Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Project Horseshoe

I attended a unicorn convention in Texas this past weekend.

I always tell people that the role of 'game designer' is really a mirage left over from the days when there were one person teams and we needed a term to described the person who mashed together the messy creative gunk inside a game. Nowadays, we have specialists: Level designers, producers, creative directors, AI programmers, UI coders, writers, artists and more. Few companies seem to really hire the old definition of 'game designer'. Instead you are posthumously awarded the title when no one knows exactly what the heck you do any longer.

The Fatman and his wonderful wife managed to round up a herd of actual sparkling game designers, the impossible sort that think deeply about the big picture of how game systems work. The assembled brain trust was easily responsible for hundreds of games, many of which are legendary or at least ballsy beyond compare. For three days, they gathered at a remote Austin ranch and talked intensely about game design.

The goal: To solve the biggest problems facing game design over the next five years. I’ve cobbled together a few essays from the event that will eventually get posted on this website. More importantly, there will be no doubt stunning papers from the working groups posted later on down the road. Sparks were flying. And hay. Don’t forget the hay.

More than anything, it gave me faith that if you just get the brightest people of our industry off their isolated islands and give them a chance to talk, amazing ideas are inevitable. Experience shared is multiplied, not diminished.

Take care

PS: Despite all the magnificent displays of mental virility (complete with glowing horns and stamping hooves) there was a surprising lack of supple young virgins (male or female). I can only imagine that this will change once word gets out about the event.

Project Horseshoe website


  1. Sparks were flying? And hay?

    I hope they weren't flying close together. =P Could create, you know, a firestorm or something.

  2. Awesome.

    I'm envious (of your attendance), but glad things like this are happening.

    (PS: It's too bad I can't leave comments in FireFox. The Word Verification letters don't show up.)

  3. Wow!! A game design think-tank conference led by the Fatman himself! That's the stuff of legend!

    I look forward to seeing what you took away from it.

  4. (PS: The verification words show up fine on my Firefox)

  5. I wanted to get out there but I couldn't afford the travel expenses. I guess I'd qualify as a "virgin" in that, at the time of the conference, I hadn't yet shipped a game (a game I did level design and QA on, Play With Fire, and a casual game I'm acting as producer on will both hopefully ship by Christmas). Definetly try to make it out there next year.

  6. Just curious: is the picture based on this: