Lodestar Medium

November 11th, 2013 by sicher

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 19.09.33I’ve been working on a game for some time now. It’s called “Lodestar Medium” and it’s a 2D space exploration game with hard environmental puzzles.

I don’t have a release date figured out yet, but please follow my progress at the following links. And please drop me a line if you have questions about anything

http://lodestarmedium.com

https://www.facebook.com/LodestarMedium

Bookmark, like, share and spread the word!


Male perspective

March 28th, 2013 by sicher

A while ago I wrote a piece on “Inclusive design”. Today I happened to browse through the text again and I stumbled upon the following passage where I talked about the old iconic gender neutral LEGO figurine that I prefer:

The same little humanoid played the role of astronaut, mother, robot, corpse, James Bond – pretty much whatever the playing child could imagine.

When I wrote that I did the following:

  1. I automatically associated the word “astronaut” with men (duh!)
  2. I automatically gave a girl’s play with the figurine the topic “mother”. This was to balance the previous male “astronaut” (duuuuh!)
  3. I added two neutral type characters, the robot and the corpse (ok)
  4. And lastly I included the stereotypical male action character “James Bond” (…)

Holy cow! And I didn’t even reflect over these choices when I wrote them. And what was the subject of that article again?

Wow!


The first reveal of Battlefield 4

March 27th, 2013 by sicher

Big launch at GDC this week. Here is the first gameplay reveal.

Enjoy (in fullscreen 1080p)!


Inclusive design

December 12th, 2012 by sicher

lego neutral gender

I’ve been thinking a lot about gender, and particularly how it works in gaming culture and is portrayed in games. For background, I encourage you to check out any of the many great projects and calls-to arms that have dragged into spotlight some very real issues and tendencies that range from the slightly ignorant or oblivious to the downright hostile (look up @FemFreq or search Twitter for #onereasonwhy for instance).

This is a massive subject, and there is a lot of historic baggage to deal with and many things to consider and change. But here’s one simple thing to start with.

What we should do is to question the choice of gender whenever we can. Meaning, whenever we create a character, we should question whether the character has to be male, female – or have a specified gender at all.

There are a number of games where gender is not present at all: “Lemmings” is one example. The important point is that “Lemmings” would not benefit at all from an added gender perspective, so it made sense to let the character design reflect that. Similarly, you can probably find examples where it made sense to make a character male, female or transgender, but very often a different choice would make as much or even more sense. (The original Alien script has all characters written as generic males with a note in the script explicitly stating “The crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men or women”)

When we make our decisions on gender we have to look closely at what our characters’ roles are in the particular context. The context defines how our characters’ traits and actions will be perceived by the player. It is possible to create characters that even express sexist opinions – given that you have a context where you deal with the subject properly. (On the realism of sexism is a good post on this matter)

So, questioning the gender choice will require awareness about what we are trying to achieve. If we lose track of our core idea, it could go wrong. The LEGO figurine is an example of a design that was previously unspecified in terms of gender but that no longer is. (Most) LEGO bricks are designed to allow the child to use them in a million ways. A brick works as a brick in a wall, a part of a tree trunk, a loaf of bread or as a rock outside of a moon-base. It was the same with the iconic LEGO figurines. The same little humanoid played the role of astronaut, mother, robot, corpse, James Bond – pretty much whatever the playing child could imagine.

Unfortunately, later LEGO designs invalidated this core design principle of unleashing imagination by locking the figurines into distinct roles: females, males, robots, Harry Potters, Darth Mauls. I believe this not only helps cement oppressive and square ideas about gender in our society, it also makes LEGO a worse product. There is definitely an appeal in including well known, popular and iconic characters, and I guess there is good business there, but I don’t see why all of LEGO had to be gender specified – there really is no point.


10 years in the games industry!

July 2nd, 2012 by sicher

10

10 years ago I went up to Uppsala and Starbreeze Studios to start working as a writer on the first Riddick game. Since then I’ve had the honor of being part of a number of wonderful dev teams. I have been fortunate to meet, work with and make friends with many absolutely stellar people. Through the years there have been many projects started and quite a few that was actually finished (5 and counting).

So far this has been a great ride and I can’t really see myself doing anything other than games. See, I was seriously bit by a bug that crawled out of my father’s TI 99/4A and since the age of about 10 my dream has been to make games (or draw comics).

Many wonderful games are being released each year and the last few years it has been especially great to witness the indie game scene flourish. The indies show that yet again, you don’t need to work in a big studio to achieve greatness – that is a fantastic thing. But still, the successful indies actually are pretty much exactly like the successful big AAA teams: serious, focused and very hard working passionates.

I have learned many things during these 10 years, but I think the only really important lesson to pass on is this: if you want to make a great game you should take it seriously, work as hard as you can and give the game all your attention. If you are passionate about making games I think that sounds exactly like “do whatever you feel like doing.”