I know, I know, I owe you the second part of my usability-aperture-science-inspired-gameplay-user-test-session-blog-entry. And I will provide you with more insights on how to pick the right test players, what to keep in mind and the equipment used for our test sessions (and the tricky parts that comes with the software).

I need to vent, though. Today was an extraordinarily frustrating day when it comes to the communication side of my job. Continue reading ‘How to NOT Ask for Help’

We, at Broken Rules, are in the hot phase of continuous user testing. Instead of building a level and hoping that it’s going to work and be fun, we’re building test levels first, to see how some of the ideas work out when played by real people. Some of the ideas work so well in our minds but when played, prove to lack something. To find this “something”, before it’s too late, we prefer doing user tests.

This is the first time I am responsible for the whole process. Back at Rockstar Vienna the test area was Continue reading ‘User Test: Preparations’

This year the third Austria Game Jam took place at the St. Marx Media Quarter in Vienna. In the last two years I couldn’t attend due to an unfortunate date collision of the game jam and the GFG, a small but high-quality game dev conference held in Hannover, Germany. Unfortunately, it didn’t take place this year. When I was approached by Jürgen Musil, one of the AGJ organizers, if I wanted to be part of the jury I immediately agreed.

I made sure not to see nor hear too much about the teams this year to let the games speak for themselves. I knew old colleagues and friends were taking part in the jam, so any kind of connection I made between a participant and their game was to be avoided. At least, I tried to.

The topic was quite intriguing this year – an image of Ouroboros, the snake that bites its own tail. A visual trigger to inspire the jammers.

Continue reading ‘Austria Game Jam 2012’

Yesterday I assisted Heather Kelley with her workshop “Paper Games” on iterative game design, which was part of the “Make Me Eclectic” festival organized by Miss Balthazar’s Laboratory. The Lab focuses on offering workshops on new media and technology, as well as programming and other seemingly male-dominated areas to interested girls, women and transpeople. No entrance fees are necessary, which should lower any kind of barrier of participation.

Heather chose Eric Zimmerman’s paper version of the online game “SiSSYFiGHT 2000“, which takes place on a playground where girls tattle, tease and pull hair to lower the other girls’ self-esteem. The paper version works with simplified rules. In fact, there are only three actions you can take: team attack, solo attack and defense. Communication needs to be done in public – no whispering or letter-writing is allowed. Secret signs and using code, on the other hand, is perfectly fine! The one who can cheat, lie and bully their way through the game without losing their own self-esteem is the winner.

During yesterday’s workshop it became very clear that the topic of the game is not Continue reading ‘SiSSYFiGHT 3000 and Iterative Game Design’

Mystery Postcard

Mystery Postcard

At the end of February, a mysterious postcard was delivered to my house. It was hand-written (as I would’ve expected from a postcard) and addressed to me. Someone was telling me about her research (about what?) close to a waterside (where?) and if I believed in the feeling of déjà vu. I was also asked to help the writer of the postcard (with what?) and that we would see each other at the end of the month. Signed…see, it was hard to tell because there was no signature. Not a hint of a name. Just a postcard with a beautiful shot of water, handwriting that I could not assign to anyone I know. A mystery. Naturally, I would try to solve it, so I consulted Twitter. Continue reading ‘ARG or “Who the hell sent me this postcard?”’

You may have (or have not) wondered about this extremely long period of silence on my blog. I surely haven’t abandoned this place, nor have I decided to start a new one. The excuse is as simple, as it is true – I have been busy! To prove to you that I really was, here a short list of all the things I’ve started, finished or done in this year:

  • Remember I’ve told you about doing level design for a free MMO? Finished this project at the beginning of 2010.
  • Simultaneously, I’ve also finished my work on another project involving a series of educational children’s games, where I researched and wrote half of the content.
  • After that I decided it was about time to intensify my work on my thesis. So far, 130 pages were filled with academic insights on the similarities and differences between the visual imagery of comics and film. I will have to reduce the page number and come up with a plausible consensus and then I am ready to hand this masterpiece in. This project is, as you can see, not yet finished, but I am quite sick with it so I can see that the end is near.
  • In between I decided to add another foreign language to my embarrassingly small repertoire, so I started attending lectures at the Nederlandistik to work on my back-then-non-existing Dutch skills. Ik denk dat ik mijn Nederlands een beetje heb verbetert. Een beetje.
  • To add madness to insanity my ingenious and wondrous partner in crime and I decided to get married. Yes, in between writing my thesis, which definitely became my biggest time-consuming monster and organizing minor things (and helping out the organizers of the not-so-minor conference as the Paris Game AI Conference 2010) we’ve also managed to somehow organize a wedding plus party, which turned out to be a lot more time-consuming and nerve-wrecking than we’ve initially thought. We’ve pulled through, though!
  • Even though I told myself I would not work on another project before my thesis is written in stone and handed in I received two equally exciting offers. One allows me to dive into an area I haven’t yet touched but am highly interested in: Marketing. The guys and gals who are providing the world with the best time-tracking software named “Freckle” gave me the opportunity to learn more about marketing a software successfully. I am still a rookie but am slowly getting into this whole “selling stuff to people the most charming way possible”. Still, there’s a lot to learn. And there’s another project I talked about, which has nothing to do with marketing but is, again, a still highly secret but incredibly promising (and amazing) game project. And, as usual, I can’t talk about it. Yet.
  • And just this week I helped with minor stuff at the SchnitzelConf, which was the first ever conference organized and held in Vienna (at the Naturhistorisches Museum!) that brought together successful entrepreneurs and people, who are interested in bootstrapping their own thing or are already doing it but are interested in the success stories of others who’ve started out as small businesses of passion and are now big businesses of passion.
  • What else is there? Well, two friends of mine and I decided it was about time to form a registered association/membership corporation to finally be able to publish a book with artistic photos of beautiful male bodies targeted at a female audience, thought up and organized by my dear friend who is one of the great minds behind the site “Naked men, happy women“.
  • Ah yes, and there are the projects that would be fun but it’s not clear if there’s enough time to work on them before our honeymoon, such as a Cthulhu-inspired photo shoot, a Cthulhu-inspired short film, the making of a short advertising video and organizing another meeting for the ingenious game designer-minds here in Vienna.

Pleasing 21st century game players” was the title and the motto of this year’s GFG (Game Forum Germany). Sharing know-how with and transferring knowledge to fellow developers as well as students who are trying to climb the developer-ladder to success was the main focus of the event. Excellent speakers were invited to share their knowledge and expertise in various areas, which resulted in a cascade of high-quality talks. Continue reading ‘Game Forum Germany 2010’

2010 in Tags


Quit underpaid job

Worked on an MMO

Got into Level Design Continue reading ‘2010 in Tags’

Happy Holidays!


Sorry to scare you with this illustration but this is my attempt to wish you all fairly relaxed holidays, quality time with your loved ones and as much receiving as you are giving. Continue reading ‘Happy Holidays!’

Today at the MQ/Raum D in Vienna/Austria at around 7 pm a talk will be held on the artistic merits of violence in games. You heard me right – the artistic merits of violence. Jurie Horneman, a former Rockstar, is going to try and find some value in the use of violence in games, while keeping in mind that this is still a highly controversial topic that is only approached from one side – the real-life killing spree.

If you believe that there are no artistic merits in anything connected with violence – show up and voice your opinion in a non-violent manner. If you cannot think of one good reason why there should be artistic merit in anything – show up and be enlightened. If you are simply into games and find this topic intriguing and highly controversialshow up and have a good time.


Where? Museumsquartier Raum D

When? Sat. Nov. 28th at 7pm (which is tonight!)


Entrance is free, only the number of seats creates an artificial limit.


See you there!