Deep Plaid

Apr 23

Join the Overland Team: Make Sounds, Freak Everybody Out


Adam here! We are actively seeking a sound designer to join our team and work on our new indie game Overland.

We are also on a mission to build a more inclusive studio with more diverse teams, and so we strongly encourage applications from people from backgrounds that aren’t always represented in the games industry. If you fit this description or know people who do, we would be grateful if you could pass this posting on! I’ve got some more details about this toward the end of the post.



Overland is a turn-based survival game. It is still what we call a prototype, but if you imagine playing a board game where you move some figurines of civilians and monsters around a chessboard full of rubble, you might have some idea of what the game is like at the moment.

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Apr 04

The Pirate Bay Bundle →




So here it is: the pirate bay bundle. You can also watch the trailer if you haven’t seen it This has taken me so much longer than I ever anticipated. I’ve been stuck in the thick of this for so long that I thought I would never see the light and even when I did,…

I have a game in this (Schrodinger’s Kittens)! It’s great to see a bunch of cool unappreciated “weird” games take off…!

Mar 14

Join the Overland Team: Make Art, Decide Everything


Adam here! So I have alluded to this on twitter in the past, but we are actively seeking an artist to join our team as a full creative partner on our new indie game Overland.

We are also on a mission to build a more inclusive studio with more diverse teams, and so we strongly encourage applications from people from backgrounds that aren’t always represented in the games industry. If you fit this description or know people who do, we would be grateful if you could pass this posting on! More about this later…



Overland is a turn-based survival game that we have been describing internally as “868-HACK meets XCOM meets OREGON TRAIL meets LEFT 4 DEAD meets ROADSIDE PICNIC”. Make of that what you will, just keep in mind that it’s not a zombie game…

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Mar 13

A very special Humble Bundle of Love for Brandon Boyer →



Introducing a bundle of love for Brandon Boyer, with more than 30 indie games (and counting) just for you!

Humble Bundle has teamed with independent developers to put together a bundle like no other. To help support this cause, pay at least $25 to receive a ton of games and all proceeds…

Mar 06



I dunno how many of you fools are in Austin for the Big Mess. But come out to Juegos Rancheros tonight at 7 at the North Door and play with some crazy beautiful stuff.

Mar 03

The Narrative Debate in Game Design →

I’ll be on a panel at SXSW Interactive debating “Game Mechanics Versus Narrative” this Sunday. (I’ll probably tend to fall more on the “mechanics side” of the debate, though I’d say my viewpoint is a bit more nuanced.)

Also on the panel is Davey Wreden (whose hit game The Stanley Parable was basically a long-form exploration of the awkwardness of game narrative and interactivity); and John Warren and Jordan Mallory of Minicore Studios, who just released the unique platformer “The Sun At Night”.

If you’ll be at SXSW, please come by and hear us blather!

Mar 03

Deep Plaid Games [redesigned] →

Just a note that I gave a much-needed cleanup to my personal “Deep Plaid Games” website.

Mar 03


I’m excited to announce that I’m working with Adam Saltsman's newly-minted studio Finji Games on a game project entitled Overland.

Check out to sign up for more info when it’s available!

I’m really enjoying working on the game, and working as a two-person team (for now) with Adam. The gameplay explores the space between turn-based tactical gameplay and roguelikes, and the prototype has been coming together better than I dared hope… we’re really onto something. We also plan to do some novel things with “narrative” in this project.

Find a bit more information on the game at the Finji Games site. Overland is in good company: Finji is also involved with notable indie projects including Night In The Woods, Portico, and the ever-mysterious Capsule.

Finally, note that we’re currently searching for another core team member for this project; if you’re proficient with low-poly 3D art and feel that you would be a strong match for an “art director” type role, just contact myself or Adam. We’d like to bring more diversity to the creative mix on this team… so applicants from diverse backgrounds are particularly welcome!

Exciting times!

Feb 27
Dec 10

Come for the ___, stay for the ___

This is expanding a bit on a Twitter discussion, mostly between me and James Lantz… here.

If you care about getting people to actually start playing and keep playing your games, then you have to be able to complete this madlib: "PLAYERS COME FOR THE ____ BUT THEY STAY FOR THE ____."

In my opinion, "HIGH QUALITY GAMEPLAY" is usually only a correct answer in the second column.

I wish this wasn’t true but I’m pretty sure it is. “HIGH QUALITY GAMEPLAY” is not a good reason to give people to try your game for the first time.

That first column needs something with a strong and unique appeal; something novel. Basically it’s this simple: there needs to be a reason for people to want your game.

Saying “COME FOR THE HIGH QUALITY GAMEPLAY” doesn’t work because every developer is saying that… and everyone will assume you’re lying, because most developers are. Zynga can afford to tell a thousand lies in the time it takes you to say this truthfully once.

Either way, people won’t believe this claim coming from you - and unless you have an easy way to put a demo in their hands, you can’t prove it to them.

You have to give them another reason to want your game. This is important, you can’t neglect it.

There are exceptions and caveats though:

  1. Some games have sufficiently high-quality gameplay that most people who play the game will be excited enough to share it with others and attest to the quality. However this doesn’t take HIGH QUALITY GAMEPLAY, it takes SUPER HIGH QUALITY GAMEPLAY.
  2. People may not believe you saying this about your game - at first. But guess what: “THE BLIZZARD NAME IS ON THE BOX” is all that Blizzard needs to take care of column #1. That’s because Blizzard has consistently delivered SUPER HIGH QUALITY GAMEPLAY, and can depend solely on their reputation, without having to worry about novelty. This takes time though.
  3. Giving the player a sample of the gameplay is becoming common (though still not common enough IMO). The fact that every Ouya game is required to provide free gameplay is something I absolutely support - though I feel they’re guilty of criminally mis-messaging this aspect of their service. But even when a demo is available, you have to give people a reason to hit that “Try” button.

All this is frustrating for those of us who want our games to sink or swim based solely on the quality of their gameplay. I used to read blogs saying things like these, and they made me feel stressed: did it mean  I needed to shoehorn a weird “hook” into my game just to get people to pay attention to it? It felt inauthentic and even deceptive.

It’s actually pretty simple. Just do one (or preferably both) of the following:

  1. When picking a game idea you want to make (or prototype), try to pick ones where the gameplay has a unique appeal that can be communicated easily.
  2. Choose a theme that fits the gameplay, but which has a unique appeal - something that’s not quite like what anyone else is doing, and that appeals strongly to you (and, presumably, people like you).

Neither of these is terribly hard (at least not compared to actually building that HIGH QUALITY GAMEPLAY, which you still need for column #2).

Filling in these mad-libs is something worth thinking about throughout your game’s development. And just count yourself lucky that we no longer live in the age where the only valid thing to put in the first column is “AWESOME HIGH-POLY GRAPHICS.” (Ugh.)