Tag Archives: video games

Why I Play Video Games

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

My Friend Serdar and I were discussing video games and why people enjoyed them recently. It was interesting because I know plenty of gamers, and plenty of people not into them.

So what do they do for me? That was fun – and interesting – to analyze.

First, gaming is something that lets me express myself without some kind of commitment or burden. I’m an organizer, a manager, and a guy that likes to explore things. Gaming lets me do that, from figuring out platforms to managing spaceships. When I game I am me.

Recently, with the stressful Pandemic, I was feeling down, so started playing Slime Rancher, and after that Star Traders: Frontiers. Both were games with planning and management, and playing them helped me, be, well, me. It was refreshing – and it was fun.

Secondly, gaming is a unique art. In games, multiple things that were previously separate arts come together. Visuals, music, rules, more. A game is a way to experience deep experiences, often experiences that would have been separate or less impressive.

This unique art allows for deep experiences such as simulations, but also unique ones. I can walk across impossible landscapes made out of math. I can experience a musical soundtrack while being in a story I control. Gaming is a unique art – and a fusion of arts.

Third, gaming has a social aspect. I’m not just talking multiplayer games (rarely my fave) but the way you can connect over an art. There’s plenty of social tools and sites, I love Early Access games where I give feedback. There’s so many ways to connect, if you’re selective, you can find really fulfilling involvement on a level fine for you, deep to shallow.

I share experiences with video games and friends, I give feedback. I really connect and in some cases, you can give feedback that improves games.

So yeah, that’s why I game. it helps me be me. It’s a unique fusion art form. And I can connect with others when I want to.

What about you?

Steven Savage

Games, Sustainability, And Expectations

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Lately, I got into the game “Portal Knights,” a charming Minecraft-meets-Action RPG video game. It takes a lot of lessons from various games and combines then for a solo or with-friends adventure in a broken world. There are a few polish issues, but for $20 there’s a lot of value.

The game also has optional downloadable content, from a fancy one with new stuff to simple ones with extra hats or buildable items. It all seems quite reasonable, but then I found online complaints about the game having a “money grab.”

Note that for $20 you get a pretty complete game people are supporing, even though it’s been out in Early Access and complete for over two years. It didn’t seem that way to me, but . . .

This made me think about the challenges that game publishing faces – and how much it costs.

  • First, people expect a supported game. But if you make your money on sales, then you need ways to keep paying for it unless you make a lot of money.
  • Second, many people expect games to be around for a long time – that requires some kind of support model.
  • Third, subscription fees of some kind seem to have long ago faded away.
  • Fourth, DLC and extras are reasonably accepted ways to keep the money coming. Heck, it goes back to Team Fortress 2 and hats.

We have expectations of long-term support and endurance of games in the video game community. But how do we reconcile that with the simple financial need to pay developers? Even when we do that, do we have a way to declare a game just simply “done” and move on?

I thought about this and simply realized . . . I don’t have an answer.

We want a way to get good games. We want a way to support them and have them grow. But the methods we have are piecemeal, or limited, controversial, or misused (loot boxes). There has to be something else out there we haven’t invented yet.

I’d like to see a lot more discussion on media production, monetization, and patronage. It’d be great for games, yes, but it might be something we can extend to other media. Right now, we’re probably too confined by current models, past ideas, and recent failures.

Steven Savage

Creative Resources 7/9/2019

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I haven’t posted one of these in a few months, so here’s the latest roundup of creative resources! I’ve added a few here and there, plus some game development tools.

Art Sources

Free

  • Pixabay – A source for art that is free as well as royalty-free. There’s a lot here, and much of it is professional.
  • Unsplash – A source for photos that are free as well as royalty-free. The quality is very high.

Royalty Free

  • Canstockphoto – A great source for royalty-free art, photos, and more. Has a subscription system and a pay-more-get-more credit system.
  • Shutterstock – The classic source for royalty-free art, photos, and more. Has both monthly and specific purchases available.
  • The Noun Project – A fee or membership-based site for downloading a huge selection of royalty free icons! Once you pay for it or download it, it’s royalty-free! Useful for all sorts of projects

Book Covers

Premade

  • Go On Write – Premade covers for books – pick one that looks right and the artist will change the title and author appropriately. A great bargain, and even has series of covers at discount! Will do custom work to.

Services

  • Paper and Sage – A reliable source of both premade and custom book covers.

Tools

  • 3D Book Cover Design – Makes 3D Mockups of book covers.
  • Canva – Book cover creator, though you will want to provide your own art if you don’t want to pay for rights to their stock photo. Also has other services.

Book Reviewers

Review Sources

  • Midwest book review – Will review books for free, but it’s a matter of choice.
  • Self Publishing Review – A classic paid review service (where a pool of reviewers is available) for books. Not always a guarantee of the best reviews of course, so you take your risks . .
  • The Indie Review – A large, constantly-updated list of indie book reviewers.

Color Tools

Collections

  • Color Tools – Plenty of useful online color tools.
  • HTML Color Codes – Useful color tools, with a focus on web-focused colors.
  • Material Palette – Useful tools for desginging palettes, finding icons, and locating specific colors

Color Schemes

  • Color At Adobe – A color theme creator that lets you create schemes, or even get one from a picture, and has a powerful interface.
  • Color Calculator – A color scheme creator that also has useful advice and guides.
  • Colormind – A color theme creator that creates schemes with simple clicking, or get one from a photo.
  • Colors at Halfpixel – A simple palette creator (with a mobile option) with intuitive controls.
  • Coolors – A useful and powerful color palette creator that’s easy to use and powerful.
  • Huesnap – A palette repository and creation tool

Contact Management

Mailing Lists

  • Mailchimp – Mailchimp may have some restrictions, but it’s the go-to for easy mailing list management, which is perfect for authors and artists. It also integrates well with other tools.

Professional

  • LinkedIn – The classic business networking site, and pretty unavoidable for most professionals.

Game Creation

General

  • Game Maker Studio – A powerful game creation tool, with free and paid options
  • Unity – A popular, well-supported game creation tool, not only popular, but one with many tutorials available.

Interactive Fiction – Graphics

  • Ren’py – A powerful game creation tool with an inclination to visual novels and life-sim, and capable of powerful customization.

Interactive Fiction – Text

  • Choicescript – A choice-based game system, both for fun and used commercially.
  • Twine – A web-based Interactive Fiction development tool with multiple options.

RPGs

  • RPG Maker – Game creation tools – the original was RPG focused, but the company has also expanded into Visual Novels.

Generators

Generator Sites

  • Chaotic Shiniy – A diverse source of generators in a variety of styles.
  • Darkest of Nights – Fantasy-oriented generators.
  • Donjon – Generators for a variety of genres and game systems, some of which provide graphics as well!
  • Dropping-the-form – Generators for various settings.
  • DunGen – A powerful dungeon generation tool!
  • Eposic – Generators – among other imaginative efforts.
  • Fantasy Name Generators – And there are a LOT of them here. About anything you could want, and a few you didn’t know you needed.
  • Feath – Generators of various types, conveniently categorized.
  • Generator Blog – Links out to many other generators.
  • Generatorland – Lots of generators and generator tools.
  • Mithril and mages – Generators for a variety of genres.
  • Name Pistol – Band name generators.
  • RanGen – Random generators, from fantasy to helpful writing tools.
  • Serendipity – A generator site with some setting and name generators.
  • Seventh Sanctum – A gigantic collection of generators founded in 1999, with a focus on writing and RPGs.
  • Springhole.net – A site of generators and other creative tools.
  • Squid.org – Home of a complex name generator with many, many options.
  • The Force – A powerful name generator with multiple options.

Graphics

Graphic Tools

  • Art Rage – A painting-oriented digital art program supporting many operating systems, tools, and formats.
  • Clip Studio – A comics, painting, and illustration tool with many options and features
  • Mediabang – A comic and painting application that’s free and multiplatform!
  • Paintstorm – A low-cost digital painting program with many advanced features.

Graphic Tools – Free

  • Gimp – Aka The GNU Image Manipulation Program. A free, open source graphic tool that will take care of almost all of your graphic needs (barring a few limits like CYMK conversion and the like).
  • Krita – A free graphic tool focused on professional workflows.
  • Made With Mischief – A quick, free sketching and brainstorming tool.
  • Sketchbook – A free sketching program.

Graphic Tools – Painting

  • BlackInk – A painting program, focusing on stylistic work as opposed to realistic

Mac

  • Pixemlator – A low-cost alternative to Photoshop for Mac, with lots of compatibility options

Helpful Tools

Relaxing Backgrounds

  • 4 Ever Transit Authority – Ride the bus through randomly generated art deco cities. A great program to run in the background or on your TV or monitor to relax you while you create.
  • Anomolies – A relaxing background display/artgame that creates surreal spacescapes, often with strange nebulas and sites that resembe anything from devices to lights to disturbing lifeforms.
  • Becalm – A relaxing journey via sailboat through surreal worlds with a relaxing soundtrack and audio. Can be run for a few minutes or in a loop and you can switch between multiple settings.
  • Panoramical – Available on Itch.io And Steam. Panoramical is an audio/visual remixer where you can tweak settings in multiple environments, turning them into audio/visual displays. Find your favorite setting, leave it on, and relax.
  • Station To Station – A simulated train ride through imaginary environments. Run it in the background or through your television while you create to help relax you

Portfolios

Services

  • Adobe Portfolio – The popular porftolio site – that comes with many Adobe subscriptions.
  • Artstation – Multimedia-focused portfolio and blog platform
  • Format – A portfolio site with store services as well.

RPG Resources

Random Charts

  • Chartopia – A site with a huge and expanding amount of charts for RPGs, easily sortable and classified.

Self-Publishing

Audiobooks

  • ACX – Amazon’s self-publishing audio platform
  • Audible – Another amazon audiobook publishing platform
  • Findaway – A wide-ranging audiobook distribution service.

Cards

  • Drive Thru Cards – Self-publishing for card games, both physical and downloads.

eBook

  • Itch.io – Itch.io doesn’t just do games – it also allows for people to publish books, and is very open-minded.
  • Kobo Writing Life – Distribute your eBook via Kobo
  • Nook Press – Distribute your eBook via Nook

eBook-Multiple

  • Draft2Digital – A service that distributes to multiple eBook platforms.
  • Smashwords – A wide-ranging ebook distribution service.

Physical And Ebook

  • Ingram Spark – Ingram’s eBook and physical book publishing platform. Wide reach, but may require some setup fees and has some limitations.
  • KDP – Amazon’s full-service print and Kindle publishing service. Warning, the eBook distribution is only through Amazon.
  • Lulu.com – A print and eBook creation and distribution service.

RPGs

  • Drive Thru RPG – Self-publishing for RPGs, both downloadable and in print. Also supports related merch like calendars.

Video Games

  • Itch.io – Itch.io is a supportive, indie-oriented game store site. It also has a lot of self-published resources for game development, as well as supporting books of all kind.

Website Creation

Services

  • Squarespace – The popular website creator with many options.
  • Weebly – Easy and simple to use website, blogs, and stores.
  • Wix – A simple And effective website source, though paid options are reccomended.
  • WordPress.com – The classic site, with free and paid options. Obviously blog-focused.

Writing Research

Maps

  • Old Maps Online – A way to find and view old maps of the world. Great for research and imagining.

Writing Tools

Ebook Creation

  • Calibre – A free ebook creation tool.
  • Jutoh – Not only converts your book to various ebook formats, it’s a powerful enough tool that you could even write books in it.

Word Processing

  • LibreOffice – A full, free, open source office suite. Beyond the free price, it’s fantastic ad using ODT format and creating PDFs.

Word Tools

  • Describing Words – Ideas for how to describe a given word.
  • Dictionary.com – The classic online dictionary.
  • Related Words – Helps find words similar to or related to one you’re using.
  • Rhyme Zone – A tool to help you find rhyming words.
  • Thesaurus.Com – The classic online thesaurus, with plenty of useful options and displays
  • Wordsworth – A tool to see if words you’re using fit the time period you’re writing

Writing

  • Scriviner – A writing tool that combines note taking, tracking, and writing into one application.

Writing Checking

  • Grammarly – A pricey but powerful service and software for checking grammar, spelling, and even plagarism if you need. There are free, limited options.
  • Hemmingway – A grammar checking tool with both web and desktop versions.
  • Pro Writing Aid – A subscription-based writing checker service/tool.

Steven Savage