Student Highlight – Eric Sexton (Game Designer, Blizzard, Gearbox, King Maker Games)

I am often astonishd by the creative talents I get to interactive with from the classes. Eric Sexton, a veteran game designer from Blizzard, Gearbox, and many other game companies has set out to make his own games with a tighter team. Let’s find out what’s keeping him busy these days.

Q: You’re a former designer at Blizzard and Gearbox. Tell us a little about why you wanted to learn the technical side of making games / Unity.

ES: I have been in the video game industry for nearly 20 years and I have always believed that great tools will return the industry to the days when small teams of 1-10 people can make amazing games. As the industry has moved forward the tools have become better. Unfortunately the development team sizes have kept growing to a point of unsustainability. I think we are finally at the point where that pendulum is swinging back in the other direction.

For me, learning Unity 3D was a vital step towards building my own games with a smaller team.

Q: What were your thoughts about the OMGS class?

ES: Your One Month Class to learn the basics of Unity was fantastic.  I learn best by doing! This is something your class allowed me to do.  Jumping in and start making things very quickly was fun, exciting, and reasonably easy.  I really appreciated that.

Q: How have you used what you learned since?

ES: I have used those Unity Skills to mock up some of my game ideas. After that I started working on the basics of my War Prime prototype.  It was a key element for me to get my project up and running very quickly.

Q: Tell us about your Kickstarter project!

ES: My War Prime Kickstarter project is about bridging the gap between tabletop miniature war-games I have been playing for over 30 years, and the digital video games I have been making for the last 20 years.

Starting small, I am building a traditional tabletop miniatures game set in a sci-fi setting.  I am making the game and working on releasing the rules for free.  I will be creating printable proxy tokens so players can print our their own paper units and play the game without needing to invest any money to play.

This game can be compared to many other 28mm games out there with one main difference, and this is where my 20 years of video game experience comes in:

  • I am building a living universe where the players are the generals.  The players get to draw the battle lines and participate in changing the universe.
  • I am designing a digital companion that will allow players to record their battles and submit them to our online system.  This data will be used to show the progress of the armies in the galaxy.  Where battles are won and lost and what races are capturing territory.

This is an early prototype of our Galaxy Map.  As the project evolves we will build in large complex story lines that will change the universe.  New units, heroes, and races will enter into the growing storyline.

Q: What are you excited about in the world of games right now? (Trends, ideas, tech etc.)

ES: I am exited by the shift in free games going back to pay to play games.  Players see “Free Game” and many hard core games dismiss them.  They have become aware that they are not getting a free experience, they are being driven down a carefully constructed path designed to get them invested to the point where the time to wait for being able to “Play” is painful they they must eventually pay.

I think if you say your game is free, it should be free to play.  Every aspect of it.  From beginning to end. You can always withhold certain cosmetic options, but never anything that is related to gameplay.  I think some developers are starting to finally get it, and that is exciting.

For example: War Prime will be free to play.  The rules and tokens will be free to download. You do not need to buy our 28mm miniatures to play the game.  The game would look awesome if you have the miniatures, and it will make playing a much cooler experience, but you don’t NEED them.  Nothing is stopping you from enjoying a great game.

Likewise, when our Living Universe Project goes live we will charge for that service.  Servers and game development of that scale is very expensive so we need to be able to afford to build and maintain it.  But players don’t need it to play the game.  Its a nice addition that players can choose to join in and participate.  But they don’t need it to play and have a great time.

Q: Where can we find you online?

ES: We are online at www.kingmakergames.com and at www.warprime.com.  You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. You can also email me here: [email protected]


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