Play Anno 1800 and found an Admirable History of Game Development by Legolas Wang

I played a lot of games, and I learnt board game design and 3D game design at school. I’m determined to be a game designer in a foreseeable future. Despite that background, I called myself a soft-core player, as I don’t like to continuously play a game for too long like many hardcore player.

Over the years, I fall in love with some of the greatest game like RCT: World, Don’t Starve Together, Elder Scroll Online, Simcity 5, to name but a few. I never tried Anno. Or to say, I tried Anno 2205 but was quickly quit because I don’t like the repetitiveness of the buildings.

Just a few days ago, I encountered Anno 1800. And after invested 39 hours out of two days with bare sleep and starvation. I would say it's absolutely one of the best game I ever played. Thus I did a lot of search about who designed this game and the technology force pushing this title forward.

Yes, I wrote this short blog just want to save this article Why Anno is indestructible by

Sebastian Weber.

My New Book and Article Views by Legolas Wang

Below is a short update on what I'm doing right now.

I just noticed that my Chinese articles had been viewed over a million times; it's not as much as those popular videos but still shocked me. I never thought that those words could reach so many people in about a year. Probably that's the power of the modern internet.

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And yeah, the book I co-wrote and edited is available for sale in the Chinese market. ISBN:9787121354748 Link to Chinese bookstore: https://item.jd.com/12648978.html

Currently, I see a positive review of 91%, so I guess it's pretty well received. Right now, I'm working on a brand new swiftUI tutorial series that I hope to encourage all users to have a look at this impressive UI language. The problem I found about most of the tutorials online is that they are too technically written. It's not to say that's a bad thing, but it's indeed scaring away a lot of people who could have a chance to be welcomed. I want to dig into the knowledge base and convey that information in a way that's pleasant to read, elegantly written and beautifully presented.

Below are some photos of the new book:

Legolas: under the Microscope by Legolas Wang

I started this self-analysis assignment by conducting two activities. The 16 personality test and then the personal business model. By the end of this report, I wish to have a fresh look at my personality, along with how I do things and the reasoning behind those choices.

Deconstruction

To deconstruct my personality, I first looked into the report my personality report. It concludes that I’m in a type called Protagonist, or ENFJ-A. Interestingly, I found two sentences from the report to be particularly interesting, it says

“Protagonists are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma. Forming around two percent of the population, they are oftentimes our politicians, our coaches, and our teachers, reaching out and inspiring others to achieve and to do good in the world. (“Protagonist Personality”, n.d.)”

One thing that frequently bothered me when doing team activity both at school at work, is that I almost always became the person in the leadership position, in the end, no matter most of the time I just want to be an observer in the first place. It turns out that being the lead is potentially one of my personal strengths. During many team activities, I found most of the time people are just waiting for instructions, and everyone is waiting for each others’ action. It’s not because they are lazy or something, many people just like to work this way. And this made me constantly have to be responsible for the lead job and assign tasks out and monitor the progress.

However, just as almost everything has two sides, I found that being in the lead position could somehow be my weakness at the same time. Being in lead, what I usually do is to assign tasks to different people, while I have faith in each individual to finish their part with high quality, but I also found this approach somehow discourage communication. Over- trusting others can also be a weakness, which I had experienced many times in a hard way. My personality makes me always trust others, but I for sure need to define some rules up front to prevent bad outcomes.

Why Statement

In a personal statement on my website, I described myself as “An extraordinary Individual. Appreciate well-thought simplicity. Always deliver the best. Love top quality & designed item. Focus on creating things that enhance people’s life. I’m a firm believer in lifelong learning. If there is a challenge, I’m willing to learn whatever needed to get it solved elegantly.”

Thinking about it right now, I still see this as an answer to my Why statement. What motivates me to do a lot of things, is that I want to use my creative skill to ultimately enhances everyone’s life. Although that doesn’t mean to sacrifice myself, I believe that during the journey of creating things that raises the value to others, I’m also the biggest beneficiary.

How to evaluate the effectiveness of my why statements? I seek help from the value proposition questions. That is what contributes to my feeling of fulfillment, as well as what are the most important things to myself when I consider new opportunities.

The answers to those questions, from my perspective, is that the joy of thinking a lot of people would have a smooth and enjoyable experience using the product or service I created. When seeking for new opportunities, I sincerely hope that the people I’m helping with could be even more successful using the solution I created. That is what I considered the most when facing new opportunities, which is whether it is going to generate value in the long run.

Others in my Eye

Nothing is completed if others, or the world around us is not being considered. As requested in the outline, I’ll start analysis others by identification of the personality traits of entrepreneurs and company leaders.

Some of my favorite talks are coming from two person, Steve Jobs and Simon Sineks. Those two are great leaders in their area, and I wish to use their insights to describe the leaders’ personality. Steve Jobs asked the audience to consider what would you do if today is the last day of your life (Jobs, 2005). That is my first identification of the quality needed to be the leader, to have the clear vision and let others join you. The successful leader are those who lead the way, while in the mean time have faith in what they are doing in the first place.

The second identification is from a talk by Simon Sineks, he said the a good leader always eat the last in the company (Sinek, 2013). What it actually means, is that the leader needs to stand up to take responsibility for the followers, protect them and give them environment to grow.

Although leaders could have the perfect personality, that didn’t means the entrepreneurship is always fun and engaging. It’s actually another way around most of the time. Elon Mask once said in an interview, that he is still constantly in fear, in more fear than he would like (Mask, 2017).

Personal Business Model

In the personal business model, I conducted myself willing to help small business growth and succeed, as well as using my skills to create value for the world.

Personally, I enjoy interacting with people face to face because I found this is a percent moment to give the others the impression that you really care, and direct interaction can ease out many unnecessary misunderstandings. In the meantime, I also value my time a lot, I would avoid meaningless long conversation with the preference to small talks that actually get a particular problem solved.

I found that by viewing myself from the business model perspective, it’s pretty much the same thing. Especially the value proposition section that worth particular attention. Knowing that I’m going to bring the smoother workflow to the table and thinking about the value I can create for the customer, really helps me thinking about the business I’m going to create in the future. In an exaggeration, I now view many a company is an extension and reflection of their leader’s actions.

Conclusion

I hardly had the incentive to do a self-analysis, and I found writing this article to be a particular meaning for me. I was able to go through some pitfalls, experience, reflection about the materials I learned and could be very beneficial for my career goal in the long run. I wish and truly want to become an entrepreneur in the game of software industries in the foreseeable future. When I look at this world, I see many many things that worth improving, and I hope I can use my strengths to make it a bit better.

Reference

Protagonist Personality. Retrieved from https://www.16personalities.com/enfj-personality

Jobs, S. (2005). How to live before you die. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/ steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die

Sinek, S. (2013). Why Leaders Eat Last. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=ReRcHdeUG9Y

Mask, E. (2017). Elon Musk On Fear. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=YH1txRfa0oY

(Deep Sea Game) Reflecting on the Interaction Design by Legolas Wang

The interface design, more specifically, usually contains those type: the HUD, diegetic UI and Meta. Let me break down those elements in the scope of the Deep Sea game and how they behaves. First, let me talk about the diegetic UI, this could easily one of the the most welcoming diegetic in modern game world.

Is diegetic good? In a way yes, it provides more visual reasoning, and makes the game simply looks better and sophisticating. However, the drawbacks are also quite apparent. The diegetic UI got the player distracted easily, and the in-world position could change when attached to different type of world objects. And if designed poorly or used too much, the game interaction consistency will be break. Due to the player constant need to memorize different layout.

And the second thing is the traditional HUD, which in a way, is still the best interaction model in my eye. The reasoning behind that is that the traditional HUD barely change, so once the player learnt them, they will always know where to look for something. And the game UI could take advantage of as many screen space as needed.

The meta UI is in a way, a more hidden interface, it does not make obvious appearance that distract the player from what they are doing. More specifically, they provide timely feedback. The common meta interface in RPG game is a red arrow around the player to telling where the damage is coming from. Or a whole screen overlay to tell the player they are in a specific situation like being poisoned. I think the meta model is reasonable in a lot sense and provide the key information that the player need to know, which could has a lot of potential in game development.

One last thing I want to talk about interaction design is indeed the ease of use. An interaction model for the game is not considered good just because it’s nice looking and complex. A good approach to design the interface is to well considered the media you are going to present it on. Like on PC screen, on iPad, or even on iPhone.

If you put a more sparse interface that suited best on PC onto iPhone screen, the interface will soon appear in unreasonable place for it to be fingers friendly. And even just for the iPad or iPhone screen, if you place the UI buttons in the places where it doesn’t fit the best, the user will feel awkward when trying to control them.

From my perspective, a good interface design is dynamic, it means the user can do slight modification to meet their using habit the most. In PC game, it means allow the user to map the keys as they preferred. In mobile platform, it means provide reasonable sized UI, and let the user have the option to move the UI buttons around they they feel most comfortable.

(Deep Sea Game) Team Management, Game Design Documents & Team Coordinating by Legolas Wang

Being a project manager can be hard, and the most critical question would be how to coordinate the project, let everyone on the same page, and with clear milestone goals. You need to trust your members, and leave the detail to themself as long they are being responsible and deliver high quality work on schedule. The game is no more than the combined work of each individual in the team. So does whether the game succeed, so never let mediocre content escaped.

The game deign document should be clear and to the point, more specifically, to each individual. Give them the big picture, telling them exactly where the quality line reside. And assign clear work directly to each individual.

Doc

As for the team communication, and progress update. The service I choose is slack and trello. In slack, I set individual channels for members to write whatever in their mind, as well as content coordinating. The advantage about slack is that you can even set up unity and trello integration directly into the discussion.

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In our slack, I stetted up unity cloud build service, so everyone could see what’s going on in the new build and download it to test directly. As for trello, it allows everyone to know the exact spot of where the game is and what is every team member doing.

Two more things about team coordinating worth mentioning is to have clear rule about what each channel is meant for. For example, art channel means only work related to visual asset sits here. Do not let any irrelevant information mixed within those channels.

Another thing is the in-person, or directly communication. In my eye, although the modern technology could in keep communication happened in anywhere in the world. However, the direct communication is where the new idea springs. New idea springs the most when people are debating, playing and testing. Let them meet in-person or on the phone once in a while regularly. You’ll be amazed by some innovational sparks that could have a long influence to your game.

(Deep Sea Game) Unity with EGPU Support by Legolas Wang

Unity eGPU support is ok for now. Due to the performance issue of my laptop’s internal graphics. I got an external GPU box just for the purpose of making everything smooth. The card I choose is Vega 64, which should offer enough performance boost as needed.

However, the unity support by the time we’re developing the deep sea is not fully there yet. I encountered with tons of performance hit when I use the stable version of unity 2018.2. Luckily, the beta version of Unity 2019.1 seems solved the support issue of eGPU. As a result, the whole development process of Deep Sea is under the using of experimental Unity 2019.1.

(Deep Sea Game) Details of FSM by Legolas Wang

Finite State Machine, a word that is very familiar industry. A man should never overlook the important of FSM. A few years ago, when I first heard of this word, I was thinking about the FSM is only useful for keep track of the player state in a singe, streamlined environment. But that’s not the case.

FSM is very useful for many objects in the game, for example, a loot box could have a simple switch of on and off. A puzzle could be certainly take advantage of keep track of each pieces in game. And the list goes on and on, if you want to create some fun mechanic, starting from finite state machine will never let you down.

(Deep Sea Game) Game Trailer Video Editing by Legolas Wang

Game trailer, is supposed to be fun and engaging. That is what’ in my mind when editing this trailer. It should not be a boring begin to end gameplay recording, but rather, it should be the essence. What do you want to convey to your audience? I asked this question to myself.

The answer is the core of the gameplay. More specifically, what do you want the game to be when designing the game. You focus and emphasis on those elements. Using the example of the Deep Sea, the emphasis when designing this game is on the audio narrative and feedback. Thus, I took this into consideration and focus on make it shines. The audio clips is edited to show the actual feeling of the game, with multiple editing techniques to cut down the boring wandering around parts.

The video, in some stages, are ramped up if the gameplay is repetitive. You do not want to throw the same things to your audience over and over again if its the same. In my eye, at the time of you promoting your game, you should value your audience’s time a lot. Make a great use of the time, and make it appealing.