Showing posts from 2015

What makes a horror game scary


In honor of Hallows Eve, I would like to cover a topic that I love to talk about. Horror games.

Horror seems like a simple topic. You put scary things in a game maybe some blood on the wall, some creaky doors, give them nothing but a flashlight (or camera lens), maybe some things jump out at the player, and the player is scared. Job done right?

No. No no no no no no no no. If you make a horror game with this design philosophy, you are making the most boring and played out thing imaginable that will fail at literally it's only purpose: To scare the player.

I wouldn't blame you however, as the AAA developer has completely abandoned what horror games actually are and instead now make glorified action games with zombies, and the occasional cheap jump scare where the thing you thought was lying dead on the ground jumps up as you walk by it in a brightly lit room. Granted, these games can be fun, and aren't necessarily "bad" but they are not horror…

I am working for a time traveler

So today I would like to tell a little story in honor of back to the future day. This is a true story, and happened around a month and a half ago in late August or early September (too long to be a back to the future joke), and I was debating if I should blog about it as I was still working for the guy, but now as the project is coming to a close, and I doubt I am getting paid anyways, I don't feel bad at all posting this to the internet.

I am working for a guy who thinks he is a time traveler. I really wish I was making this up, because that would mean he isn't bat shit insane, and I would still probably get paid for this project, but unfortunately that is not the case.

Let me start from the beginning. Last year along with graduating from my normal high school, I also graduated from a half day technical school I was attending as well (which I won't name due to the contents of this story). I was studying computer programming, and (it's hard to say this humbly) I was w…

The 3 types of indie developers you will work with

Whether you are a freelancer like me working on a project, or are leading your own project, you are going to see these 3 types of indie developers, if you are not one yourself.

1. The Dreamer
-These people tend to be really young (like I'm talking 11-13), pretending online to be much older. They will start a project with dreams of becoming the next <insert AAA game that cost millions of dollars to make here> and truly believe they can do it after they saw the most recent Unreal Engine demo trailer and downloaded it themselves (but curiously have never seemed to actually open it). The have these grand visions of stories and explosions that will make your head spin. I was one of these, and have accidentally worked for a short time with one. It's usually best to just leave the project, but stay in touch. Most of the time they will calm down in a few years, and get an ACTUAL game project going, while maintaining a lot of the same drive and determination.

2. The Slacker
-It wil…


This is a little bit of a jump ahead in time from my last post, and is going to cover a topic that's a little more complex and onto professional design level. Lets talk about one of the most important design elements of any game, whether it be a simple arcade style game, or a narrative masterpiece. Can you guess what that is? Of course you can, it's in the title of this post! That one element is Pacing.

As Bob Ross once said "Put light against light - you have nothing. Put Dark against dark - you have nothing. It's the contrast of light and dark that each give each other meaning."

You might be asking "What's this have to do with video games?" so let me answer that by talking about movies.

Perhaps you found yourself watching the newest summer special effects blockbuster, be it transformers 8, or whatever it is, and you walk away feeling kind of bored. You might be confused as to why you were bored. I mean, the movie was awesome right? That one thing b…

So you want to make a game... PT. 2

I shouldn't need to say this, but if you are thinking about making your own game, don't do what I did. Instead, here are some things that you NEED to keep in mind before trying to delve into starting up your own game project:

1. Keep your expectations realistic
-Only YOU know your own capabilities, so YOU know the extent of what YOU can create. If this is your time ever trying to make a game to any extent, stop now, go back, and build up some practice first.

2. Screw the first rule
-If you stick to nothing but your safe zone, you will never learn anything new, and will never get better. The most frequent comment I get on my YouTube channel is "How do I get better?" which is always answered with "Push the envelope of what you can do." When I learned 3D modelling, I spent the first 3 or 4 years stuck in my comfort zone of modelling simple hard-surface objects, untill one day I went "I am going to model a dinosaur." Within the next week I completed th…

So you want to make a game...

When I was about 11 years old, I stumbled across another blogspot blog titled AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake), and that set me off on a journey that lead to me learning game maker, making hundreds of small projects in it, realizing I hated doing pixel art, learning 3D design and Unreal Engine, before accepting I couldn't make a game that was as good as Call of Duty by myself, then finally abandoning all of it for the next year or so.

I have since worked on many small game design teams, trying my hand at almost everything, and have seen projects I have worked on both fail and "succeeded." I put succeeded in quotes because while some of the projects finished and put of for download, they never really became anything. That said, I haven't worked on a shipped project since Steam's Greenlight service was implemented, so people discovering our games and dealing with the often sketchy as all hell custom storefronts we used probably contributed to that problem a ton.



Hi, my name is Zach. I live in St. Louis Missouri where I work part time for an after school care program at a local elementary school. My real passion is for programming and game design, where I have worked tons of freelance jobs as a 3D modeler, programmer, level designer, and more. I also run a semi-successful Youtube channel at where I make tutorials teaching people how to do Visual Effects, 3D modelling, and some random stuff every now and then.

This blog will be about life working in the field of independent game design and programming, covering topics that might help you succeed, while having fun along the way, because that's what it's about: Enjoying what you do, and being proud of your work.

DISCLAMER: In case I either forget to delete this, or decide to continue blogging afterwards, I feel the need to point out here that this blog was initially done for an English project. This explains why the first several posts were all made within a few …