Hatchlings Games

Web Gaming 2.0 Revolution

Some Game Design Links

As a game designer (or wannabe), we have to read, think, write (mostly for definition and communication), draw (mostly sketches) and blink a lot. What do we really think about? Here are some questions and attempted answers by various authors. Also, it would be really great if you can leave a comment here to tell me who is reading. I want to know what other game designers are reading this blog.

What are games and what is fun?
a Theory of Fun for game design by Raph Koster (slides, book).

This is one of the favorite book of mine. I read the whole book in borders and to date bought three copies of the book. I find it extremely entertaining and fun and instantly won my heart and mind. It touched on the fundamentals of fun and games.

I knew was true but could not express in words (or pictures) like what Mr. Koster did. I knew it was destined to be a game industry (and education) classic. Some bloggers (Emily Short, Gameology) have written superb reviews about the book so I don’t have to write my own. As a company, we are truly inspired.

This is a compulsory reading for any intelligent, fun loving game developer.

Note: At his talk (design for everywhere) during the recent Austin Game Developers Conference, Raph mentioned a new book on game grammar, he tries to define what are the building blocks of a game from a reductionist point of view. Iris and I are really looking forward to that.

What are games and how do we make games for everyone?
Design for Everywhere, Raph Koster’s talk at AGDC 2007 (slides, mp3). Another brilliant lecture by Raph Koster! The MP3 is not free and I can’t distribute the file openly but we can listen to it together on Skype or Second Life.

Do games have to be difficult?
Game Design Essentials: 20 difficult games
by John Harris.

What are Open World games?
Game Design Essentials: 20 open world games by John Harris.

What do parents think about games?
The GamerDad blog.

September 29, 2007 Posted by | Education, Game Design, Game Development | 5 Comments

World of WarCraft vs Habbo Hotel

Habbo Hotel vs WoWDuring this year’s Austin Game Developer’s Conference (the leading MMO developer conference) we saw (or read, like I have) mind battles between MMORPG developers and the web social web world developers. One of the aftermaths of is this in the form of Gamesutra Question of the Week: World of WarCraft vs. Habbo Hotel. The exact question is:

“Following the Austin Game Developers Conference last week, how important do you think online worlds such as Habbo and web-based social gaming in general is to the future of online games, compared to existing game biz successes like World Of Warcraft? What can WoW learn from Habbo, and vice versa?”

I can’t wait to know what people are saying on it.

September 17, 2007 Posted by | Game Design, Web, Web 2.0, Web Gaming 2.0 | Leave a comment

How to be a Great Game Designer

Dustin BrowdenRaph KosterTim Cain

Rand MillerWarren SpectorBrian Reynolds

Alexey PajitnovTim SchaferTan Zie Aun

He is actually Tan Zie Aun aka nowing, the game designer of Encephalon and Creative Director of Quasr.
Tan Zie Aun

He should really grow a beard don’t you think? Then he’ll look very much like a great game designer doesn’t he?

Disclaimer: Except for Zie Aun, we are not associated with any of the game designers above. We took their pictures from websites.

Top posts by Zie Aun aka nowing:

July 10, 2007 Posted by | Game Industry, Humor, Sharing | , | 4 Comments

Encephalon in Production : Day 13

An older blog draft by Roshan. I thought of posting this up for old-time sake.

8th February 2007

Dear bloggers, we are facing some minor problem in the production team. There will be reshuffling of roles in our team with more additional team members within a few days. Especially, the web development team should have more web programmers.

Last night, we attended a meeting by MobileMonday. It was amazing to blend with people from various backgrounds. Learned a lot from the successful entrepreneurs who were present yesterday. It shows how fast is the Information Communication Technology (ICT) industry is moving in Malaysia. Not to forget the lovely food and beverage served.

June 30, 2007 Posted by | Encephalon, Game Development, Quasr Updates, Working Environment | Leave a comment

The evolution of Igna, or how Quasr isn’t Magic

(Note: This article requires the knowledge of the game. To learn how to play Quasr, please visit the Quasr website to sign up. But I’ll try to make it as general as possible.)

Now that Quasr is online for some time already, I figure it’s about time to talk about the design and development of the game. I’d start with a general article, but it seems like I’ve written it already. Check out “The color pie and the color salad bowl“. I’ll go into slightly more specific subjects, in the mean time touching on some history of the game, and how did it come about.

I can’t talk about Quasr without mentioning Magic: the Gathering – Indeed, if there’s one game that changed my life, it has to be Magic. Back in early 2000 I was studying high school in Singapore. I just checked in to my dorm after the year-end vacation, when I noticed my room-mate and few other friends playing ‘poker with pictures’ in the room. It didn’t take me long to get hooked to Magic. Now, studying abroad under scholarship and staying in a Presbyterian hostel isn’t the best time and place to start investing in a ‘Satanic’ (as my teacher puts it) game. I’ve gotten into a fair share of trouble which I don’t want to mention again.

Two years later and I was in junior college. That meant a new dorm as well as new room-mates. Among my five room-mates, one was, for a lack of better terms and I hereby ask you, Michael my ex-room-mate, for your forgiveness, a chess freak. While my other room-mates were quite accommodating of playing any game, Michael and I seemed to be at two ends of the gaming spectrum. I never understood chess for the lack of strategic thinking, and he never understood Magic for reasons that I don’t know. Oh, and there’s Edison, who doesn’t play anything other than Diablo 2, until I introduced Magic and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to him.

Quasr, then titled ‘Battle Chess’ for a lack of imagination and product research, was born in search of the middle ground between Chess and Magic. The rules are a combination of both – defeat your opponent’s ‘King piece’ (the Aspect) using cards from a deck you build. There were numerous iterations between the first design and the current one (In fact, the current version that you see on the site is undergoing some changes as well). These changes happen when we learn new things that we never knew before. One thing we did not know was how strong direct damage can be.

Due to the expanding nature of the game, one of the aspects of Quasr design was conserving design space for future use. For each ‘faction’ (in quotes because of the lack of a better term;we wanted to change it but have not thought of a replacement yet), the idea was to pick a strategy and go all the way with it. This leads to several problems along the way, but right now I’ll just talk about ‘Igna’.

Igna was one of the three starting ‘factions’ of Quasr. Each of the three factions corresponded to a creature stat (Windia, whose details I shall leave unwritten for now, corresponded to the now-obsolete ‘Movement’ stat, or how many squares a creature can move per turn). Igna’s stat, as it turns out to be not too hard to deduce if you have played the game, is Attack (ATK). Igna’s creatures have been big-fisted and small-butted ever since the first card list, as the saying goes “Offense is the best defense” – When you’re busy attacking, there’s no need to hold back. The idea of ‘attacking’ extended from just creatures to Hacks, the ‘spell cards’ of Quasr. This is where the problems started, and the whole point of this article.

There was this one little card in Magic that I stole into Quasr:

Shock felt generic enough to be in any card game that had creatures and combat. It feels just like ‘extended combat’ – attacking with something else when your creatures can’t. Thus, a similar card found its way into Quasr’s set file.

THIS deals 2 damage to target creature or Aspect.

The ‘R’, which stands for ‘Range’, is the card’s cost, defined by either the number of rows or columns between the player’s Aspect and the target, whichever is greater. Soon enough its cost was increased to R+5. It might not even make it past the next iteration.

Balance is a tricky thing. Just because it’s a common that doesn’t get played in Tier 1 decks in one game doesn’t mean that the same card would not dominate in another game with slightly different rules. The difference – the board – turned out to be not so slight this time. Whack, in a land of one-grid-per-turn movers, was considered ‘cheating’. It was the gun in the fistfight, the Brazilian in the Malaysian football team. It could take out a creature from a distance, or a finishing blow to an Aspect being hurt by similar cards (Igna is full of these). While the Igna player gains no card advantage by scrapping a creature with Whack (what is known as a ‘one-for-one’ trade), it makes up by gaining the player tempo advantage – You save the amount of turns used to move towards your target and attack it. This advantage is even more significant when a creature can only move one grid per turn, a rule implemented to counter the imbalance of fast movers. (We’ll talk about this another time.)

Playtesting makes it so clear that the addition of the board into Quasr makes it so much more different from Magic. A more experienced game designer might spot that out immediately but hey, we’re all learning.

Related Posts:

June 26, 2007 Posted by | Game Design, Quasr | 4 Comments

How to start learning programming – Kuan’s version

Typing this into Google, you definitely will get 32,500,000 hits. This seem to be a very popular question asked by those who wants to start programming. It is asked by those just who found the computer and that programing is awesome, who just step into University with a course relate to computer, and etc. The amount of hits related to the subject is not actually amount of questions but rather of answers. Why does Kuan want to write his own article about it? The reasons I can think of are:

  1. I never wrote one
  2. I didn’t have answer from “How to start learning programming?” to get myself involve in programming learning.
  3. Hope my own experience mean a little different to someone.

First step : LOVE it!

There are many reasons why people want to learn programming (my dear). I met a lot of people (mostly my classmate) who want to learn programming just because they need to pass a college programming subject. Majority of them end up struggling, suffering in the process of learning my dear. When they hate it they ask me why do I so enjoy the process so much. The answer: “Well, you got to love it.”

Programming languages allow us to create anything we want in a computer. Before you start a new programming practice sessions, first create something in your mind that you think is cool, useful or fun to be in your computer. Then start coding. Seriously, sit there and type on the keyboard with what you learned from the language so far. Tweak your brain to come out logical solutions. Calm yourself when you see 100 error when you press “compile”. Whenever you feel short of knowledge or solution, refer to the book or the web. The biggest satisfaction in programming is when you created what you want to create; seeing it magically working. Sooner or later, you will love this language and go on.

When I read my first programming book (on Visual Basic), I was so curious about if else, the for loop and the while loop. Then I start writing weird if else and loop code and get very excited when I first saw them working. Then I start make very simple but weird little programs using the logic I learned from the first few chapters. Reading the entire book and following the exercises in the book will just bore the process, its just like schooling. Think of something you like and make sure it is challenging enough and do it. Man is born to be free. We should create what we want rather then what the book wants. When thereis something that always give what you want, you will start loving it sooner or later.

Don’t stick to what you were told to do: job, homework, assignments. Have a timeout and program something that you want. Let it be your personal time manager, personal website, personal game, personal research. Then share them with your friends, let them appreciate your work. Show them to your good programmer friends and let them guide you. Be proud of it.

After all, mindset is the first thing to setup before you learn anything. If you step in without a willingness to learn and love-to-learn heart, learning just become boring, plain and dead. Love it and enjoy it. Life isn’t fun if we are not enjoying in what we are doing.

To be continue…

Related Posts:

June 21, 2007 Posted by | Game Development, Programming, Tutorial | 2 Comments

How fatherhood affected game developers

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, husbands and dads! Since this is a company blog, I will stick to writing on topic. But since of us are not father’s yet, I can’t answer the topic question. I certainly wish to though but I think that have to wait until Quasr and our next game succeeds.

For Father’s Day this year, I went home and had dinner with Dad. I don’t go home that often but I certainly hope to do so more often for the rest of the year. When I told my family that Zie Aun, Sufiyan and I will most probably visit Shanghai for GDC China this August, they were eager to join me. I wish my dad can come for a few days too.

Back to the topic question. As I was researching for this post, I saw a father’s day feature on Gamasutra entitled What Father’s Day Means to Game Developers. The article contains interviews with many game developers, including Rob Pardo (Blizzard VP Game Design), Noah Falstein (President, the Inspiracy and an acquaintance of Iris), Sid Meier, etc.

Rob Pardo and daughter Sydney on Wo

Rob Pardo’s 7 year old daughter Sydney is a Level 54 Warlock!

June 18, 2007 Posted by | Game Industry | 1 Comment

Life of a game programmer in Hatchlings

After one and a half year working as a part time game programmer in Hatchlings Games. Kuan finally upgraded to be a full time game programmer! It’s been 2 weeks since I started working full for Quasr without distraction from tedious assignments or boring test papers. These 2 weeks are…Awesome!

It just like my dream job. Hatchlings Games…

1, does not have compulsory morning working time. Programmer working time is from 2pm noon until 12am midnight. Some of the game designers even work overnight in the office so that they can use the early morning time for brainstorming and quiet debates.

2, does not have compulsory fixed attire. I can wear my favourite style – t-shirt + short pant + sandal. Personally, I feel bad about wearing formal. For me, it just decrease work efficiency.

3, does not have bad politics, because Hatchlings is a team :). Quasr earn, we earn. Quasr dead, we FIX!

4, has a harmonious and fun environment. Everyone is passionate about game development, close in age, love Quasr, are friendly, playful, have dinner together, and laugh together… I doubt this is common in the working world out there.

5, Is all about game development. Involving in game development had been my dream since young.

Here are some of the pictures I snapped in the office today.


Most of the hatchers bring their own laptop (limited space? good, everyone can talk!) I like this feeling, all work together, discuss and yell together.


This is my space, my 2 years old wife and girl friend’s head phone. Why headphone? Because I need music to steam my brain to think ( not because of the noisy office? no…of cause not…)


This guy with a soft toy in his hand is Nowing aka Quasr’s God (Because he create it). It’s common to see somebody playing with a toy in the office, since there are many of them (Sponsored by John :P)


Anyone felt excited or attracted after reading this? Hatchlings Games are still recruiting 😛

Related Posts:


June 14, 2007 Posted by | Game Development, Hatchlings Games, Job, Programming, Working Environment | 5 Comments

Tale of Tales’s Tale

One day, when I am searching around the Internet using Google service, I found this website called Tale of Tales. And guess what I found, a very interesting and new game called “The Endless Forest“. For me, it is one of the unique game that I played before. The game is ACTIVATED through screen saver. I manage to contact the game designer for a little chat and have a brief idea what happening in the game industry at the other country.

To me, it is always fun to be connected with all the game developers and have discussion on the game development scene. Previously there is a lot of game industry related events held here in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. But now, it is so silent and boring that I am planning to organize an informal one soon. I miss those days where developers gather together and talking about their experiences.

June 13, 2007 Posted by | Game Industry, Malaysia, Sharing | 1 Comment

Game Design Novice

Recently I found a website called Game Design Novice. It is indeed a website for those who passionate to be a game designer. This will be a good start.

Check it out for details.

Other relevant websites:

Theory of Fun

Designer’s Notebook

Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

June 12, 2007 Posted by | Game Design, Sharing | Leave a comment