A brief history of happy accidents that became celebrated by fans

For all of the mechanics game developers painstakingly build into their games, there are a not-so-insignificant number that were originally glitches. Is it a bug or a feature? Why not both?

Some bugs are game-breaking, ruining the enjoyment of the medium and must be removed. Others are worse still, crashing a game, making it literally unplayable. There are those bugs, though, that don’t need to be addressed.

For instance, Stardew Valley’s bachelorette NPC Abigail seems to have been made with a bit of an oversight in her dialogue. When gifted an item she likes, she says, “Hey, how’d you know…

Alpha v1.0.0 of Minecraft — The trees practically fluoresce!

As a gamer I’m glad I had the opportunity to witness the release, rise in popularity, and success that is Minecraft. I remember fondly spending countless hours playing the Classic, Indev, Infdev, Alpha, and Beta versions. I had certainly had my fill by the time it was officially released with version 1.0.

If I spent so much time playing Minecraft, why do I hardly play it anymore? Is there not enough to do? That can’t be, there’s more content in every update. The world as it exists now at the end of 2020 is larger and fuller than it has…

Even Team Fortress 2’s achievements have a sense of humor.

There is a theme, or feel to some video games — or some parts of some video games — that lend to a serious tone. You’re a soldier in a war, or a surgeon at an operating table. Perhaps you’re the captain of a ship responsible for a medical shipment that will save lives. These are subject matters that are no laughing matter…. at least in the real world.

Video Game Atmosphere

Reality has no end of stressful, heartbreaking, or humorless moments where a laugh is less than appreciated. …

A Looter Shooter is a genre of video games that fluidly mix RPG elements with a point-and-click style shooting game.

RPG Elements

In my post What is the MMO Holy Trinity I gave a short primer on what an RPG is, with focus on games in a high fantasy setting (think elves, magic, dragons and the like.) I’d like to expand on that in how it relates to the genre of Looter Shooters.

In that post I mentioned that RPGs use baked-in attributes, numerically, to represent your character. They are things like how hard they can hit, how high they can jump…

As I’ve written before, video games often server up a power fantasy. Be it an amazing space marine or a medieval knight of justice — you can find a world that is distinctly not our own.

One enjoyable part of a power fantasy comes from a feeling of growth. If you embody a fictional character, there is a feeling of accomplishment and reward to knowing and seeing your character become stronger. This is probably deeply rooted in human psychology more than I can understand, but to emulate that moment as a child when you are finally tall enough to reach…

Fallout 3’s dialogue struck a nice balance between depth and brevity.

Role-playing games (RPGs) are one of the greatest genres of games this world has to offer. It’s also a broad category, which leaves a lot open to interpretation.

My experience with them is digital, but their origins are on the tabletop. Board games (you may have heard of Dungeons & Dragons) are where playing roles really started. It is also a social experience, as it requires a party of people. Even if it’s not a particularly big party, it’s still interacting with both other people and a story. …

RTS games like Starcraft 2 may be the most pure resource management genre.

Though they can be subtle, every video game has some sort of resource that the player must manage. Resources are designed to constrain the player, to limit what they can do. Anyone that has spent any time in Minecraft’s creative mode, then got bored of it can attest to how important it is to not have god-like powers. Being omniscient and omnipotent is boring if you play a game for a challenge — which is the source of enjoyment for the vast majority of games.

I don’t like a challenge

When I say that games are fun because they present a challenge, some people may…

As you play through a video game you get a very clear sense of progression from beginning to end. Sometimes this is like an arcade game, where you progress to the next level, and you are challenged even more. Here I will talk about skill and tech trees, those video game systems that layout a very clear series of checkpoints of player empowerment. The common factor in trees is that it isn’t linear, you can choose (to a degree) how you will be empowered, and the requirements to meet are well understood.

Factorio’s in-game tech tree.

What’s the difference?

A tech tree and skill tree can often…

Rogue (1980) — the original procedural generation

Content. The vague term for how a player spends his or her time in a game world before they get bored. It is burnt like fuel, and what a precious resource it is. Precious because it is the lifeblood of video games, and because it is oh so very difficult to create.

Despite what some fans may think, the developers of video games want their game to be fun. The publisher and owning studio may want to fill out their bottom line and just make money, but the people with hands on keyboards playing street lamps in a virtual environment…

I love chill games, but before I tell you why let me explain the difference between a chill game, and a casual game.

Casual Gaming

The casual gaming experience is a phrase used to describe games played by those either new to gaming or that have little time to dedicate to a game. The mother who never played more than an hour of super mario world in the 90’s, the dad who had played Pac-man on an arcade machine when he was still very young. …


Software developer by day, gamer by night. I use medium to write about video games and some of their many aspects.

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