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Month: December 2022

End of the year, end of the World

As we approach the end of the year, clients always become more demanding. I am afraid that I will have no time to post for a while since we have important deadlines to reach.

This post is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

From February I will have two days a week that I can dedicate to some new clients.

My specialty is mobile f2p, but I’m definitely a very versatile game designer. If you need to transform your creative vision into a successful game, don’t hesitate and contact me! System, level, narrative, and UX/gameplay design. One person, multiple skills!

(The tariff is the right one to balance the loop described in the diagram below)

Start from Personas

When you study game design, you usually focus on documents and prototypes for small games. The first steps that are taught in educational centers are purely technical.

Then you are in the market without the skills that make you a professional designer. Which are not the techniques, but are those oriented toward the video game business.

Normally a team reports to one or more managers who maintain a business vision. Our role as designers is to understand how to realize this business vision. We have to think more about endorsing the product than creating something directly. Players will receive the product packed and polished. Technical skills are important, but our ability to understand the business is critical.

Personas are one of the methods that allow this communication across the whole team. I share with you this workshop that aired last Saturday. The audio is bad, but the content is excellent.

If you want to work for companies as an employee or consultant, you need to come up with frameworks that solve concrete business problems. Thinking about who will really play and how to structure a product for them requires effort and is not intuitive.

Thankful for being here

Yesterday I read a very interesting publication with advice on how to find work in the video game industry.

I’ve noticed that in other technology sectors lately, it’s more companies that are looking to hire people, than the other way around. The reality is that the video game industry is a lot of people’s dream job.

It amazes me when I think back on everything I had to do to stay there. And we are always in the balance, our career can always end for physical, and psychological reasons and in general related to our path.

So I can only thank you for still being here.


These days a protest is taking place on the ArtStation platform. Seeing some works generated with AI climb to the top positions, artists are uploading this pic everywhere.

I find that a very sensible and clever idea. I think artists are in a moment where they have to defend themselves. I want to dedicate this post also to confirm the fact that they are right. Artificial intelligence-generated works are not art.

Art is a human matter

To compose a work of art you need specific materials that are able to formalize forms. In this sense, artificial intelligence has things in common with human work. AI works on materials, in the case of digital art digital materials. But art to be art must be a physical expression of the human imagination. Artificial intelligence algorithms do not imagine. They realize a vision based on the algorithmic processing of a prompt.

If I want to create an image of my mother, I can imagine many things. I can think at any given moment that I want to put a particular pin or a special kind of tree behind her. If an algorithm has to imagine anything, it relies solely on a semantic decomposition of a sentence. The algorithm having no imagination does not add anything that is not within its analysis.

Art is a process

If human beings were able to realize what he has in mind without going through sharpening the points of the pencils and without tracing everything, they would not be human beings. They would be a deity. It would not be art, it would be a divine creation. Art requires a process. Artists are able to deal with this process. We are perfectly capable of recognizing art created with artificial intelligence. The fact that there is a market is due to the fact that creations are human. There will never be a big market made up of works generated with artificial intelligence.

In the case of video games, obviously artificial intelligence can be used to create variants of elements already created by human beings, to optimize processes. I find this interesting. Anyway, it is foolish to think of entrusting the creation of a product solely to machines. It will never be an artistically valid product.

Art starts with aesthetics

Aesthetics is the science that studies the essence of things. Art therefore also includes science (and this thing does not happen the other way around). This study is an activity that requires a lot of mental energy and all the CPUs on earth would not be enough to realize what the brain of one toddler is capable of. Studying the essence of things means imagining, forming a point of view, and expressing it with theories. Turn these theories into a thesis. It is a very difficult process even for us. How many good artists do you know? Few. These few artists are people who have succeeded in this mission: to study the essence of things. Have an aesthetic sense.

Artificial intelligence applies an algorithm to a context. This algorithm operates in a pre-determined way on each challenge it faces. The algorithm evolves and improves, of course, but it doesn’t imagine. It does not create theories, it does not seek theses. It does not reflect the aesthetics of things. It does not seek its essence.

AI art is not art.

Second love letter to the juniors

Dear junior,

One of those moments of radical change has arrived in our sector. I think you too have seen a beautiful image or a surprisingly well-written text. You will certainly have noticed that artificial intelligence algorithms have learned to generate content that is indistinguishable from human content.

I think we are ahead of a revolution, like the one that happened years ago with the arrival of 3D technologies. The revolution will inevitably involve the world of game development.

Not only do these tools allow for quick content generation, but they also learn from all the people who are entering their prompts. It is likely that in a short time the AI will optimize also the creative part of writing prompts.

There have been abuses in my opinion. Developers trained these systems with content taken from the web, without the consent of the people who generated them. Think of everything you’ve written on the Internet, think of all the articles, think of all the images posted on the most famous sites. Someone took all these images, codes, and texts and fed the algorithm which is now able to accurately imitate even the style of concrete people. I don’t know if this thing will be punished sooner or later. However, “the omelet is done”, as we say in Italy, and now these tools are there.

What does this mean to you?

The goal is human replacement

First of all, this technology has the main goal of replacing humans in certain activities. Those tools are capable to be faster of any artistic process. However, nothing can replace a human being. Our learning capacity is far superior to any existing mainframe. We are already quite capable, almost instinctively, of recognizing most AI-generated art. Did you noticed that? In the case of video games, one of the things that drive people all over the world to play games is the chance to see something created by other people.

This admiration surprises us, we like to talk about it with friends and online. “Have you seen the new God of War? They did an incredible job!”. It’s not God of War itself that surprises us as a game, it’s the thought that there are people who have been able to do this that creates a market. Games entirely made by AI will never have a big market, don’t worry. There will probably appear some pantomime of a game. And maybe someone will get rich thanks to that. But it will never be a big market, that’s my bold prediction.

Less bullshit jobs available

The second point is that surely someone will think about hiring fewer inexperienced people. In fact, many junior professionals are hired to support seniors in smaller tasks. Think of an RPG, maybe there are secondary characters in a city that the Players will visit. These characters will have barks to say, and these barks are usually left to junior writers. It will probably be possible to automate this process using AI. So that, it will so no longer be necessary to have a junior person who writes these contents. It will be enough to have only one person who will edit things already written by a machine.

However, studios will always need senior staff. And senior people inevitably have to go through the junior stage. It is convenient for the studios to also hire juniors so that one day they will become seniors. There will be less work, that’s for sure. If a company thinks of just automating, it means that that company doesn’t appreciate the value of human imagination. It means you won’t get that job, but that job was probably a bullshit job. You saved yourself a problem, believe me. My advice? Learn the techniques of your profession while also taking into account these new technologies. Be confident in your creative personality, but show that you also dominate these technologies.

We are afraid of The Terminator

The last point is that we don’t really know what will happen with all this. We can assume that the professional world will never be the same again. But we don’t know, maybe next week we discover a big scandal involving these new technologies. Maybe we will have proofs that someone stole intellectual property content from the web. As a result, regulators will shut down all these technologies. The world sometimes changes in a matter of a few hours. And this happens to us too! Therefore, when something really surprises us, the first reaction is defense. We think we’re going in the wrong direction, and maybe we’re even dramatic at times. Our defense mechanisms are also unpredictable. My final advice, therefore, is to accept the beauty of our nature as it is. Let all innovation amaze us, don’t be afraid of anything. ‘Cause none of them can stop the time, as someone said.

Removing loot boxes is a mistake

Journalists and many game developers hate loot boxes. Players of games that feature this mechanic, however, love them. Just see the comments on this video:

It is true that very often considerable amounts of money are invested in order not to get what one wants. This leads many people to overspend and feel guilty. But in general, the thrill of opening a surprise is loved by the Players.

Eliminating these elements from a gaming system is risky because it damages the spend depth on the service. In practice, players will be able to spend much less money to get what they want. Given the number of people paying for a free-to-play game, this measure can be detrimental and seriously damage the service.

I think that this choice was made without taking data into consideration and without listening to the people that plays the game: the Players.

Surely there is a part of the players who will have left because of the disappointment of spending money and not getting what they want. This move maybe is a way to re-engage part of the churn. But successful games are built on Players, so people who stay and play, not those who choose to leave.

  • They could have tried split testing workarounds instead of announcing the new design before of getting the numbers proving that it actually works.
  • They could have those new ideas running in parallel with the loot box system.

This is NOT how we use to work in free-to-play. It seems like a AAA brand awareness move. I believe that they chose to follow their instincts. They are the experts, of course. For me, it is a big mistake.

My feels and fears

I lost a professional contact the other day due to a personal point of view expressed online. My point of view is not yet formed, but we know the medium well. We often say things that aren’t reasoned enough, that’s how it is nowadays.

This person said that AI art violates the rights and people working in digital art. As far as I know, AI art algorithms try to mimic the learning process of a human artist. A huge amount of human work feeds the machine. Then the algorithm generates art based on the interpretation of a prompt.

It is possible to write prompts quoting famous artists’ names to achieve a very similar style.

This makes me think a lot. I’m impressed by the ability that a tool like Midjourney of inspiration offers me. I’m concerned about the use made of the results of these technologies.

It is abuse, in fact, even for me. I lost contact due to a misunderstanding and it doesn’t matter. Friendship remains, as we say in Italy. Yet, I agree that inspiration is one thing and copying is quite another.

Throughout my career, I’ve always watched artists take inspiration from Pinterest and ArtStation. Someone copied at least some parts. But the result is achieved with effort, which is being torn down today.

I feel these new technologies are like the advent of 3D. I feel that they are something really revolutionary and wonderful.

But I’m afraid that these technologies are abusive in so many ways. Our creativity must be preserved because it is what distinguishes us from animals. We cannot allow something created by us to hurt the souls of people in the name of higher productivity.

It is necessary to regulate.

Improve your imagination

Nothing and no one can take imagination away from us. New technologies can certainly allow a person to multiply productivity. This will inevitably lead entrepreneurs to hire fewer people.

The world before the invention of spreadsheets needed less skilled labor. Elevators were driven by a person. Those jobs are not available anymore. C’est la vie.

The human being will always be irreplaceable in the imagination. Worry about your imagination and let the machines do the repetitive work.

Create tools only for good games

As game developers, we often focus on the wrong things which can lead to not achieving our objectives. We might worry about having the wrong team or not having enough time or money, but there is one thing that we don’t talk about enough: production choices.

In f2p, a mistake is to focus on developing development tools without first having a profitable game. For example, if you have a game with characters with their stats, you might develop a tool that allows you to update and set those statistics. But if the game itself doesn’t work, then that tool will have been a wasted effort.

In the past, it was common for developers to create an engine for a series of games. It meant investing a lot of time and money into something that hadn’t been proven to work. The development team would then focus on making the best engine rather than the game itself.

The great masters of game development have always said that the key is to focus on the game itself. The tools should be developed to support the game, not with plans for possible “plan B” games in mind. There are countless examples of games that were unknown or failed, but had great tools behind them.

In short, it’s important to focus on the game itself over the development tools. Only by doing so can we achieve our objectives and make great games.

AI to improve my workflow

Recently, I began a new collaboration that I hope will yield positive results. I apologize for not writing in a while due to the overwhelming amount of work I have been facing.

act like you are an interactive romance story

I am currently testing the ChatGPT tool and find it incredibly fascinating. I believe that this type of technology can help me become more productive and improve my abilities.

Using ChatGPT, you can write prompts and generate well-done, yet basic, content. To create truly human and original content, you will need to add your own input and edit the generated content.

Overall, I believe that using ChatGPT will save me hours of work and allow me to focus on other important tasks.