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Some time ago, a friend who works at Gamestop told me of an encounter with a fan of Oblivion.  The fan was trading in the copy of Oblivion, and was talking about the fond memories he had of the game, lamenting that he had to give it up.  When my friend asked him if he wanted to preorder Skyrim (which had just been announced at the time) the fan turned almost violent.  “Fuck no!  That game looks like GARBAGE!” he screamed.

This happened a while ago, but I mentioned it to a friend recently, and started to think.  There were so few details of the game released at the time that this was clearly not a logical action… but what could’ve prompted this kind of response?  The first conclusion was obviously “Because it’s different.  People hate different.”  But the game isn’t THAT different, just some new features like dual wielding and dragons.

Then my mind wandered to World of Warcraft, and the semi-recent Cataclysm expansion.  At the moment, WoW is bleeding players by the hundreds of thousands.  Then it occurred to me that it’s possible that human instinct is at play here.  Perhaps when you spends hundreds of hours in a single environment like WoW or Oblivion, you subconsciously begin to develop a connection to it.  Players left WoW because their home had been destroyed; this raging fan pre-emptively hated Skyrim because it felt like his home in Cyrodil was being replaced.  This is just speculation, of course, but I think it holds some merit – take New Orleans, for example, and all the people that wouldn’t leave their homes even after Katrina.  Maybe there really is an evolutionary function at play here that these games have managed to simulate.

Unless your ancestors were nomads, like mine most likely were.

In games like Skyrim, I don’t think there’s really a lesson to be learned here.  Expanding the scope of the world is something that SHOULD be done, lest the series get stale – people who are attached to one province of Tamriel can stay there if it’s that much of a problem to them.  But this evolutionary habit might prove to be toxic to one’s game when you modify the game to keep people from returning to the home they loved.  I doubt that MMOs or other constantly patched games will learn from WoW’s mistake until it’s been repeated ad nauseum.  Most won’t even take the risk, for that matter, but last I heard, SOE was working on their own Cataclysm for Everquest 2, which sounds like a worse and worse idea the more I think about it.


As I mentioned, I am a game designer.  Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a shock that I’m making a game right now.  I started on this idea last spring/summer, and got a team together for it in September.  I wanted to create a serene, yet horrifying environment that resembled a dream, or a nightmare.  Close to a year later, that game is nearing completion, albeit nowhere nearly as expansive as I had first imagined.

The game is Dark Forest, and it will be released May 10th.  It’s somewhat of a survival horror / puzzler following the story of Zeno, a tribal practitioner of the black arts.  I’ll be posting screenshots and a trailer within the next week or so, but until then, feel free to check out our team’s blog at

We’re in the crunch period of this game, so this blog’s proper beginning will take a bit longer.  Hang in there, and don’t die.

Hello all!  I’m Joe Skrovanek, aka “Yvl” on the internet.  I’m an aspiring game designer, a writer, and a self-proclaimed Prince for no goddamn reason.  As such, one might guess that this is indeed a gaming blog, but I’d like this to be a bit more than “FUCK YEAH, THIS GAME.” or something long those lines for every post.  I’m more interested in finding out WHY a game is so “fuck yeah,” or why it fucking sucks.  I’ve been doing this for quite some time in miscellaneous places on the internet, but I wanted a public place to keep all my rants and deductions, and could think of numerous good reasons to do so.  Essentially, if you like The Escapist’s Extra Credits, I’m hoping you’ll be able to like this blog.  There’s a lot to learn from each individual game when it comes to design, and when done right, some games can even teach us about the human condition.  In addition to that, I will also be commenting on thoughts I have on the topic of game design, as well as a few random posts for whatever damn reason.  But mostly game design stuff, I promise.

Oh, and by the way, if you have any topics you want me to cover or controversial statements to make, by all means comment on them here, or contact me at (I got that e-mail address by screwing up putting my initials in a DDR machine.)