Another lecture, this time from Denmark.

I gave this lecture as the keynote at the Nordic Game Jam in Copenhagen. You can download it as a .zip file containing the PowerPoint slides, along with an mp3 of the audio.

(Nordic Game Jam lecture, 35MB).

It’s about how to develop high-quality games as an indie or a student; but unlike the prototyping lecture I gave before, this one revolves around the different categories of development tasks, and the ways in which people get stuck creating games that fall far short of their real potential.

This lecture starts out with a focus on “Programming, Design, and ‘Art’” which may sound a lot like the “Programming, Production, and Design” theme that I just did a week ago. But it’s actually a completely different lecture with completely different ideas, so if it sounds familiar at first, just keep listening.

(This lecture was presented on February 1, 2008, at the IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark).

15 Responses to “Another lecture, this time from Denmark.”

  1. Tobias Elleboe Cordsen Says:

    Really nice talk and also that you’ve included the actual speak and not just the slide show.

  2. Bryant Says:

    Wow, I have no idea how you have time to prepare and deliver all of these amazing lectures. You’re like the omnipresent Mr. Blow! Thank you for being so giving :)

  3. Seth Says:

    Thanks for giving a solid definition to what is, as you say, many times just attributed to intuition. I’m inspired to continue pushing further.

  4. Mikael Says:

    Very insightful lecture, and thanks for putting up the slides! The only thing that I could’ve wished for was a live demo of Braid. Also, I think some of the people who hadn’t heard of Braid, just didn’t quite understand the way the game works in relations to the time/space puzzles. But thats based solely on the people I talked to afterwards, so I dont know.. I personally think the game presents itself much better live (like in your previous videos) rather than on screenshots only. Theres alot of animated details, and especially the warping through time that most people can’t grok without watching it live.

    Nevertheless, I can’t wait to play the final game on my box! :)

  5. the real Says:

    Dude, will you get over yourself with all these god damn lectures. I know they invite you to speak, but braid looks like a “pretty cool” game at best!! you’re by no means jesus christ. The game isn’t even out yet and you give off this aire like you’re the miyamoto of indie gaming telling others “how to be a genius like you” and “how to make their games”. at least release the damn thing before you declaire yourself god. jeeeeze!!!!
    I have nothing against you and braid is pretty cool, but deflate you ego, dude. it’s not THAT good! it’s not like you’re Joakim Sandberg or something. That guy creates, draws, animates and programs all his innovative games from scratch!! A master artist and an indie developer. now there’s a genius worthy of endless lectures! what’s next? a video game about your lectures!? The world is ending and only a johnatan blow lecture can save the universe!!!!!! preach to the unenlightened masses, mr. god of video game creation!!!!!!
    I’m sorry to rant. you’re a nice guy, but this had to be said.

  6. Jonathan Blow Says:

    I don’t understand this attitude.

    Giving a reasonably-coherent lecture, with material interesting enough to the audience, is a lot of work. I have been doing it for about 10 years (though more frequently lately). In the past, the only people who got to hear the lecture were those in the room, or (if it happened to be recorded by the people running the conference), then people who wanted to pay money for it afterward. That seemed like a big waste to me — to put in so much effort to put together a presentation, and then have it basically lost forever after that.

    So I started making my own recordings of the lectures and putting them up on the web. I don’t see how this is narcissistic — it’s just a value-add for people who want it. If someone is interested in this kind of lecture, now they have one to listen to. If they aren’t, no big deal! Right?

    As for telling people how to make their games… well, when people invite you to speak, they expect you to be able to say things that are somehow authoritative. If the Copenhagen IT University or the Montreal International Game Summit did not think I should be making these kinds of statements, they would not have invited me to give keynote lectures. So complain to them!

    Lastly — I completely stand behind the things I say in my lectures. I feel that there is a ton of bad advice out there, especially for indies and hobbyists, and I want to counter-balance that by providing what I feel to be good advice. If it will make you feel better, I am not super happy with these last two lectures (Game Focus Germany and the Nordic Game Jam ones), at least not as much as my Montreal one, because I don’t feel they are as deep or important. But I do think they provide value, which is why I put them up.

    So it’s not about me saying “These lectures are super awesome and everyone should listen to them!!!” as you seem to imply. Rather, it’s about each one making at least a small positive contribution to the world, even if it’s only relevant to some people.

  7. JC Says:

    I found the lecture to be very inspiring… and I want to play Braid, soooo bad.

  8. Andreas Says:

    First off, if you want to rant make sure to state your real name, otherwise you’ll look like a coward. Second, using a lot of exclamation marks does not make your points more valid. Third, some people are interested in the posted lectures (including me), and some are not (including you). It’s that easy.

  9. Seth Says:

    I just wanted to chime in to say that I agree with Andreas. Also, the only way that “the real” could be taken even slightly seriously is if Jonathan Blow had just come from nowhere. But he didn’t, he’s been working on games for a while now. I don’t think that these conferences are so desperate to fill time that they would let an inexperienced person give an hour-plus lecture.

    Off-topic, that’s really cool that you took some inspiration from Einstein’s Dreams. That’s a great little book. I’m glad I’m not the only one who read it.

  10. Parveen Says:

    Don’t let the anonymous cowards get you down. I for one find the lectures very interesting. I wouldn’t have even approved a comment by someone who calls themselves “the real”.

  11. Doug Orleans Says:

    I would totally play a video game about Jon’s lectures.

  12. Christian G. Says:

    The lectures was brilliant and very inspiring, I will download it and watch it again one day so I am sure not to forget pushing :)

    I am glad that someone takes the time to “preach” to the un-enlightened masses including me.

    participant NGJ08

  13. Zaphos Says:

    Wow, awesome! Mr Heart was definitely inspired by your thoughts on game design, so it’s especially cool to see you liked it! I really appreciate your lectures :)

  14. Jonathan Blow Says:

    Well, that’s cool. As you can see I really liked the game — I wish there were more of it though. (Though I do think that to support it being a longer game, something would have to be added to the gameplay somehow… I’m not sure what!)

  15. I Like Cake Says:

    In this and in the previous lecture you made some references to your ‘ludological hermeneutics’ idea: the overly complicated, academic style of writing about games. I have to say that I have a few books that talk about game design in that sense and I have found your lectures considerably more rewarding and informative.

    I think, in terms of design advice, there’s a huge gap in between the two commonly available schools of ‘recipe book’ style advice, typically targeted towards a general, mass-market style of design, and overly analytic academic writing, and I really appreciate that you’re doing some work on providing genuinely useful design advice which does not fall into the former, which only tells you how to do things other people have already done, or the latter, which doesn’t actually tell you how to do anything.

    I hope you aren’t dissuaded by exclamation point fetishists from posting future lectures. It’s refreshing to hear someone discussing game design topics which are not solely about getting customers or grants.

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