Monday, July 02, 2012

The Little Things Add Up

Howdy people who read my blog!

It's always with the best of intentions that I intend on updating this thing, but my general impression of a lack of audience coupled with my work and various hobbies makes it hard for me to remember to come back here and post from time to time.

It's funny that I don't really post here all that much considering the fact that my entire life revolves around gaming in some form or another.  You would think I would make more time for this, but alas, I don't.

I entitled this post "The Little Things Add Up" because it really does encapsulate how I feel about some things right now.  I'm working on a little big game, making small changes here and there, which add up to big impacts for hundreds of thousands (hopefully millions) of players in the future.  

Every little thing counts.

Skipping allusions to game mechanics I would rather jump over to the real reason why I thought to come over here and post.

Like many of you, most of my accounts are linked to each other in some way or fashion.  I have this blog, which is connected to my twitter, which is connected to my raptr account, which was initially connected to my xfire account, which was a restarted xfire account, which is connected to all of the gaming platforms I play on that have some sort of metrics system that announce my achievements and hour counts for playing.

Raptr takes all of the aggregate information of my game play time and posts it to my twitter and facebook accounts.  The reason I allow this is, I am fascinated by it for one, and I like to chronicle what I've been playing over time.  

I wish all of my gaming was accounted for like this to be honest.  This includes arcade games, pinball, my classic game systems, my handheld systems.

One of my favorite accounts for this kind of thing is which shows all of the music I've listened to while logged into their system since 2004.  While it hasn't captured all of the music that i've listened to since 2004 ( like music I listen to at home, or in my car (where most of it happens) it does give me a nice snapshot of what my preferences have been like over the years:

Apparently, I spend alot of time listening to music I've written myself, and bounce between light sounding stuff and really heavy sounding stuff

The game tracking works similarly, though I tend to forget to turn on raptr and xfire way more often due to reboots and annoying performance issues.    For example, CounterStrike Global Offensive Beta on raptr says I've played around 37 hours.  I don't know what the time window is for that count.  Steam says I've played it 142 hours.

In the four years post launch of EverQuest 2 and the subsequent years after I left that team, I managed to log close to 1600 hour of total play time.

You may be wondering what the point of this is by now.

The point is I am a gamer as well as a designer.  Hence the name Devgamer.  I play games as a hobby, but I also develop games for a living as a game designer.  It is both my hobby and my career.  I have a true passion for this, and anyone that knows me or gets to know me either as a friend or simply as a professional in the game industry knows this.

You will notice a trend in the kinds of games I play.  I play a TON of shooters, because I'm currently working on one, and my prior project was a shooter MMO.  Prior to that I spent most of my time playing MMOs of all genres, because I wanted to understand them to the best of my ability.

When I see a trend in gaming and there is a huge spike in popularity for a particular kind of game, I do my best to try and play it as much as I can to understand it, not only for my own personal interests and for fun, but because I want to know how it works, why it works, and how I can apply that to the work I do here at HPE.  We have a really neat company here, because while we are currently working on a AAA shooter title, we are also known for making the best tower defense game ever made (Defense Grid =) ).  We have a wide range of interests here and that suits me very well.  I'm encouraged to know as much as I can about every genre of game that piques my interest.

That's why you'll see so much play in MOBA style games now, because I really like the competitive aspect of the game (you will notice most of the games I play are competitive or pvp in some fashion, at least the ones I play the most).  That's why you'll see I only spent 11 hours in Skyrim, instead of the 40-80 hours you probably spent on it.

One reason I'm bringing any of this up is because there have been a few comments in forums, twitter, and in messages directly to me by people who see what I've been playing lately and use that as some kind of measuring stick to try and figure out how much work we/I have been doing towards CSGO.  Using my play patterns from playing at home and on my lunch breaks is not any kind of heat indicator in regards to the hard work everyone is putting in here or a way to figure out whether or not patches are coming down the pipe.

While I wish these game trackers did keep track of all of my play time, it's just not possible.  When you see that I've logged over 140 hours in csgo, you are only seeing how many hours I've logged into the product you guy's get to download.  That doesn't include the internal beta servers you always wonder about called devprerelease... it doesn't count the internal version that we develop on where I do all of my work all week long.  It doesn't count the PS3 version, or the Xbox360 version or the Mac version.  Only the version that I play after we post a beta candidate, and I play to verify that things are working as I expect them (or not) to.  These are the hours I play on my own time at home, on weekends when no one expects me to log in.  These are the hours when I am logged into the game at 2am having multi hour conversations with players about recoil or movement in Norway, Saudi Arabia, and Germany.

I probably log in an average to 2 or 3 hours of play away from the beta release that no one sees every single day of work.  If you add of the 2 years I've been on this project that would probably be over 1500 hours of unlogged play at best guess.

I guess what I'm getting at is, I have made CSGO my life these past 2 years, and it is a huge part of it.  I spend a ton of time talking about CS, playing CS and thinking about CS.  I also spend my free time trying to disengage my mind from it and trying to keep up with what is popular in games to maintain a professional and personal edge that I enjoy.  Balancing all of this and maintaining a good relationship with my very understanding wife is a challenge in and of itself, but she is very supportive and understand how much this all means to me.  I hope my friends out in the gaming verse can understand too.

In closing, I would be a lot more worried about a designer who doesn't play games and feels like he/she doesn't have anything more to learn about them than one who spends a large portion of their free time expanding their gaming horizons.