Category Archives: Blog

Story Time: Of Polish Evil Islands servers

This is a very weird one. Evil Islands had a bunch of master-servers for its online component: Russian, English, German, Polish, French, some others. A few years after release, though, none of them were very active. None except the Polish master-server – it had games going on it all the time.

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Evil Islands Playtest Story (Translation)

What goes below is a translation of an article written by Aleksei Sviridov back in the year 2000. Aleksei was the lead writer of Evil Islands. This article was my first glimpse into the world of game industry, and I think this is the one that has started an avalanche in my decision process of choosing a future career. It’s a pretty funny story, so I hope you all enjoy the read.

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Evil Islands

Evil Islands is a Russian tactical RPG released way back in the year 2000. … Well, gee, I feel old now. As I’ve written in my last post, it has inspired my venture into the Game Design territory, and I want to talk a little bit more about it.

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Story Time: Of becoming a Game Designer

People who like video games usually have a story of the first one they have ever played, how they were amazed by it, what feelings they have experienced. I don’t have a story like that. I don’t remember my first video game. I became a gamer before my memory functions have even properly kicked in. At 6 months old approximately.

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Adventure Puzzle Design

Writing recently about A New Beginning, I thought it would be a nice time to talk about adventure game puzzle design, and just adventure game design in general. Puzzle design in traditional & click adventure games is arguably one of the weirdest facets of Game Design. For the most part you’re not really designing actual puzzles, more like situations that require some sort of a logical solution. And the ‘logical’ part can be problematic.

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A New Beginning

I am a fan of classic point & click adventure games. And as a fan of adventure games, I want to really like A New Beginning, but I can’t. Which is sad, because the story really intrigues me, but there’s just too many flaws that accumulate and are hard to look past by in a title of this genre.

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Story Time: Of stupid scars and amusing inspirations

I tend to like characters with scars. Whenever I draw a sketch of a fictional person, more times than not I add some kind of a scar. There’s an inherent coolness to scars. A mystery. A story behind it. Usually a very cool and badass one. Or maybe a horrifying one. But it’s something impressive, something memorable. Well, I’ve got a scar near my left eye. It looks like a layer of my skin is missing, though nowadays its color has more or less blended in with my skin color so it’s a lot less noticeable. But the story behind it is one of the stupidest things that could happen, ever.

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Achievements as a Design tool

I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with video game achievement systems. The ‘hate’ comes mostly from the fact that I tend to really disagree with how they are used nowadays. I believe achievements can and should be part of a game’s design, but more often than not they’re relegated to just some medals for completing certain parts of the game or pure boring grind. There are also skill-based achievements, like getting a perfect run in Super Meat Boy, – I think those are perfectly valid since, well, you have to actually achieve something. But then there’s achievements that can motivate the player to experiment with the game, try out different things, and it seems to me there’s just too few of that.

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Reus is what I’d call a mix between Populous and Settlers, two of my favorite strategy game series. Your goal is to create an economy eco-system (the Settlers part), but indirectly, by shaping the planet and placing and transmuting different environments and resources (the Populous part). And it’s simply a delight to play.

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Story Time: Of sandstorms and time loops

Back in the year 2005-2006, while working on Evil Islands: Spring on Jigran project, we have noticed something really weird. Evil Islands has this weather system, where to each game zone one of the three weather types (rain, snow and sandstorm) is assigned, and the game would at random times activate the weather. Rain and snow were just particles that would fill the visible on the screen area, but sandstorms were… well, they were particles as well, but they were also actual in-game objects that communicated with units on the map – dealt damage to whoever got into contact them. Sandstorms would last for 10-15 seconds before disappearing, though, so it wasn’t that big of a problem. And it was a rarity to have more than one sandstorm active at a time.

But on one map something strange has happened. When a particular quest was active, and only that one quest, the sandstorms were EVERYWHERE. Dozens of them, roaming around, killing poor unsuspecting citizen NPCs (and also players who at that point in the game didn’t have enough armor to protect themselves from sandstorm damage). What could possibly happen?

Now, obviously, it had something to do with that quest, but the scripting language didn’t have any commands to control the weather, it was all done by the engine (for which we didn’t have access to the source code itself). We were pretty much clueless. I was really baffled myself, because that particular quest was scripted by me. However, we did notice that the command that would set the day time to midday for this mission was caught in a permanent loop. A little accident. Quickly fixed. Now, back onto trying to figure out what to do with sandstorms and… there were none anymore?

As it turned out, if the command for setting the day time is looping, it constantly activates the weather effect of the game zone we’re in. We still don’t have any idea how in the world that makes any sense, but, hey, at least we could turn this into a feature if so desired, right?


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