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Articles by Graham McAllister

    The Pixar principle, or how to build risk and creativity into large-scale game development

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    at 12:00pm June 9 2014
    pixar

    In a recent Edge article Epic’s Tim Sweeney said that in the future we’re likely to see about a third of the number of triple-A games available as the costs involved with making these titles rises threefold. In addition, Ubisoft’s Jade Raymond claims that these rising development costs will stifle innovation, and the $100m-plus budgets necessary…

    Wii U’s launch line-up shows just how much of a challenge the GamePad poses to game designers

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    at 11:48am December 14 2012
    Wii U

    Wii U’s principal innovation, the GamePad controller, manages to meet both accessible and social design goals. It has a friendly, unintimidating design, and although it seems to have been designed for a child, Nintendo clearly also had older gamers in mind. With approximately one billion touchscreen smartphones and tablets already in use, it builds upon a familiar interaction metaphor. The large touchscreen is not only accessible but also offers the potential of a different view on the game world, allowing new singleplayer and multiplayer experiences. But what will those experiences be?

    What Google search behaviour tells us about the people who buy and play games

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    at 11:45am November 14 2012
    Google search behaviour

    The average singleplayer campaign might only last for ten hours, but players engage with high-profile games for much longer – more like 10 months. So says Google, which recently published a whitepaper showing the results of how millions of gamers searched for the top 20 titles of 2011. For developers, these results form an essential checklist of what they should be focusing on to turn a gamer’s initial interest into a deeper form of engagement.

    The four essential steps to successful monetisation of free-to-play games

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    at 12:20pm October 23 2012
    Free-to-play

    Convincing people to buy games is, of course, a challenge, mainly due to the many factors they’re likely to consider before making a final decision: genre, familiar IP, review scores, word of mouth, and pricing can all play a part. Assuming the game meets a player’s preferences for genre and IP, the most important criteria are feedback from friends and professional reviewers, then price – and probably in that order. In recent years, these two main purchase barriers have been seemingly addressed by the free-to-play model. Firstly, the up-front price is completely removed, and secondly, you no longer have to imagine what the game will be like; you can actually play it to find out.

    Analysing videogame players: the skills behind user research

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    at 11:31am October 2 2012
    Left 4 Dead 2

    As gaming platforms, genres, and business models continue to diversify, so too do the job roles of the people who make games. In the past it was sufficient for an individual to fill multiple roles, but in order to compete and deliver the highest quality games today, specialists are required.

    The difference between focus testing and player testing

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    at 05:13pm September 3 2012
    User Testing

    In my last column, I discussed how the TV industry and Hollywood both involve the target audience throughout the creative process, from early test screenings through to final recordings. This approach of involving the target audience in the creative process received some criticism from readers who believe that doing so is designing for the lowest common denominator, which ultimately results in less innovative games. It’s a view also frequently held by game industry professionals, but it’s clouded by misunderstanding on two key levels – confusion between the terms ’focus group testing’ and ’playtesting’, and knowledge of how each research approach should be used.

    What games can learn from Hollywood and TV

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    at 10:16am July 30 2012
    What games can learn from Hollywood and TV

    We've all played a game at one point and asked ourselves, “What were the developers thinking? What's meant to be enjoyable about this?" Often, a game just isn't for you, but sometimes, it simply isn't for anyone, and ideas which sounded fine to the developer during production just don’t resonate with the game's target audience.

    Are gamers tiring of the same old thing?

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    at 09:50am July 9 2012
    Are gamers tiring of the same old thing?

    Gamers are bored. That's according to Ubisoft’s Alain Corre, who says that gamers are tired of ‘me-too’ sequels and want new experiences.

    Analysing our second-screen future

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    at 12:01pm June 11 2012
    Analysing our second-screen future

    If there was one message that all three platform holders agreed on at last week’s E3, it’s that one screen is no longer enough.

    Understanding players is the secret of good design

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    at 10:42am May 17 2012
    Understanding players is the secret of good design

    We might think someone a little unusual if they didn’t listen to any form of music, or watch any genre of movie. But would we have the same opinion if they didn’t play games? I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I know who fit into the former categories, but I can easily think of friends who have either never played games, or used to but don’t anymore. It’s these would-be gamers – a vast potential new market – that many studios would be keen to sell to if only they could be persuaded that games were for them.

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