opposing element but absorbs magic from same element. Very powerful magic casters, and quite strong fighters also.
Look like: Depending on the element; an ice carving, a floating fireball, a miniature tornado or a rolling boulder.
Upgrade Powers: Full Magic absorption of similar element, Resistance to non-opposite elements, special upgrades for each elemental type. High level Elemental Golems can merge to form new Elemental Golems. Ice + Wind = Blizzard, Ice + Earth = iceberg, Fire + Wind = Lightning, Fire + Earth = Lava. If two opposites merge (i.e. fire + ice or earth + wind) they become Chaos Golems. If the two different Chaos Golems merge they become a Soul Golem, who has all sorts of gnarly powers including shapeshifting to any other golem class.

Robot Golem Class: Once you reach the ancient repository, which is a giant warehouse full of electronic gadgets and gizmos of the ancients, you'll need a robot golem to get around some of the electronic devices and failsafes that are still operational. There's tons of cool sci-fi stuff down there which will help you with some of the stranger hotel guests' room requirements. Robots are also heavily defensive and powerful ranged fighters (lasers), so they're like a much tougher version of the Jester robot above (though without the evasiveness, not that they need it).
Look like: 50s-era robots, but each upgrade makes them look more modern and sophisticated.
Upgrade Powers: Naturally gifted with augmentation slots, allowing for twice as many augmentations as usual. Later models can fly, shoot lasers, have T-1000-esque liquid metal mimetic polyalloys to fight with. Very very expensive though, to both build and upgrade.

Monster Golem Class: Oddball Golem type that gets stronger after eating the carcasses of monsters (though it's not so much eating them as simply incorporating them into their bodies). It cannot be upgraded and nor does it level up, but it does gain in stats based on the monster it eats. After a while it starts resembling the type of creature it most often eats. It may also start to gain that creature's abilities after a while. Keep in mind that enemy carcasses have their uses and market value, so this Golem class will continue to eat at your potential profits. Literally.
Looks like: A blob at first, with medium-to-lowish stats across the field. If you only feed it a specific kind of monster (like strong fighters) it'll gain quicker in that stat. If it eats a certain amount of creatures it'll gain its second form (which could be bestial, undead, an aberration or something weirder).
Upgrade Powers: Depending on what you're feeding it, it will gain the stats and powers (and weaknesses) of that particular monster class. To gain a monster's main attack it'll need to eat around five instances of that particular monster. Each form (the Monster Golem's equivalent of an upgrade) has a limited number of monster attacks it can learn, and once it reaches its second form it will be trapped in that particular monster type. I.E. if you turned it into a undead golem, it'll only learn attacks from eating undead enemies, though it can still gain stats from eating others. Each form is more powerful, and requires eating various monsters of a specific class to proceed. For higher forms, it'll need to have eaten a specific monster (usually a boss or a particularly dangerous monster) to be able to upgrade to the new form.

That's all for today's upgrade. Thought I could squeeze more stats in but talking about the Golem Classes alone has made this entry a lot longer than I anticipated. Expect more lists in store for future updates.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Nintendo (Or: Why I Became a Games Designer)

There was a time long ago where I lived in a world without Nintendo. Instead of the gradual dawning of what will eventually become the most iconic brand name for our generation after MTV that many of my gaming peers experienced, I remained in the dark throughout the Nintendo Entertainment Console's trend-setting era opting instead to stick with my slightly more humble Atari ST home computer. A mistake, as I later discovered several years later when I was more fully introduced to Nintendo via the Game Boy and Super Nintendo.

In fact, it was during a somewhat grating flight cancellation that my parents decided to buy a Game Boy to keep me entertained, rather than put up with the many creative ways a 7 year-old can voice his disappointment for such a negative development. Of course, the irony of being rewarded with what would eventually be a life-changing relationship through bad behavior (or the inevitability thereof) is still not lost to me to this day. Needless to say, I saw little of the exciting foreign sights on that vacation, unless the pixellated palm trees in Super Mario Land count as exotic flora.

Later on, several weeks after I had tired of the Game Boy's subtle charms, I found a new use for it: I could lend it to my friend on an exchange program for his SNES whenever he went on holiday, thereby depriving another bright-eyed youth of the myriad pleasures of international travel as he elected instead to stay entirely within the green- and teal-tinted worlds available in the palm of his hand. His parents must've loved me. But he was happy, and so was I, as I finally had the chance to see what all the fuss was about with this new home console my slightly wealthier school-friends had been raving about.

To say the double whammy of both Super Mario World and All-Stars changed my life would be an understatement. For one thing, I saw what 4am looked like for the first time since infancy. Secret of Mana, Starfox, Pilotwings and Zelda continued the trend of robbing me of sleep and social skills (though Super Bomberman 2 valiantly fought to recover the latter). Ever since then I've been a Nintendo junkie; getting every new system as soon as I was able. I wasn't disappointed in the N64 at all. The GBA? Loved it to pieces (this idiom being closer to the truth than I would've preferred, since it broke two years ago). Virtual Boy? OK, I might've missed that one out (my retinas sent me a 'thank you' note). I now sit writing this article with a Nintendo DS on my lap, waiting for me to resume my game of Pokemon Trozei (only 16 Rares to find!) and salivating over the proposed new features of the Nintendo Wii as I wonder how I can possibly look cool while waving a remote control around to fight off Stalfos.

And then it occurs to me: I won't care how I look. I'll be too busy having fun with Nintendo, just like I have been doing for the past 15 years.

Which is why I became a Games Designer. Not just because it's a career full of creative expressions and interesting people. Not just because it's a career that is currently growing in popularity and validity in the public eye and has more opportunities for employment available every day. It's because gaming is the most fun you can have on your own (or with good friends; provided they're not really good friends), and I want to give more of it to the world. That's what Nintendo taught me.