Rosethorn’s Ramblings: Site Update

Welcome back again.  As you can see, we are starting to populate the site with new content.  There are few new writers and contributors waiting in the wings with new content.  If you are interested

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Rosethorn’s Ramblings: Site Update, GaMExpo, Nerdvana Con, Life Updates

What to Watch: You Tube

Top 5 YouTube video’s of the past week (with one blast from the past). Each week, on Tuesday, I am going to post 5 videos I think are worth watching on YouTube.  I’d love to hear what you

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What to Watch: You Tube

Rosethorn’s Ramblings: Welcome Bac

Welcome back to Killer Betties! It’s been over three years since I’ve made a post, but I am back. Before I get to what I’ve been doing for three years, I want to talk first about The

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Rosethorn’s Ramblings: Welcome Back, TWD, The Bar, and Other Random Thoughts

Football Manager 2017 Review

Football Manager 2017 is a football management simulation video game for the PC developed by Sports Interactive and published by Sega. Gameplay: In terms of gameplay, it is really fun. You can create

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Football Manager 2017 Review

Volunteers Wanted

Killer Betties is going through some growing pains and we need more bodies (and pens) to keep up with it. If you have any interest in writing video game reviews, previews, interviews or editorials, p

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Volunteers Wanted

Minecraft Servers List - Playing Minecraft!

by on January 28, 2013 at 4:21 pm


Written By: John

Minecraft is a very popular game today with more than 20 million registered users. Everyday that number grows by about ten thousand. The most likely reason the game has grown big so quickly is that it pretty much breaks every “rule” a normal game has. There are no missions. You are set in a world where you can do whatever you like. Climb hilltops, dig tunnels underground, or build a nice house by the water.  Everything is up to you - the player.

One thing that also sets Minecraft apart from other new games is its graphics. Some would say they are terrible while others would say it’s terrific because of its nostalgic old school look. Each and every texture in the game has a pixeled surface to it which really brings back memories of games like Super Mario and so forth. In case you are not that fond of this old school graphics, there are texture packages that will modify the way the game looks to your liking.

Minecraft can be played in single player mode or together with others online. Today, there are thousands of different Minecraft servers to choose from and sometimes it can be hard to figure out which to pick. A solution for that would be visiting MinePick Servers List. There you can find many different servers to choose from and each server has a description you can read to get a better understanding of what it is about. All servers in the server list are ranked based on how many votes they have. This is to make sure only the most popular ones are listed in the top and are the ones you will notice at first.

This is a great game to play together with your friends. Everything really comes down to teamwork while playing and it’s very rare to feel any anger or frustration, as you may feel in other games, because in Minecraft there’s usually no hurry to achieve something or get to some place. Everything can be done at your own pace.

All you need to be able to play on different Minecraft servers is a copy of the game. It’s purchased over at Minecraft’s own official website. It costs as little as 19.95 euro or $26.95 US and all updates are free. There is no monthly fee. There will most likely be no sequels of the game, meaning for that little money you will have a Minecraft account for all eternity.

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Fast games on Facebook

by on April 10, 2012 at 8:40 pm

I have been playing Facebook games for years. I started out just playing Bejeweled Blitz and FarmTown. I love blitz games, with my quick eye and hand coordination, it can keep me spellbound for hours on end. Recently more blitz games have been added. You can play Zuma Blitz, Solitaire Blitz, and the good old Bejeweled one as well. There are plenty of other fast paced games to play and occasionally I will add a new one to my apps list to see if it is any good. Yesterday I found an unlikely addiction. Hoop De Loop Saga.  I saw the snake styled balls going round and about and I couldn’t resist it. But when I loaded the game, it turns out it is like Bubble Witch Saga, with progressive slots to go from one game screen to another. I don’t especially go for those kind.

I stuck it out, and tried it. It lags between the time you choose to play a screen, and loading. I hate waiting. It is initially very easy. It also has challenges above and beyond meeting a score cap. There are bonus actions, when you match more balls, or make more than one match in a ball toss. You can create bonus Boosters, to use during each screen. You create these using items you get doing bonus actions during the matching sequences of the game.

The background music isn’t bad. I enjoy how it keeps you animated, and enhances intense moments of gameplay with a little strum of sound periodically.

Incidentally, I love this game. It is challenging, each level is progressively harder, and I have even hit a level I cannot beat yet. Frustratingly enough, there is energy requirements to play. I keep running out of energy. I have to leave, go focus on other games, read my facebook updates, or check in on the MMO I play. I do recommend this game for those of you with quick eyes and fingers. It is bound to entertain you, until you run out of energy, that is. Enjoy!


Zynga Slingo

by on April 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Okay, I admit it. I’m a Facebook game snob. I look down on most Facebook games. The few in the past that have captured my attention, like Packrat or The Sims Social, were the exceptions to Facebook games, not the rule.

The times, they are a-changing.

Facebook games are, more and more, stepping out of the Mafia Wars and Farmville mold. It’s getting to the point that if it’s a game, it CAN be on Facebook. Nothing is proving this fact more than traditional casual games, with titles like AdventureWorld or Hidden Chronicles being very popular. Zynga Slingo is another of those games.

For those not familiar with Slingo, it essentially combines Bingo (which I do play IRL) and Slots (which I do play IRL.) There’s a limited number of spins and players have to fill up a card of numbers by spinning slot reels for those numbers. There’s a variety of power-ups that will help fill the board, like one that marks everything in a line or wild jokers that will allow the marking of anything in a line (or my favorite one, anywhere on the board.) Objectives include completing a pattern, achieving certain high scores and filling a complete card.

Zynga Slingo takes all the best parts of Slingo and puts them on Facebook. It adds in help from friends and a limiting element. And all that comes together into a very addictive game. I feel like I can never get enough. I bought a full day’s worth of energy (something you can do with Slingo Cash, which you can purchase with real life money or earn by completing various offers) and thought by the time that day was over, I’d be done with my addiction and be able to move onto something else. I was wrong. If anything, I’m more addicted now.

Players start out with basic boards and a small amount of energy, and as they complete objectives, they will gain medals. These medals are essentially the leveling system. I currently have 226 and am number one on my friends list! *gloat off* To play a board, it requires energy and energy replenishes automatically, one every three and a half minutes. Energy can also be purchased in small increments or unlimited supplies for a limited time.

There’s a certain number of free balls a player gets when they purchase the board (using energy) and when those balls are gone, four extra balls that can be bought for two energy each. After that, players may have free balls they can use or they can purchase additional balls, either by spending coins, which are gained by filling up the coin bar, or by spending Slingo Cash. They can also spam all their friends and ask them to send additional balls (sorry friends!) and that’s where the social aspect comes in. Friends can help out by sending coins or balls or energy and players can return the favor.  There’s also something called Play With Friends, which is ‘coming soon’ and I can’t wait to see what that ends up being.

Zynga has separated the game into stages, with each stage having nine cards. These stages have unique and interesting artwork. The higher a player goes in stages, the more complicated the cards and patterns get, and the more energy it requires to start the game. Right now, I have six stages unlocked, with titles like Sugar Rush and Shooting Stars. I thought there were only five stages, but when I got to a certain point in the game, Shooting Stars just appeared.

I played the heck out of the Slingo games on the PC, although by the time I got to the last few, they had become tired and worn out. The developers tried to change things up by adding in an adventure element, but it ended up just annoying me. Zynga Slingo takes the Slingo format and puts it on a friendly platform. It hasn’t gotten tired yet, probably because I can only play it a limited number of times before I have to stop and wait for my energy to replenish, or choose to spend some money on it.

I need more Zynga Slingo friends. My current friends are great at sending me balls, but in this game, there’s no such thing as too many balls. So feel free to friend me for Slingo purposes.

Do you play Zynga Slingo or other Facebook casual games? What keeps you going back to a specific game day after day?


Zombies or Why I Love Tabletop Gaming

by on April 10, 2012 at 11:24 am

Over this past weekend, I volunteered at ChimaeraCon, a local convention that focused on tabletop gaming. There were some other fun things to do, like LARPing (Live Action Roleplaying), and there were some Cosplayers, but the conference really focused on tabletop gaming. I spent most of the weekend chatting up the special guests and doing my volunteer gig, but in my free time, I played some games. When I went to write down the list of games I played over the weekend, I noticed a distinct pattern in the games I chose to play and/or watch. See if you can spot it:

The Walking Dead
Zombie Dice
Zombie Fluxx
Munchkin Zombies

There were a couple of other games I popped into, like Frag and Blood Bowl, but I didn’t so much choose to play those as that’s what was available to play while I was free.

The funny part is, I don’t think I like Zombie stuff all that much! I don’t watch The Walking Dead (although that’s more of a ‘when the heck can I find the time to catch up on Season 1’ rather than a choice to not watch it). In most of my fiction reading, Zombies play a small role, if they are in the books at all. But when it comes to gaming, I adore ones where I can kill Zombies. My favorite arcade game of all time is The House of the Dead. I played Typing of the Dead and loved it (plus I’m a super fast and accurate typer so that helped.) Plants vs. Zombies-yes, please. I even like the shooter maps where someone gets to be a zombie (if I’m the one who gets to kill them.) Apparently, this love for killing  game zombies translates into tabletop gaming too.

After this weekend, my favorite Zombie tabletop game is Zombie Fluxx. If you’ve never played Fluxx-shame on you! Of course, I hadn’t played a Fluxx game until this past weekend, so it’s forgivable. I even got the game and brought it home to my kids. It’s easy enough that I can play it with a nine and six year old. The game begins with two rules. Draw one card and play one card. But the cards drawn will change the rules, like requiring that  more cards be drawn or played. Some rules are really crazy, like having to groan like a zombie every time a player draws a zombie creeper. The object is to collect the keepers (like a shotgun or lumber) and have those keepers match the goal cards (which will be ever changing). Most goals require the players to not have any zombies in front of them, so there’s ways to kill and get rid of zombies-my favorite part! There’s also some special cards that allow a player to ignore any zombies in front of them and still achieve the goal.

I wonder what the objective is in Stoner Fluxx...

For Fluxx, there’s also Pirate Fluxx (Arrr matey!), Monty Python Fluxx (which everyone would not stop talking about over the weekend, apparently if you are a Monty Python fan, this is a must have) and Eco Fluxx (which may or may not teach people about the environment…not sure.) It’s a great game and I’m looking forward to my next gaming event so I can get some adults to play more Fluxx with me.

My kids have been wanting to do Thrill the World, so perhaps I’ll get us Zombie costumes this year and dress as a Zombie. Maybe after I pretend to be a Zombie, I’ll have a better appreciation for the Zombies and won’t want to kill them quite so much. Or maybe I’ll just want to play more Zombie games, but instead want to be the Zombie.

Thrill the World is where people dress like Zombies and dance to Thriller.

Probably not.

So I’m wondering if I’m the only one who has a love for a particular theme in gaming. Does anyone else have a theme they just MUST play if the game has it?

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Tiny Tower - The Tower Sim That Sucks Your Life Away

by on April 10, 2012 at 1:17 am

I’ve been playing Tiny Tower, a Tower Sim I’ve downloaded on the iPad. It’s available for Android as well. It’s one of many apps from developer Nimblebit, one that I keep logging into day after day.

Let me make a few confessions before I talk anymore about this game. First, I hate Farmville and all the other ‘sim’ style games on Facebook. I did play The Sims Social for a while, but even that got boring pretty quickly for me. Second, I have a short attention span with games in general and once I step away from one for a couple of days, that’s it. It would be a rare thing for me to go back to a game I’ve stopped playing. Third, I played Sim Tower like a mad woman when I was in my twenties and I still think it’s the best Sim game ever. EVER.

The first few floors are built pretty quickly.

I downloaded Tiny Tower on a whim, because I was applying for jobs in casual games and, truth be told, the iPad was new to me and I hadn’t played too many of the games on it yet. On all the sites I applied to, every single one of them was raving about Tiny Tower, so I figured …

Sorry for the interruption, I had a VIP sitting there waiting for me. It was a realtor and I had some open spots in one apartment, so I wanted to get her to that floor. What was I saying? Oh, right.

I downloaded the game, and like most of the downloads on the iPad, it was quick. In seconds, I was up and running. I walked through the basic tutorial and it explained the elements of Tiny Tower. There are essentially four: build floors, construct businesses, stock inventory and move people (Bitizens) up the elevator. There’s some extra features that are fluff, like the Bitbook that is essentially Facebook for the Bitizens, and missions, which reward Bux, one of the two currencies in the game. Bux are used to upgrade systems in the game or take quick shortcuts, such as immediately stocking inventory or moving someone into an apartment. Bux are pretty easy to obtain by keeping shops stocked and by working the elevator. The entire point of the game is to build the next floor and the next floor and the next floor and … you get the point. If there’s an endgame, it’s not obvious.

As the Tiny Tower gets built up, and becomes not so tiny, everything starts to cost more coins (the other currency). But coins also become easier to earn and it evens out. My tower is currently at forty-nine levels and I’m itching for my fiftieth. I think there’s an achievement at fifty. I currently have eighty-nine Bitizens (I keep evicting anyone who doesn’t have at least one nine in their stats-I know, I’m terribly mean!) and twenty-nine businesses. I check my stock first thing in the morning, then periodically throughout the day, then make sure everything is as stocked as I can make it before I go to bed. I’ll also sit here while watching TV or even writing (this article) and pop people up to the floors they want to go to intermittently. I’m definitely hooked.

Keep at it and eventually, you'll be as big as me!

When playing Sim Tower, I wanted to build the biggest and broadest tower I could manage. That level one hundred tower was a thing of beauty. A part of me is hoping that when I get to one hundred, there’s some big fireworks show and then I can move on with my life. Another part of me hopes it’s the tower that never ends. It will just go on and on my friends. Some people started playing it not knowing what it was. And they’ll continue playing it forever just because this is the tower that never ends…

It’s also interesting to note that I spent the weekend at a convention (ChimaeraCon, which you can read about my weekend on my other blog) and didn’t have much time to just chill at home with my iPad and yet, I am still playing it. Meaning I put it down for a few days and came back, just as hooked.

If you are an overachiever who likes to take people up and down elevators all day long, then check out Tiny Tower. Huh. Maybe I missed my calling. Instead of a writer, I should have been an elevator person…what are they called anyway?

You can see my Tiny Tower at this link. Feel free to add me as a friend on Gamecenter on the iPad as well! I’m rosethornii.

Sims Medieval - Introducing Lady Rose

by on May 27, 2011 at 11:48 pm
Instead of writing a review of Sims Medieval, which we all know would be great since it’s a fantastic game, we decided to tell our story in pictures. Meet Lady Rose, the monarch of Rosethornia. Benevolent or mean? She’s not sure yet. But let’s follow along on her journey to find out where it goes and who she ends up being.
*NOTE* You can click on the images below and pull up a larger size to scroll through the story.
Lady Rose Thorn has just arrived in her new kingdom, Rosethornia. Her first orders of the day are to explore her kingdom and learn about her people, but she must also look the part and she spends some time becoming the person her people expect.

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Gameloft CFO Ignoring and Insulting Key Demographic?

by on May 23, 2011 at 5:02 pm

According to Industrygamers.com, the following quote was attributed to the CFO of Gameloft,  Alexandre de Rochefort:

“Zynga has made it very clear that their typical client is a female, 40 years old, staying at home in the mid-West,” Rochefort added. “Gameloft has not sold a single game to this kind of client in the last 11 years.”

This quote may be taken out of context, but let’s pretend for a minute that not only did Rochefort say it, but he meant it. This is very short sighted (considering I am pretty close to 40, female, staying at home with my kids and until last year, lived in the midwest.) I’m part of the core gaming market but I’m a different part of that market - the one that went from hardcore to casual gaming. I’ll probably go back to hardcore gaming once my kids are older, but anyone with small kids knows how hard it is to get into any kind of game they can’t walk away from easily - and this is part of the reason why casual gaming, and Facebook games in particular, appeals to the market Rochefort is so quick to discount. This group of players isn’t going to go away - as long as there are mothers staying home with their kids, there will be mothers who are bored and looking for something to pass the time.


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Dream Day - A Look at the Series

by on May 12, 2011 at 1:20 am

Dream Day Wedding launched a series that now includes seven games, all hidden object games. The newer titles have more mini-games and puzzle elements than the first couple, but they’ve all retained the artistic style and hidden object design created in that first game. The first few games may have had less extra elements outside of the hidden object aspect, and it was a straightforward hidden object list, but it did have a Choose a Story, which has been abandoned in the last three games.

The first game, Dream Day Wedding, came out in 2007. It was straightforward, following the story of a couple getting married, with the player as the wedding planner, dealing with setting up and averting crises. The first game had very little extra gameplay, but the Choose a Story gave it replayability, since it’s fun to see what the other paths the characters took to the aisle could be, similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure novels. The only other gameplay outside of hidden object was a card matching game that revealed wedding presents. There was a bonus scene, a honeymoon room, which shows up in the next title as well.


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Hello Again Friends

by on August 28, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I know it’s been a heck of a long time since I’ve personally done any meaningful updates. I was waylayed by another job that took all the time I had in my life, including time I should have spent with my family. Thank goodness that’s over and I can breathe again!

So we’re in the process (the family and I) of moving to the great state of Texas! All you Texas out there, holla! We’re very excited about the move and the opportunities it represents. But this also means I’m going to have time to devote again to my baby, Killer Betties.

I’ve been playing quite a lot of games, as usual. Lately, I jumped into both Aion and Champions Online and had fun in each, in their own ways. I’m really looking forward to playing Scribblenauts for the DS, so stay tuned for some news on that. We’re also going to be posting a lot more content, focused around casual and F2P games for Killer Betties. Plus, I have another site I’m working on (we’re not going to talk about it yet, but it’s going to be VERY different from this site, but still as exciting!)

So great things are in the works. Tell me, what have you been up to in my absence? Any good games you play?

in Editorials

Killer Women: Victoria Moran

by on February 20, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Women who are gainfully employed in the games industry are becoming more and more common. The assumption that video games are a man’s domain is finally becoming outdated. Women are playing and working with video games in astounding numbers. According to the ESA in 2009, 40% of game players are women. While the percentage of women working in the industry is still small, these women are paving the way for equality in this environment as well. More and more young women are going to technical schools and getting hired by game developers who see the value of a female perspective when creating video games.

So, how did these women get started and why do they do it? Those are the questions I want answers to, so I ask. This will be a continuing series of profiles of the women who have broken stereotypes and taken jobs in the video game industry.

Victoria Moran works for NCSoft-Carbine Studios as an Associate Systems Designer for their as yet unannounced MMO title. Here’s what she had to say:

Name: Victoria Moran
Title: Associate Systems Designer
Company: NCSoft-Carbine Studios

What’s your earliest memory of video games? Did you grow up on games or did you find them later in your life?

My first memory of video games would probably be unwrapping my Nintendo Entertainment System, which was the first system I personally owned. I remember games like the original Super Mario and Zelda and being excited to receive new cartridges on my birthday. My parents were very hesitant to buy me any video games, which is humorous considering they met each other while working at Atari in the early 80s.

We were definitely no strangers to video games during my younger years, especially with arcade games that I played with my cousins. We also had an Atari pinball machine in the house up until I was around 14, which was always a hit at birthday parties. During my free time, I played computer games like King’s Quest and the Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes, which were sometimes quite challenging for a 9 year old. After my NES, I had a SEGA Genesis, which I absolutely loved because of games like Sonic the Hedgehog.

From the time I was about 10 until age 15, I didn’t play many video games because I was so focused on sports. Around age 15 I got really excited about ice hockey, which is when I got reintroduced to console gaming with the PlayStation, playing EAs NHL games with my dad and cousins. From there by chance I happened upon the Final Fantasy series, and I was permanently hooked on stories and narrative in gaming.

From there I branched out and played all types of games through high school and college, from Pokemon to Dance Dance Revolution to Phantasy Star Online to Final Fantasy and Warcraft. I loved all different types of games equally until I got sucked into the gigantic machine that is the MMORPG, when I started playing Final Fantasy XI seriously. I was skeptical at first about a traditionally single player RPG series being converted into an MMORPG, but as I gave the game a chance, I started to find not only the game growing on me, but the other players as well. I found that in MMOs, I wasn’t just consuming a story that a writer had written to be spoonfed to me through cutscenes, but that stories occurred between real players as well. Joy, achievement, drama, and strife were part of the story that was my character’s life in that game, created not by the game but by my interactions with friends and enemies.

I started my linkshell (guild) in Final Fantasy XI roughly 6 years ago; many of the players I played with in Final Fantasy XI have and still play a variety of online games and MMORPGs with me now, including Guild Wars, City of Heroes, and World of Warcraft.

What kind of education do you have and has it prepared you well for this industry?

I completed my undergraduate degree at UC Davis as a double major bachelor of arts in Communication and Japanese. I originally intended to aim for the Japanese style RPG-side of the industry before I was swallowed by the MMO world, so Japanese seemed a perfect complement. During my final year of undergrad, my boyfriend heard about the Interactive Media graduate program at USC in the news, which had been recently given a big push when it received funding from EA. He encouraged me to look into the program, since I was still unclear about the direction I wanted to take in the game industry.

After researching more into USC’s program, I applied and was accepted. The program is 3 years in length, though I took a break after the first year to work and get practical experience in the industry. By this point, I had my goal in front of me, knowing that I wanted to enter the design world for MMOs. At USC’s Interactive Media program, we learn and practice production, business, cinematography, practical design, game design and design theory. Our courses had us write, cast, and shoot films, create business plans and funding proposals, and create board and video games.

In learning to design and prototype, collect feedback and receive criticism (sometimes harsh criticism!), USCs Interactive Media program definitely set me on the right track for design. I had a hard time adjusting to graduate school straight out of undergrad, but there were a few very supportive and inspiring professors that helped me get through my three years there. With their wealth of experience and encouragement, I was able to successfully create my interactive thesis project and graduated in May of 2008.

What type of work did you do before you got into the industry and what jobs in the industry have you held?

I entered the industry as a tester (in the summer between school sessions) as one of my first jobs, my absolute first being at SEGA of America in San Francisco. I tested NFL2K3 for a brief period before being transferred to Phantasy Star Online for Gamecube due to my previous experience with the Dreamcast version of the game. The following year, I worked at Konami of America doing compatibility and localization testing for games like Castlevania, Yu-Gi-Oh!, TMNT, and Pro Evolution Soccer.

After my first year of graduate school, I took a year off and worked at Square Enix on the Final Fantasy XI Online Community team as an assistant. As I was playing Final Fantasy XI heavily during this time, it was amazing to be able to work at Square Enix on the game I loved. It was here I got my first peek behind the scenes of an MMO, which greatly influenced my desire to be an MMO designer.

Was your entry into working with video games planned or chance? What initiated your interest in working in this industry? How did you get started in the industry?

I decided I wanted to get into the game industry when I was around 15, when I started playing all of the amazing role-playing games out at the time. I wanted to work with something I love and enjoy, and video games seemed like a dream job.

I applied at SEGA for a test position, since everyone that I knew suggested that I needed to get experience in the industry under my belt, and that testing was the ground floor of it all. It was rough, because SEGA was an hour and a half away from where I lived and at the time I didn’t have a driver’s license. I basically woke up every day at 5am to catch the train to San Francisco and get to work on time. Despite that, I had a great time every day I was there, made some friends in the industry, and learned a lot about procedures and production schedules.

How long have you been working in the industry?

I started in the industry 7 years ago at SEGA and worked here and there between sessions at my universities.

What does your job entail? What is an average day like?

As an Associate Systems Designer, I write detailed design documents for systems that will be implemented in the game. Specifically, I’m the designer for the game’s social systems, which includes many of the social tools and features that MMO players use in their everyday gaming. My goal in designing these systems is to provide players with the features that they want and need, and I do a lot of research into player suggestions, feedback, and comments in current MMOs.

I spend most of my day working on design documents or in Photoshop creating demonstrations of tools and UI layouts for artists and programmers to reference when these tools are implemented.

As a particular system gets further along, my job shifts from concept to iteration, testing and polishing these systems so they function smoothly and provide the features that players want.

Tell us about the most interesting or exciting moment for you in your job.

Just last week I was able to pitch an idea to the company and gather feedback. It was really exciting to be able to share my design with each of the different departments, and to hear new ideas and suggestions that improve my design.

I think that definitely the most exciting moment is when one of my systems is implemented in the game. It’s one thing to write a document that says ‘here’s how it should be,’ and an entirely different thing to see that design in action. It’s very exciting and definitely a rewarding feeling.

What is your least favorite thing about working in the industry?

I think that working with and playing games has made me very sedentary. When you’re so engrossed in creating something amazing or progressing on a raid boss, it’s sometimes really hard to tell yourself to stop, get up, and move around. I also tend to get so focused that I don’t eat for hours on end; recently I’ve been working out and eating healthy to rectify this. At many companies, people are confined to workstations and only get up to go to their car and drive home. Carbine Studios, on the other hand, is a great environment; the designers, artists, programmers, and producers who work here are a very fit and active group of people, often choosing to bike and walk everywhere. It’s a very encouraging environment to be in as compared to the “dungeon” work rooms I’ve been in.

What is the one misconception you feel people have about working in the industry in your type of position?

When designing the features of an MMO, we have to consider many different types of players, play-styles, and potential player interaction and interference. It’s never a simple task, because everything has to be balanced and tested and rebalanced many times. Players may believe that features or content are designed for a certain type of player, but that’s definitely not true, especially for our game. There is a delicate balance that has to be preserved in every design proposal and decision. When I create systems, I have to think about all types of players, different classes, player mobility, potential griefing, guild drama, item stealing, looting mistakes, disconnections…all of these things and more go into consideration in every design.

Do you feel you are advantaged or disadvantaged as a female in an industry so dominated by men? Do you have any examples of situations where you feel you had an advantage because you were female? Any where you think being a woman played against you? Any anecdotal stories where being female played a part?

Although it can be intimidating at times, I don’t feel disadvantaged being a woman in a predominately male work environment. I think that men think through design problems one way, and women another, and to have a variety of ideas, solutions, and possibilities are key to creating a great game.

I do think I had an advantage in several cases, in applying for graduate school and positions in the industry. Game companies are starting to see the value in diversity, and although it is still a predominantly male industry, women are starting to get their foot in the door.

Do you consider yourself a hardcore gamer? How many hours a week do you get to play (besides the title you are working on)?

I don’t consider myself a hardcore gamer anymore, but I’m sure my play hours lead most people to conclude I am one. Currently I play roughly 50-70 hours of games a week, and raid 6 days a week in World of Warcraft. At the peak of my Final Fantasy XI play, I was logging over 100 hours a week.

If you’re wondering how 6 days a week of raiding doesn’t amount to hardcore play, I am approximating it by the length and difficulty of the raids. Some creatures I fought in Final Fantasy XI took over 8 hours to kill and could drop nothing, while I can run Naxxramas in World of Warcraft and get 60 items in 5-6. You have to be pretty hardcore to fight monsters for 8 hours with the potential of no drops. I don’t have the patience, the heart, nor the time for that type of play anymore.

I’m still a guild leader and I still lead raids, so maybe that does make me hardcore because I have to invest extra time into the game that I otherwise wouldn’t.

What settings and genres do you enjoy most? Least?

I love fantasy worlds and characters, especially if they are based on mythology. I’m a big RPG and MMO nut, but I’m mostly open to any genre or setting so long as the game play is active and fun; I don’t think that I have a least favorite. I’m pretty terrible at drums on Rock Band, though!

If you could pick one game as the best game ever, what would it be?

I think I would probably be lying to myself if I said I enjoyed any game more than I enjoyed the N64s Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The world and characters were so amazing and I played that game for hours and hours on end.

Derby Owner’s Club (horse racing) is a close second. Being able to save your game on an arcade machine is really awesome, and playing against 7 other people is even more so.

If you could tell developers of games to make sure to put one thing in games to appeal to a broader audience which includes women, what would that one thing be?

I think that’s a really tough question and I don’t know if I can choose just one answer. I think the problem that game designers have with women is that they try and stereotype what women like and they think that adding these features in the game will instantly attract women. I would caution against that in any case.

I think the best thing to add that will appeal to players of all types and backgrounds is things that are collectible in-game (but not TCGs that give you in-game items). Cards for an in-game card game, dice for an in-game dice game, mounts, mini-pets, costumes, furniture, role-playing gear, trinkets…all these things are fun for players to collect and display, no matter if they are male or female.

Do you have an opinion about the current state of the industry with regard to females and gaming? If so, what is it?

I personally dislike attempts to create girl gaming; I feel that it segregates the gaming community when companies offer games that are excessively cute or pink or fuzzy in an attempt to attract women or girls. I think that games that try to integrate content to interest both males and females are a better method to create a strong gaming community.

If you can talk about it, can you tell us some about the project you are currently working on?

All I can say is that it’s a very exciting Sci-Fi/Fantasy style MMO.

Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to get into the industry?

The best advice I can give is to get involved from the get-go. Looking back I now wish I got involved in more student projects, group game projects, and pursued my own interests a little further. I always seemed to get a project of my own started, and never follow through because of school or the MMO I was playing at the time. It’s important to make time to follow through with these things, because they give you valuable experience for when you’re ready to enter the industry.

Keep your passion for games. It’s a lot different to work on games than it is to play games. At times you’ll be looking at the same feature or design for months. If you can keep sight of the big picture, it’ll help you to keep on loving games. Play a wide variety of games to keep yourself up to date on the newest features, graphics, and gameplay that companies are currently offering players. It’s homework, but fun homework!

Also, you should expand your skillset whenever possible. Learning programming, 3D artist’s tools, Photoshop, creative writing, basic design, basic production, public speaking and presenting, production schedules, time and effort budgeting…these are all important things that go into making a game. The more you understand about not only your own position, but everyone else’s, helps everyone in the long run and makes communication easier.

What are your favorite games? Favorite movies? Favorite Authors? Inspirations? What do you like doing in your free time?

For favorite games, I’d have to say: Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Gitaroo Man, Rock Band, Xenogears, Final Fantasy VIII, Phantasy Star Online, Monster Rancher 2, Bioshock, Diablo, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XI, Viva Pinata, Singstar, and Karaoke Revolution to name a few. These are all really great games, and in the case of the music games, I think it’s awesome that these games always seem to pull in non-gamers and get them involved. The action and roleplaying games have amazing stories, especially Bioshock which gave such depth to characters you never even met during the game. And of course, the online games are a passion of mine, because I love the social aspect of MMO gaming.

Movies are a bit harder, but I definitely love comedies, family films, Disney, and Pixar films. Superbad and Dewey Cox are hilarious. Night at the Museum really captured my imagination the first time I watched it on an IMAX theater. I watched so many Disney movies when I was younger, I pretty much know the script to each and every one of the older animated films (Lion King especially)! I really enjoyed the Golden Compass movie, and I’m eagerly looking forward to a potential sequel, should they decide to make it.

As for books, my favorite series is actually a Japanese fiction series called “Juuni Kokki” (The Twelve Kingdoms) by Fuyumi Ono. The novels were mostly written in the 80’s and detail the journey and trials of a young Japanese girl who fights her way through a strange alternate world, only to find she’s the new queen of the Kei Kingdom. Some of the novels have been translated into English fairly recently, and they made a brief anime of the first few books. The story is slightly different than the books; I’m more inclined to like the books because the main character goes through more hardships that justify her personal growth than in the anime.

I also really enjoyed a book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón called “Shadow of the Wind.” The book is full of intrigues, drama, and romance. I won’t say more than that other than it’s definitely worth reading. I’ve also read Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Despite the controversy surrounding the movie and novels, as a work of pure fiction, the story is amazing and every twist and turn takes the reader on a wild ride. Currently, I’m finishing up the fourth book in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, “A Feast for Crows.” I’m taking it slow because I don’t know when Martin will finish book five, if ever, and if I finish book four without a book five to turn to, I might not get back to it.

All of these books, films, games, and many more serve as my inspiration for design, as well as the voice of the players, the voices of my friends and family, and my own likes and dislikes.

In my free time I’m either raiding in World of Warcraft, being a foodie and chowing down on some Tonkotsu Ramen (there are some wonderful ramen places here in Los Angeles), playing board games, making hand painted T-shirts, or making game themed cakes.

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Staci's bookshelf: currently-reading

HauntedGrave WitchThe ReckoningThe AwakeningThe SummoningSister of the Dead

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