Game design and player agency

Player agency, the ability to execute will, is key to game experiences. When a game forces something upon you, particularly something you can reasonably expect to be easily rid of, then it lessens the experience.

Some examples:
If you are forced to keep a bag of bait that you never want to use then it constantly gets in the way via your user-interface (UI). So a good game would allow the player to drop all pieces of the inventory. Removing gear ought not be done via standard play mode, eg. first-person shooting view. It is better done through an inventory screen so it’s not accidentally done in combat.

Control is agency

Automatic use of cover. I understand that this is a console gaming issue mostly but considering how console-ports retain this feature on PC it seems pertinent. Just put in the lean keys and let the player use cover.

Backpacks that you cannot drop. This is an old one. Sure you might lose your entire inventory yet it’s what soldiers do if they’re ambushed. Backpack can get you killed if it slows you down.

Unavailable items that show up all over fallen foes yet are not lootable. You’d just take it off the fallen and fix it, or cobble it together from the other fallen that have the same gear.

Over riding animations, uninterruptable effects, can sometimes be in games specifically to prevent player agency. A stun effect doesn’t need to lock out control when it could make your vision monochromatic and randomly skew your control sensitivity for a time.

There are methods to put in effects without removing player agency. Designers take heed.

Game design and player agency

Sound Recording and Guitar

The oft-neglected equalizer is the secret of tone. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen friends, journalists and reviewers talk about finding tone with a specific stompbox, amp, or other signal processor. Once the signal has left your guitar the first thing you ought to do is equalize it for the environment, be it recording or performing. EQ is the first thing that should happen to a guitar signal and also the last (if you want) to take care of unforeseen frequency introductions along the signal chain – also to manage the acoustics of the environment.

In recording mixes EQ is what will sort out your takes and make them sound great. Mid-scooping for metal rhythms, mid-boosting for lead breaks, and cutting annoying ‘not quite right’ resonances. Quite frankly I’m amazed that EQ is not talked about more, until I think, “Cui bono”. Who benefits?

All the businesses that sell magic-tone-oil devices benefit from the market ignoring EQ. It’s a cheap (enough) way to alter your tone to get what you find the sweet spot. Even 31-band parametric EQ’s can be had for under $300 if you look hard enough, and parametric are the better devices.

So all you tone-freaks, here’s the unvarnished truth. You want tone? Control it with an equalizer.

Sound Recording and Guitar

Recording Songs

One of the things that can lead to self-attack for me is unfinished ideas. Everyone has at least one. For me it’s recording songs that come into my head. Making them “listenable” tracks for sharing. So the plan is to create a YouTube monetized channel once my first track is finished to share these ideas. What will I call it? Who knows? Maybe “Liquid Electric” which I’ve liked for ages.

Liquid Electric 1



For metal projects I’ve got these ones:

War Beast and DeSoulUtion





And of course as an over arching, progressive, kind of brand:

Archmage Demiurge









It’s all just ideas and that is what blogging is about.

Recording Songs

Guitar Again

One of my big weaknesses is sticking at something just long enough to get a single goal completed. This means my proficiency fades away because I stop practicing. What I aim to do is stick at guitar for 5 years to get some practical skill ingrained. In only a week I’ve relearned 80% of Bach Sonata 1 for violin (on guitar) and feel that some important basics (alternate picking, for example) I have practiced enough to be ingrained.

Add to this is when I start something I almost obsess over “products” that align. So starting guitar again I look at guitars almost obsessively. It’s an eye-opener about myself that is a bit hurtful yet leads to something better.

Sent from a device without a real keyboard. Expect typos.

Guitar Again

Letting Go

Some time ago I did some counselling to resolve an emotional issue I was having. In it I learned to let go of parts of my personality, or even just schemas of thought, that were no longer helping me live in a happy way. It worked like a meditation.

Thank you for your service
You are now released and free to go
Thank you again, and goodbye.

Today I did this, somewhat by accident, to the need for being correct. For a few seconds I felt terror. And then a growing sense of happiness. Why? It freed me from the fear of being wrong.

Letting Go